It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.
To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.
Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an
Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.
The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.
Cause & Effect, the organisers of the 2001 Birmingham Fringe theatre festival, are looking at the possibility of holding collaborative projects with entertainment technology companies during the 2001 festival, in order to demonstrate the contribution made by them to technical theatre. Project director Derrick G Knight told us: "My motivation is to enhance Birmingham as a host city for performing arts. This will be achieved through the development of a network of performance venues in partnership with the performers, venue owners and production companies associated with performing arts." An initial idea is to include a sound and lighting exhibition alongside the festival, which takes place in July and August 2001, and Knight is currently exploring the availability of no-cost exhibition space at a number of venues adjacent to the reserved performance spaces. For further information is available from the number below.
New York video artist Tony Oursler recently installed his imaginatively-provocative The Influence Machine work into the urban landscape of London’s Soho Square. Its trees and architecture proved a perfect setting for this compelling visual and sonic experience.
The piece was presented by The Beck’s/ARTANGEL Commission. Oursler has worked in video and mixed media since leaving art school in the mid-seventies - when the cumbersome Sony Portapak reigned supreme.
Conceptually, the work - which was simultaneously running in Madison Square Park in NY - is devised from the human attraction to virtual and moving imagery. It explores how this fascination and the technology allow us to enter different psychological states. As a result, giant talking heads, hands and eyes rolled around the trees and buildings. Eerie and ghoulish voices ranted and hissed in the night, interacting with the natural elements and sounds.
Oursler positioned five Sony LCD video projectors around the Park, beaming images onto trees and buildings. Footage included references to some key characters in the history of telecoms and media. Emphasis was also placed on the advent of the telegraph in the mid-19th century. Source material for the event combined art history with science and spiritualism - the ideas of ‘spirits’ trying to communicate with the ‘living’ via tapping, knocking and Morse techniques. It also featured early pioneers of moving image and magic lantern theatre techniques.The installation was production managed by Simon Byford and Simon Corder - who often t
Audio-visual and multi-media specialist DJ Willrich has been making dreams come true recently for one of the world's leading producers of computer-animated films for entertainment simulation. The 4DEX Themeport, which is currently being built in Brighton Marina, is the brainchild of Ian Williams; designed to 'take the visitors into the next dimension of human entertainment experience', the 4DEX Themeport is the airport of the future, transporting the modern time-travelling visitor into both the past and the future. Beginning with the technical design, DJW worked with Williams to develop initial simulation solutions that would 'transport' visitors from each of the terminals to the destination of their choice. The company then introduced Haley Sharpe Designers, with whom it has worked on projects such as The Big Idea in Scotland and the Children's Museum in Sharjah, to work on the conceptual idea. DJW supplied and installed all the simulation, AV hardware, lighting and show control equipment that permits visitors to visit the genesis of the Olympic Games and the magic of the Pharaohs, among other destinations.
Telestage Associates and it parent Waagner Biro Stage Technology has announced the retirement of Qahtan Hardy as managing director of Telestage Associates. Hardy will officially step down at the end of the year but will retain his links with the company and will continue to be involved as an advisor. He has a long involvement in stage engineering and audio-visual which incorporated the purchase of Telestage in 1988. In 1997 the company was purchased by Waagner Biro and Hardy was retained as the sole executive director. A successor is expected to be appointed in 2001. In the meantime Mike Bacon has been appointed operations manager and forms part of the senior management team at Telestage.
After a number of years at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, where the spiralling success of the event has seen more and more people literally squeezed into the hotel's Westbourne Suite, the 2001 Live! Awards dinner will be held in the Great Hall of Alexandra Palace. The change of venue offers the twin benefits of easily accommodating the large numbers who now wish toattend the Awards, while allowing much easier access to exhibitors and visitors to the Live! Show. The Live! Awards dinner takes place on the evening of Wednesday 7th February 2001, the first day of the Live! Show. In addition, this year, for the first time, you can register online for the Live! Show at the web address below, which also features comprehensive Show information.
Lighting students at Rose Bruford College recently completed a project that allowed them to apply their design skills to a wide range of performance genres. Known as the ‘Related Fields’ project, third year students of the BA (Hons) Lighting Design degree course collaborated with Stage Management and Directing students to create a nightclub environment, an audio-visual performance, a son et lumière and a contemporary dance work.Each team of four lighting designers, two directors and a stage manager was responsible for taking their production from initial concept to full performance over a period of four weeks. With the first two years of the course focused on theatre, this project represented the students’ main opportunity to tackle other types of performance. The work was supervised by visiting tutor Nick Moran, highly experienced in both theatre and corporate events.
The first production turned the college’s Barn Theatre into a nightclub. To the rear, a gauze served as a projection screen on which High End Technobeams created rippling, swirling gobo patterns, while VL5s washed the space with congo blues to supplement the UV paint. As the music swelled, the focus shifted more strongly to the gauze, which dissolved to reveal dancers behind, backlit by sweeping DHA Light Curtains at floor level. The second production also led the audience onto the stage via the auditorium, but this time the atmosphere was very different. Two actors dressed as pantomime-style children (think Jack and Jill) greeted the audience in the foyer, and divided them into gro
Sony has introduced a new large size video screen to its line-up of public display solutions to provide a high impact visual medium for indoor advertising, digital signage and retail applications. In a plug and play format, the new 126” (diagonal measurement) JJTron utilises LED technology with an 8mm pixel pitch and partial 12-bit processing. Screen control is through a remote commander, not unlike a typical television remote control unit.
Nocturne Europe was an integral part of the video production for the super-hyped, high profile Madonna gig at Brixton Academy. The show was netstreamed live by Microsoft to an audience estimated at over 200 million - the world’s largest webcast to date. Nocturne Europe became involved in the show via their US counterpart Nocturne Inc, who have serviced previous Madonna productions and also worked with their European partner XL Video from Belgium in a unique triumvirate collaboration.XL Video provided their new indoor Lighthouse Screen, fed from Nocturne Europe’s control system. This was based around a 4-input vision mixer fed from three Doremi hard drives, used to store all the pre-recorded video footage. The video control was automated via an ARTI system from Nocturne Inc, which converted SMPTE timecode from the band’s MD to trigger the hard drives. Nocturne Europe also provided a Barco ELM projector, fed from the CT OB truck parked outside. The high-pressure job - Madonna is well known for being a complete perfectionist - was co-ordinated from the Nocturne Europe office in St Albans by director Des Fallon. The show’s production manager was Chris Lamb, production lighting was supplied by Fourth Phase LSD and sound by Clair Brothers.
BRC Imagination Arts has created a state-of-the-art visitor centre and theatre located in Karasjok, Norway, 360 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The cultural centre uses complex special effects to celebrate the long history of the region’s Sami people, one of the few indigenous peoples of Europe. For the Centre’s main theatre presentation, which shows the history of the Sami people and how they are being affected by the modernization of the planet, BRC developed an advanced combination of simultaneous front- and back-projection systems together with a fog projection screen, unique fibre optic effects, and a ‘fly away screen wall’. Electrosonic Systems Inc of Burbank, California, was responsible for the systems engineering and installation of all the audio-visual systems in the main theater, and also the pre-show and waiting area. An Electrosonic Video Server drives the video projectors, with an Akai 16-channel digital audio unit providing sound for the main theatre. The show is controlled automatically by a computer running Electrosonic EASY software, and may be run in any one of eight different languages.
Gearhouse has launched a new division operating from Birmingham, the NEC and Manchester. Called Gearhouse Computer Rental Services, it has been started in response to customer demand, mirroring market trends where computer technology has become integral in conference and exhibition presentations. Duncan Murdoch is the new head of the division. Formerly a director of the highly-successful Gearhouse Multimedia operation in Surrey, Murdoch has worked with Gearhouse since June 1992 in several divisions of the Group. The new division offers a wide range of laptops, low- and high-end PCs, networking services and internet connections including routers and hubs, which are used for cyber cafes, and to enable PowerPoint presentation delivery. Printers, LCD screens and plasma screens will be available to clients in a turnkey service.
Gearhouse Manchester proved itself a cut above the rest when it recently provided a live link between the operating theatre and restaurant at the Alexandra Hospital, Cheadle, for BMI Healthcare. Gearhouse has accommodated some wide and varied projects for clients, but a recent request asking them to get up close to supply images of the inside of the human body has got to be one of the strangest. Scott McAughtrie, general manager at Gearhouse Manchester, has worked with the hospital on a number of occasions, where the surgeons are regularly working on pioneering techniques and equipment, and has developed this unique relay of live pictures with sound to allow the hospital to share key information with other key surgeons and registrars around UK. Four Gearhouse crew were responsible for installing and operating various cameras including the tiny Polecam. This lighter, smaller camera was used for filming the more intricate work, often working within inches of the open chest without interfering with the surgeon.
Navigator Systems’ US Division has appointed Ray as Technical Director. Covenant has many years’ experience in the entertainment industry, particularly in the field of information systems. Covenant will oversee technical support for the hundreds of companies in North America currently using HireTrack Eclipse. He will also be involved in the implementation of a new application service where companies will have the option to rent software instead of purchasing new software. The users will connect to Navigator Systems server farms via the internet and run HireTrack Eclipse. Greg Smith, president of Navigator Systems US, commented, "I am so excited that Ray has joined our team. He brings many years experience working with entertainment companies and their software systems."
Acoustic Arrangements has launched a new online shopping site – e-av – offering a wide range of professional AV products, sound equipment and home cinema gear. According to MD Glyn Chapman, the site will be updated on an almost daily basis and will feature a range of special offers and end of line discounts.
Visitors from the lighting and creative media worlds were given a unique preview of the kinetic future when Screenco fronted a two-day Illuminated Video Workshop at Three Mills Island Studios recently.
In association with a prime team of concert service providers, including Vari-Lite Production Services, Avolites, Stage One Creative Services, Creative Technology, Aerial Camera Systems, SSE Hire, ShowSec and Vertigo Rigging, the experimental two-day interactive workshop graphically highlighted how the boundaries between the rapidly-converging disciplines of automated lighting and video displays are being pushed back. The workshop was the brainchild of Screenco’s Mike Walker, whose vision for the event was born out of a desire to bring the creative skills of video and lighting together. Production manager for the event was Adam Wildi at Hothouse, assisted by Mary Jefferson from Tiger Productions.
Two leading show lighting designers - Vince Foster and Nick Jevons - were asked by Screenco to blend their visual techniques, with each pursuing a completely different path in two large studios, back to back. For Foster, and VL Virtuoso board operator Theo Cox, it was a conventional live concert stage with a widescreen video display, and for Jevons it was a fast-changing club/dance environment, working in conjunction with DJ Callum Wordsworth to deliver spectacular colour-changing set elements, interacting with live video graphics.
In Studio 8 Vince Foster had produced the 3D visualisation for the band show and presented Theo Cox with the CAD drawings to carry out his o
Recognising the importance of operational competence and compliance with Health & Safety Executive guidelines in event production, i-mag specialists Screenco recently held intensive back-to-back four-day training programmes in Holland and the UK for its staff and freelance crews. Overseeing the workshops at Screenco's mainland European base, just outside Rotterdam, were general manager Jeroen Jongenelen, Graham Filmer and Avesco plc's in-house Health & Safety Officer, Phil Roberts (with managing director Dave Crump replacing Jongenelen in the UK organising team). In Holland 20 freelancers and ten staff took the opportunity to increase their knowledge while in the UK some 30 freelancers and 15 staff attended.
Sister companies Christie Inc and Christie Digital Systems Inc plan to form one company under the name Christie Digital Systems. The merger, expected to be finalised in April next year, will create one company dedicated to providing projection solutions for cinemas, conference centres, large venues, the rental and staging markets, and the emerging digital cinema marketplace. Under the new organisation, Christie Digital Systems Inc will maintain headquarters in Cypress, California and Kitchener, Canada. The company will continue to operate regional sales and marketing offices in Canada, Europe, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US. Manufacturing operations will be based in California and Canada.
CP Sound, creative audio, lighting and AV designer and installer, is moving to a newly-acquired, hugely expanded premises in central Staines. CP Sound's operation has expanded so rapidly in the last two years that it has outgrown the site in Chertsey that has contained it for the last three years. The new building, workshops, warehouse space and offices are part of a purpose-built industrial unit. The extra space and rationalisation of resources will allow CP Sound's hectic production schedules to be managed even faster and more efficiently. It will also enhance its already well-established quality of service.As from today the company's new contact, the new contact details are Unit 3 Tim's Boat Yard, Timsway, Staines, Middlesex, TW18 3JZ. Tel: +44 1784 461614.
AV specialists Blitz Communications picked up two Silver Awards at the Marketing Event Awards 2000, held at the London Hilton recently. Nominated twice in the 'Best Supplier - On Site' category, Blitz won Silver for both. The first nomination was for its work with HP:ICM on the Opel Agila and Astra Coupe European Dealer launch - an event which itself won the Gold Award for 'Best Product Launch'. The second was for the launch of a new pharmaceutical firm, Aventis, for which Blitz's three divisions - Blitz Vision, Blitz Interactive and TP Sound Services - put together a highly complex system.
Combine photographic imagery with photosynthesis and what do you get? An amazing 10ft high by 11ft wide image in grass that is currently on display at the V&A in London, acting as a reminder of the original appearance of the V&A's 14th century Devonshire Hunting tapestries. Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey have explored the art of grass before (you may recall seeing it in L&SI) but needed technical expertise for their most recent project and turned to Wyatt Enever at DHA. Using a technique similar to that used to transfer continuous-tone images onto glass gobos, Enever converted a continuous tone image into a random-dot break up and then, transferred this to film which could withstand high temperatures. A Pani projector was then used to project the image onto a frame of earth containing germinated grass seed, which then grew in relation to the amount of light projected. The grass was allowed to dry and the result is an incredible sepia photographic images depicted in grass.
Caribiner International has launched a new name and identity. The company will be known as Jack Morton Worldwide after merging with its American counterpart of the same name. The company has an impressive client list and was responsible for the public arena installations in the Millennium Dome and at the Hanover World Expo 2000. Recent projects include the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies, The Royal Military Tattoo and the Queen Mother Celebrations on Horse Guards Parade. The new combined company represents a worldwide community of over 1200 people in more than 30 locations in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. William Morton is chairman and chief executive, located in New York, whilst Josh McCall, located in Boston, has been named president and chief operating officer. Lois Jacobs, based in London, becomes executive vice president, regional director, Europe and Asia-Pacific, responsible for the growth and profitability of the company's operations in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. She joins the executive committee having previously served as chairman of Caribiner Europe, and remains as executive chairman of the London Operation.
John Lethbridge, founder and ex-managing director of Cerebrum Lighting and a former vice-chairman of PLASA, has launched a brand new on-line Internet auction site through his new company, Cereco International Ltd. www.cereco.com will specialise in offering new and ex-demonstration audio, lighting, AV and effects equipment - all of which carries a 12-month guarantee.The auctions are free to enter for buyers and sellers and unusually, for an e-commerce operation, buyers do not have to give any credit card details. All sellers will be carefully vetted as Cereco will provide a money back guarantee to any dissatisfied buyers. Instructions on how to take part are available on-line in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Chinese and Japanese and products are offered in six different currencies. New auctions will start every Thursday evening and run for 10 days, finishing on a Sunday evening (UK time).
Sony Broadcast and Professional Europe has announced its intention to start the European production of its ultra portable liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors at its existing manufacturing plant in Barcelona, Spain. Sony hopes that the move will increase production efficiency, shorten delivery times and improve after-sales service in the European market. The plant is scheduled to produce 50,000 LCD projectors in its first year rising to 100,000 units in 2002.