Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd enjoyed its busiest weekend ever with its fleet of mobile stages over the BBC Music Live weekend. The company could have hired their own stages out two or three times and in the end had to sub contract three stages in to deal with the increased levels of demand. The Star Hire team supplied a range of stages to events all over the country from Kings Lynn to Newcastle and even north of the border to Leith. The company was also involved in the Somerset House concert, where a CS 15–12 was the first ever stage to be erected for a concert in this historic building, the stage being installed the day after it was opened to the public by the Queen Mother.
Continuing its expansion, Leicestershire-based Hawthorn Theatrical Ltd recently added over 220m of Prolyte S36R truss to its hire stock. The addition coincided with Hawthorn Theatrical becoming Prolyte dealers. To complement the truss, Hawthorn also added 16 Verlinde Stage Maker Compact 1T winches to its stock. Almost all Hawthorn's truss stock was used at the Pro Retail exhibition at the Telford International Centre in May. The brief was to turn a 3000m2 hall into a versatile venue for lunches and evening functions seating 1200 people. The company's solution involved runs of truss down the room with white ceiling panels spanning the full width and length. Room and ceiling lighting was achieved using Par cans whilst the stage lighting incorporated both generics and moving lights from Clay Paky and Martin Professional. Hawthorn also provided the sound system from its extensive Martin Audio Wavefront stock.
Palma in Italy is the first stop for PCM's Tony Dickson and John Jones on the company's expanded training programme, an initiative that will see them visiting Europe-wide locations to hold Motor Schools. The Italian Motor School has been jointly co-ordinated by PCM and their Italian agents Audio Link, headed by the charismatic Stefano Cantadore. The Italian School will see 30 owners, users and specifiers of Lodestar Motors trained. The course is designed to offer attendees a comprehensive, hands-on overview of everything there is to know about a CM Lodestar motor. Attendees engage in the complete process of dismantling and reassembling the hoist. Also included is a basic Lodestar troubleshooting session, using faulty motors. PCM are taking all the kit needed for the school with them from the UK.
Tony Beresford is to leave Stageline UK at the end of May to take up a position with a marketing and advertising company in its shows and exhibitions department as a project manager. Jon Slater of Pit Stop Barriers will take over Beresford's role.
The BBC's FutureWorld exhibition is touring nine major UK cities throughout this year. Designed in-house by BBC Resources, it aims to promote new digital technology, at the same time as revealing the making of its recent successful 'Gormenghast' and 'Walking with Dinosaurs' programmes. The exhibition is divided into 11 zones, many of them hands on with computer equipment provided by LG Electronics, each defined with OPTI Trilite trussing. International exhibition contractor Networks of Sheffield are responsible for both installation and moving of the exhibition from venue to venue and are using seven 45ft trucks for this at present. The Newcastle venue, The Lightfoot Centre, sees the first use of an auditorium built by Networks with feature work using OPTI Trilite. There are in fact two sets of exhibition material being leapfrogged around the country. The exhibition is free and details of the remaining venues and dates can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/futureworld.
Star Hire has started the new Millennium by committing to work towards the Investors In People National Standard. This step has involved detailed inward examination of the company's policies and working practices, with subsequent formalising and tightening up of existing procedures. The company has developed its own training programme and have recently implemented its largest ever training programme.
Vertigo Rigging was called in to rig three cars to set the scene for a recent Formula One gala dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Formula One World Drivers Championship. The idea was to create a roller coaster effect with the vehicles at varying angles. With rigging time very tight, Vertigo used as much stock equipment as possible. The framework was made from Vertigo's stock of truss, with the addition of some specially-made header plates to create the pitch of the cars, which were then lifted onto Vertigo's adjustable car cradle, placed in position and anchored to the truss. The operation was overseen by Vertigo's Tim Roberts. The three cars were a red 1950s Maserati Formula One car (worth over £1m) from the private collection of Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, last year's World Championship McLaren, driven to victory by Mika Hakkinen, and a new Jaguar XKR production model, auctioned during the dinner for upwards of £75,000. The event organiser was Fisher Productions and the display designer was Terry Brown.
Total Fabrications Ltd (TFL) continue to go from strength to strength. The company doubled its workshop facilities last year, and has seen a major increase in the demand for its specialist manufacturing services. In order to meet that demand, TFL has recently recruited Neil Darracott to its ranks. Since graduating from Southampton University in '88, Darracott has spread his work experience between mainstream industrial engineering, and developmental work for the entertainment Industry, including time spent with Unusual Rigging.
In late 1998, Stageline Inc launched legal proceedings against Five Corners (The Mobile Stage Co) seeking a number of injunctions to prevent Five Corners from trading. On March 9, 2000, Stageline's claim for injunctions against Five Corners Distribution was rejected by Quebec Superior Court Judge, Diane Marcelin. She also ordered Stageline to pay $22,500 to Five Corners, partly to cover costs and partly as exemplary damages. Roger Barrett of Star Hire, agents for Five Corners in the UK, told PLASA Publishing: "We are pleased the case has been resolved. Resorting to legal action at every twist and turn has never been our way of doing business - all four Five Corners supplied mobile stages currently in the UK will be working on the BBC Music Live series in May."
Blackout Triple E has launched a new track system - ChainTrack. It utilises a duplex chain - the top portion for driving and guidance and the lower section from which the curtains or scenic objects are hung. Curtains can be attached to the chain using either a sliding carrier (on conventional straight type systems) or rings (fitting into the chain to provide a fixed distance between hanging points). It not only enables a motorised curtain to turn a 180° corner within a radius of just 30mm, it also allows operators to stack acoustic curtains in a cupboard with a series of parallel tracks. The system can also be used to construct a continuous moving background in a depth of only 100mm. In agreement with the inventor, Michel Morice sarl of France, where the system is already installed in both television studios and theatres, Blackout Triple E is producing and marketing ChainTrack worldwide as well as further developing the system and its accessories.
Lite Structures' success in set building continues with its construction of the Michael Flatley Feet of Flames scenic elements. In collaboration with Brilliant Stages, who built the main stage and lifts, the set incorporates multi-level LiteDeck platforms and stairways together with a pair of 8m tall sliding doors as the central feature. These doors have an opening width of 13m which allow the whole cast to pass through together, yet take only 30 minutes to assemble during the hectic get in period.
Geodesic domes for outdoor use have been introduced by Tecna International, one of the few companies in the UK to manufacture this type of structure. The Domes come in a range of sizes up to 10 metres in a diameter and installation times are rapid with coverings fully waterproofed and fire retardant.
PCM has completed its first five-day intense Rigging School of two planned for 2000. This was attended by 54 individuals from all sectors of the professional rigging and entertainment industry. Vertigo Rigging's Ken Mehmed (Live Rigger of the Year 2000), Ian Lamb and John Teahan ran the rigging section of the course which covered all areas of rigging, rope access, truss walking, working at height, bridling, flying, motor husbandry, etc. Aluminium trussing specialists James Thomas Engineering conducted a section on trussing and ground support systems led by John 'Jig' Higginbotham. MAN Flying Systems' redoubtable Mick Nash de Villiers and Tony Mathews taught the basics of the very precise business of PA rigging. Rope Assemblies provided a selection of equipment for inspection, while health and safety expert Mike Curtis hacked away the official verbiage of the LOLER regulations. Also Integral to the course was a standard Lodestar Motor School, tutored by Tony Dickson of PCM and Wally Blount from Columbus McKinnon.PCM's next rigging school is scheduled for July 2000.
James Thomas Engineering has expanded its Special Projects team with the appointment of Paul Young. Young has been with the company for seven years during which time he has worked within various aspects of the company’s production processes, including the manufacture of luminaires, aluminium trussing, ground support towers and roof systems. Most latterly, he has worked in the drawing office as a design draftsman. He will now liaise with clients and guide projects from conception to completion. Young will work alongside Patrick Lockwood, who has been performing this role for the last 12 months.
Stage One has just completed one of its most complex logistical challenges with the staging of a series of sales presentations throughout Japan for Amway. Working on behalf of London-based Maritz Communications, Stage One designed and built the sets including a wedge-shaped catwalk, auditorium and 12 modular exhibition units which were transported to Japan for the presentations as part of a major Amway recruitment drive.
OPTI has appointed David Naylor as regional sales manager for the sales and marketing of OPTI Kinetics effects lighting equipment and OPTI Trilite structural systems. Naylor will have responsibility for UK North and the retail sector of business throughout the UK. Naylor has for the past 17 years worked in the sign industry, specialising in the retail and corporate identity markets, liaising with designers, specifiers and end-users for both UK and Pan-European contracts.
Kevin Lyons has joined the team at Vertigo Rigging. Lyons has six years' experience within the live events industry, and has recently spent 14 months as a maintenance engineer specialising in the workings and operation of Lodestar motors and distribution equipment. One of his duties at Vertigo will be the training of the company's apprentices.
Following an audit by Quay Audit Limited, Stagetec successfully obtained certification to ISO 9001 Standard. According to Andy Stone, adopting the procedure within these standards will make the company more efficient and enable it to continually improve the levels of customer satisfaction.
Vertigo Rigging's Ken Mehmed won the Rigger Of the Year Award, sponsored by PCM and presented by Ian Dury at The Live Awards 2000 at The Royal Lancaster Hotel. His rigging career started 16 years ago when he left school and went to work for Theatre Projects. Since then he has worked for top production company Imagination for two years and as a freelancer for many years, including for Vertigo when the company formed in 1995. In 1997, he joined Vertigo full time and has crew chiefed some of their most exacting and specialised undertakings. His recent rigging projects include Disney's theatrical spectacular The Lion King at The Lyceum and dealing with the unknown factors of rigging the Really Useful Group's Phantom of the Opera in Mexico!
Corporate event specialists Set 'n' Stage has completed a major set-building contract for Powerhouse Productions at Center Parc in Longleat, for a two-day convention held by Walkers Crisps. The contract included the building of a stage 40ft wide by 12ft high, as well as the supply of two front-projection 10ft by 7.5ft Fast Fold screens, which were designed into the set, as well as 5ft-wide logos for Walkers and Pringles. Production manager was Powerhouse's Phil Page, and Set 'n' Stage crew included Ron Golan and Rod Wallington.
As part of its strategic expansion plans, Tomcat has recruited four new European distributors giving it further representation throughout Europe. The new distributors are Arlecchino in Moscow, Russia; MITECH 2000 in Budapest, Hungary; ASL in Zurich, Switzerland and on home ground White Light (Electrics) of Fulham, West London. Arlecchino BSC is a well-established rental, sales and installation company; MITECH 2000 is built on the industry experience of owner Mihaly Borbas whilst ASL Electronic AG of Switzerland is headed up by David Schertz. Some of Tomcat's most innovative trussing products have been inspired by their association with White Light, and this relationship has now been formalised as the company has become a UK distributor of Tomcat products.
At the recent Live! Awards, PCM's John Jones presented the PSA (Production Services Association) with a third cheque in support of its Welfare and Benevolent Fund. The cheque, for £2,190, was presented by PCM's John Jones to Fund trustee, Mike Lethby. This third instalment refers to PCM's 'sponsorship' of the PSA's Welfare and Benevolent Fund launched in February 1999. The total donated by PCM now tops £7,000. The deal is linked directly to PCM's sale of Columbus McKinnon Lodestar hoists: for every Lodestar purchased in the UK through PCM, £10 is donated to the Welfare Fund. PSA chairman Keith Ferguson commented: "We thank PCM for their hugely motivating gesture, and hope that it will encourage others to support the Fund and ensure its future."
Andy Trevett has left Selecon UK to join Prolyte. The company, which has its headquarters in The Netherlands, with sales offices in Germany and the UK, manufactures a range of aluminium trussing systems.
After years of alternating between being supplier and client to each other, Triple E and Blackout, best known as suppliers of track and drapes respectively, have announced a merger of the two companies. The announcement, by the two managing directors David Edelstein and Steve Tuck, was made from a joint stand at the SIEL exhibition in Paris. Trading as Blackout Triple E with immediate effect, the new company offers a complete in-house design and manufacturing service for custom drapes and hardware, as well as a hire service for track, drapes and rigging. Current investment plans include dramatically expanding the rigging division with the addition of 80 CM Lodestar chain hoists.