PLASA is now just two days away and it looks like this year’s event will be the best ever. PLASA is where you get to find out what over 400 of the industry’s leading players have been doing in the past few months. It’s got to be better than leafing through hundreds of product brochures or trawling the internet for information. Aside from the exhibition, there are plenty of things to catch the eye, including the DJ Competition on the Sunday, the newly-introduced iDJ Talk Zone offering advice to DJs, a comprehensive seminar and workshop programme, the PLASA Awards for Product Excellence, the various Feature Areas, and the many events, press launches and on-stand receptions organized by exhibitors. If you still haven’t registered for the event, don’t worry, you can register on the day. All you need to do is turn up at Earls Court 1 and register on the door. See you there.
One of the community highlights for visitors to the recent Edinburgh Festival was the opportunity to attend a free festival in the beautifully-raked 2,000-seat bowl in Princes Street Gardens. The event, which ran daily through to 9pm, gave appearing Festival fringe acts the chance to preview their work in a series of short showcase ‘tasters’ on the main stage. This was interspersed with Worldart Media’s own productions and concerts. The 22-day event was manned by volunteer students looking to learn all aspects of staging a show, under the auspices of event producer, Richard Hamer, and event stage manager, Claire Palmer.
In the case of Screenco, who lent its support for the fourth consecutive year with a 4 x 4 Saco 15mm pixel pitch display, it gave its screen and camera engineer, Jon Baverstock, the chance to give hands-on experience to would-be technicians - many of them photographers looking to progress beyond the ‘stills’ domain.
The initiative was directed by Ian Murray, whose company Festival Revue 2001 Ltd, rent the bandstand from Edinburgh Council. With support from major sponsors, Telewest and BT Broadcast Services, this is now the largest arts broadcast in the world, and next year will feature on the net and broadband TV (as well as Telewest). In addition to the i-mag display, Screenco provided a four-camera PPU (broadcast-quality, industry-standard DW-30s) with widescreen capability, and additional feeds were provided by three video players - and a camera mounted on a balloon. BBC Radio 3 and the local Radio Forth also took feeds.
Metro Broadcast led the UK by providing state-of-the-art High-Definition multicamera equipment into Europe, on Saturday 11th August 2001. Produced by Done and Dusted and staged at the Mungersdorf stadium in Cologne, Germany, the Robbie Williams concert was captured using 15 Sony High-Definition cameras following Metro’s success in supplying the UK’s first ever multi-camera High-Definition shoot to an S Club 7 concert earlier this summer. Metro sourced six of the camcorders from the Continent using its global agency, Eurocrew Worldwide, whilst obtaining the other nine from various hire companies in the UK. Having managed the first multicamera High-Definition shoot, the main challenges were logistical. "10 camcorders from one country was exciting in itself, but 15 spread over four was certainly a challenge," reveals Mark Cox, facilities director at Metro. "There were also a few extra toys on this shoot, including an Akela crane and 300’ cherry picker to add to the excitement of the rig," adds Cox.
This highly mobile and compact 2.2 million pixel acquisition and recording solution offers superb picture quality efficiently packed onto a half inch tape. "As an alternative medium to film, High-Definition is a very strong competitor to 16mm at the moment and certainly more flexible," states Celia Blaker, producer at Done and Dusted. The concert will be post-produced by The Farm for release on DVD and video at a later date.
Firepower is the new Royal Artillery Experience, set in the historic buildings of the Royal Arsenal on the River Thames at Woolwich.
The attraction was designed by Event Communications, whose main challenge was to overcome people’s discomfort with the reality of war. They tackled this by highlighting the role in the fight for democracy and freedom played by the armed forces, especially the Royal Artillery, which has been present at all major theatres of war involving the British Army over the last 300 years.
The centrepiece of Firepower is the ‘ground-shaking’ Field of Fire - a spectacular multimedia presentation that recreates what it feels like to be in the middle of a real battle. On entering, visitors are surrounded by various pieces of artillery. Suspended above these are four 5m wide front projection screens. Projecting onto each screen is a Barco 6300 LCD Video Projector with the video sourced from an Electrosonic MPEG2 Server. Overall show control is from an Electrosonic ESLINX show control system, and there are 36 channels of dimming using Celco Fusion dimmers. The audio system, designed by Peter Key, uses Crown amplifiers and EAW loudspeakers with a Bose Acoustic Wave Cannon, Bose 402C controller and 2600 V1 Amplifier.
The historic site is being opened up to the public for the first time since the Regiment’s establishment in the early 18th century. Four listed buildings are being renovated in order to house the collection, including Europe’s oldest Military Academy.
The jewel in the British Film Industry’s crown, the National Film Theatre is generally acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest cinemas, offering the biggest and best choice of films dating back to the origins of the industry (it is the only public cinema that can still show inflammable nitrate film).
With three screens showing over 2,000 films, head of technical services, Richard Boyd knows that while they face a critical audience of purists, technologically times also move forward. The principal auditorium already boasted digital sound and recently the NFT decided to review its projection equipment. The 450-seat NFT1 boasts a 12.5ft high screen, and when it came to researching the market for the new generation of DLP digital video projection Boyd scrutinized the market closely before opting for a fully-featured, three-chip DLP Christie Digital Roadster X4, fitted with a 4-7:1 lens.
The NFT project manager, Ed Mauger and independent software programmer Tony Hay, along with control and display solutions specialists Planet Communications and Christie Digital support teams, designed a complex system that allowed for fast switching, cueing and parameter changing of the X4. This has been achieved via a Crestron CNMSXAV control processor and LC1600L 6" passive matrix colour LCD rackmount touchpanel, which has been integrated into an Ed Mauger-designed custom panel with faders. This takes care of the remote cueing and switching of all the theatre’s playback sources - DVD, VHS, S-VHS, Betacam and U-matic hi- and lo-band - as well as satellite, TV and
On the 28th August, PSL will be moving all of its London rental divisions (except for PSL Central) into new customised 70,000sq.ft premises in Potters Bar. The new facility has six loading docks, specialist-handling facilities, a customer demonstration area and purpose-built offices. The companies amalgamating under this one roof will be Presentation Services Limited, including Exhibitions and Concert Touring, PSL Multimedia, PSL Lighting, PSL Set & Stage, PSL On-Screen Creations, PSL Proquip and PSL LED Screen.
It is PSL’s intention to create a true rental and staging company offering customers a wide range of presentation staging services from one building. All of the individual divisions will continue to trade in their own right and be staffed with people trained in their own disciplines. The front-end project management team will have full access to all of the services supplied out of Potters Bar. The new address is The Heights, Cranborne Industrial EstatePotters Bar, Hertfordshire, EN6 3JN, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1707 648 120
The Illuminated Video Workshop, the Screenco-led consortium that presented two days of innovative show magic at Three Mills Island studios last winter, is set to stage the successful workshop again at the PLASA Show. Situated in the ‘AV Gallery’ of Earl’s Court’s Top Deck, Screenco’s Mike Walker has pulled together the same top-flight technical support teams from the premier event. WAlker explained: "Judging from the number of calls from people who had been unable to attend the January event, the reputation of that two-day spectacular had really spread further than we could ever have imagined. We have been inundated with calls from people, who realising that they had missed out on something special, asking whether we would ever be running it again."
Walker’s first calls were to Edwin Shirley Staging, who agreed to provide their lozenge-shaped Orbit stage - with the dome at each end - and to Chris Beale at SSE Hire, whose provision of the Out Board TiMax sound spatialising system had been one of the highlights of the event. He also contacted Simon Whittaker at Stage One Creative Services - who will again be providing their Q-Motion system to track the 15mm and 25mm Screenco modules on vertical excursions and spinning rotations - and technical director Adam Wildi. Both instantly pledged their support. Peripheral AV equipment will be provided by Screenco’s sister company, Creative Technology, who will supply plasma screens, Electrosonic Vector image processing and Doremi digital video disk recorders.
The PLASA event will
Screenco Holland installed an exploded screen at the recent Festival Beachrock in Belgium, at the request of one of their clients. TCC (The Concert Company) had asked for nine 25mm LED modules to be scattered randomly around a 3 x 3 high resolution 15mm LED screen as part of the production for the band, K’s Choiche. TCC’s Willem Loos and Rene Zelders masterminded the overall production while Screenco Holland were responsible for all technical production - including the live camera feeds - and the PC from which the graphics were produced. The effects were generated through a MIDI keyboard and VJ software, provided by Screenco. Screenco’s Jeroen Jongenelen said: "This was the first time a band has used LED modules in such a creative way during a festival in Holland. This is a completely new way of using screens and one which we can expect to be adopted increasingly in the future."
For those of you not ornithologically minded, the Audubon Society describes eagles as ‘magnificent predators of the air, one of the most exciting birds to witness in action’ - but frankly, this particular Californian sub-species was rather dull to witness in action.
Have you ever seen a crocodile in a zoo? It sits there - an armoured monster so highly developed it hasn’t evolved for 60 million years - and doesn’t move. Something similar was going on in Manchester in late June. The performance, in terms of execution, was without imperfection, apart that is, from the interminable changes. Every time the show approached anything like the critical velocity so essential for momentum, they threw it away with a trip to make-up. The singing was crystal, even if Joe Walsh did look like a man recovering from a severe stroke when he sang, and the playing was note perfect. But it was lifeless. Tough job for the production then?
As video director Kate Ferris said, "this is strictly I’mag presentation." Kate is a veteran of concert video, though her work is infrequently seen in the UK. She regularly directs for Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Cher to name but three, and it was apparent that in terms of demand, this was fairly low key for her. The two screens (four when they play in-the-round), and all other video kit comes from Nocturne in the US. The projectors are probably of most interest, being DLP 10kWs from Digital Projection in Atlanta, which I’m assured are the brightest for their rating, and very straightforward and reliable.
PSL Concert Touring and PSL Lighting were both contracted to supply site video and lighting for Ministry of Sound at Knebworth 01. Over 15 large screen projectors, 300 lights and several miles of cable went into producing one of the largest dance events of the year, comprising not only the main stage featuring headline act Jamiroquai, but also 12 dance arenas and a cinema tent. The two teams, headed by Scott Russell and Stephanie Jefcoate at PSL Concert Touring and Mick Scullion at PSL Lighting, worked together to bring stunning visual effects using some of the latest equipment recently purchased by both companies. One of the largest portable production units ever used in a festival setting and supplied by PSL controlled the video and five cameras for the main stage and allowed the two 4 x 4 LED screens to each display different effects at the same time, while the recently purchased Barco ELM R12s projectors featured in the Renaissance tent, projecting onto a 7m round inflatable screen last used at the Brit Awards. A 30ft wide screen was also supplied for the cinema tent.
PSL Lighting designed a rig using 6 x 50ft trusses and over 50 moving and generic lights in the Renaissance tent alone, and were involved in the design of all the dance arenas using a WYSIWYG system and most of the lighting equipment in their warehouse! PSL Concert Touring is also providing technical support for the upcoming European tours for Radiohead and Orbital. They will also be touring with Lord of the Dance in Japan and Russia.
Bookings are now well underway for the seminar and workshop programme planned for the PLASA Show. This year the emphasis is very much on knowledge with those signing up gaining an insight into how new technology is creating new opportunities, how individuals have pulled together highly complex projects, why integration is so important and how they can achieve more by picking up tips and techniques from others.
In a programme of seminars sponsored by Installation Europe, audio installation and integration is the theme under which issues of networking, control and the benefits of converging technologies are explored. Tuesday sees a Theme and Leisure Masterclass, presented by Leisure Management, in association with the TEA and TiLE, which focuses on how the leisure industry exploits special effects, lighting and audio technology to create unique environments to enhance the visitor experience. On Wednesday, the sessions move to consider the integration of audio and lighting into building design, the regulations facing those who install lighting, the increasing profile of new media such as LED technology, and the basics of video conferencing.
For the first time you can also attend any number of focused courses and workshops. The ISCE is running three sessions covering the issues associated with audio system design, whilst Loughborough College and the AETTI are jointly promoting a series of courses which offer those interested in theatre a chance to work towards BTEC certification.
Audio-visual and multimedia specialist, D J Willrich Ltd (DJW), has recently been awarded ISO 9001, the quality management and quality assurance standard. The award has been given in recognition of DJW’s standard of business management and business excellence. The company was also required to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products that meet customer needs and enhance customer satisfaction. Since the company was formed in 1986, DJW has been one of the leading developers of innovative and creative solutions for many of the UK’s key museums and attractions, including the Millennium Dome (London), The Big Idea (Scotland) and Wild Walk and Explore@Bristol. In addition, DJW has developed a growing global presence, including an office in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and an associate company, Mad Systems, in America. Our picture shows DJW’s Tony Knight (left) and David Willrich (right).
A new specialist sound, lighting and video design and installation company, Live Business International, has opened its doors in London. The company is headed by technical director Roland Hemming, the former head of sound at the Millennium Dome, and is backed by Live Business, the UK’s largest provider of live entertainment. Live Business International specializes in design, installation and maintenance of sound, video and lighting systems in entertainment venues, including cruise ships, hotels, theatres, clubs, stadia and conference venues.
Hemming’s background spans 15 years in the entertainment technology business, beginning at the sound department of Theatre Projects where he pioneered MIDI-based show control in the late 1980s, going on to work as a sound engineer, event production manager, audio consultant and installation designer. In recent years Hemming has been responsible for numerous major cruise ship installations for many European cruise lines.
Prior to forming Live Business International, he managed the design, installation and running of the 57 sound systems at Millennium Dome, the largest sound installation in the world, running a team of 42 engineers. He was also one of the last people to leave the Dome, spending three months this year as production manager in charge of decommissioning every sound, lighting, video and broadcast system with a crew of 192 and 30,000 items of equipment to dismantle.
Hemming told PLASA Media: "Having successfully carried out various high profile installations in recent years, we want to build on that succ
XL Video Inc (with the familiar team of Bob Higgins and Barbara Riedling) is in the midst of a busy schedule, mirroring the hectic summer season being enjoyed by UK-based XL Video. The demanding design of the 50-date Tim McGraw shed tour is providing a highly innovative challenge for the video department, with XL supplying one of the most sophisticated music production video systems currently on the road. Although XL has provided touring video packages for U2, Destiny’s Child and from Robbie Williams, the McGraw tour pushes the envelope further. LD Roy Bennett’s show design was minimal in terms of lighting instruments, but substantial in terms of video technology and expectations - specifically the use of over 500 Barco DeLite14 LED tiles for displays, and an enormous number of options in the backstage SDI video system itself.
Gary Westcott, a leading LD in his own right, worked closely with Bennett’s vision to establish a novel way to integrate video with the overall show look, whilst remaining flexible enough to fine-tune. This required very specific equipment: at the heart of the system is the Pinnacle PDS 9000 video switcher, essentially a three M/E switcher with nine in-built DVEs, six of which are actively used in the show to create most looks and effects. With the arrangement of the screens on the stage, three different mixes are available at any given time with the Pinnacle. The PDS 9000’s ability to store numerous still images is also utilized. Four channels of a Tektronix Profile video server, two dual-channel Fast Forward hard drives, an
Lighting&Sound International, PLASA Media’s leading entertainment technology journal, is sponsoring the New Technology Gallery at PLASA 2001. This is the showcase of all products nominated for the prestigious PLASA Awards for Product Excellence. Situated on the Top Deck of the PLASA Show, near to the main bar area, the showcase offers visitors a chance to check out the features and capabilities of all of the major product innovations at PLASA 2001, in one place.
L&SI will be based on the Lower Deck (stand K19), where we will be offering free readerships to qualifying UK industry personnel, plus special offers on international subscriptions only available at PLASA 2001 - plus PLASA Media freebies to all new subscribers!
L&SI can be found on stand K19.
The Entertainment Services and Technology Association has launched projects to draft three new American National Standards:
BSR E1.18, Recommended practice for the selection, installation, use, and maintenance of single-conductor portable power feeder cable in the entertainment industry. The standard is intended to offer guidance on how to select, install, use and maintain single-conductor portable power feeder cables. The project will promote safety and compatibility in the equipment and practices used in live performance and in film and video production in North America.
BSR E1.19, Recommendations for the use of ground fault devices in the entertainment industry. The standard is intended to offer guidance on how to select, install, use and maintain ground fault protection devices in the entertainment industry. The project is intended to promote the use of these devices to protect people and property from hazards associated with using electrical equipment in wet locations, such as when pools of water are used on stage or a location video-shoot is conducted in the rain, and to promote reliability and avoid nuisance tripping.
BSR E1.20, Remote device management over USITT DMX512. The project is intended to develop a method of bi-directional communication over a USITT DMX512/1990 data link between an entertainment lighting controller and a remotely-controlled dimmer, moving light, or other device. The protocol for this communication is also intended to work with the BSR E1.11 lighting control protocol being developed by the same working group.Int
The PLASA Standards Office has prepared a series of Guidance Notes for PLASA Members. Each provides useful information on current topics of interest and will be updated on an ongoing basis in line with developments. Further documents are planned in response to the needs of PLASA members. The following guidance documents are currently available. These documents are in PDF (Portable Document Format) and may be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 3 or later) which is available free from www.adobe.co.uk
Guide to Australian EMC Framework: contains advice on the EMC and C-Tick labelling requirements for equipment destined for the Australian market.
Basic Guide to the FCC Rules: contains advice on application of the USA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules on EMC for entertainment equipment.
Standards for Dimmers: contains advice on the applicable safety and EMC standards for professional dimming equipment in Europe. Now revised - version 2.
EN 61000-3-2: details the current status and activity on EN 61000-3-2, the EMC standard for harmonic current limits. Now revised - version 2.
Electrical Safety for the USA Market: contains advice on the electrical safety requirements for the USA market.
CE Marking for Trade Shows: contains advice on the CE Marking requirements for equipment displayed at trade fairs and exhibitions in Europe, including the PLASA Show.
The C.D.M. Regulations - A Summary of the Regulations for PLASA Members: contains advice on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. Now rev
Lighthouse Visual Communications were responsible for staging the 5th Nikken Annual European and World Convention in Dusseldorf, Germany for an audience of 5,000 delegates from 25 countries, with translation required for 17 languages. Nikken is an industry leader in network marketing and offer their clients a range of innovative products many of which are based on the latest in magnetic technology. Lighthouse have been involved with this client for over five years and 2001 represented the biggest challenge to date for the team.
The venue chosen was the Messe Congress Halls in Dusseldorf where six halls were booked to cover the main events, the Gala dinner and an exhibition centre. Hall 9 was the main convention site and covered 11,000sq.m. The set was 65m wide and contained two 20ft x 15ft screens. The principal feature of the conference was to reward delegates for sales throughout the year and this entailed up to 500 people on stage at one time. Day two of the conference featured two performances by international group Barrage, and culminated with the award for Distributor of the Year. Day Three was dedicated to the World event and the featured 40 members of the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of 10 singers. The total crew tally was 60 headed up by technical director Andy Peat, event producer Steve Penticost of Lighthouse, head of lighting Pete Edwards, head of sound Derrick Zieba, head of vision Paul Volker and stage manager Stephen Richter.
Lighting was supplied by Essential with rigging holding over 300 lamps, including one of their first uses of MAC 2000
A huge 17m x 10.5m Harkness Hall Airscreen took centre stage at two open air screenings during the revived Cambridge Film Festival. Shown as part of the Festival’s first run Children’s Film Festival, the highlight of the week long programme of events took place on two consecutive evenings with free screenings of Disney’s immensely popular ‘Toy Story 2’ and Aardman Animation’s smash hit ‘Chicken Run’, which entertained audiences of some 5,000 late into the night. Registering another first for the Festival, ‘Chicken Run’ was shown in a special subtitled version, making it the biggest screening ever to take place for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.
The Airscreen, a giant inflatable frame incorporating a projection surface from Harkness Hall, was rigged and de-rigged for each show in a little over 25 minutes. A powered air pump quickly inflated the PVC frame, which was anchored by guy ropes to four water-filled ballast weights. No other supporting structure was required. Outdoor screenings have been a speciality of the Cambridge Festival and technicians from the Festival's umbrella organisation, City Screen, are regularly called upon by other organisations for their expertise in this area, so it is with particular pride that the Festival returns with such a spectacular event.
Revived this summer, in association with the Independent, the Film Festival provided Cambridge and its regions with the full wealth and breadth of cinema - from the very big with screenings in widescreen 70mm, to the not so big in the Shor
Unitek are going head to head with the other giants of LED high resolution displays with the launch of a screen destined to put the company in pole position. Shown for the first time at Infocomm Europe, the MEGASCREEN MS5/10 using VHR technology, will be Unitek’s first very high resolution display designed specifically for the rental market. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and offering full colour, superb clarity, high brightness and close viewing distances both inside and outside in full daylight.
Unitek’s unique VHR technology processing ensures the image sharpness is sustained across a wide range of viewing distances. Horizontal viewing angles are in excess of 160° with precision LED alignment ensuring a consistent performance across all panels without ‘tiling’ effects. Unitek has taken the unique approach of offering lamp-type LEDs rather than surface-mount technology (SMT) devices, squeezing three full-size oval LEDs into each 10mm square pixel, thus being able to offer a light output in excess of 5000 nits from weatherproof modules, with perfect colour balancing ability and rear access for maintenance. Other inherent problems associated with SMT devices such as heat dissipation are also eliminated.
Newly formed CT London - the Exhibition and Multimedia Services Division of Creative Technology - held its official open day and new building launch on 26 July. A major development for the Avesco Group, the new 8500sq.ft premises in Chessington, Surrey, are home to 20 staff, including technical crew, covering hire and project management. The new facility includes offices and is also a showroom and warehouse for its Multimedia and IT hardware range.
CT London provides PC and IT rental equipment, including networking and internet services - specifically aimed at the exhibition market and other live events. CT’s product base incorporates data display technology - including flat LCD screens, touch screens, plasma screens and indoor LED modules. A clear opportunity to exhibit the features and capabilities of their large indoor LED screens, the open day gave centre stage to the new Barco iLite 6, which as a result of its high resolution is suitable for indoor exhibition environments. Another feature of the day included a specifically prepared Dataton Watchout presentation - using image manipulation techniques on eight synchronised Plasma screens.
For those visitors new to PLASA or simply keen to remind themselves how impressive last year’s event was, the Show website now features a virtual tour of last year’s PLASA Show. The tour takes in various elements of the exhibition with views from both the lower and top decks. By clicking on any of the green circles featured, visitors can look at the show floor in 3D and also explore other facilities at Earls Court 1.
PLASA’s Standards Office is appealing for help from the industry. The office is currently reviewing a number of standards-related issues and would value feedback and input from the industry in general, but PLASA Members in particular. Current topics under review include the Event Stewarding Standard - a new British Standard is to be written; EN 55103 - the EMC standard for audio, video and lighting control systems is under revision; EN 60598-2-17 - the electrical safety standard for stage and studio luminaries is to be revised. Also being reviewed at the moment is the Draft Revised EMC Directive - the European Commission's proposed revision and the ESTA Power Cabling Survey - which examines the usage of single conductor feeder cables. If you have an interest in any of these issues, please e-mail Tim Cox at the PLASA Standards Office on email@example.com.
Following successful sales of its Megascreen product into the screen rental and advertising markets, Unitek is planning major investment in further product development, marketing and the appointment of strategic partners in its key market areas.
To strengthen and advise the Board, Philip Parker, an experienced quoted company chairman and CEO, joins Unitek as a non-executive director. Parker has a broad business background in sectors as varied as IT, electronics, training, financial services, security, oil services and consulting. He has led public and private enterprises, been involved in both venture capital and public equity fund raising and is experienced in corporate strategy, restructuring and focusing on shareholder value.
After graduating from Cambridge with a law degree he worked for 15 years in the computer industry - initially with IBM and then Sperry Univac, for the most part in the US. He and his family returned to the UK in the early eighties where he ran the European operations of Gulf & Western’s computer training and consulting group. During this time he completed the strategic marketing programme at Harvard Business School’s summer campus in Switzerland. He then joined Plessey where he became Group Director of Corporate Development involved in strategy, restructuring and M&A work. In 1990 he was appointed Chief Executive of North Sea Assets, one of the UK’s few quoted oil services groups, which over a period of five years he repositioned and sold at a healthy premium for shareholders.
In recent years, Parker has acted as an indepe