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.
XFL, the new spring football league from the creators of the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) celebrated a successful launch on February 3rd that saw a Lighthouse Technologies LVP502 LED SuperScreen begin a unique tour of US stadiums. XFL, a combination of Football and live entertainment, is co-owned by broadcaster NBC and the WWF in a joint venture. For the benefit of watching fans, video screen specialists Screenworks were hired to supply giant LED video screens for the ten-week season, with one game a week, followed by two weekends of play-off games. The screen measures 25 feet high by 50 feet wide, using a total of 96 modules - the largest LED video screen ever to be toured in the United States. This creates an aspect ratio of 2:1, reflecting the WWF’s standard wrestling broadcast format, and the screen is colour corrected for television, with the signal source provided by NBC. A Screenworks crew tours with the screen, rigging it from a staging structure at each venue using chain motors. Screenworks, a division of Live Media Group, has been in the daylight video screen business for 12 years, and this recent purchase of Lighthouse LVP502 modules makes it the largest owner of 20mm screen modules in the US.
Show Presentation Services (SPS), the audio-visual equipment rental and technical staging specialist, is to install a Barco ‘DLite-7’ LED Daylight Display in the heart of London’s Oxford Street. The venture comes hot on the heels of a further major investment by SPS in 30sq.m of leading LED manufacturer Barco’s DLite-7 daylight display. The venture also heralds the first of a number of scheduled outdoor advertising pilot sites between SPS and London-based Trash Media Plc, the ambient media and outdoor advertising specialist, with whom SPS have formed a strategic alliance. The site, re-booked for a further 12 months, is located at the Cromwell Road/North End Road junction, on the main commuter route into London, and is live 24 hours a day.
The management team at Presentation Services Ltd (PSL), has purchased the assets and business of Gearhouse Group PLC’s Southern UK operation, together with the company’s North American operations. These include PSL and PSL Central, Lighting Unlimited, Set & Stage, Proquip, Presentation Graphics, Gearhouse Multimedia, ConferenceCast and Quorom Travel. In the US, both the Los Angeles and Nashville companies have been purchased. The transaction was concluded on Saturday 3 March and equity funding has been secured for the new company through 3i, with Barclays providing debt funding. The new Group is to be called Presentation Services Group Ltd; all of the companies will be relaunched under the PSL name and will continue to focus on the rental, staging, exhibition and concert touring markets. The new management team comprises Gary Davis, Chris Scadding, Darren Glossop, Irene McLean, Janet Smith, Stephen Rhodes and Nasser Abbas.
Spectators at the recent Norwich Union Indoor Trials/AAA Championships and Grand Prix athletics meetings at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena were treated to a unique spectacle. Held three weeks apart, the infrastructure for both events was rigged with Unitek’s latest and lightest high-impact LED Megascreen, offering 17mm pixel pitch resolution, designed for indoor and outdoor use. The 6 x 5 (6.7m x 4.2m) modular screen took a feed from six BBC cameras via the mixer in the OB truck, and the magnified action shots not only brought track and field into sharp focus, but formed a vital part of the BBC’s transmission.
Crestron’s Isys touch panel control system is breaking new ground in converging audio-visual and information technologies, thanks to its ability to operate any number of devices, and link to multiple control systems around the world via the internet. Building on this platform, Crestron has now introduced the TPS-4500 Advanced Touchpanel Control system. The TPS-4500 offers a 12" diagonal touch-sensitive active matrix SVGA display (800 x 600 pixels) with an ergonomic Soft-Touch adjustable screen tilt (30°-80°) design. Colour control graphics, including 2D and 3D icons, photos and animations, are easy to read, even at extreme viewing angles. In common with other Isys products, users can upgrade its capabilities simply by installing optional expansion cards. For example, by installing the optional TPS-VID expansion card, the TPS-4500 can display full-motion NTSC or PAL video on the touchpanel with 256,000 colours.
Installation and service subcontractor Install recently completed the relocation of its head office. The new premises, situated within three miles of the M6 and located within a newly built business complex, boast an 8,000sq.ft warehouse, an electronics workshop, a purpose-designed training and conference suite, and an extensively equipped office area. The rapid growth of Install over the past year has meant that the premises are not the only part of the company to have expanded. The 12-strong workforce has increased to 22, based both on and off-site. The most recent addition to the team is John Elves who becomes the company’s new general manager.
Following the news last week that the Gearhouse Group and a large number of its subsidiary operations have been placed in administrative receivership, Avesco PLC has acquired the Midlands and North divisions of Gearhouse Group PLC for £4 million. We understand that the business and assets acquired include the operations in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow and at the NEC.
A magnificent exhibition of Treasures of Catherine the Great has been staged to inaugurate the new Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has loaned more than 500 works of art and paintings, which will be on view to the public until 23rd September 2001.
The décor of the Hermitage Rooms recreates, in miniature, the imperial splendour of the Winter Palace and its various wings which now make up The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. This imperial shell will provide the backdrop for rotating exhibitions from the collections of the Museum in St. Petersburg and other Hermitage-related activities, providing London with a window on Russian art and history.
Although the Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House have been designed to be a palatial backdrop for important works of art, they also feature the latest in high technology display. The technology is discreet: it is used to enhance the visit in a subtle way and most visitors will be unaware that the latest web technology, high definition video, video conferencing technology, flat screen displays, MPEG compression and MP3 audio are all being used.
Electrosonic was appointed to design and build the audio-visual system for the Hermitage Rooms, and the aim throughout was to ensure that the hardware system was completely unobtrusive. The audio visual elements include a film of the interior of the Hermitage, produced by Mosaic Films and presented through a high definition video projection system. There is also a live image of the exterior of the Hermitage, presented on a 40 inch pla
If proof were needed that entertainment technology crosses all boundaries, then here it comes in the story of the newly constructed Potter’s House worship centre, home to one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States.
This 26,000 member nondenominational church in Dallas, Texas, led by Pentecostalist minister, author and entrepreneur T.D. Jakes, set out to build the country’s most technologically innovative church facility yet. $32 million later they have created a 300ft by 300ft, 8,200 seat venue, dubbed a ‘Smart Church’.
Power and data terminals installed at 200 seats allow attendees to download sermon notes and power point presentations onto laptop computers. Altar attendants are equipped with handheld PDAs to allow immediate input of new member data and ‘prayer needs’. An associated language translation centre features translation rooms with the capacity to simultaneously input and output up to six language translations.
Dallas-based consultants Acoustic Dimensions designed state-of-the-art sound, lighting and MATV systems. They worked with PRG company SPL on the installation of the audio and video systems, the centrepiece of which is a sound reinforcement system similar to the one recently installed at the Tennessee Titans football stadium in Nashville.
With a footprint on the main floor the size of two football fields, no one on the design team wanted the space to feel like a sports arena. A number of acoustic and audio strategies were utilised to make the 8,000+ seat venue feel like a smaller church. Not only di
TiLE will be the official European Show of The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). TiLE is aimed at those who have an interest in the future of location-based leisure attractions, whilst TEA is an international alliance of the world's most talented and experienced professionals in the themed attractions industry. The decision coincides perfectly with the 10th anniversaries of both TiLE and TEA and recognises the close relationship that has built up between the two; the European Chapter of TEA (now TEA Europe) was launched at TiLE 1998 in Strasbourg, France, and has become one of the fastest growing chapters of TEA.
Following the announcement of the new administration and management set-up of the PSA, a substantial package of new benefits for members has been unveiled. A new membership pack has been produced which includes a personal membership identity card, pre-paid subscriptions to appropriate magazines, training information and course dates, training booking forms, a diary section, book list and contacts, plus a new, truly interactive web site which is updated daily. Birmingham-based Business Media Services Ltd (BMS) recently took over the role of administrative and membership operations of the PSA office. Bob Fox, the head of BSM, told PLASA Media: "It is our aim to ensure that members of the PSA get the maximum possible from their association with us. We have put together this new package to increase the benefits that membership brings."
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.