Show Presentation Services (SPS) has launched a new department dedicated to support the use of all types of information technology in the live events market. SPS Event IT will cater for the now commonplace use of IT within conferences and exhibitions, but its approach will differ from ‘traditional’ IT ideas. "What matters to us," said SPS managing director Robin Coles, "is the event as a whole. Stand-alone computers, flat screens, local networking, Internet access, webcasting and all the associated peripherals are becoming as fundamental as video, sound and lights at many events, and should be delivered with the same professional attitude, with all the technology that comes together to service an event being intrinsically linked. We have staffed SPS Event IT with people who approach anything computerish from the live show perspective. Our crew are not ‘nerd’ prima-donna’s who never get their hands dirty, but ‘show’ people with an IT specialisation."
Point Promotions have announced a 72% increase in attendance at last week’s ABTT Theatre Show. The show this year expanded into both of the Royal Horticultural Halls, and had widened its remit to attract 30 new exhibitors. The initial un-audited visitor attendance figures show an increase of 72% over last year’s registered numbers. Point Promotions was appointed by the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) to administer the change from the ABTT Trade Show to the bigger and improved ABTT Theatre Show. The expanded show featured on-stage technology such as lighting, rigging, drapes and sound and also many exhibitors with front-of-house technology including seating and staging.
Digital Projection International (DPI) - a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMAX Corporation - has announced a strategic partnership which will expand IMAX's market-leading digital projection technology into the realm of digital electronic billboards. The agreement, with Sweden's DHJ Media AB, is to develop and install digital media network systems that will replace traditional poster advertising with high-revenue digital billboards. The companies announced today that the London Underground is the first to sign up for an installation of the system. To be marketed under DHJ's trademarked ‘Outdoor Evolution Systems’, the IMAX-DHJ networked digital billboard system will allow owners to increase revenues and direct advertsiements to any given location at any designated time of the day, thus allowing for better timeliness of messages, flexibility, and the ability to purchase the entire billboard network.
Under the terms of the agreement, IMAX will sell the digital projectors that will display the images, and DHJ will provide the network functions as well as the billing, scheduling and distribution of ads. IMAX and DHJ agreed to market the Outdoor Evolution System to five potential locations in Europe. As a result, the London Underground has placed an order with IMAX for 400 digital projectors with a value of close to $15 million, the largest order ever for IMAX's DPI subsidiary. The first 100 systems are expected to be installed by the end of 2001, with the balance expected to be delivered over the following 12 to 24 months. TDI Outdoor, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc, will
Alan Law has recently been appointed general manager for the SPS group, with responsibility for service delivery, quality assurance and Health & Safety. Alan joins SPS from Earls Court & Olympia where he has spent the last three years as technical services manager and health and safety manager responsible for non-exhibition related events and conferences including The Brit Awards, the Vodafone Gala dinner and numerous pop shows. Law was then asked to take on the role of Halls H&S manager, with the brief to audit and re-evaluate Earls Court’s approach to the ever-increasing H&S legislation. Prior to this Alan worked with Blackout, the drapes and rigging company and was a key player in the rapid expansion they experienced in their early years. SPS managing director Robin Coles comments: "To have a manager of Alan's experience and ability in this new key role adds another dimension to our company."
Continuing its programme of expansion, Crestron UK Ltd has announced the appointment of Andrew Butler as technical sales manager. The move follows an outstanding year for the company, which has seen them win a number of awards, including AV magazine’s Company of the Year. Butler joins from Midnight Security, where he gained experience in the specification, programming and installing of Crestron control systems.
Mick Scullion is to head up PSL Lighting, formerly Lighting Unlimited, as part of the re-launch of the division under the Presentation Services Group branding. Mick brings with him over 20 years’ experience within the industry, having worked for both Concert Productions (now Vari-Lite) and the Spot Company where he was a director for five years. "It is an exciting time at PSL, the new structure will bring a lot of benefit to the lighting division and allow us to offer an even better service to our clients," commented Mick. "We are currently investing in the latest lighting equipment and along with our lighting design service, we aim to build on our already successful position within the marketplace providing our clients with service to the highest level." Barry Dennison, formerly of Gearhouse XTC, also joins Mick alongside current project manager Iain Grant. The division is continuing to grow to meet current demand.
Christie Digital Systems USA has announced three sales executive appointments: Dale Miller as vice-president of sales Europe; Joe Delgado as vice-president of sales Latin America; and Lin Yu as vice-president of sales Asia. Scott Friedberg, national sales manager, will handle Joe Delgado’s previous North American responsibilities. Reporting to Lin Yu, Rick Norris will continue his tenure in the Asia Pacific region as the new director of business development, and is relocating to Singapore.
The UK’s annual pop music back-slapping gala event, The Brits, was recorded live, in spectacular style, on February 26th at Earls Court 2, London. The live production was managed by Brit regular MJK Productions.
Another regular, Vari-Lite Europe provided the complete lighting system - featuring more than 500 luminaires - as well as providing the rig for the After Show Party. Lighting designer for the event was Al Gurdon. With the ceremony designed to look spectacular both for the live audience and a massive worldwide broadcast audience, the lighting design encompassed the entire space within Earl’s Court 2, both on and around the huge stage and the specially-constructed auditorium.
The large-scale lighting rig included 40 VL2416s, 54 VL5 Arcs, 81 VL5Bs, 76 VL5s, 24 VL6 wash luminaires, 38 VL6Cs, six VL7s and 130 VL2C spot luminaires, with control from two Virtuoso consoles. VL also supplied a substantial conventional rig, with 16 4k Xenon Sky Art Searchlights, two 70k Lightning Strikes, four 40k Lightning Strikes, 160 Par 36s, 400 Par 64s and 44 Diversitronics Strobes. The rig also included 420 metres of truss, two 12 metre-diameter semi-circles of truss and 14 one-tonne hoist motors complete with cable, control and rigging accessories.
The After Show Party’s lighting was designed by Theo Cox who lit the four exclusive rooms - Air Lounge, Water Bar, Earth Garden and the Fire Club - using a rig that featured 56 VL5 wash luminaires, 16 VL6B spot luminaires, VL Moving Mirror Ball units and conventionals, all run from a pair of Wholehog 2s and an Avolit
The countdown to the PLASA Show 2001 has begun! The entertainment technology industry’s leading event will run from 9 - 12 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London. With over 89% of the available stand space already sold and all the leading manufacturers booked into the show, PLASA 2001 promises to live up to its reputation as the showcase event that launches the entertainment technology year. Venue improvements have continued, with over £500,000 invested in the last 12 months to improve comfort cooling at the Show. Furthermore, an overall investment of £6million will ensure that Earls Court is a fully air-conditioned exhibition centre by 2002. Over 400 exhibitors and 14,000 UK and international visitors are expected to attend and experience the sound and lighting extravaganza that has become synonymous with PLASA. Manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of professional lighting, sound and AV equipment will descend upon Earls Court to unveil their latest products and technical developments for the vibrant and hugely diverse entertainment and leisure industry.
Almost 13,000 visitors, including a record 25% from overseas, attended the PLASA Show last year. Specifiers, consultants, attraction managers, recording technicians, disc and light jockeys, corporate presentation planners, technicians, architects, installers and other professionals from the world of entertainment technology traveled from all corners of the globe to see the very latest products, innovations and designs showcased.
The PLASA Show 2001 will feature many of the attractions that cont
With the setting up of new Creative Technology companies in London and Birmingham NEC, the Avesco subsidiary brand is set for a substantial increase in its work portfolio. In charge of Creative Technology London is Steve Rowan, former head of Gearhouse Multimedia. From its 8,200sq.ft base in Chessington, Surrey, the company is ideally placed to service exhibition sites such as Earls Court, Olympia, Business Design Centre and the new ExCeL in Docklands. Meanwhile, the former Gearhouse NEC - based inside the Birmingham exhibition complex - has now been re-branded Creative Technology NEC, and will operate under the senior management of Chris Bramwell. This division was part of the northern group bought out of receivership by Avesco plc last month, along with Gearhouse’s Manchester and Scottish operations.
Although the established end of Creative Technology, based in Wandsworth, has for many years been working in the exhibition environment, CT London will be setting up a dedicated operation in which IT will form the core element of their service to exhibition organizers and direct-to-venue clients. Steve Rowan’s experienced operational team, which joins him from Gearhouse Multimedia, will specialise in providing a total solutions service for exhibition clients. General manager is Jon Dasent and technical manager, Paul Holden. Creative Technology London is investing around £700,000 in PC technology and web access hardware, including thin computer terminals especially for show control rooms. A highly-experienced, commercially-focused team and dedicated project crew
CDAI has recently completed the design of the lighting, videowall systems, architectural acoustics and mechanical noise control, for the FAA's new Atlanta Terminal Radar Approach Control Center (TRACON) in Peachtree City, Georgia. Controllers at Atlanta's new TRACON will manage over 3,200 flights for more than 30 airports in the state of Georgia. The new facility will be fully operational on April 10, 2001.
Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, only one of the 30 airports managed by Atlanta TRACON, is the busiest airport in the world, having surpassed the traffic of Chicago’s O’Hare airport in 1999. It has 78 million passengers a year, and a daily airport average traffic count of 2,600 flights. Key to the system are 20 Barco MP50 video display systems. Its digital processors allow the FAA to show all sources in their native resolution and create the ability to quickly change the videowall configuration with the push of a button.
Media Control (Europe) Ltd (MCL) is a new company set up by Avesco Group plc to provide full AV staging services to the UK and European corporate presentations market. The company officially began its operation on April 2. Based in Chessington, Surrey, MCL is headed by Mike Bell, who has worked for rental, conference production and support companies in the corporate presentations market for over 20 years. MCL will offer a wide range of services, from dry hire packages to complex presentation solutions. The company will also offer a ‘cloaked’ service to agencies and freelance producers: to protect agency brands, equipment can be provided in unmarked boxes.
MCL will offer a complete inventory of audio, lighting, staging and AV equipment. Mike Bell told us: "We are intent on changing current conceptions about AV staging - often referred to as ‘One Stop Shops’. Working as meticulously as the single-line hirers, MCL will maintain an overall project view, ensuring that all departments come together to fulfil our clients’ expectations."
MCL will enjoy the full backing of the Avesco Group, providers of specialist services to the corporate, presentation, entertainment and broadcast markets, with offices throughout Europe and the USA. Compnaies in the Group incldue Screenco, Creative Technology, Dimension Audio and JVR. Mike Bell is joined at MCL by operations manager Ed Marron, operations coordinator Ian Rawlinson and office manager Laura Cameron.
Pan-european AV equipment rental company Heuvelman Ltd, has opened its first UK branch, situated in London. The company is a specialist in the supply of AV equipment to a range of clients including hotels, broadcasters, corporate clients, conference and event venues and can supply anything from a single projector to a full state-of-the-art installation. Voting systems, teleconferencing and IT rental are also supplied by the company.
Live video production specialists Nocturne Europe are changing their trading name to XL Video with immediate effect. The move will offer a more consolidated approach to international markets and associate the company directly with XL Video in Belgium, the USA & Japan - outdoor screen suppliers with extensive stocks of Barco, Delite, Saco & Lighthouse LED screens.
In California, an even closer association is taking place with the opening of a new XL Video office in LA, also specializing in live video production. The US operation is headed up by Bob Higgins and Barbara Riedling, both of whom have a long-standing history in, and vast knowledge of, the US concert touring market. This name-change and US office launch follows a successful 12 months for the St Albans-based company. Over the past year it has worked with artists such as Oasis, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Craig David, the Corrs, Robbie Williams, Steps, Leftfield, David Gray, Westlife and on the just-commencing U2 Elevation world tour.
I’m not going to write much about Craig David; not that there isn’t much to write about, but because I expect to be writing much more in the future.
While Westlife are a well-voiced, but ultimately plastic facsimile of pop stardom (see feature this issue), Craig David has it all. Last time I made such an assertion was for Baby Bird, who promptly migrated South, so I’ll temper my predictions for David. He is a skilled songwriter - consecutive hits have established that - and he has a rich, round voice, but it was seeing him live that convinced me. He prowls the stage with the leonine grace of a caged animal. He’s compelling, urging the crowd like a Gladiator holding his sword to the neck of his vanquished foe: Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Who cares, this man is dangerous. He may not be playing as many arena shows as Westlife, but they’re sell-outs, and get this - the audience he attracts is, at a rough guess, two years older than theirs, and they scream at 116dB A weighted, according to sound engineer Carl ‘Snake’ Newton - 6dB over Westlife . . . that’s 200% more powerful.
Newton uses a V-dosc system supplied by Wigwam, which is 15 cabinets per side, with three of the near-fill dV-dosc below. As with Westlife, this is the biggest hang of this type I’ve heard. In light of the supersonic screaming of both bands’ audiences, it would be wrong to draw comparisons: there again, the comparison is perfectly made. Walking the room, there’s nothing to choose between them, though I still prefer the low end of the d&b to t
With Legoland California now open and the fourth park under construction in Germany, Lego are ready to take their theatrical productions to the next level. By asking Edwards Technologies Inc to install matching AV and show-control systems at similar theatres in all its sites, it is now proving economically favourable for Lego to produce shows with far higher production values, and stage them at all locations simultaneously. In Billund, Denmark, ETI is installing a complete bespoke AV and show-control system to the brand new 450-seat XTREME Theatre, in the original Legoland. This will be the park’s first purpose-built theatre (and the largest in Jutland). The theatre opens in April with a hybrid live/multimedia show ‘Life On Mars’. In California, ETI is expanding its existing AV and show-control system in the Imagination Theatre. This was part of the park-wide installation competed by ETI in 1999. Life On Mars opens there in May.
At Legoland in the UK, ETI is upgrading the facilities of the existing 'Circus Tent' venue. The system will include a complete video and show-control installation, but at Lego's request will integrate with much of the existing audio and lighting equipment. 'Life On Mars' opens in the UK in June. Finally, in Gunzburg in Germany, ETI is engineering a similar state-of-the-art AV and show-control system as part of their park-wide design for the park. The fourth Legoland opens in summer 2002.image – Lego.jpg
Barco has signed major contract agreements with eight leading cinema dealers. Abbott Theatre Equipment Co, Bell Theatre Services, Bright Star Systems, Cinema Equipment Sales, Media Technology Source, National Cinema Supply Corporation, Omnex Pro Film and Universal Cinema Services have all signed rental agreements with Barco Digital Cinema.
Barco Digital Cinema is one of only three licensees of Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema technology. TI developed DLP Cinema technology in close co-operation with key players in the film industry, and will continue to work closely with Barco to develop commercial products based on this technology. "One of the most frequently asked questions about digital cinema is: Where are the engineers and technicians going to come from, to install and service equipment in this new technology?" said Harry Mathias, Barco’s director of Digital Cinema, America. "The dealers, that are our new partners, are the companies who designed, equipped, and serviced, most of the major new stadium seating multiplexes in the world today. These dealers have an army of experienced cinema technicians that are being trained in the new technology by Barco’s extensive training department."
A two-day, technically-groundbreaking CIO Summit was recently staged by a major internet networks and applications multinational at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
Situated within the Prince Pierre Theatre, the event provided the opportunity to introduce enabling technologies and methodology in a unique fashion. The organisation briefed production company Project Worldwide to design an adventurous set on a grand scale. They conceived a massive, rear-projected 17-metre screen as the entire backdrop, with the aim of turning the theatre into a giant internet site.
To help them, they asked Creative Technology to devise a projection system based on the new Dataton Watchout soft-edge system. The keynote room and stage thus became the website page, with the proscenium arch as the web page header, enabling them to present streaming video alongside flash animation and basic Powerpoint and video feeds on a conference scale.
The 17m display was created by three screens, joined by a soft-edge blend created by Watchout. The three projectors were each fed from a G4 Mac, into which were loaded the pre-designed graphics. These were connected to three Christie 10k Roadie projectors on an Ethernet network, and attached to the end was a production PC, with a standard interface, controlling the three-MAC system. All the elements created externally were imported into Watchout, and once time-lines and sequences had been worked out, this was updated into the G4s. A further pair of Christie 7k units were responsible for the Powerpoint data inserts and live camera i-mag. Avesco plc stablemates,
Following the success of the pre-Christmas Corrs shows at Wembley Arena, where designer Willie Williams utilised Screenco's ‘exploded’ screen as a backdrop to the band, Screenco continued on the European tour throughout January and this month provided the same system for the band’s US debut, with a sold-out show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. A one-off New York theatre show would not normally have had the budget for a screen of this type to have been flown in especially. However, following a call from Ian ‘Chip’ Calder, the band’s production manager, Screenco’s MD Dave Crump contrived a deal which worked for Screenco, the band and Unitek Displays (the manufacturer of Megascreen, Screenco’s, 25mm LED system). Fortunately, Unitek already had some Megascreen in the US, which had been used for demonstration purposes, and Screenco arranged to collect this from Dallas and fly in 14 additional modules - along with the custom-built flying and masking hardware. Craig Tinetti directed the New York show, with UK-supplied playback for the Screenco display, which was run by engineer Bill Dixon; cameras and projectors for side stage i-mag were locally sourced. Screenco’s Dave Crump commented: "I have always been a great believer in co-operation between suppliers and this tour has not only seen us work alongside Unitek for the New York shows, but also with Nocturne Europe on the i-mag and playback end of the operation."
Christie Digital Systems has announced the first in a series of new ‘Vivid’ projectors, designed for conference rooms, boardrooms, churches, training rooms and other applications. The Vivid line of multimedia projectors complements the existing high-performance three-chip DLP products - the Vista Series. The first projector available in the series is the Vivid Green - producing up to 3600 ANSI lumens, true XGA resolution with the latest in high aperture LCD technology and optical design, all in a 17.2lb (7.8kg) package - a ratio of 210 lumens per pound of weight. Vivid Green can be used in high ambient light conditions, and is aimed at applications in larger rooms. The projector employs the 250W NSH lamp from Ushio (the parent company of Christie Digital Systems), with a typical lamp life of 1500 hours.
Production Resource Group (PRG) has announced that it has established new credit totaling $125 million with GMAC Business Credit, to support its strategic plans. This refinancing was coupled with the sale of PRG's Systems Group consisting of Signal Perfection Ltd and the Ancha and SPL-Integrated Solutions divisions, to a newly-formed entity controlled by shareholders of PRG and Systems Group management. "With such rapid expansion, there have been obstacles and growing pains. None the less, the hard work of the talented people that make up PRG and the new management we've implemented has significantly reduced our debt from $190 million to $110 million," says Jere Harris, chairman and CEO. "I attribute these achievements to the continual efforts of our employees. It's their diligence, dedication and teamwork that has directly resulted in improved performance."
PRG anticipates continued growth as the management changes and investments made in the past year take full effect.
The latest phase in the development of Flagship Portsmouth, home to Nelson’s Victory, has been completed by Sarner International. Mike Mann reports.
The project, which involved several months of in-depth research, in collaboration with the Victory’s curators and crew, led to the installation of a shore-based ‘mood theatre’, which takes a personal view of the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 - Nelson’s greatest, and final, triumph.
Using Alcorn McBride control and playback systems, Sarner’s David Dempsey, Ross Magri and John Griffin devised a four-scene experience, with an independently-controlled waiting area and several interactive elements. David Dempsey explained that in the case of the Victory Gallery, technology was used to make the story of Trafalgar more accessible, without trivialising this pivotal piece of naval history. "There was a huge amount that we had to leave out of the experience - but as both creative and technical people, we had to make sure that we didn’t ‘dumb down’ the story. We couldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Victory Gallery is a platform for educating people, rather than technology for its own sake."
Colin White, the museum’s deputy director and Peter Goodwyn, curator of the Victory herself, were keen to depict the human side of naval warfare, as well as presenting the strategic overview. To this end, individual mannequins were commissioned to man the replica cannons in the gallery’s ‘gun deck’; stock models were deemed inadequate, and memb
Screenco installed 44sq.m of high-resolution LED image magnification at the Royal Albert Hall in February for a star-studded gala dinner to kick-start the 2001 Formula One Grand Prix season. Screenco featured their 15mm digital LED system at the event, configured for 4:3 aspect ratio material. The screen, the largest of its type ever installed at the venue, was flown upstage centre and integrated within the set design, to broadcast live camera relays of the VIP guests. The event, promoted by Chas Cole for CMP and produced by Andrew Zweck for Sensible Music, was held in aid of the Brain & Spine Foundation, whose patron is Professor Sid Watkins, Formula One’s chief medical officer. Entertainment was provided by Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Chris Rea, Simon Le Bon and Gabrielle, among others, with the finale featuring Eddie Jordan & His All Star Band, including Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
BAFTA, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, specified a high level of video production for the Orange British Academy Awards, which was staged before an audience of 1700 people at the Odeon, Leicester Square recently. For the second year running, they turned to Creative Technology, who fielded the latest 3-chip DLP projection and a state-of-the-art modular LED display. Television viewers saw image magnification projected onto an 8 x 8 modular Lighthouse Technologies LVP-102D (10mm pixel pitch) screen to produce picture reinforcement on a 5.12m high and 3.84m wide canvass. Working through production company Initial, Creative Technology was also responsible for the flanking projections onto the walls, situated either side of the main screen. From its hire fleet, the company designated Christie Digital projectors - a pair of 3-chip DLP X6 Roadsters, offering digitally perfect projection and 5000 ANSI lumens output, plus the utility 7K Roadie, also with the 3-chip DLP engine, and the company’s first purpose-built rental staging projector. The units took their feed from BskyB’s roving cameras.