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.
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