Navigator Systems has announce the opening of their new website www.clubnavigator.co.uk designed specifically for registered users of HireTrack and HireTrack Eclipse. This new site will enable members of the Navigator community to instantly access the Navigator Systems library of technical support documents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the company has developed a forum of issues, where all users can post suggestions, ideas, and comments. Customers will have the opportunity to share custom reports and/or utilities with other users. The company newsletter will also be maintained, keeping customers apprised of current projects, and new releases of the software.
Following the successful merger last year between Blackout and Triple E, the new company has now moved into new premises in Colliers Wood, south west London. With nearly 75% more space than previously occupied by the two companies jointly, the new offices, manufacturing and warehouse facilities offer customers a genuine one-stop shop for their drape, track and rigging requirements. The company’s recent credits including the MTV Awards in Stockholm and Madonna’s gig at Brixton Academy, Bloomburg’s Christmas Party and all motorised tracks for Princess Cruises. Blackout Triple E can now be contacted at 280 Western Road, London, SW19 2QA, telephone 020 8687 8400.
AVW Controls, a manufacturer of integrated motion control systems for the entertainment industry, has developed Impressario - a computerised system for moving theatre scenery, Impressario, which can record up to 500 cues, features a contol console and purpose-designed motion processor modules. The console communicates on a high-speed data network with up to 255 motion processors. Each processor is interfaced to a servo-amplifier or motor controller that respons to commands from the Impressario console.Ans because things don’t always happen on cue, a Penny & Giles JC030 single-axis rocker switch is incorporated into the control console to provide a manual speed override for pre-programmed scene changes.
Set designer John Napier, whose credits include Cats, Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Miss Saigon, has been named by Oxford University as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre for 2001. Napier, who has recently returned from Broadway, where his design for Jane Eyre has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, is the first set designer to hold the chair in its 12-year history. Previous incumbents include Stephen Sondheim, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre and Diana Rigg.Using examples from his own productions, which have included Peter Shaffer’s Equus for the Royal National Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum, Lohengrin for the Royal Opera House and Steven Spielberg’s film Hook, Napier will describe how a designer turns initial inspiration into theatrical reality.
Edwin Shirley Staging has won the contract to supply all the staging for President-elect George W Bush's Inauguration ceremony this weekend (20 January) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. ESS is supplying 150 tonnes of staging, including the staging equipment originally erected in Austin, Texas for Bush's acceptance speech. This will form the staging for the swearing-in ceremony, including the main stage on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, media platforms, network television camera platform, video supports and sound delay towers. The project, which employs a core team of eight supervisors and up to 40 local crew at any one time, requires the utmost care as it is being constructed on such a historically sensitive site.
The ESTA website has been having some difficulties since Monday, January 8th. Wybron, which hosts the ESTA website and all its e-mail aliases, was forced off-line when its service provider went bankrupt and terminated all service without notice. Wybron has been able to create a temporary dial-up connection for the ESTA server, which should allow email through, although access to the website will be very slow. ESTA wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused. Until the problem is resolved, all ESTA web services will have limited accessibility. Therefore, please use the following alternate email addresses to contact the ESTA staff, in order to ease strain on the temporary connection:
Edwin Shirley Staging’s Tower system, which allows for the rapid construction of large-scale, clear-span temporary venue structures, has been used in some very high profile places in recent years, and has given a real boost to the company’s profile.
The system has performed a large number of high-profile roles, including the home of the Midland 97 concerts in London, the Millennium Dome’s SkyScape, to the home of De La Guarda’s Villa Villa (30m x 20m x 18m high) at the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas, to the smaller-scale screen mounts for the 1999 Cricket World Cup venues.
But it’s not just their clients who have been impressed. Following their high-profile involvement with projects such as SkyScape , their working methods are attracting interest from the construction industry. ESS project engineer Liam Hogg explains: "Many construction projects run over time and over budget. But because we come from the culture of rock and roll, we get the work done on time. You won’t see Michael Jackson being asked to wait while the crew finish building the stage. We do whatever we have to do to get the job done." And ESS certainly have the resources and experience to do so: during the building of SkyScape, the personnel involved varied between six and 200 at any one time. The company’s logistical expertise, borne out of its 25-year touring experience, is extraordinary: leap-frogging two separate but interchangeable top-flight world tour stages around the globe is no mean feat.
The advantages of the Tower system demountable structures are se
Show Presentation Services (SPS), the audio-visual equipment rental and technical staging specialist, has announced the launch of its new e-commerce website, along with a brand new on-line ‘Budget Estimator’. Robin Coles, SPS managing director, says: "A UK event manager for a multi-national brand with a requirement to take a product road-show to six European cities, should provide the Budget Estimator with details such as audience size, type of event/presentation and location, and they will be provided with immediate on-line staging information specific to their requirements with accompanying pricing."
Christmas week was Cereco International’s busiest week since the launch in September of its web-based lighting and audio equipment auction. Cereco’s John Lethbridge reports that in the period between 27 December and New Year’s Eve, over £7,000 worth of product was snapped up by several individual first-time buyers. There was a last-minute battle between five bidders for 42 ETC Source 4 Pars that started at £50.00 each and closed at £65.00 each. John Lethbridge puts this success down to the fact that people had plenty of time to be on-line over the holiday period. Also, most of the bidders are now subscribing to Cereco's free weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps them informed of the latest deals and action on the website. The site specialises in new and ex-demo equipment supplied by leading manufacturers and distributors, rather than ex-rental equipment, although some of the equipment sold over the Christmas period had come out of Expo 2000 in Hannover. A new auction starts every Thursday evening and initially runs for 10 days, after which time, unsold items are re-submitted. Viewers can also make off-line offers where there are no bids in place.
Following two years of concentrated improvements to its company training programme and the development of individual employees, Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd has just received recognition as an Investor In People. The Investors In People award signifies that Star Hire know where they are going as a company, have imparted this focus to all their staff, and have trained them to move forward in line with that vision. Maddy Sheals, responsible for steering the company towards the standard said: "In the feedback session at the end of the two days, the assessor said how much he was impressed with the calibre of people he interviewed - their honesty, commitment, and individual skills, plus an awareness of what Star Hire is trying to do." Maddy hopes to build on this achievement through a programme of continuous innovation and improvement in the training and development of all Star Hire people.
It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.
To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.
Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an
Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.
The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.
Star Rigging has installed a new fall arrest netting system into Wembley Arena to improve safety for people working at height during events at the London venue.
The new safety system has been installed into the Wembley grid, which is the largest moving grid in the UK. Pictured is the Fall Arrest Net after being raised at The Who load-in at Wembley Arena.
Both Mark Armstrong and Phil Broad at Star Rigging have been rigging major live events, including major tours for 15 years. The net is a new innovation, which has gained popularity in the construction industry, attracting the approval of H&S executives across the country. The system ensures that a worker who falls off the grid will be caught, and there are handrails to prevent people falling outside of the grid area. Star Rigging had to adapt the net to suit indoor music applications including making it fire retardant to BS EN 1263-2 standards. The company is currently talking to several other venues about the possibility of installing similar systems.
Roxsett boss David Wilson has been sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to eight years imprisonment for smuggling £4.27 million worth of ecstasy into Britain. Wilson, whose clients included the Spice Girls, was stopped in June this year with 125 kilos of ecstasy tablets as he drove a rental truck through customs at Dover. His young daughter was in the cab with him. In mitigation, Aidan Marron QC said Wilson was forced to smuggle the ecstasy into Britain by a "vicious" gang of "serious and professional criminals". "He was threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. He feared a loss of life if he didn't obey their orders," Mr Marron said. Wilson pleaded guilty to one count of importing Class A drugs but had smuggled the illegal cargo under duress, Mr Marron said.
Cause & Effect, the organisers of the 2001 Birmingham Fringe theatre festival, are looking at the possibility of holding collaborative projects with entertainment technology companies during the 2001 festival, in order to demonstrate the contribution made by them to technical theatre. Project director Derrick G Knight told us: "My motivation is to enhance Birmingham as a host city for performing arts. This will be achieved through the development of a network of performance venues in partnership with the performers, venue owners and production companies associated with performing arts." An initial idea is to include a sound and lighting exhibition alongside the festival, which takes place in July and August 2001, and Knight is currently exploring the availability of no-cost exhibition space at a number of venues adjacent to the reserved performance spaces. For further information is available from the number below.
Telestage Associates and it parent Waagner Biro Stage Technology has announced the retirement of Qahtan Hardy as managing director of Telestage Associates. Hardy will officially step down at the end of the year but will retain his links with the company and will continue to be involved as an advisor. He has a long involvement in stage engineering and audio-visual which incorporated the purchase of Telestage in 1988. In 1997 the company was purchased by Waagner Biro and Hardy was retained as the sole executive director. A successor is expected to be appointed in 2001. In the meantime Mike Bacon has been appointed operations manager and forms part of the senior management team at Telestage.
After a number of years at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, where the spiralling success of the event has seen more and more people literally squeezed into the hotel's Westbourne Suite, the 2001 Live! Awards dinner will be held in the Great Hall of Alexandra Palace. The change of venue offers the twin benefits of easily accommodating the large numbers who now wish toattend the Awards, while allowing much easier access to exhibitors and visitors to the Live! Show. The Live! Awards dinner takes place on the evening of Wednesday 7th February 2001, the first day of the Live! Show. In addition, this year, for the first time, you can register online for the Live! Show at the web address below, which also features comprehensive Show information.
PLASA has announced that Neil Darracott (pictured right), design engineer at Total Fabrications Ltd, has been elected to the Executive Committee of the Association following the elections which closed on 1 st December. The elections attracted 123 membership votes in total, compared with 104 last year. Mick Hannaford (Light Processor), the serving PLASA chairman, has been re-elected for his second three-year term, while PLASA Treasurer Sammy DeHavilland of Dare Pro Audio/Deco Leisure, has been re-elected for a three-year term. Newcomer Neil Darracott fills the other three-year term, while Paul Hinkly of LMC Audio, who was co-opted onto the PLASA committee last year, was elected for a further one-year term.Peter Walker of NSR, who was not re-elected, has served on the PLASA Committee for the past six years, and was for much of that time involved with membership issues, particularly related to new applications to the Association. At the December meeting of the executive committee, chairman Mick Hannaford thanked Peter for his time and hard work over the years he has served with PLASA.The remaining members of the committee are Paul Adams (PAI Group), Paul De Ville (Lightfactor Sales), Nikki Scott (Stage Technologies), David Hopkins OBE (Audio Design Services) and Diane Grant (DHA Lighting).
Bedford-based staging company Star Hire was commissioned by the Tussauds group to work on a series of ambitious firework displays at two leading theme parks. Star Hire provided the structures and stage for Alton Towers as it has for at least 10 years - and for Thorpe Park’s first major public display. The Alton Towers event set a world record for the most rockets fired in one display. A 3.5 tonne floating platform was also constructed in the centre of Alton Tower’s main lake to house the pumps for a massive water screen (supplied by Tim Fothergill of Creative Media Technology). The water screen was used for laser projection to animate the Legend of the Chained Tree spectacular, which also incorporated the sound, lights and LED images to accompany the fireworks. Star Hire also designed and constructed two 15m high towers which housed Gearhouse LED screens and a Wigwam PA - each structure contained six tonnes of water ballast.
Just a quick update to our news item last week (Weds Nov 8) concerning a large quantity of truss stolen from Essex-based lighting and production company Knight International. The 7.5 tonne Iveco Truck, which contained an entire ground support system and two covered PA wings, has now been found, minus all the truss! Phil Knight believes that the truss may have been stolen to order or may be sold back into the industry.Anybody with any information should contact Knight International on +44 1245 362133.
Navigator Systems’ US Division has appointed Ray as Technical Director. Covenant has many years’ experience in the entertainment industry, particularly in the field of information systems. Covenant will oversee technical support for the hundreds of companies in North America currently using HireTrack Eclipse. He will also be involved in the implementation of a new application service where companies will have the option to rent software instead of purchasing new software. The users will connect to Navigator Systems server farms via the internet and run HireTrack Eclipse. Greg Smith, president of Navigator Systems US, commented, "I am so excited that Ray has joined our team. He brings many years experience working with entertainment companies and their software systems."
Stray Theatre, a small theatre company which tours the length and breadth of Britain, has recently enhanced its performance possibilities with the addition of a Metrodeck staging system from Maltbury. As an independent organisation relying partly on its grant for support, Stray Theatre was delighted to find that it would be cheaper to buy their own Metrodeck system than to hire one. The highly-flexible staging system can be packed down in around 10 minutes, and has proved an ideal tool for the company’s varying production requirements. Stray Theatre’s David Lightbody said: “The feedback has been incredibly positive in terms of the quality added to the production.”
Between 7.30pm on Monday 6th November and 8.00am on Tuesday 7th November, Essex-based lighting and production company Knight International had one of their 7.5 tonne Iveco Trucks stolen, containing an entire ground support system and two covered PA wings. Amongst other things, the truck contained eight pieces of Penn Fabrications 2.4m pre rig loaded with Par 64, three pieces unloaded, 10 pieces of heavy duty ladder box truss at 3m, four at 2m, ninety degree bends, four rolling cages, four winches, six pieces of triangle truss at 3 and 4m and four three-way triangular bends. The 7.5 tonne truck was an S plate with Knight International written on the front, the doors and with the company logo on the driver’s side.If anyone has any information on this crime, or is offered large amounts of truss for very little money, please contact Knight International on 01245 362133.
The latest cheque from PCM, European importers and distributors of the CM Lodestar hoist, to the PSA (Production Services Association) for their Welfare and Benevolent Fund, puts PCM’s contribution to this excellent cause to over £10,000. The fourth cheque, for £3,700, was presented by PCM’s John Jones to Simon Whittaker, Chair of the PSA, at PLASA 2000. The next PCM cheque will be presented during The Live Show 2001 in February.