The fireworks industry has combined resources to form a new trade association - The Guild of Firework Pyrotechnic Operators (GFPO) - in an attempt to improve professionalism through training and improve working practices to reduce accidents. The GFPO was launched yesterday at Event Expo at London Docklands Arena. Its membership will initially be drawn from event industry professional and semi-professional firers, though it is hoped subsequently to widen the membership to amateurs. As part of its remit, the GFPO plans to standardise working practices for people firing fireworks, and have a nationally recognised set of graded standards.
Edwin Shirley Staging has won the contract to supply all the staging for President-elect George W Bush's Inauguration ceremony this weekend (20 January) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. ESS is supplying 150 tonnes of staging, including the staging equipment originally erected in Austin, Texas for Bush's acceptance speech. This will form the staging for the swearing-in ceremony, including the main stage on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, media platforms, network television camera platform, video supports and sound delay towers. The project, which employs a core team of eight supervisors and up to 40 local crew at any one time, requires the utmost care as it is being constructed on such a historically sensitive site.
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:
CLD Distribution reports that it now carries stocks of the new Neutrik audio analyzer, the ML1, first seen at PLASA 2000. This compact and comprehensive audio test device has created world-wide interest since its introduction, which has led to a delay in meeting demand, but production has been increased and the product is now available in the UK.
After six years handling technical sales and support on the company’s exclusively-distributed products, Mike Falconer is leaving AC Lighting Ltd and heading off to its US operation at AC Lighting Inc in Los Angeles.
Steve Howard has relocated from the Martin Manufacturing plant in Louth, Lincolnshire to its UK headquarters in Maidstone. He made the move in mid-December and becomes the senior engineer responsible for Jem smoke machines. He will be responsible for the service of Jem smoke machines and providing training and technical support for Jem products.
Tony Hall, the BBC's head of news, has been appointed the new executive director of the Royal Opera House. Speculation has been rife as to who will succeed to what is fast becoming one of the most challenging roles in the arts world. His appointment is almost certain to generate controversy, as he seems to have had little or no experience in running a venue of this profile and complexity, although his time at the BBC, which saw him graduate from the corporation's newsroom in Belfast in the 1970s to editing the Nine O'Clock News and subsequently heading the news and current affairs side, will no doubt serve him well. Michael Kaiser, former executive director, left in December to return to the United States.
On New Year’s Eve, the largest indoor special effects show ever staged in the UK was fired at the Millennium Dome, Greenwich. It took seven technicians seven full nights to wire and rig the pyrotechnics, manufactured by Le Maitre at their Peterborough factory, across the 400m span of the Dome. A total of eight firing stations were used to ignite the effects, some of which have never been seen before by the British public. The effects included airburst effects under the walkways which encircle the roof, while glitter, confetti and streamers dropped from the ceiling for the finale, engulfing the entire central arena of the Dome. The show was the culmination of Le Maitre’s involvement with the Dome, which started with the high-profile opening ceremony in front of Her Majesty the Queen, and continued with three pyro shows per day throughout 2000.
Klark Teknik has recently appointed Simon Harrison as director of signal processing. Simon comes from a strong background of research and development, having been a key member of the design team responsible for the Sony OXF-R3 ‘Oxford’ digital recording console andgenerally involved in the development of digital audio for Sony Broadcast and Professional since the console project began as Oxford Digital Ltd in 1989. He joins the Klark Teknik Group to assume responsibility for research and development of the KT brand.
Lighting Technology has won the contract for the supply of new stage lanterns to the Orchard Theatre in Dartford, Kent. Major elements of the order include 24 ETC Source Four 15/30s, 22 Robert Juliat 15/40 profiles and 36 Strand Cantata Fresnels. Ordered by the Orchard's business manager Bob Clutterham, all the units will be supplied with plugs, numbered and have a logoed safety bond as part of the full service provided by Lighting Technology. The equipment will be delivered in mid-February.
Harman International has announced the appointment of Mark Terry to the position of president of the Harman Pro Group Worldwide. Previously serving as president of Harman Pro Group North America, responsible for the US distribution of Allen & Heath, Crown, dbx, Digitech, DOD, Johnson and JBL Professional, Terry now also assumes the responsibilities previously held by Philip Hart, who has served as president of Harman Pro Group International. Hart, who retired at the end of last year, will remain with Harman as president of Studer until a suitable replacement has been named. At the same time, AKG Acoustics, under the leadership of Hugo Lenhard-Backhaus, will now report directly to Greg Stapleton, Harman International's president and chief operating officer.
Helmut Brähler, founder of Brähler ICS Konferenztechnik AG in Königswinter, died aged 67 last Monday, following a long and serious illness. Brähler laid the foundations for the company in 1958 in Bonn, when, as a chemistry student, he repaired electronic equipment for the University of Bonn. In 1960 he built the first simultaneous translation facility for the University, and then went on to establish his own company. Since 1972, Brähler has serviced every Olympic Games, numerous World Bank conferences, the Environment Summit in Rio and more than half of all World Economic Summits. It has also equipped more than 90,000 conferences with professional technology. In 1994, Brähler entered a new area of business and developed ‘Digivote’, a voting and consultation system. Helmut officially handed over to his son, Michael, in 1998, but still remained, advising and supporting from the sidelines. The company currently employs over 100 at its Königswinter base and has 14 staff in the UK at its Cambridge and Edinburgh offices. The funeral took place on Saturday 13 January.
Edwin Shirley Staging’s Tower system, which allows for the rapid construction of large-scale, clear-span temporary venue structures, has been used in some very high profile places in recent years, and has given a real boost to the company’s profile.
The system has performed a large number of high-profile roles, including the home of the Midland 97 concerts in London, the Millennium Dome’s SkyScape, to the home of De La Guarda’s Villa Villa (30m x 20m x 18m high) at the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas, to the smaller-scale screen mounts for the 1999 Cricket World Cup venues.
But it’s not just their clients who have been impressed. Following their high-profile involvement with projects such as SkyScape , their working methods are attracting interest from the construction industry. ESS project engineer Liam Hogg explains: "Many construction projects run over time and over budget. But because we come from the culture of rock and roll, we get the work done on time. You won’t see Michael Jackson being asked to wait while the crew finish building the stage. We do whatever we have to do to get the job done." And ESS certainly have the resources and experience to do so: during the building of SkyScape, the personnel involved varied between six and 200 at any one time. The company’s logistical expertise, borne out of its 25-year touring experience, is extraordinary: leap-frogging two separate but interchangeable top-flight world tour stages around the globe is no mean feat.
The advantages of the Tower system demountable structures are se
Further to our report on the 2000 Hanover Expo in the last issue, we return as promised to the Smoke Factory’s extensive role in the Planet of Visions . . .
The vast Planet of Visions exhibit - the largest at the Expo - suffered a setback shortly after the Expo opened, when the original smoke effects contractor was removed from the project. In a major dilemma, someone at this point remembered that Hanover was home to a smoke effects specialist - The Smoke Factory.
The Smoke Factory’s Florian von Hofen told us: "This was probably the most complex smoke effects project ever undertaken - not the biggest, but the most complex. It is a vast exhibit, visited by 30,000 people each day. The budgets would not allow for permanent technical personnel, so everything had to be automated."
By the time The Smoke Factory was called in, the set had been built, and there was no opportunity to pre-plan for anything. "We had to live with every limitation that had already been built in to the exhibit," says von Hofen. What he and his team came up with was certainly complex: the system required 42 smoke machines covering the 16 separate scenes of the display, all of which are controlled via an Avenger Show Controller. The entire exhibit runs through a day/night loop lasting five minutes, at which point the loop returned to point zero - meaning all smoke had to have gone. In addition to this, Hall 9’s highly sophisticated ‘sniffing’ smoke alarm system had to be taken ito consideration. This analyses regular samples of the air in the hall, lo
The RSC’s acclaimed musical production of The Secret Garden opens shortly in London - after a hugely successful season at Stratford-upon-Avon. Lighting designer Chris Parry (better known for his work on Broadway) and sound designers Andrew Bruce and Terry Jardine have helped to bring the timeless tale to life for a 21st century audience.
Parry says: "The design of the show is much more monochromatic, dark and dramatic, and much less colourful and decorative than the original Broadway version, which I think is great for the piece. Despite this, it has a huge range of lighting quality, from a soft, dim candle-lit bedroom scene through to a big, bright and energetic dance number with gardeners and house-maids!"
Parry’s design, furnished partly from the RSC’s stock of conventional luminaires, but with a large hire inventory supplied by White Light, included eight Strand PAL Pirouettes and 14 MAC 500 moving lights. Parry says the Strand units are very bright and flexible - although his favourite tool for this production was the DHA Digital Light Curtain, eight of which feature in the design. Colour scrollers were also much in evidence, with 94 spread between the Source Fours, Pars, fresnels and Pirouettes. Control came from a pair of Strand 520 desks, and Parry was assisted by the RSC’s Paul van der Hayden and ably supported by chief electrician Vince Herbert.
For Andrew Bruce, the burden was eased by splitting the workload between himself and Autograph co-director Terry Jardine. Bruce handled the sound effects, handing over the band and v
Following our feature last month on the new Tussaud’s in New York, we switch coasts to look at Tussaud’s Vegas’ debut at the $1.4billion Venetian Hotel.
The Venetian, with its indoor Grand Canal (complete with gondolas, singing gondoliers and stylish waterside cafés), is the perfect host for the Tussauds Group’s celebration of all things celebrity.
Madame Tussaud’s is to be found within the St Mark’s Library building which, of course, is a full-scale replica of the famous Venice landmark. Tussauds has created a $20million experience that showcases glamorous personalities, many of whom have ties with Vegas, in sumptuous surroundings. The design elements of the exhibits have been thoughtfully executed with talent and kit pulled in from around the globe to make this Tussaud’s a dazzling experience, even by Vegas standards. Show producer Phil Pike spent a year at the drawing board at Tussauds’ London base before relocating to Vegas for a further six months prior to opening night in mid 1999.
A striking aspect of the exhibition is the scale of the setting for the 100 or so wax figures, with the sets and interiors all designed in-house by Tussauds in London and constructed by American company WestSun Design Edge Studios who also sourced the lighting equipment, which came from a variety of manufactures. McLean Media in Toronto were responsible for the complete audio-visual installation.
LDs Mark Henderson and Stephen Wentworth lent their considerable talents to enhancing the unique environments. Both LDs have a long associ
Stagetec (UK) Ltd has just been appointed an approved by contractor by the NICEIC which maintains a Roll of Approved Contractors that meet the Council’s Rules Relating to Enrolment and national technical safety standards including BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations). This is designed to protect consumers against the hazards of unsafe and unsound electrical installations.
Stockholm's Globe Arena played host to November's MTV Europe Music Awards, which aired live to over two billion viewers worldwide. To repeat the audio success achieved in the previous four years, Britannia Row Productions were once again approached to supply the sound reinforcement. Brit Row's Bob Lopez specified a complete Turbosound Flashlight rig, the characteristics of which perfectly complemented the complex environment.
The FOH system comprised 24 TFS-780H, flown eight wide and four deep as a stereo left and right configuration with TFL-760HMs and TFL-760 LMs as downfills. 24 TFS-780L low frequency cabinets provided the low end - due to the space restrictions of the televisation, the cabinets were arrayed within the flown system rather than being groundstacked. The delay system comprised a four wide hang left and right of eight TFS-780H, with four groundstacked TFS-780L per side. Infill at the front and below the stage was provided by six of the new Turbosound self-powered TQ-440SP cabinets and ten TFS-780Ls.
The Sound Dept has gone into voluntary liquidation. Official notice of the move was posted in early January, and a liquidator has now been appointed. The company was known for distributing some of the leading audio brands in the industry - Community, Crest, Ashly and Sound Advance. Until recently, EAW had also been in the Sound Dept portfolio, but the company lost its distributorship when EAW was purchased by Mackie, which switched distribution to RCF UK.Full story in the January issue of L&SI.
On Saturday 6th January, a van belonging to one of Theatre Vision’s hire customers, containing a large amount of hire equipment belonging to Theatre Vision and Stage Electrics was stolen in the centre of Cardiff. The stolen equipment included Martin Pro 400 Robocolors, MAC 500s and MX1 scans, a Jem ZR22 Smoke Machine, a number of starcloths, an Avolites Pearl 2000 and other associated kit, including cables. Most of the kit was flightcased and labelled either Theatre Vision or Stage Electrics. If you are any offered any of the equipment, or have been approached to put a value on it, please contact Tim Routledge on (029) 20 70 12 12.
Color Kinetics Incorporated (CKI) has been awarded a second US patent covering the company’s Chromacore technology, which uses microprocessor-controlled multi-coloured LEDs to generate a variety of color-changing lighting effects. The patent (6,150,774) broadens the scope of the company’s initial patent for Chromacore (6,016,038, issued in January 2000) and extends the range of applications covered in Color Kinetics’ intellectual property portfolio. Color Kinetics say this now positions them to bring the colour and effect-generating capabilities of its award-winning professional lighting products to the general consumer market.
CKI says this latest patent further expands its intellectual portfolio to include specific networkable methods of intelligent LED control, as well as applications that utilize networkable control of a single LED. Such applications include the ability to control a standard, single-colour lighting environment over a network, giving users precise levels of intelligent control over their lighting systems via a number of digital devices.
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."
Dobson Sound Productions provided the live sound for the opening of the final London Millennium Commission building project - the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court at The British Museum, in December. Dobson Sound had previously looked after the live sound requirements for the opening of other London Millennium Commission projects, such as the Wallace Collection covered courtyard, the Dulwich Picture Galleries, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, the Royal Opera House, the Science Museum Wellcome Wing and the Natural History Museum’s Earth Galleries, all of which were opened by Her Majesty the Queen.
At the British Museum, Dobson Sound were working for production company Fisher Productions, who took on the production of all the events involved in the six-week build-up to the main opening. As was the case with all the above-mentioned projects, a number of events preceded the Royal opening, as benefactors, staff and sponsors were invited to view the completed building works. Dobson Sound director, David Lewis, co-ordinated seven of the events at The British Museum preceding the main opening: "We were required to distribute speeches and music across the southern half of the Great Court, an area of some 4,800sq.m, to audiences of 1,500 - 2,500. We decided to use 10 d&b C6 speakers to concentrate on the area around the main presentation stage, with 18 d&b E3 speakers surrounding the periphery."
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.