PLASA Publishing has learnt that VLPS (Europe) is to be sold to a European-based consortium. Although the move has not been officially confirmed by parent company Vari-Lite International Inc, VLPS Europe is understood to have all but completed the paperwork for a management buy-out backed by a venture capital company based in Sweden. A letter of intent is in place and confirmation of the deal is expected in the next few weeks. Vari-Lite Europe, together with Theatre Projects/Concert Productions and Brilliant Stages, became part of the Vari-Lite Inc Group in 1994 when the Samuelson Group sold off the companies. It later merged with Theatre Projects to form VLPS London.
Dolby Laboratories has announced that MARS (Multimedia Archive & Retrieval Systems) On-line has begun using Dolby Digital for the delivery of audio to professional broadcasters and the production community via the Internet. MARS On-line provides an Internet library music archive via a comprehensive on-line database search engine. The audio is stored, encoded and distributed using Liquid Audio technology, which employs Dolby Digital audio encoding.
Ausio-visual design and installation specialist Sarner International has been chosen by Purbeck District Council to produce a new interactive tourist attraction for the Swanage Heritage Centre. The new exhibition will provide an overview of the area's history and development, stretching as far back as the Jurassic period, with a display of dinosaur footprints found at a nearby quarry. Sarner is responsible for the entire attraction, including the creation of static displays and information videos. The centre is due to open in April 2000.
The BBC's Tomorrow's World programme last night featured a new development which, according to its designer, is capable of transmitting sound in a straight line Sound Beam is a new device which sends sound in a straight line - working on much the same principles as a spotlight. Designed by Joe Pompei, a researcher at MIT media lab in Boston, it can be used to relay audio to just one person in a crowd. Pompei's design is based upon high frequency ultrasound waves which are beyond our hearing which act like a 'carrier' for audible sound. His design combines music with ultrasound; this then recreates the complex wave patterns of the music at a much higher frequency that can't be heard. A specially designed speaker is then used to send out this high frequency ultrasound beam. Physical properties in the air then distort the beam producing a range of frequencies, including audible sound. The sound quality isn't high enough yet to cover very long distances, but when it is, the potential applications for the product in public places such as airports, stations and cinemas are mind-boggling.
The recently-opened Royal Opera House isn't experiencing much luck since its £214 million redevelopment. Following technical problems and cancellations on a run of recent productions, the Opera House was beset by further problems during a recent performance of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Gawain. The production was brought to a halt part-way through a performance when one of the lift mechanisms intended to transport a performer into position failed to operate effectively. The production was temporarily halted and later resumed - by the time the curtain came down it had fallen 40 minutes behind schedule.
ESTA has announced that the draft American National Standard BSR E1.14, Entertainment Technology - Recommendations for Inclusions in Fog Machine Manuals, is available for public review until March 14, 2000. The draft standard applies to the instruction manuals for fog machines manufactured for use in the entertainment industry, and describes what information should be included in fog machine manuals to help ensure that users operate these machines safely and effectively. A copy of the above standard may be obtained from the ESTA website at www.esta.org/tsp/ or by writing to: Technical Standards Manager, ESTA, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, NY 10001, USA.
Total Audio Solutions has just completed a full radio production studio installation for South Birmingham College. The College runs several courses from its Sparkbrook Media Centre, including HNC in Radio Broadcasting and NVQ and ONC in Radio Production. The studio, which was fitted out as a turnkey installation by the company, incorporates presenter and guest facilities, allowing students to polish their interview technique. Playback sources range from traditional turntables through to MiniDisc and DAT, while the college's Sadie production system is also integrated into the production suite.
The spectacular Millennium celebrations in Newcastle-upon-Tyne centred round the backdrop of the Tyne Bridge - the prototype of the larger Sydney Harbour Bridge, itself the backdrop to spectacular Millennium celebrations. The bridge was lit using City Color architectural luminaires, with design by Illuminatum. Newcastle-based power distribution specialists Innovation supplied six tonnes of cabling to provide one megawatt of power on and around the bridge. The stroke of midnight saw a fireworks display by Walk The Plank, including a stunning 150ft waterfall effect from bridge to river. The majority of the installation was carried out during normal daily activities, until the site became a vehicle exclusion zone on the morning of the 31st. Unfortunately, this also meant that all the production vehicles were ticketed by an over-excited traffic warden!
DPA Microphones is highlighting its new omnidirectional microphone at the Paris AES. The Type 3541 is a complete microphone kit for all kinds of high-quality solo recordings such as vocal performances, strings and wind instruments. The new 3541 is based on the same large-diaphragm capsule technology as the established gold model Type 4040 Hybrid Microphone. Supplied as a complete kit with suspension mount, windscreen and pop-filter, as well as the state-of-the-art Microphone Amplifier Type HMA4000 and a special microphone cable, the 3541 also introduces a completely new versatile modular capsule and preamplifier system. The capsule can be separated from the microphone preamp and the preamp exchanged, giving the engineer a choice between musical colouration of the Type MMP4000-T tube preamp, or the transparency of the solid state preamplifier Type MMP4000-S. Both are included in the microphone kit Type 3541.
Iain Elliott has left the Canford Group plc, the company he founded 23 years ago. Under Elliott's direction as chief executive, the Tyne & Wear-based company grew to become one of the UK's leading pro-audio distributors and manufacturers with a range of over 14,000 items. Elliott has not announced what he plans to do next, but has informed PLASA Publishing that he is not departing the pro-audio industry just yet!
The first Sennheiser manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere is currently under construction in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This 45,000sq.ft facility will manufacture printed circuit boards for the world market, as well as wireless headphones and wireless microphones for the American market. This is the first Sennheiser manufacturing facility outside Europe, and is modelled after the Wedemark, Germany, facility. Heading the project in New Mexico is Bill Jenner, recently named vice-president and general manager of the Sennheiser New Mexico facility. Initially, the plant is scheduled to operate with forty employees with approximately 10,000 sq.ft earmarked for future expansion.
Dresdner Bank in Frankfurt has a sophisticated new conference system from Brahler ICS. The bank's auditorium, round hall and mirror hall were the three areas which were equipped with microphones and language transmission systems via Brahler's latest digital wired - and wireless infra red - technology. In the auditorium, 168 delegate units were installed, all fitted with new hand-held microphones with luminant ring indicator. These mics switch off automatically and the cable recoils itself, when they are replaced in the holder. Software control is 32-bit. Three CCTV cameras in the auditorium are computer-linked to the microphones, so that delegates can be viewed by the interpreters inside the booths, whilst they are speaking.
PLASA EXCLUSIVE: PLASA Publishing has learnt that Technotronics, the West-Yorkshire-based manufacturing company who specialised in lighting effects and control equipment, were declared insolvent at the close of last year. Insolvency practitioners are now dealing with the company's affairs and a meeting of creditors is to be called shortly. Earlier in 1999, the directors of the company established a new company - TTL Distribution Ltd - to help promote and sell its lighting range, but also to distribute complementary products to the trade - principally those of Ultrak UK and Chauvet. TTL Distribution Ltd continues to trade from Technotronics' premises.
PLASA EXCLUSIVE: PLASA Publishing has learnt that Philip Norfolk is to leave Lighting Technology after 12 years with the company. He is relocating to Chicago to take up a position with Tech Lighting, who manufacture low voltage and display lighting. Norfolk will join a team of 120 people and will run their national specification sales and special products.
PA and voice alarm specialist Baldwin Boxall has expanded its sales team. John Spurling has joined the company as a country-wide systems sales executive, and will be responsible for raising awareness of voice alarm systems and all aspects of the company's Vigil systems. Spurling joins Baldwin Boxall from Millbank, where he spent five years as southern region sales manager.
Giant-screen rental company Screenco, and its sister companies around the world, provided screens for a number of high profile Millennium projects. On the big night in the USA, Screenworks, based in LA and Dallas, provided video screens for the 'In Sync' event on Hawaii, shows by both Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand in Las Vegas, the New Year celebrations at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, a major Christian convention in Houston, Texas and LED screens for Eddie Grant's concert on the island of Tobago. Five screens were used for the celebrations in Berlin, while Screenco Australia provided two 46sq.m CRT screens floating on barges on the Brisbane River, another on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River, three LED screens for Sydney and one for Cooberpedy Town Square. In the UK, three Screenco mobiles were used at the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh, while three modular JumboTrons featured in central London.
At last, Chris Mounsor has announced his future intentions in the business after his departure from Audio Visual hire company PSL. Mounsor is to head up a new video rental company, specialising in the field of Camera & Video design and support to the concert touring and music industries. Mounsor has teamed up with industry legend Pat Morrow of Nocturne Inc and Rene De Keyser of XL Video to create Nocturne (Europe) Ltd. The company is currently in negotiations to purchase a 6500sq.ft warehouse in St Albans, and hope to be ensconced by Feb 1st.
Lord Lloyd Webber is to take control of 10 of the West End's leading theatres in a deal said to be worth £85million. The purchase of the Stoll Moss group of theatres, which includes the Garrick, the London Palladium and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, was carried out by Lloyd Webber and a City financiers NatWest Equity Partners, in order to prevent the venues from falling into the hands of 'money men'.
Danmarks Radio, the national radio and TV broadcaster of Denmark, has bought a complete 10-channel Sony WL-800 series wireless microphone system for use on large-scale musical events across the country, in conjunction with Moto, one of Denmark's leading PA rental companies. Danmarks engineers have reported that the sound quality of the WL-800 UHF technology is so good they have occasionally forgotten they were recording a wireless source, say Sony.
In a bid to attract top name DJs to his club Infinity, on the island of Jersey, owner Gary Dobson, already the owner of three clubs on the island, recently invested in a new sound system. He awarded the contract to London-based installation company, Tarsin Ltd. Dobson visited a number of Tarsin's previous installations on mainland UK, including the recently re-opened Hammersmith Palais with its Nexo Alpha E system, supplied by UK distributor Fuzion. The 1,000-capacity Infinity is split over two levels, plus a mezzanine level on either side. Eight Alpha E B1-18 bass cabs and four E-M mid/hi packs cover the ground floor while a further four B1-18s and a pair of E-Ms cater for the top level. Two more E-Ms fire onto the mezzanine levels, while the DJ, situated at mezzanine level, uses two PS-15s as DJ monitors. Three Crown MA-5000VZ amplifiers power the bottom end and four MA-3600VZs run the mid-highs while an MA-2400 looks after the DJ monitors. Protection, level monitoring and EQ is provided by a Sabine GRQ-3101S Graphi-Q, also supplied by Fuzion.
EAW has become the official sponsor of a technically ground-breaking club night at The Matrix in Reading, where the company's new Avalon sound system recently made its UK debut. The Extra Dimensional Experience (EDX) is held on the first Friday of every month, and uses state-of-the-art mixing techniques for both audio and video to produce what is described as a homogenous, interactive visual and aural experience. Yes, well we've all had those!
The opening of the recently-refurbished Royal Court Theatre on London's Sloane Square has been postponed because the building is not ready. The Theatre was scheduled to re-open on 7 January 2000, following its £25m lottery-funded refurb. This is by no means the first delay - work was originally scheduled to conclude in May of 1998: this was then put back one whole year to May 1999 and then a further six months, to November 1999. When it does eventually open, Lighting & Sound International magazine will bring its readers a full technical review.
One of the country's leading PA distributors, R.W. Salt Communications, has started off the new Year with the appointment of the man they call, 'Mr PA', Harry Greenaway, with responsibility for the company's key distributor accounts. Bob Salt commented: "For the few who don't know Harry, I guarantee you'll always look forward to his next visit. He is a man who may not know all the answers, but he will certainly know a man who does."At the same time, RW Salt has also announced the appointment of David Holt, formerly of Willow Vale and Philips CSS, to establish and run the company's new southern office, which is due to open within the next few weeks. PLASA Publishing will of course have further details nearer the time.
Stageline, the mobile stage specialist, has formed an agreement with Pitstop Barriers Ltd, in order to offer customers in the UK and Ireland a single source for the companies' combined products and services. The complete Stageline product range is now available through Pitstop Barriers for short-term hire, long-term rental or purchase. Products include the SL and SAM series of staging products, as well as the soon-to-be-launched SL100 'smart' mobile stage - a 24ft by 20ft mobile unit with multiple applications.