Rigging and Staging News

Metal School by James ThomasMetal School by James Thomas
Monday, 10 December 2001

Trussing, aluminium and ground support specialists James Thomas Engineering has designed an integrated Trussing module - on its safe use and handling - for PCM's renowned Lodestar two-day Motor School. An extended version of the trussing module is also run at PCM's five-day-Rigging School. James Thomas's Trussing course was devised by project manager Paul Young, who says: "There's more than meets the eye with trussing and its associated safety issues, and also the wider ones generally across in the rigging industry. Anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of motors and rigging also needs to know all about trussing. People are often surprised at the complexity of the subject!"

Like the Motor School, the Trussing module is presented in a hands-on, practical manner. For the two-day Motor School - run free of charge by PCM - the Trussing section takes up half a day. At the longer five-day Rigging School, it occupies a full day and includes a practical session. Here students have the opportunity of getting their hands dirty and assembling and disassembling a full ground support system and a box truss from start to finish. JTE's course provides a comprehensive overview of the trussing manufacturing process and the options, materials and manufacturing methods available. It will familiarize owners, users and specifiers of trussing with the different choices for the application, and also covers the make up, design philosophy, operational theory and safety aspects of the products. Trouble-shooting is also discussed.

Potter Scales the Heights
Sunday, 9 December 2001

Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone has already received great critical and popular acclaim and is expected to become the biggest grossing film ever for Time Warner. Vertigo Rigging, Spirit Design and Fourth Phase were amongst those who helped supply the magic for the recent World Première at London’s famous Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square.

Vertigo, working for production company West Design, show producer Lucy Smail and production manager Andy Cheesman, transformed the front of the building into Hogwarts School of Wizardry & Witchcraft for the evening of 4 November.

With a seven-day get in, the event required over 22 tonnes of equipment, 12 tonnes of which was hung off the side of the building - representing a huge logistical and practical challenge for Vertigo. Work began on 29 October, when project manager Paddy Burnside and his team of riggers supervised a 60 tonne crane to lift over 10 tonnes of pre-built RMD (prefabricated Rapid Metal Decking) superstructure onto the roof of the Odeon.

The superstructure’s purpose was to support two sections of truss framework - the lower main roof - measuring 22m wide by 8.5m deep, and the tower section - 8m wide by 31 metres high. The tower section of superstructure was anchored to its own two top floors using six M20 studding rods, drilled through the floors for maximum stability. The next four days were spent installing the truss and attaching the set to it. The trussing statistics were equally impressive - with a total of 190m of 52cm Thomas Supertruss and 200m of Thomas Superlite used. The 52cm form

Stage Technologies to Sponsor Theatre Conference
Friday, 7 December 2001

Stage Technologies has announced its decision to become Gold sponsor for the forthcoming international conference on Theatre Engineering and Architecture 2002 taking take place in London next June. The theatre event of 2002 will examine technology and architecture for the performing arts. Presented in a hotel venue in London's Theatreland, the conference will bring together theatre technicians, architects, consultants, scenographers, lighting designers, stage and building services engineers, acousticians, fire prevention specialists as well as building owners, cost consultants, new clients and project managers.

The conference will be followed by the ABTT Theatre Show. Stage Technologies' commercial director Nikki Scott said: "We are delighted to sponsor this landmark international event. It is an important opportunity to discuss with industry colleagues and theatre professionals the issues which exist today and to develop a vision for the future. Stage engineering continues to benefit enormously from technological advances and we must work together to ensure that the improved facilities these advances provide become accessible to the theatre world as a whole."

AVW in Monte Carlo and Rochdale
Tuesday, 4 December 2001

The Monte Carlo Ballet is set to take on a new choreographic adventure, La Belle. Created to the music of Tchaikovsky, La Belle has an exceptional artistic team, put together by Scena Productions. Scena has become a regular client of AVW Controls, most recently on a project for Aston Martin in Tokyo where AVW was commissioned to work on two areas of the show. In rehearsal throughout November and December before hitting the stage for a tour beginning 27 December 2001, La Belle requires six motorized rotating doors, three on each side of the stage plus a radio-controlled stage truck.

AVW has created similar designs before, including a radio-controlled birthday cake and washing machine for a Ray Cooney farce at the Whitehall Theatre some years ago, plus the boat in Phantom of the Opera. AVW Controls has also taken over the maintenance of scenery control for Phantom at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Having worked on the show in Holland, Switzerland and London, managing director Anton Woodward and AVW project manager John McBryde, who previously worked as chief electrician at Her Majesty's Theatre, ensured the smooth-running of what has become the most successful musical ever produced. Grossing more than $3 billion worldwide and still rising, Phantom features some strikingly melodramatic effects, including the famous falling of the chandelier, and, having premiered in 1986, the show continues to play to packed houses in London's West End.

And from Monte Carlo to Rochdale. At the beginning of November, on behalf of PMC Stage Service

New Sales Appointment at OPTI
Tuesday, 4 December 2001

OPTI, the lighting effects and trussing supplier, has appointed Idunn Rodziewicz to its domestic sales team as regional sales manager. Rodziewicz brings with her 17 years of experience in the retail and exhibition market with Marler Haley. OPTI chairman Neil Rice told PLASA Media: "We're very pleased to have her on board. She has a great track record with clients here in the UK and internationally, as well as the experience to identify what they need and how to provide it."

Rodziewicz will initially concentrate on the OPTI Trilite side of the business, cementing links with clients across the retail and exhibition markets. She commented: "I'm really looking forward to it. OPTI is a leader in its field, and has great products as well as a fantastic range of support services. I think a lot of our clients, new and existing, are going to be pleasantly surprised at what OPTI can offer them."

PLASA's First Online Forum
Friday, 30 November 2001

PLASA has gone live with its first web-based discussion forum - a technical discussion on the use of Chain Hoists, particularly the connectors used for their control circuits. Access to the forum is via the 'Forums' link in the Standards section of the PLASA Website, where users can register online. This first application of the forum is being overseen by PLASA's Technical Standards Officer Tim Cox, and further forums, both for the use of Standards groups and for the industry in general, will be introduced to the site over the coming months.

JR Clancy & Stage Technologies in AllianceJR Clancy & Stage Technologies in Alliance
Thursday, 29 November 2001

The collaboration between the US theatrical equipment consultant, JR Clancy, and UK manufacturer of stage automation systems, Stage Technologies, has moved on another step with the signing of a formal agreement between the two companies. This agreement, which covers land-based stage engineering installations in North America, was signed at the LDI 2001 exhibition in Orlando earlier this month, and cements a relationship that has been strengthening over a number of years.

The companies first worked together in 1995 providing a complete 95-axis power flying system for the Teatre Nacional in Barcelona, Spain. More recently, JR Clancy provided the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City with a complete automated rigging system complete including a 45-axis Nomad control system from Stage Technologies.

Tom Young, vice-president of sales and marketing of JR Clancy, explained: "This agreement formalizes the working relationship we have had for many years, combining Stage Technologies' line of internationally-respected control products with Clancy's established motorized rigging equipment. Together we offer a complete range of sophisticated, reliable motorized rigging and control for systems of all sizes."

With project references outside the USA such as the 240-axis, 10-console system at the Royal Opera House in London, Stage Technologies' expertise is now internationally recognized. Sales and marketing director for the company John Hastie added: "Our work to date with JR Clancy has included most recently on lan

The Empire Strikes Back for TFL
Thursday, 29 November 2001

Total Fabrication Ltd’s (TFL) T2 safety truss has been put through its paces over the last few months at Sunderland’s Empire Theatre. The Theatre’s chief lighting engineer Dave Westcombe was enthusiastic about T2 and quickly allayed fears about using new technology. "The lanyard attachment is superb," he said "and within a very short time I was able to use it one-handed."

Four of the theatre's key staff were given on-site safety training by TFL's Chris Higgs: during this process, TFL brought along a representative from Lyon Equipment, a leading supplier of equipment and training for work and rescue at height. He followed the entire training procedure as an independent observer and then made recommendations on the correct harness pieces needed for the Empire’s particular environment.

The Empire's technical manager, Mel James, who had also completed the training course, liked the whole concept of the T2, but was concerned that the depth of the truss made focusing lights mounted beneath it a little awkward. TFL have since addressed this concern by making the truss available in three standard sizes - R470 the original specification, R450 which is a lower version similar in height to Medium Duty truss and T450 which is a triangular version. Venues can now choose the size most appropriate to their application.

Seeing is Believing for Cisco EventsSeeing is Believing for Cisco Events
Tuesday, 27 November 2001

Seeing is Believing, the lighting design consultancy based at Knutsford in the North West of the UK, has just completed four major contracts for Cisco Systems. The events, all produced by Project Worldwide of London, comprised an internal event in Paris and an external event - Networkers - in Copenhagen. Each event was in two parts - a conference and a party.

Seeing is Believing was contracted to provide the lighting, rigging and drapery for all four events.

The parties with the theme of 'The Stadium' and 'New Dimension' were for over 3,000 people and staged in the Grand Arch, La Defense, Paris and The Forum in Copenhagen. A large amount of intelligent (principally Martin MACs) and generic lighting, trussing and rigging was used, and in keeping with Seeing is Believing's policy of finding and using local suppliers, all equipment for Copenhagen was sourced locally. The company has recently provided an estimate to a major exhibition contractor to provide personnel and equipment around the globe for a major airline.

Total Structures Provides Icing on Cake
Friday, 23 November 2001

Total Structures and BSI Production have designed and installed a state-of-the-art rigging grid for the Coach USA Center in Elmira NY. BSI Production was approached by the GM at the Coach USA Center to design a rigging system that would be able to accommodate the needs of touring production without extensive modification to the existing roof. BSI's Ron Branchini and Hard Hit Productions' (the arenas preferred lighting and rigging supplier) Bruce Perron identified the needs of this multi purpose venue. Total Structures was then contracted to engineer and then manufacture the appropriate system. The equipment has been designed to allow rigging from the ground, which eliminates the fall hazard to the crew working the event and reduces load-in times.

TMB joins Tomcat's European distribution
Friday, 23 November 2001

Tomcat UK has announced the addition of TMB to their list of European distributors. TMB will now be able to supply Tomcat's full range of truss as well as the ever-popular Columbus McKinnon Lodestar chain hoist. Paul Hartley, TMB's general manager, Europe said: "This agreement will enable us to offer our customers Tomcat's truss and also the Lodestar hoist at very competitive prices. This deal just adds to the number of products we can now offer from our UK warehouse."

The distribution agreement was signed by Paul Hartley and Tomcat UK’s managing director, Mitch Clark, at PLASA 2001.

PSA Get Together at Vari-Lite
Tuesday, 20 November 2001

The Production Services Association (PSA) is arranging a series of informal get-togethers around the country to enable its members to share stories and network with others in the industry. The first of these regional meetings will be held at Vari-Lite’s Greenford premises on Tuesday 11th December at 7.00pm. Those attending will have a chance to view the company’s facilities and see how it is tackling the challenges of 2002. The evening will also feature a demonstration of Vari-Lite’s new lighting systems in the demo room.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Keith Owen on 0121 693 7109 or e-mail keith@psa.org.uk.

EC&O Appoints Unusual & Outback
Friday, 16 November 2001

As part of an on-going strategic review of the services offered to clients, Earls Court & Olympia Limited (EC&O) has announced new arrangements for the provision of rigging services in its venues. Following a competitive tendering process, EC&O has appointed Unusual Rigging as exclusive supplier of rigging services for Earls Court, whilst at the same time awarding the Olympia contract to Outback Rigging. The contracts will be three-year rolling appointments, which will be reviewed annually. "We are determined to provide our customers with the very best levels of service and delivery. By appointing different companies we believe that we will be able to get real focus in each venue. Unusual and Outback are perfectly placed to provide the levels of service we’re looking for," commented Jon Sellins, group halls director for EC&O.

As a new supplier to EC&O, Mark Surtees, managing director of Outback, was pleased with the appointment: "Olympia is an impressive venue and this contract is one we’re proud to have won. We’ll be working hard with EC&O to ensure that we deliver on the ground with their clients as well as in the air with their rigging."

Alan Jacobi, Managing Director of Unusual Rigging, commented: "Earls Court is London’s premier exhibition space and we’re delighted to be reappointed, enabling us to focus on providing the very best service and support throughout the year to EC&O and its clients."

Michael Garl Receives Swan Award
Thursday, 15 November 2001

At the recent LDI exhibition in Orlando, Florida, ESTA (the Entertainment Services and Technology Association) awarded the 2001 Eva Swan Award to Michael J. Garl, president of James Thomas Engineering, Inc. The Eva Swan Award is presented to a member who has put forth exceptional efforts in time, expertise and personal resources on behalf of ESTA; been instrumental in shaping and promoting the strategic direction of the Association; made major contributions to the realization of the mission, goals and objectives, and enhanced the value of membership for all.

The 2001 Award was presented by Wally Blount of Columbus McKinnon, who said: "The most important attribute this person has could be summed up in one word: willingness. His willingness to give his time for the betterment of the entertainment industry; his willingness to share his knowledge so that others may learn; his willingness to work without expecting any compensation for his efforts; his willingness to spend weekends away from his family helping to build an industry he loves; his willingness to take a leadership position while others are trying to figure out what to do next; his willingness to take on more work than one person can possibly do; his willingness to work quietly behind the scenes just to get the job done; and his willingness to stay calm when others are not."

Garl has been a member of ESTA sine the early days of the Association. He has served on the Technical Standards Committee since its inception, and he has chaired the Rigging Working Group from the beginning. The Rigging Working Group

Montgomery Leaves Bytecraft
Monday, 12 November 2001

Bytecraft has announced that its long-serving international marketing manager John Drummond Montgomery, has left the company after more than nine years service, following his appointment as Australian Consul-General / Senior Trade Commissioner to Japan, based in Osaka. In an announcement to staff, general manager John Rowland said that Montgomery had been the most successful marketing manager Bytecraft had had. Mr Rowland stated that John had been responsible for opening up new markets for Bytecraft's stage automation business in Holland, Korea, China and Japan, as well as ameliorating the Bytecraft name internationally. In opening these markets, Montgomery had won the biggest stage automation contracts in Bytecraft's history, notably the Singapore Arts Center and most recently the China Grand National Theatre in Beijing.

John had played a key role in Bytecraft's development and position as the premier Stage Automation company in the world, not only in winning business for Bytecraft against larger competitors, but also in developing strong relationships with Bytecraft's strategic partners around the world. Further, the company stresses, Montgomery played an important role within Bytecraft in team-building and keeping morale high.

As a lighting designer of International standing Montgomery was also able to add value to Bytecraft’s business by winning prestigious lighting jobs, which would subsequently be prepared by Bytecraft and utilize Bytecraft technology. The Spire atop the Victorian Arts Centre perhaps being the greatest monument to his ability.

AMX Appoints New CEO
Monday, 12 November 2001

AMX Corporation, a leader in advanced control system technology, has announced that Scott Miller, chairman, president and CEO has resigned, and the company’s board of directors has named Robert J. Carroll, a director of AMX since January 2001, as his successor.

Carroll has over 30 years' experience, including 25 years' operational experience, with a wide variety of technology companies engaged in software development and electronics manufacturing. He served as a consultant to the company in early 2001, and since 1995, has provided similar consulting services to other companies as a principal in Roscommon Limited, which is a technology investment and consulting practice providing specialized support in turnarounds, acquisitions and divestitures.

Additionally, AMX reported 2002 second quarter financial results. Including one-time charges of $8.2 million, the company reported a net loss for the quarter of $8.1 million, or $0.74 per share. As a result of current business and market conditions, the company recorded one-time non-cash charges which included inventory related reserves of $3.2 million; additional accounts receivable reserves of $0.5 million; the write-off of miscellaneous intangibles of approximately $0.3 million; and a valuation allowance against deferred tax assets of $4.2 million. Excluding one-time charges, the company reported pro-forma breakeven operating results on revenues of $23.0 million as compared to $0.02 per share on revenues of $25.9 million in the year ago quarter.

In one final piece of news, the company has expanded its West Region pres

Volkswagen’s Big Box
Thursday, 8 November 2001

The 2001 Volkswagen Stand claimed the entire ground floor of Hall 3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and featured an innovative multimedia experience ‘The Big Box’ which was produced by HP:ICM of London. The exhibition environment was designed by German architects Cebra who worked closely with HP:ICM to create the perfect environment for the ‘Big Box’ theatre, a circular room containing a 170 degree video projection screen.

The 50 metre wide, seven metre high screen was used to show a specially commissioned film directed by Robert Butcher and Liam Lyons with a score by Jonathan Goldstein and produced by HP:ICM, in front of this screen was a huge water ‘lake’ which concealed submerged water and pyrotechnic effects which accompanied dynamic moments in the film; the roof supported a comprehensive lighting system and was covered by a 35 metre diameter fibre optic star cloth.

The audience viewed the spectacle either from a half crescent ‘beach’ which overlooked the lake or from a five metre high bridge that spanned the Big Box at first floor level, the rear wall was a huge semi-circular gauze lit to reflect the various colour themes contained within the storyline. The film, which celebrated Volkswagen cars and company identity, lasted for seven minutes with interspersed mist, rain, fountains, water curtain, gas flame and lighting effects and ended with a one-minute light and laser show.

Lighting Designer for the ‘Big Box’ theatre was Durham Marenghi who was employed by HP:ICM to light the experience and to co-ordinate

Flying Squad with Fiat & Ford
Thursday, 1 November 2001

Central London-based Flying Squad Aerial Rigging were recently contracted by London-based Acrobat Productions to project manage the stunning centrepiece aerial show at the Indian launch of Fiat's new Palio, staged in Goa on 20-21 September. The Fiat Palio is heralded as India's 'hot' new hatchback and the product on which Fiat India will base a complete revamp of its manufacturing performance, dealer network and brand image. With this in mind, its launch party was a stunning showcase, set in a purpose-built geodesic structure on a Helipad above a palm-fringed beach.

Flying Squad's director Jon Gee worked closely with Acrobat Productions, the Delhi-based production team and each of the artists to ensure that, after only one day of final rehearsals, it would be completely safe for them to perform. Rigorous checks were made to the design of the rig itself as well as to the specialist equipment used to fly the performers. With many years of experience spent as a Trapeze artist (with Zippo's Circus amongst others), he easily overcame implicit challenges including extremely humid working conditions with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees. He was also invited to abseil into the finale and, taking centre stage, made a dramatic impression!

Roger Robinson, director of Acrobat Productions, explained: "We asked Jon to fly out and join our performers as we have a long working relationship with him and the Flying Squad team. Their professional approach, coupled with Jon's own experience as an Artist, puts them in a unique position. Jon understands that to perform there must b

Brown Joins Milos
Wednesday, 31 October 2001

Glen Brown has joined Milos Structural Systems as sales and marketing director to lead its new UK design and distribution facilities. Brown has over 10 years’ experience of modular systems in exhibition and entertainment sectors and will be responsible for developing the domestic market.

Slick Truss for Excel
Wednesday, 31 October 2001

Truss manufacturer Slick UK Ltd has announced the sale of 114 lengths of 2.4 meter Minibeam truss and 38 lengths of 1.2 meter Minibeam truss to the Excel exhibition centre in London's Docklands. The contract was to supply truss to allow more points to be hung in the roof of the centre and to give greater flexibility to exhibitions held there. Slick's Ian Hall told PLASA Media: "The order was worth in excess of 50k and was clinched by the new regime of good customer service and on-time delivery of product operating at Slick."

QuickTruss Arrives in the UK
Tuesday, 30 October 2001

Milos Structural Systems recently expanded its European operations with the opening of a new UK design and distribution centre in Luton, Bedfordshire. Milos specializes in modular aluminium trussing systems for entertainment, theatrical, exhibition and display applications.

The new UK centre comes 18 months after the launch of Milos America in Ashland, Virginia, and is timed to coincide with the increase in its semi-automated production facilities to almost 90,000sq.ft. The latest range of QuickTruss systems feature quick-connect pins and solid connectors, creating one the fastest assembling truss systems available today whilst maintaining structural integrity. A comprehensive range of system formats and configurations are available to suit specific project and loading criteria. Also available from Milos are MT1 Rigging Towers, MR1 and MR2 Roofs for special events, and the latest range of cell aluminium clamps and couplers.

ESS Installs Grid for Earls Court OneESS Installs Grid for Earls Court One
Friday, 26 October 2001

Earls Court has introduced an innovative new grid ceiling feature and dividing wall which enables the venue to create two smaller exhibition spaces within the existing Earls Court One hall. International staging and structure specialist, Edwin Shirley Staging (ESS), were appointed to develop the overall solution and installation of the grid as part of an ongoing programme aimed at providing service excellence for clients in the exhibition and live events industry. Tim Norman, managing director of ESS, said: "ESS was approached to provide a solution that would help improve the overall service Earls Court is able to provide its clients in the exhibition and events industry. Our bespoke system increases the adaptability of Earls Court One, allowing clients the opportunity to adapt the hall space to a preferred scale. This project helps establish ESS as a strategic solution provider to venue owners and operators within the exhibition, event and public building sectors."

ESS, together with Earls Court, developed the overall solution and managed the installation of the grid, which will also carry a new general hall lighting system for Earls Court One. "This is a major transformation which revolutionizes the way Earls Court One is used by our organizing partners," said Nigel Nathan, Earls Court and Olympia commercial director. "In re-defining the space we can now offer a growing number of smaller shows the benefits of our unique location, constantly upgraded facilities, top class customer service and the Earls Court brand.

"The new system will giv

Tried & Tested: Your Vote Required
Friday, 26 October 2001

PLASA Media is looking for feedback from readers of Lighting&Sound International magazine and PLASA Online News, to find out the products that are making the biggest impact among entertainment technology practitioners - and we want your input.

'Tried & Tested' will take a simple approach: we're not asking for your views on hundreds of different product categories, we're just after your gut reactions to a series of broad-based questions on the equipment you're using, in the fields of lighting, sound, staging and effects.

The aim of this is simply to sniff out what's impressed you, what's made a difference to your working life. There are no awards and no ceremonies - we're just going to stir the pot and see what, if anything, floats to the top. The products you vote for can be new or old, high-tech or low-tech - all are valid.

The products which have the highest profile from among the votes cast will be featured in the December 2001 issue of L&SI, and one lucky entry, picked at random, will receive £100 worth of Technical Book vouchers to spend at the PLASA Technical Bookshop. And if your entry stands out as being particularly noteworthy, then we might think of something for you too . . .

Details of how to vote will also appear in the November issue of L&SI. Voting closes on 20 November 2001.

Ollett Appears
Wednesday, 24 October 2001

For the many who worked in the blunt end of Concert Lighting during its explosive growth in the seventies and eighties, the name Paul Ollett is synonymous with the very finest in well-designed, dependable dimming and control systems. Absent for many years, Acutek has been delighted to welcome this talented man back into the heart of the developmental world.

"We're building a company here at Acutek that addresses all the very exacting technological needs of the presentation industry," said managing director Iain Elder. "Having someone as well respected and innovative as Paul Ollett on board is easily one of the best management decisions we’ve made in Acutek's short history."

Ollett's influence is already being felt: the company launched a brand new 36-channel touring dimmer at PLASA in September with his design input, and he is presently working in collaboration with Acutek’s control and software expert, Dave Black, to complete development of the company's motion control system.


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