Following an 18-month market research and development project, Sarner International Ltd, a leading audio-visual design and installation specialist, has re-launched itself with a new management line-up which includes the promotion of experienced divisional managers to its board and the introduction of a new corporate identity. The company’s Ross Magri, Michael Bennett, Ian Revens and David Dempsey have joined the Sarner Board. David Dempsey, Sarner's sales and marketing director told PLASA Media: "We reached the conclusion that we needed to re-evaluate the direction of our work and our expectations for the future." As a result, the company has decided to concentrate its efforts on three main markets: the integrated presentation systems market, the corporate production and events market and the design and build of themed visitor attractions and experiences market.
Major car manufacturers used 19 large Lighthouse LED video screens for their stands during January's Detroit Motor Show - the first major motor show of the 2001 international calendar and the most important one in North America. The Detroit Show also highlighted the first major commercial use of the new Lighthouse 5mm ultra high resolution LED screen on auto manufacturer Mini's booth. AV rental companies used a total of almost 307sq.m of the Lighthouse 10mm product - LVP102 and 15sq.m of the new LVP202 5mm screen. The Lighthouse video screens featured on the stands of Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, Toyota, and Volvo.
A couple of new developments on the performing arts front. Ballast Construction has won a £14m contract to build the Laban Centre in Deptford, including 13 dance studios and a 300-seat theatre, whilst Newcastle City Council is currently reviewing plans with Newcastle University to develop a £60m arts and heritage complex at the Playhouse theatre site at Barras Bridge. Leisure development continues apace: Government approval has been given for a £30m leisure development at Gloucester Docks which will include a multiplex cinema, restaurants and retail units. Associated British Ports, meanwhile, has submitted plans for a new leisure and retail development at Alexandra Dock in Grimsby, including shops, a restaurant, pub and possibly a hotel. Isle of Wight Council is considering plans from Godshill Park Developments for the creation of a 60-bedroom hotel and conference centre in Wootton and finally Leicester City has won approval to build a £35m 32,000-seat football stadium at Freeman's Wharf.
Park Avenue has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to design and build new exhibits for General Motors’ successful Test Track attraction at Epcot in Orlando, Florida. Guests board the Cyber Seats and are taken on a virtual journey, which uses state-of-the-art stereoscopic displays, 3D sound and seats that rotate and vibrate to enhance the experience. This project will be the second ride based around an animated film that Park Avenue has designed, produced and installed at Disney. In July 1998, Park Avenue created the ‘Sparky’ ride film and 18 Cyber Seats as part of the new Innoventions Pavilion within Tomorrowland at DisneyLand in Anaheim.
On 1st February 2001, PLASA went online with its brand new website at www.plasa.org. The new site is the latest development in the six-year history of PLASA’s online presence, and continues the organisation’s aim to provide the premier online resource for the entertainment, presentation and event technology industry worldwide.
The new site further develops the extensive and freely-available information resources offered to the industry by PLASA. Now available are fully-searchable databases allowing fast, easy and flexible access to the full listing of 450+ PLASA members; 1,500 industry news items in the online news archive; a comprehensive calendar of industry events, and over 100 titles in PLASA’s Technical Book Service.
PLASA’s Managing Director Matthew Griffiths comments: "Aside from the great new look of the site, I’m especially pleased with the new keyword-search facilities. We provide the opportunity - for free, and within a matter of seconds - to find every news item that a particular company has appeared in on the PLASA News website over the past 18 months. The same applies for searching the membership database for companies, products and services, or for finding details of worldwide industry events. This is what the industry has been demanding from a website like ours, and we’re pleased to be offering such a truly beneficial service."
In addition to providing a valuable resource to the global industry, the new site has been designed to represent all the diverse aspects of PLASA as an organisation - including the A
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) saw the five year Centenary Project of redevelopment and refurbishment come to fruition at the end of last year when the new facility was opened by HM The Queen alongside a host of celebrity guests, politicians and past students. Andy Wood talks to head of sound Colin Brown.
The scheme for the re-development of RADA - one of the premier training establishments for theatre arts and technology - was made possible thanks to a £22.7m grant from the Arts Council Lottery Board, along with £8m of self-generated capital donations. RADA includes a new Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, George Bernard Shaw (GBS) Theatre, John Gielgud Studio Theatre, a recording studio and three control rooms, all of which are linked by a state-of-the-art sound, video and communications systems which allow complete synergy between the performance spaces.
Education is naturally the major emphasis, however, RADA also doubles up as a public performance venue with 16 full productions a year and as such its infrastructure needs to be flexible. For Colin Brown, head of sound and a RADA technical staff member since 1974, the new work involved co-ordinating with the BBC, Theatre Projects, the Oxford Sound Company, builders Laing and project managers Buro Four Project Services, to create work spaces that would allow both practical production and instruction in the same area. The same criteria applied to head of lighting Neil Fraser. The new Jerwood Vanbrugh theatre therefore is the first space in London to use a high-tension steel wire grid, which both lighting and sound
The planned auction of the Dome’s contents may possibly die before it even gets going if Legacy plc’s bid for the site is not concluded on 14 February as intended. It appears that the Government and Legacy cannot agree terms, and, as a result, the New Millennium Experience Company has reviewed plans to postpone indefinitely the £10m auction, which is scheduled to start at the end of February. We understand that they may, however, proceed with the sale of some of the site’s assets. If the Legacy bid does fall through, it will mean that other potential bidders, including the Dome's chief executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, who has struck an alliance with James Palumbo, property firm Pilton Group and the pop impresario Harvey Goldsmith, may have their wish to keep the venue entertainment-based rather than the business park proposal that was at the heart of the Legacy plan.
Several new projects have been given the green light this month. Dunfermline Athletic has won planning permission for a business enterprise centre, 60-bedroom hotel, swimming pool and leisure facility at its football stadium in Fife. Meanwhile, maintaining a sporting theme, Grimsby Town is expected to start work on a new football stadium at Great Coates in September, having won the go-ahead from North East Lincolnshire Council. Travel giant Stagecoach has submitted plans for the development of a multiplex cinema and entertainment centre at the bus station site in Exeter, and the BBC has begun recruiting 80 staff for a new £4m TV and radio news broadcasting facility in Sevenoaks.
Details courtesy of UK Business Park.
Stage Two Ltd, the Watford-based audio-visual, sound and lighting company, has announced that David Reeves has returned to the company as business development manager to consolidate the company's position in the conference equipment hire and presentation field.
Westsun International Inc. has announced the creation of Westsun’s first regional ‘super hub’ in Las Vegas, Nevada. When making the announcement on behalf of the company’s executive Board, Rob Davidson, CFO and acting CEO of Westsun, stated: "This is a natural step in our development strategy, one that will allow us to provide our customers with even greater access to our comprehensive equipment pool. It will also shorten lead times, thereby further improving our market-leading service to all of our clients." This new facility will operate under the Westsun Las Vegas banner. Dick Wright, vice-president of West Coast operations, will lead the operation. Anticipated to house in excess of $15 million worth of stock, the new expansion will be complete by May 1, 2001. During the transition, Dick Wright will work closely with Scott Jevons of Westsun Los Angeles. Scott Jevons will lead the Westsun Los Angeles sales team as sales manager, and ensure that it remains a key component of Westsun International’s sales and marketing efforts. Westsun remains committed to providing a high level of personalized service to its existing and new clients.
Simon Woodroffe’s new ‘Yo! Land’ in London’s Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, is the new home for the company’s HQ, as well as the site of the latest Yo! Sushi (featuring a 2,100ft-long conveyor belt which carries dishes to up to 200 diners) and Yo! Below operations.Yo! Below, situated behind Yo! Sushi, provides punters with a rather unusual blend of food, live DJs, Manga videos, massage and singing waitresses. This strongly entertainment-led venue, designed by John Isted, has sourced its show technology from the newly-created Marquee Installations, with MI’s Mark Brown responsible for the design and supply of the system.
"Farringdon combines the best elements of previous sites we’ve worked on, with visuals becoming an ever-increasing part of the landscape. For instance, we’ve now upgraded to the superior quality of plasma displays," said Brown, adding: "It was clear that they wanted the best technology available and the key element is that since the entire trading area in Yo! Below is a performance stage, we needed to achieve even sound coverage."
The components of the system, therefore, had to be carefully selected for their effect on the soundscape. Sennheiser radio microphones are supplied to the performers who strut down catwalks between diners, while Sabine feedback exterminators ensure a clear signal, and a combination of QSC amplification and six tried and trusted RCF Monitor 8s handle the delivery, sourced either from the Technics SL1210 decks, minidsic or Numark CD players at the DJ station, or f
PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) has recently introduced its latest addition to the range of benefits which it offers to members. PLASA’s new Human Resources service, set up in conjunction with CP Associates HR Consultancy, provides PLASA members with access to professional help and advice with personnel issues. The service is designed to offer practical, independent advice, based on the latest factual information available, and covers areas including contracts & terms of employment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; employee benefits; employment legislation; pay reviews; recruitment and selection; risk assessment; redundancy and absence control.
To use the service, members simply call the PLASA office, and are then given the telephone, fax or e-mail address of CP Associates. They are then entitled to 15 minutes of free advice on any one subject. Where a more detailed or specific consultation is required, PLASA has negotiated highly preferential rates for its members. These might include personnel procedure audits, contracts of employment and staff handbooks, setting a human resource strategy, and new personnel policies or systems. To safeguard the viability of the service, it can only be used by a member company’s PLASA contact or managing director.
PLASA’s Membership Services Manager, Norah Phillips, comments: “We aim to offer our members real advantages in the areas of business and information, and this is the latest in a series of new services which we have introduced with this in mind. We believe that this new fac
Navigator Systems has announce the opening of their new website www.clubnavigator.co.uk designed specifically for registered users of HireTrack and HireTrack Eclipse. This new site will enable members of the Navigator community to instantly access the Navigator Systems library of technical support documents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the company has developed a forum of issues, where all users can post suggestions, ideas, and comments. Customers will have the opportunity to share custom reports and/or utilities with other users. The company newsletter will also be maintained, keeping customers apprised of current projects, and new releases of the software.
Malta’s first multiplex cinema has opened in Valetta. The Embassy was originally built as a single-screen cinema in 1952, but the new complex now forms part of a complete shopping centre and fast food court - set in a prime location in the island’s capital.
Designed by Fitch & Co, owner Mark Zammit confirmed that the combined film, food and fashion development will have cost Embassy Ltd around £9 million. The cinema features Martin Audio purpose-designed sound reinforcement throughout the six theatres. These were recommended to Mark Zammit by cinema consultant Mike Beeny.
Mike Beeny explained: "Embassy were very keen to have state-of-the-art sound and stadium seating, so during a visit to the UK, I took them to the 20-screen UCI Cinema in Trafford. The biamped Martin system represented almost exactly what they had decided to opt for." The result is a combination of biamped Screen 4s, with a dedicated crossover, and SUB 1s - in either one or two-box configurations depending on the room size.
The ESTA website has been having some difficulties since Monday, January 8th. Wybron, which hosts the ESTA website and all its e-mail aliases, was forced off-line when its service provider went bankrupt and terminated all service without notice. Wybron has been able to create a temporary dial-up connection for the ESTA server, which should allow email through, although access to the website will be very slow. ESTA wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused. Until the problem is resolved, all ESTA web services will have limited accessibility. Therefore, please use the following alternate email addresses to contact the ESTA staff, in order to ease strain on the temporary connection:
Show Presentation Services (SPS), the audio-visual equipment rental and technical staging specialist, has announced the launch of its new e-commerce website, along with a brand new on-line ‘Budget Estimator’. Robin Coles, SPS managing director, says: "A UK event manager for a multi-national brand with a requirement to take a product road-show to six European cities, should provide the Budget Estimator with details such as audience size, type of event/presentation and location, and they will be provided with immediate on-line staging information specific to their requirements with accompanying pricing."
Halifax plc, one of the UK’s most established providers of financial services, has appointed Sarner International to install a state-of-the-art media presentation system in the boardroom of its Edinburgh offices. Based around a rear-projected Media Presentation Wall with a wide range of audio and visual capabilities, the Wall is capable of generating presentations via almost any format, including DVD and satellite television inputs.
Electrosonic was responsible for the audio-visual design, systems engineering and installation for an exhibition to promote the launch of the Millennium Seedbank. One of the largest conservation projects ever undertaken, and spearheaded by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Millennium aims to safeguard over 24,000 plant species worldwide from extinction. Seedbank. Located in the new Wellcome Trust Millennium Building at Wakehurst, Sussex, and designed by Land Design Studio, the Seed Bank exhibition shows visitors why the project is necessary, and how the teams of experts will store millions of seeds from around the world in vast underground vaults. The AV presentation includes a video shown on a plasma display screen and run from an Electrosonic MPEG2 vido server with ESLINX show control. The ESLINX control system is also used to control a number of other elements in the display, such as a turntable, Polyvision LCD film reveal and light boxes. In the main exhibition area, an interactive display allows visitors to experience the processing and research involved in the project. This uses 15" LCD touchscreens; all computers are stored ina central control room, with signal distribution via Cat 5 cable. Finally, a virtual reality tour of the -20°C cold storage vaults, where visitors can open selected jars of seeds and then ‘travel’ to their place of collection.
Christmas week was Cereco International’s busiest week since the launch in September of its web-based lighting and audio equipment auction. Cereco’s John Lethbridge reports that in the period between 27 December and New Year’s Eve, over £7,000 worth of product was snapped up by several individual first-time buyers. There was a last-minute battle between five bidders for 42 ETC Source 4 Pars that started at £50.00 each and closed at £65.00 each. John Lethbridge puts this success down to the fact that people had plenty of time to be on-line over the holiday period. Also, most of the bidders are now subscribing to Cereco's free weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps them informed of the latest deals and action on the website. The site specialises in new and ex-demo equipment supplied by leading manufacturers and distributors, rather than ex-rental equipment, although some of the equipment sold over the Christmas period had come out of Expo 2000 in Hannover. A new auction starts every Thursday evening and initially runs for 10 days, after which time, unsold items are re-submitted. Viewers can also make off-line offers where there are no bids in place.
A new application for the company’s Optiscreen technology was given its official launch on Friday by AV company Gearhouse. The company is using its modular video screen system to create a new style of advertising hoarding which allows for advertising to change throughout the day. Newly-appointed Gearhouse director John Hemming unveiled the new system at the company’s Birmingham premises.
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
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
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.
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