Rigging and Staging News

Gripple grabs Middleton
Thursday, 14 March 2002

Sheffield company Gripple Ltd expanded both its productivity and its workforce earlier this month when new recruit Chris Middleton came on board as divisional director. The company has recently split into two divisions - agriculture and industry - to cope with increasing demand for Gripple goods. The new role means Chris is responsible for industrial operations, heading up the management and sales of product group Gripple Hang-Fast.

Previously employed as managing director of Rotherham-based Brooke Tools, Middleton brings to Gripple a vast and varied knowledge of the industrial market. He will focus on driving the industrial business into previously untapped sales sectors, maximizing opportunities for the Hang-Fast range.

(Ruth Rossington)

Litestructures open London rental operation
Wednesday, 13 March 2002

Following increased demand for its rental products in and around the capital, trussing and staging specialist Litestructures has opened a new hire operation based in Wanstead, East London. Strategically positioned close to the City and the newer docklands venues of Excel and the Arena, the location also allows easy access to the north circular and M25, offering excellent links to the wider region.

The operation is being fronted by Emma Church, who re-joins the company after a two year break, and who has a wealth of product knowledge gained from the three years she spent working at Litestructures’ head office in Wakefield.

The key products available for hire include the Astralite Original 3 truss range, the Litedeck stage units/system and the Litedeck rolling risers, which are proving increasingly popular thanks to the fact that they greatly reduce set-up times at gigs where several bands appear on the same stage. These rolling risers are also very useful during load-ins, doubling as ‘dollies’ for transporting equipment between truck and stage.

Litestructures London can be contacted at Unit 2 Kubrick Business Centre, Station Approach, Wanstead Park, London, E7 0HU, UK. Telephone: +44 208 221 1196.

(Ruth Rossington)

Edwards steps up at TeleStage
Wednesday, 13 March 2002

Alun Edwards has been promoted to take over the responsibility for sales in all areas of TeleStage’s sales activities. The move is part of the continued strategy within the company, which specializes in theatre engineering and control systems, to improve its service and response to clients in all areas of its business. Edwards will be responsible for sales activities at home and overseas, and will work closely with TeleStage's parent company Waagner Biro Buhnentechnik to secure major projects worldwide.

(Ruth Rossington)

Edwin Shirley Staging finds success off piste
Monday, 11 March 2002

Edwin Shirley Staging (ESS) rounded off the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in a mood not dissimilar to the British Women's Curling team, jubilant. Working with Imagination's New York office ESS produced the Olympic Rendezvous @ Samsung pavilion for one of the Games' main sponsors, Samsung. The two-storey pavilion was created for the Olympic Square site in Salt Lake City for Samsung to use as an Olympic HQ. The building included a visitor experience dedicated to Samsung's products and it also provided recreational facilities for athletes and the public. Imagination estimated 8,500 visitors per day used the facility during the Games and subsequently declared the project a success.

ESS worked closely with Imagination's design team to make the building an integral part of the experience. Both companies have received praise from visitors, members of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organising Committee and the International Olympic Committee, for adding value to the Games. The building, planned to be completed prior to the anticipated snow falls of mid-December 2001, was built in a blizzard as the snow arrived earlier than the forecasters had expected. With the Games now over there is much speculation about the building being re-sited at another destination. Stephen Court of ESS commented: "We started to talk with Imagination's New York team several months ago about incorporating our structures across a whole range of applications. We're delighted that we have jointly produced something so successful this early into the discussions. ESS has a strong relationship with Imaginatio

Maltbury staging at Kent College
Monday, 11 March 2002

Kent College, Pembury, is the latest in a long line of educational establishments to recognise the potential of Maltbury's Metrodeck, having recently bought 68 units of the versatile staging system towards the conversion of the main hall into a £1m state-of-the-art theatre facility intended for use by Kent College and the local community. Working closely with Philip Sparkes, managing director of Maltbury, was Chris Hinks, bursar of Kent College. According to Hinks, the decision to use Maltbury staging was based on a number of factors: "I have read several articles about the company and its various installations and I know that it has an excellent reputation for top quality service and products. Having used Maltbury before, I am aware of the wide range of staging systems it has, which meant it was able to offer me a bespoke solution to my brief."

For the multi-purpose complex, Maltbury was briefed to equip the hall with staging components that will enable the venue to be used as a theatre or as an open area for exhibitions and events. To meet the brief, Maltbury customised the staging modules to create maple tongue-and-groove topped decks, which cover the orchestra pit, blending in with the surrounding floor. When the pit is open, carpeted decks create tiers inside it and additional standard painted decks can be used elsewhere.

On Tuesday 19 March, students of the college are marking the opening of the facility, which will be known as The Judi Dench Theatre, with a Royal Gala Performance of the musical Camelot. The show will be attended by their Royal H

Autograph Sales - flying across Europe
Friday, 8 March 2002

Autograph Sales Ltd, the European distributor for ATM Fly-Ware, has had an active few months supplying loudspeaker flying hardware systems across the continent, to rental companies as well as a selection of loudspeaker manufacturers. Show Presentation Services in the UK, and Letusa in Spain are eminent rental companies in their own field and devoted ATM Fly-Ware users. Both companies have recently purchased product from the highly-acclaimed MEGS series of loudspeaker flying hardware. The MEGS series is ATM's answer to a standard side-mounted loudspeaker flying system. It is ideally suited for large-sized loudspeakers and clusters, but works equally well in smaller applications.

Wema Elektronik, Kling & Freitag, Fohhn Audio and GAE are all European loudspeaker manufacturers who have also purchased product from the MEGS series. Mackie, who now manufacture EAW loudspeakers, have been purchasing the ATM AF series track fittings from Autograph Sales, which are used on the current range of EAW loudspeaker cabinets. The latest ATM news from the UK, is the use of a rather large ATM Fly Ware system at the latest Les Misérables Belfast Concert. This was the first time Autograph's sister rental company, Autograph Sound Recording, have used an ATM hardware system of this size and tested it rigorously for its flexibility, at their HQ in North London before sending it to Belfast's new Odyssey indoor arena. The tests proved to be most satisfactory and the concerts a resounding success, say Autograph.

(Lee Baldock)

Star Hire to help in Jubilee Celebrations
Thursday, 7 March 2002

Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd has been awarded the contract to provide all of the technical facilities for the evening celebrations throughout the Queen’s Jubilee Baton Relay. The Baton Relay is scheduled to visit 500 towns in 50 days with the last town on each day hosting an evening celebration; culminating in the final show being the opening ceremony of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Having been selected from 23 competing tenders, Star Hire has been contracted to provide their Mobile 11-09 StarStage along with video screen, sound, lights and power. They will also be responsible for the design, manufacture and fitting of all branded imagery on the stage and all the associated vehicles. "The logistics of setting up 50 events consecutively is challenging but not unfamiliar territory," said Star Hire’s technical director Roger Barrett. "The combination of the fast set up times of the mobile stage, modern production equipment and the logistical expertise of our trained crews mean that both ourselves and the organisers are confident this will be a successful series of events."

A similar relay was held in Australia before the Olympic Games but nothing like it has been attempted in the UK before. Roger Barrett, Star Hire’s technical director said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this contract. It seems that Star Hire was the only company that actually owned the hardware and had the in-house management and service support to fulfil the tender requirements."

(Lee Baldock)

Rain in the Desert with Tomcat USA
Thursday, 7 March 2002

The newest property in Las Vegas, the Palms Hotel and Casino, celebrated its grand opening 15 November 2001. The 265 million dollar property with 447 rooms in the 42-story hotel tower is also home to one of the hottest new nightclubs: Rain in the Desert. This multi-level nightclub/concert venue consists of an array of special effects and custom equipment made possible in part by Tomcat USA and Kelly Communications. From the private booths with water sofas and skyboxes with private balconies to the lagoon-shaped dancefloor, Rain has been a big hit with locals and tourists alike. Lavish special effects throughout the club include intelligent lighting and an amazing play of water, fog and pyrotechnics. A state-of-the-art lighting rig contains a computerized intelligent lighting system, as well as the means to create effects like fog, haze, 16ft fire plumes and 3ft fireballs. Above the dance floor sit two concentric truss circles with 17ft and 10ft diameters. They incorporate 20ft rotating wing trusses attached through custom ‘hub’ blocks. The ‘hub’ blocks incorporate motor drive to rotate the rounded wing trusses. All the equipment is rigged with high-speed Columbus McKinnon chain hoists and controlled by the first permanent installation in the US of a batalpha modular control. The wing trusses are capable of traversing the room at incredible speeds and a computer-programmed river of water surrounds the bamboo dance floor with multiple features including dancing jets and fountains - a truly unique experience.

(Lee Baldock)

AVW in Brighton & Paris
Tuesday, 5 March 2002

Built in 1805 as stables for the Prince of Wales, the Brighton Dome has since established itself, in conjunction with the Corn Exchange and the Pavilion Theatre, as one of the country’s leading music venues. But for the last three years it has been in the dark, during which time it has been entirely gutted, undergone a £22m refurbishment programme. The refurbishment has equipped the venue with an adjustable stage area, increased storage space, improved front of house facilities, additional seating and a state-of-the-art acoustic system, together with four different sets of lighting and sound.

Technical Planning International, the consultants responsible for the stage engineering during the refurbishment, commissioned Centre Stage Engineering and Delstar Engineering to handle the overstage and understage developments respectively. Motion control specialist AVW Controls was sub-contracted by Delstar to design and install all the understage control systems. A new orchestra elevator provides the Dome with greater flexibility than ever before. Driven by a Serapid chain, it can be used at a number of levels via programmable controls from AVW. Unusually for a specialist stage contractor, AVW was responsible for all the electrical containment of the elevator, as well as the electrical installation and commissioning. The choir riser also provides the facility to augment the stage. When deployed this is tiered and forms seating for a 50-strong choir; in order to create a larger stage area, Delstar designed, built and installed it so that the motorised seating folds up agains

Stagetec at the Laban Centre
Wednesday, 27 February 2002

Stagetec is supplying a custom-built show relay and paging system for the prestigious new state-of-the-art Laban contemporary dance centre on Deptford Creek. The £22 million project is due for completion in autumn this year, and will be the largest purpose-built contemporary dance centre in the world. The huge 7,800sq.m building, designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, includes 12 dance studios and a 300-seat theatre. There’s also a community studio/meeting room for local schools and community groups - a media information resource centre, 100-seat lecture theatre, café and public gardens.

The project specification was put together by theatre consultants Carr & Angier, with whom Stagetec have worked on numerous other projects around the country. For Stagetec, the Laban project involves the supply and installation of the equipment, plus the design of the system and project management, including liaising with other contractors, producing working drawings and a complete set of operation and maintenance manuals. The Stagetec installation incorporates 14 speakers mounted around the building, which are fed from three paging points via a switching matrix. The system incorporates show relay and background music from a Marantz CC3000 multiplay CD machine.

Stagetec is also supplying components of the show relay CCTV system including a camera pointing at the stage and monitor mounted on the stage manager’s desk. A video distribution amplifier enables the signal to be patched from here to other locations around the building, so the show can be recorded or additional

Vertigo Expands and Moves
Wednesday, 27 February 2002

Vertigo Rigging - specialist in the art of events and entertainment rigging – has now completed on its new, larger, high-tech premises in Deptford, London. Sited between Surrey Quays and Greenwich, Deptford is ideal for accessing central London and the West End. The premises consist of 14,500sq.ft of purpose-built warehousing. Vertigo has specially designed offices for project management and administration, and staff amenities have been given a priority, to account for the ever-increasing requirement for the provision of out-of-hours rigging services.

Vertigo Rigging director Rebecca Loughran is delighted with the new premises, and comments: "We now have the capacity to expand our equipment inventory and hold the largest stock of quality truss, motors and associated rigging in the UK. This will allow us to offer clients more choice and flexibility in the world of increasingly competitive tendering."

As from 15 April, the company’s contact details will be:

Vertigo Rigging, Unit 1 Deptford Trading Estate, Blackhorse Road, Deptford, LondonSE8 3HY
Tel: 07071 2000 99
Fax: 07071 2000 77

(Lee Baldock)

Rebecca Lace Provides International Link for Le Mark
Monday, 25 February 2002

A new face on the international trade show circuit is Le Mark's Rebecca Lace. She has joined the company as project manager with the task of expanding sales and the product profile of Le Mark’s reusable PAL Roadcase Label and accessory range within the US. One of Rebecca’s first outings came at the recent NAMM show held at the Anaheim (Los Angeles) Convention Centre in January, where Le Mark shared a stand with Penn Fabrication.

Penn has developed a unique range of steel dishes for Le Mark's label range. The dish can be specified by clients and can be built in as original equipment for all new roadcases. It is available on a worldwide basis through Penn and its extensive Dealer network.

(Ruth Rossington)

Brewster Joins SPS
Monday, 25 February 2002

Show Presentation Services has appointed Tim Brewster as its new head of scenic construction, following a review of operations taken in January this year. Brewster joins SPS after working with Set and Stage for three years as a project manager, following 11 years as construction director for Lewis Productions. During his career, Brewster has worked on staging and sets for a huge variety of shows from the Conservative Party Conference and trade union events to exhibitions in Azerbaijan.

He first became interested in set design and construction after building Doctor Who sets, amongst others, for the BBC following a five year apprenticeship as a pattern maker for British Aerospace. "This is a challenging role," said Brewster. "My focus is to integrate our scenic business fully into the rest of the company and to raise the department profile both internally and externally." SPS's scenic construction department achieved business growth of 241% in 2000-2001, confirming its position as one of the leading independent AV rental and staging companies in the UK.

(Ruth Rossington)

Tomcat Hosts Annual Hoist & Rigging Workshop
Monday, 25 February 2002

Marking 10 years of in-depth industry training courses, another successful Hoist and Rigging Workshop was recently hosted by Tomcat USA in Midland, Texas. Leading instructors were joined by nearly 50 industry professional participants from all over the United States and Mexico.

Instructor, Don Dimitroff from Columbus McKinnon, as well as Tomcat’s own Dave Beard, worked participants through the Lodestar electric chain hoist. Rocky Paulson of Stage Rigging and Morgan Neff of Mine Safety Appliances stressed safety in rigging techniques and fall protection equipment while Keith Bohn, Tomcat design manager, wrapped up with truss theory and design. Participants were treated to not only four days of informative classes, but also four nights of fun and the traditional factory night at Tomcat USA with extensive tours, demonstrations, contests and a graduation ceremony.

(Ruth Rossington)

Blackout Triple E Creates Magic at St James’s Place
Wednesday, 13 February 2002

Blackout Triple E recently supplied two striking theatrical backdrops for the St. James’s Place Group’s one day annual company meeting held at The Royal Albert Hall. Attended by nearly 2,500 employees, the event successfully fused the annual meeting with St. James’s Place’ tenth anniversary celebrations.

Blackout Triple E’s creative team worked closely with the show producers Creating Sunshine, to realize the creative effect of the complex stage design. A stunning 16 x 6 metre fine grey gauze drape was custom designed, manufactured and hand painted at Blackout’s South London facility, to work as a semi-opaque screen in the foreground. This also provided a canvas onto which a light show, designed by Quentin Jarman, was projected from both sides. In addition Blackout supplied 30 metres of starcloth as the backdrop to achieve a galaxy-like effect.

(Ruth Rossington)

Rental Management Systems introduces RMS22
Friday, 8 February 2002

New features of the latest version of the rental management software package include a whole set of new clear icons, built-in support for backup and restore of data and reports, saving of the last used sort-order and sorted column in all List-tabs and Finder-windows, a new facility for multiple contacts per company, default country and telephone settings and much more.

For a full run-down of all the latest features from RMS22, visit the company website at the address below.

(Lee Baldock)

Star Hire Prepares for Busy 2002
Tuesday, 5 February 2002

As Star Hire (Event Services) Limited celebrates its 25th Anniversary, the staging and engineering support company is expanding to accommodate a full events diary for 2002.

Recent projects, which included supplying stages for numerous New Year’s Eve celebrations across the country, several media company shows and major international events, have led the company to expand its business. "We have experienced an ever-increasing demand for our specialized engineering and staging expertise from music promoters, media companies and event management companies," said technical director, Roger Barrett. "I am delighted that as events in general have become more professional with regards to safety and quality, the depth of skills and knowledge throughout the team at Star Hire is standing us in good stead."

As the summer approaches, Star Hire’s itinerary already indicates that this is going to be their busiest year; the line up of projects includes the provision of mobile stages for the Queen’s Jubilee Baton Relay which is why the company is currently looking to recruit new staff.

(Ruth Rossington)

Maltbury Staging for Met Arts Centre
Friday, 1 February 2002

The Met Arts Centre in Manchester, one of a rich selection of theatres and music halls in the city, has had a new staging system fitted in its main theatre. As a variety of musical events take place in the main theatre, ranging from large-scale orchestral concerts and the famous Blues Festival to children's days, the staging had to be as multi-purpose as the hall itself, not to mention suitable for outside use also.

Maltbury supplied 25 Ambideck staging units with legs to variable heights, measuring 32 x 24ft. With variable leg height, the staging can be easily raised and lowered to suit a variety of needs and with ramp access to the rear of the stage, people with disabilities will be able to enjoy the theatre's facilities.

(Ruth Rossington)

Summit Steel Rig for S Club 7
Wednesday, 30 January 2002

There’s no doubt that S Club 7’s second UK tour will be highly successful, thanks to the expertise of Summit Steel, who were called in by CV Production’s Chris Vaughan, the tour’s production manager.

"As with all things, the key to success lies in good forward planning and design. The rigging design involved a great deal of CAD drawing," said Summit Steel’s Chris Walker. "Having been awarded the contract on 1 November, by the time the tour went into rehearsal on Jan 10, we were already working with draft 8 of the rigging plot. Our extensive touring experience allowed us to co-ordinate all the rigging information from the tour’s various designers and suppliers," continued Walker. "We then liaised extensively with all the venues and their house rigging contractors to ensure that load-ins would run smoothly."

To rig the show, Summit used 220m of James Thomas trussing, along with 55 CM Lodestar hoists. These were used to provide backdrop, side screen, tracking screen and catwalk support trussing, as well as cable bridges and hoists used during daily fit-up for the scenic elements.

Total Fabrications Ltd were called in to manufacture the catwalk deck and handrail to fit the truss structure supplied by Summit Steel. "From an early stage, Total Fabrications and Summit worked closely together to produce an excellent result that is safe, looks great and is easy to tour and rig," commented Charlie Kail, the set construction co-ordinator.

"The catwalk is suspended using 26 Summit hoists fitted wit

Myriad Appoint New Managing Director
Friday, 25 January 2002

Ashwin Shah, chairman of the Myriad Group, has announced that, as part of the recent re-structuring of the Group, Richard Crowe has been appointed managing director of its Creative Staging subsidiary. Crowe, who was previously the sales and marketing director of the company, has been with Creative Staging for the past seven years, working in senior positions in the AV presentation industry since 1978. As well as fulfilling a full-time role at Creative Staging, Crowe will also play an active part in the future development of the whole Myriad Group. The Group recently restructured its nine business areas under the four main names of Myriad, Creative Staging, MAP and Visual Systems, offering a range of services for AV and IT communication and presentation.

(Ruth Rossington)

Warren Connelly joins Blackout Triple E
Thursday, 24 January 2002

South London-based Blackout Triple E, specialists in the design and manufacture of drapes, starcloths, tracking and production rigging equipment, has recently appointed Warren Connolly as hire and sales manager. He joins the busy rental department with 15 years’ sales and marketing experience, and will be promoting the company’s extensive product portfolio and range of production services to new and existing clients.

Warren will be liaising with producers, production companies and event organisers from the early planning stages of a project. He will be presenting creative and practical solutions for the most challenging special events, theatre productions, exhibitions, installations and conferences. Working closely with the company’s in house design, project management and technical support teams, he will help transform the most complex needs and ideas into reality. Warren Connelly explained: "I’m delighted to join Blackout Triple E. Having previously worked within blue chip organisations, I’m particularly impressed with their committed approach and with the team spirit that permeates the company. I’m looking forward to channelling my marketing experience into expanding Blackout Triple E’s market share."

(Lee Baldock)

Maltbury on the Move with a New Look
Wednesday, 23 January 2002

At the end of last year, Maltbury Ltd moved to new offices in Brighton. Since 1995, the staging specialist has supplied its popular range of demountable staging systems to a wide array of organizations and venues including theatres, schools, arenas, film and TV studios and concert halls. With products ranging from the lightweight Aerodeck, versatile Metrodeck and Ambideck to Steeldeck 7.5, currently the strongest demountable staging system on the market, Maltbury also offers a bespoke service and an impressive range of accessories to complement its staging systems.

To coincide with the move to new premises, managing director Philip Sparkes has re-launched the company’s website, which is now easier to navigate and more user friendly. The improved site also gives better access to a wide range of the most up-to-date Maltbury press releases and, complementing the website, the new look will now be used in all corporate material.

The move came at the end of a busy year for the company: during 2001 it provided staging for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Budweiser House Party, St. Johns College School, Cambridge, BITE: 01 at the Barbican and The Met Arts Centre, Manchester.

The new address is 11 Hollingbury Terrace, Brighton BN1 7JE. Tel: +44 (0) 845 130 8881.

(Ruth Rossington)

Rock Muse-ic . . .
Sunday, 20 January 2002

Devon-based rock trio Muse appeared at a wide variety of UK and European venues at the tail end of 2001; Mike Mann saw them in the cavernous London Docklands Arena.

Lighting designer Oli Metcalf has seen his system squeezed into small clubs and stretched to fill a full arena stage - and has managed to keep the CAV-supplied rig intact along the way. Metcalf is using CAV for the first time, a decision, prompted by their stock of up-to-date High End product. "I’m using 16 Studio Color washlights and the same number of Studio Spot CMYs," he revealed. There are also 14 AF1000 strobes in his design and a quartet of modified Cyberlight Turbos - their rear cable entries have been removed to allow them to stand vertically under four fabric cones which form an important part of the set. "CAV seemed to have all the new High End kit I needed, and they had no problem with me wanting to work with my usual crew," said Metcalf, who also brought in Total Fabrications to build top plates for his truss towers, allowing moving lights to be attached to a standard length of well-secured barrel.

To drive the Pars, ACLs and Source Four profiles, Metcalf specified 72 channels of Avolites ART 4000 dimmers. "They have an amazing DMX response time," he said, adding that his console of choice was the Avo Sapphire 2000. "It’s a very busy show - it’s all about timing - so a quick response is really important." Metcalf’s system shared projection screens with a fast-moving video design, necessitating accurate focusing and luminance control

RFH Transformation
Sunday, 20 January 2002

The Royal Festival Hall production team gave blood, sweat and tears to stage the 2001 festive ballet season, featuring the renowned Moscow Stanislavky Ballet.

The team, led by head of production Nigel March, and in collaboration with the venue’s riggers Vertigo Rigging, transformed the concert hall into a proscenium arch theatre, with all the expected rigging and flying facilities, ready to stage The Snow Maiden and Swan Lake.

This was the most ambitious set and lighting design ever staged at the South Bank, as well as one of the tightest timeframes. The initial task of the Vertigo team, headed by Paddy Burnside, was to install an 18 x 12 metre mother grid in the roof of the Hall. Below this was hung a trussing sub-grid to hold all the lighting and scenery bars and tab tracks. Because the changeover between shows was so tight, scenery and cloths for both had to be rigged at the outset - leaving just 40mm between each bar!

Vertigo also built a fly gallery off to stage right, and two over-stage followspot positions. The orchestra pit was created by adding an 8ft thrust to the front of stage and removing six rows of seats. This created a space just large enough to accommodate the 36-piece Stanislavsky orchestra. To enable a 40ft x 40ft dance platform to be installed for the performers, at a stage height of 7ft, the hall’s upstage choir stalls were removed. The pros arch was constructed from trussing and clad with flats and drapes. Lighting design (by Ildar Bederdimov for The Snow Maiden and Anatoli Remizov for Swan Lake, operated by James Tapping) uses much


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