Video and AV News

BBC Sports Review
Sunday, 7 January 2001

The recent Illuminated Video Workshop, fronted by Screenco and designed to show the versatility of LED screen configurations, paid immediate dividends when the senior producer of BBC Television’s Sports Personality of the Year decided to transport the concept to BBC Television Centre.

On December 10, a TV audience of around 10 million - as well as an invited studio audience of 560 sports personalities - assembled in TC1 studio in Wood Lane to see 60 of Screenco’s 15mm modules, with help from Vertigo and Stage One, perform some gymnastics of their own. Assembled in a block, the matrix formed the entire scenic video backdrop for the production - but the show’s senior producer Paul Davies saw possibilities way beyond that.

He decided that the matrix could also be configured as a walk-on entrance for the personalities. "We wanted to integrate an over-the-top screen into the show, but hadn’t realised it could move around so much until we saw the Screenco/Stage One demonstration at Three Mills Island. "Suddenly, we could see how we could use this with star walk-ons - allowing us to support these by great images of yesteryear - because we could move the screens around." Taking feeds from conventional VT and live camera relay, there were six preset positions.

Working with set designer Christopher George and LD Mike Lefevre, Screenco’s main concern was providing a skin to diffuse the LEDs and reduce the luminance. "It’s the kind of problem you expect when you merge the technologies," said Screenco’s Mike Walker

Fire Zone
Sunday, 7 January 2001

Their publicity talks about ‘a multi-disciplinary approach to create a visceral experience’ to teaching fire safety. But it’s the big red fire truck inside the window that gets people in to the new Fire Zone exhibit at the Rockefeller Center in New York!

It’s a good start to getting across a message which is important, but too easy to make it over-preachy or just plain dull. That was the problem the New York Fire Department had. The new approach came about after Tishman Speyer Properties, who manage the property of the Rockefeller Center, offered the Fire Department space in the building for a token rent. The Fire Department accepted, and turned to BKS/K Architects to create the Fire Zone.

Once the fire-truck has lured people in, it acts as the first stage of the themed show: an alarm, a fire-fighter and a video-projection showing a fire truck’s journey to the fire. The large garage door that acts as the projection screen then swings open allowing visitors into an area that re-creates the smouldering remains of burnt-out New York apartments. Video montages projected around the room from multiple projectors then allow the survivors of fires to tell their stories: with each, lighting and sound transform the room to show what happened to cause that fire.

To bring the exhibition to life, the Fire Department and architects turned to New York-based designers Dawn Chiang for lighting, Tom Morse for sound and Mediaworks to create the storylines and video. Chiang’s lighting had to deal with the room as a whole for the narrative sections, wi

 
 
Black Box AV Installs for V.Shop
Friday, 5 January 2001

AV specialist company Black Box AV has been busy helping Virgin Entertainment Group transform the Our Price stores into the new V.Shop music retail outlets – with 100 stores completed before the third week in November. A major part of the new-look stores is the inclusion of interactive AV technology, and Paradigm AV has supplied Black Box with rear projection screens manufactured by dnp Denmark, which will appear as front-window points of sale in all the re-profiled stores. The complete package for every store includes a BGM system capable of barring music tracks containing bad language, and listening posts where customers can access any CD in the shop via touch-screen technology. Finally, a video-server solution delivers two channels of MPEG video via in-store plasma panels and the front-line dnp rear projection screens.

 
Etruscan Expo
Monday, 1 January 2001

Palazzo Grassi is among the most imposing buildings on Venice’s Grand Canal. It was built in the 1700s for a rich merchant family before being purchased by Fiat in 1984, who restored it to its original splendour and equipped it with all the facilities necessary for a large modern exhibition centre.

Currently running until July 1 is a new exhibition covering ‘The Etruscans’. Occupying 36 exhibition rooms with 700-plus exhibits, the exhibition uses cutting-edge multimedia technology to ensure visitors high-impact immersion in the history of this mysterious race of people. The company responsible for these aspects of the exhibition was specialist Turin firm Medialogos/WDM, whose expertise in this area has been gained on other high profile events, including ‘The Future of the Longobards’, the Italian Design Process show in Seoul and the ‘Sinestesia’ exhibition on the five senses.

The company’s Ottavio Dichio explains: "The idea was to use innovative technology to complement the information given by the more traditional media - so videos, stereoscopic computer graphic reconstructions and 3D Dolby Digital sound environments help tell the exhibition’s story." 3D videos, designed for projection on ‘fragment’ screens, are used to emphasize aspects of the Etruscan civilisation.

"In rooms with just projections," continues Ottavio "we used DVDs with films in MPEG2. The D-1999E players by Olidata can play DVD, video and audio CDs and CDs with MP3 files and have a built-in AC-3 decoder for Do

 
 
Explorer of the Seas
Monday, 1 January 2001

Explorer of the Seas, the latest addition to Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager class cruise ships, showed the world her colours on her first cruise out of Miami on October 28th, 2000.

The Explorer, the second in the Voyager class which debuted with Voyager of the Seas in 1999, could actually be considered a destination in itself, boasting a wealth of facilities, activities and entertainment. Perhaps one of its most arresting features is a 60ft by 40ft ice skating rink (the only one at sea) which can be converted to a 900-seat concert venue or TV Studio.

At the heart of the vessel is the Royal Promenade - longer than a football field and wider than three lanes of traffic anchored by two atria that are marvels of marble, trees, greenery and sculptures. Diversions along the way include the Crown & Kettle - a traditional English Pub, a 24-hour cafe, a sports bar and more shops than you can shake a credit card at. The Palace, the main show lounge, is a four-deck-high, 1,350-seat theatre equipped with all the latest technology. There’s also a jazz bar, a contemporary sports bar, a Vegas-style casino and The Chamber, a nightclub designed to resemble a Gothic castle, with stone columns, arches and a dance floor flanked by chrome suits of armour.

And all this is just but a small part of the on-board facilities, but there isn’t time in this millennium to list the rest. Nor to cover comprehensively the technology arrayed across the ship. There are however some common denominators - on the audio side JBL, Clair Bros, EAW, Bose and Genelec speakers seem to

 
Napoleon
Friday, 29 December 2000

It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.

To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.

Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an

 
 
Dome Auctioneer Appointed
Friday, 22 December 2000

Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.

The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.

 
Support for Birmingham Fringe
Thursday, 21 December 2000

Cause & Effect, the organisers of the 2001 Birmingham Fringe theatre festival, are looking at the possibility of holding collaborative projects with entertainment technology companies during the 2001 festival, in order to demonstrate the contribution made by them to technical theatre. Project director Derrick G Knight told us: "My motivation is to enhance Birmingham as a host city for performing arts. This will be achieved through the development of a network of performance venues in partnership with the performers, venue owners and production companies associated with performing arts." An initial idea is to include a sound and lighting exhibition alongside the festival, which takes place in July and August 2001, and Knight is currently exploring the availability of no-cost exhibition space at a number of venues adjacent to the reserved performance spaces. For further information is available from the number below.

 
 
DJW Turn 4DEX Dream into Reality
Thursday, 21 December 2000

Audio-visual and multi-media specialist DJ Willrich has been making dreams come true recently for one of the world's leading producers of computer-animated films for entertainment simulation. The 4DEX Themeport, which is currently being built in Brighton Marina, is the brainchild of Ian Williams; designed to 'take the visitors into the next dimension of human entertainment experience', the 4DEX Themeport is the airport of the future, transporting the modern time-travelling visitor into both the past and the future. Beginning with the technical design, DJW worked with Williams to develop initial simulation solutions that would 'transport' visitors from each of the terminals to the destination of their choice. The company then introduced Haley Sharpe Designers, with whom it has worked on projects such as The Big Idea in Scotland and the Children's Museum in Sharjah, to work on the conceptual idea. DJW supplied and installed all the simulation, AV hardware, lighting and show control equipment that permits visitors to visit the genesis of the Olympic Games and the magic of the Pharaohs, among other destinations.

 
The Influence Machine
Thursday, 21 December 2000

New York video artist Tony Oursler recently installed his imaginatively-provocative The Influence Machine work into the urban landscape of London’s Soho Square. Its trees and architecture proved a perfect setting for this compelling visual and sonic experience.

The piece was presented by The Beck’s/ARTANGEL Commission. Oursler has worked in video and mixed media since leaving art school in the mid-seventies - when the cumbersome Sony Portapak reigned supreme.

Conceptually, the work - which was simultaneously running in Madison Square Park in NY - is devised from the human attraction to virtual and moving imagery. It explores how this fascination and the technology allow us to enter different psychological states. As a result, giant talking heads, hands and eyes rolled around the trees and buildings. Eerie and ghoulish voices ranted and hissed in the night, interacting with the natural elements and sounds.

Oursler positioned five Sony LCD video projectors around the Park, beaming images onto trees and buildings. Footage included references to some key characters in the history of telecoms and media. Emphasis was also placed on the advent of the telegraph in the mid-19th century. Source material for the event combined art history with science and spiritualism - the ideas of ‘spirits’ trying to communicate with the ‘living’ via tapping, knocking and Morse techniques. It also featured early pioneers of moving image and magic lantern theatre techniques.The installation was production managed by Simon Byford and Simon Corder - who often t

 
 
Hardy Steps Down as Telestage MD
Tuesday, 19 December 2000

Telestage Associates and it parent Waagner Biro Stage Technology has announced the retirement of Qahtan Hardy as managing director of Telestage Associates. Hardy will officially step down at the end of the year but will retain his links with the company and will continue to be involved as an advisor. He has a long involvement in stage engineering and audio-visual which incorporated the purchase of Telestage in 1988. In 1997 the company was purchased by Waagner Biro and Hardy was retained as the sole executive director. A successor is expected to be appointed in 2001. In the meantime Mike Bacon has been appointed operations manager and forms part of the senior management team at Telestage.

 
Live! Awards Dinner Moves to Ally Pally
Wednesday, 13 December 2000

After a number of years at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, where the spiralling success of the event has seen more and more people literally squeezed into the hotel's Westbourne Suite, the 2001 Live! Awards dinner will be held in the Great Hall of Alexandra Palace. The change of venue offers the twin benefits of easily accommodating the large numbers who now wish toattend the Awards, while allowing much easier access to exhibitors and visitors to the Live! Show. The Live! Awards dinner takes place on the evening of Wednesday 7th February 2001, the first day of the Live! Show. In addition, this year, for the first time, you can register online for the Live! Show at the web address below, which also features comprehensive Show information.

 
 
Related Fields
Sunday, 10 December 2000

Lighting students at Rose Bruford College recently completed a project that allowed them to apply their design skills to a wide range of performance genres. Known as the ‘Related Fields’ project, third year students of the BA (Hons) Lighting Design degree course collaborated with Stage Management and Directing students to create a nightclub environment, an audio-visual performance, a son et lumière and a contemporary dance work.Each team of four lighting designers, two directors and a stage manager was responsible for taking their production from initial concept to full performance over a period of four weeks. With the first two years of the course focused on theatre, this project represented the students’ main opportunity to tackle other types of performance. The work was supervised by visiting tutor Nick Moran, highly experienced in both theatre and corporate events.

The first production turned the college’s Barn Theatre into a nightclub. To the rear, a gauze served as a projection screen on which High End Technobeams created rippling, swirling gobo patterns, while VL5s washed the space with congo blues to supplement the UV paint. As the music swelled, the focus shifted more strongly to the gauze, which dissolved to reveal dancers behind, backlit by sweeping DHA Light Curtains at floor level. The second production also led the audience onto the stage via the auditorium, but this time the atmosphere was very different. Two actors dressed as pantomime-style children (think Jack and Jill) greeted the audience in the foyer, and divided them into gro

 
Sony Screen with Plug and Play Simplicity
Wednesday, 6 December 2000

Sony has introduced a new large size video screen to its line-up of public display solutions to provide a high impact visual medium for indoor advertising, digital signage and retail applications. In a plug and play format, the new 126” (diagonal measurement) JJTron utilises LED technology with an 8mm pixel pitch and partial 12-bit processing. Screen control is through a remote commander, not unlike a typical television remote control unit.

 
 
Material Girl
Tuesday, 5 December 2000

Nocturne Europe was an integral part of the video production for the super-hyped, high profile Madonna gig at Brixton Academy. The show was netstreamed live by Microsoft to an audience estimated at over 200 million - the world’s largest webcast to date. Nocturne Europe became involved in the show via their US counterpart Nocturne Inc, who have serviced previous Madonna productions and also worked with their European partner XL Video from Belgium in a unique triumvirate collaboration.XL Video provided their new indoor Lighthouse Screen, fed from Nocturne Europe’s control system. This was based around a 4-input vision mixer fed from three Doremi hard drives, used to store all the pre-recorded video footage. The video control was automated via an ARTI system from Nocturne Inc, which converted SMPTE timecode from the band’s MD to trigger the hard drives. Nocturne Europe also provided a Barco ELM projector, fed from the CT OB truck parked outside. The high-pressure job - Madonna is well known for being a complete perfectionist - was co-ordinated from the Nocturne Europe office in St Albans by director Des Fallon. The show’s production manager was Chris Lamb, production lighting was supplied by Fourth Phase LSD and sound by Clair Brothers.

 
Electrosonic In the Far North
Thursday, 30 November 2000

BRC Imagination Arts has created a state-of-the-art visitor centre and theatre located in Karasjok, Norway, 360 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The cultural centre uses complex special effects to celebrate the long history of the region’s Sami people, one of the few indigenous peoples of Europe. For the Centre’s main theatre presentation, which shows the history of the Sami people and how they are being affected by the modernization of the planet, BRC developed an advanced combination of simultaneous front- and back-projection systems together with a fog projection screen, unique fibre optic effects, and a ‘fly away screen wall’. Electrosonic Systems Inc of Burbank, California, was responsible for the systems engineering and installation of all the audio-visual systems in the main theater, and also the pre-show and waiting area. An Electrosonic Video Server drives the video projectors, with an Akai 16-channel digital audio unit providing sound for the main theatre. The show is controlled automatically by a computer running Electrosonic EASY software, and may be run in any one of eight different languages.

 
 
Gearhouse Offers High-Tech Solutions
Friday, 24 November 2000

Gearhouse has launched a new division operating from Birmingham, the NEC and Manchester. Called Gearhouse Computer Rental Services, it has been started in response to customer demand, mirroring market trends where computer technology has become integral in conference and exhibition presentations. Duncan Murdoch is the new head of the division. Formerly a director of the highly-successful Gearhouse Multimedia operation in Surrey, Murdoch has worked with Gearhouse since June 1992 in several divisions of the Group. The new division offers a wide range of laptops, low- and high-end PCs, networking services and internet connections including routers and hubs, which are used for cyber cafes, and to enable PowerPoint presentation delivery. Printers, LCD screens and plasma screens will be available to clients in a turnkey service.

 
Scalpel, Swab, Lens Cap?
Thursday, 23 November 2000

Gearhouse Manchester proved itself a cut above the rest when it recently provided a live link between the operating theatre and restaurant at the Alexandra Hospital, Cheadle, for BMI Healthcare. Gearhouse has accommodated some wide and varied projects for clients, but a recent request asking them to get up close to supply images of the inside of the human body has got to be one of the strangest. Scott McAughtrie, general manager at Gearhouse Manchester, has worked with the hospital on a number of occasions, where the surgeons are regularly working on pioneering techniques and equipment, and has developed this unique relay of live pictures with sound to allow the hospital to share key information with other key surgeons and registrars around UK. Four Gearhouse crew were responsible for installing and operating various cameras including the tiny Polecam. This lighter, smaller camera was used for filming the more intricate work, often working within inches of the open chest without interfering with the surgeon.

 
 
Covenant for Navigator US
Friday, 10 November 2000

Navigator Systems’ US Division has appointed Ray as Technical Director. Covenant has many years’ experience in the entertainment industry, particularly in the field of information systems. Covenant will oversee technical support for the hundreds of companies in North America currently using HireTrack Eclipse. He will also be involved in the implementation of a new application service where companies will have the option to rent software instead of purchasing new software. The users will connect to Navigator Systems server farms via the internet and run HireTrack Eclipse. Greg Smith, president of Navigator Systems US, commented, "I am so excited that Ray has joined our team. He brings many years experience working with entertainment companies and their software systems."

 
Buy AV Online
Wednesday, 8 November 2000

Acoustic Arrangements has launched a new online shopping site – e-av – offering a wide range of professional AV products, sound equipment and home cinema gear. According to MD Glyn Chapman, the site will be updated on an almost daily basis and will feature a range of special offers and end of line discounts.

 
 
Illuminating Video
Wednesday, 8 November 2000

Visitors from the lighting and creative media worlds were given a unique preview of the kinetic future when Screenco fronted a two-day Illuminated Video Workshop at Three Mills Island Studios recently.

In association with a prime team of concert service providers, including Vari-Lite Production Services, Avolites, Stage One Creative Services, Creative Technology, Aerial Camera Systems, SSE Hire, ShowSec and Vertigo Rigging, the experimental two-day interactive workshop graphically highlighted how the boundaries between the rapidly-converging disciplines of automated lighting and video displays are being pushed back. The workshop was the brainchild of Screenco’s Mike Walker, whose vision for the event was born out of a desire to bring the creative skills of video and lighting together. Production manager for the event was Adam Wildi at Hothouse, assisted by Mary Jefferson from Tiger Productions.

Two leading show lighting designers - Vince Foster and Nick Jevons - were asked by Screenco to blend their visual techniques, with each pursuing a completely different path in two large studios, back to back. For Foster, and VL Virtuoso board operator Theo Cox, it was a conventional live concert stage with a widescreen video display, and for Jevons it was a fast-changing club/dance environment, working in conjunction with DJ Callum Wordsworth to deliver spectacular colour-changing set elements, interacting with live video graphics.

In Studio 8 Vince Foster had produced the 3D visualisation for the band show and presented Theo Cox with the CAD drawings to carry out his o

 
Screenco Invest Heavily in Training
Friday, 3 November 2000

Recognising the importance of operational competence and compliance with Health & Safety Executive guidelines in event production, i-mag specialists Screenco recently held intensive back-to-back four-day training programmes in Holland and the UK for its staff and freelance crews. Overseeing the workshops at Screenco's mainland European base, just outside Rotterdam, were general manager Jeroen Jongenelen, Graham Filmer and Avesco plc's in-house Health & Safety Officer, Phil Roberts (with managing director Dave Crump replacing Jongenelen in the UK organising team). In Holland 20 freelancers and ten staff took the opportunity to increase their knowledge while in the UK some 30 freelancers and 15 staff attended.

 
 
Christie Inc and Christie Digital Systems Inc Join Forces
Thursday, 19 October 2000

Sister companies Christie Inc and Christie Digital Systems Inc plan to form one company under the name Christie Digital Systems. The merger, expected to be finalised in April next year, will create one company dedicated to providing projection solutions for cinemas, conference centres, large venues, the rental and staging markets, and the emerging digital cinema marketplace. Under the new organisation, Christie Digital Systems Inc will maintain headquarters in Cypress, California and Kitchener, Canada. The company will continue to operate regional sales and marketing offices in Canada, Europe, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US. Manufacturing operations will be based in California and Canada.

 
CP Sound Expands and Moves
Monday, 16 October 2000

CP Sound, creative audio, lighting and AV designer and installer, is moving to a newly-acquired, hugely expanded premises in central Staines. CP Sound's operation has expanded so rapidly in the last two years that it has outgrown the site in Chertsey that has contained it for the last three years. The new building, workshops, warehouse space and offices are part of a purpose-built industrial unit. The extra space and rationalisation of resources will allow CP Sound's hectic production schedules to be managed even faster and more efficiently. It will also enhance its already well-established quality of service.As from today the company's new contact, the new contact details are Unit 3 Tim's Boat Yard, Timsway, Staines, Middlesex, TW18 3JZ. Tel: +44 1784 461614.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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