Page 1

entertainment, presentation, installation

July 2016


Arts Fundamentals How regional theatres are surviving the cuts

Also Inside:

Beverley Knight

Tech Trail: Big Screens TF: Robe’s DLS7

TF: Shure’s QLXD4

Touring Soulsville

From Imag to Set Design . . .

Digital Wireless Combo System

The seven-colour LED Profile

PLUS: First Look: PLASA 2016 • Tim Routledge Lighting Design • KOKO’s Sound Victory TF: Chauvet’s Ovation • Audio File: Clair Bros • In Profile: Anne Valentino . . . and more!

Download our FREE Apple & NEW Android apps at www.lsionline.co.uk/digital


X8, LIVE MONITOR - L-ACOUSTICS X SERIES In creating the X Series, we brought all of the experience gained in designing the K2 to bear on a new series of reference coaxials. Optimized design, ergonomics, acoustical performance and weight make the X Series the most advanced coaxials on the market. Four distinct enclosures with format, bandwidth, SPL and coverage angles perfectly adapted to short throw rental or install applications, the X Series offers studio monitor sound quality, compact design, consistent tonal balance, no minimum listening distance and exceptional feedback rejection. www.l-acoustics.com

LONGER LIFE FILTERS FOR LED A new concept in LED filter design Regular lighting filter can often quickly fade when used with LED lights – the Zircon range is different. With a lifespan of up to 200 times longer than standard filters and at more than double the thickness (180 microns), Zircon filters are not only slower to fade, they are durable and easy to use too. The four Warm Amber filters correct a range of different colour temperature white LEDs giving them a warmer feel. The three Diffusion filters offer different strengths of diffusion specifically designed for LEDs.



July 2016 Issue 355

Cover: The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

news 8

In the News Latest business news & developments

26 KOKO Makes the Right Noises Phil Ward reports on a salutary lesson for urban venues . . .

12 Industry Watch Association News, Events, Training, Standards & Safety

20 ABTT 2016

28 Soundscapes for RADA How a Shure solution helped a RADA show

30 Grand Designs

A few highlights from Alexandra Palace . . .

Lee Baldock visits the studio of Tim Routledge Lighting Design . . .

22 3D Dvořàk 3D projections were used for the first Czech opera staged in China. Mike Clark reports . . .

32 First look: PLASA 2016!


Capacity 125 - 6000 kg (BGV-C1)

An initial sneak-peak at the London show

features 36

On Tour: Beverley Knight


Steve Moles reports from Sheffield City Hall on Beverley Knight’s rousing, one-truck tour. . .


Tech Trail: Big Screen Video


From heavy metal rock festival origins to a staple of live productions, Jerry Gilbert charts the rise of big screen video . . .



Arts Fundamentals With successive cuts to arts funding continuing to take their toll on the UK’s regional theatres, Julie Harper talks to the technical departments of three venues to find out how they have adapted . . .


Technical Focus


Lightwright 6, by Richard Cadena Shure QLXD4 Digital Wireless Combo System, by Mark Johnson Robe’s Robin DL7S, by Mike Wood Chauvet Professional’s Ovation E-910FC, by Mike Wood

72 74 78 84

regulars 24

People News Movers & Shakers


Video Matters Put Your Gels Away


Yesterday’s News From the LSi Archive


New Products


Crew Cuts Andy Coates


Tools from Beyond Tile


Audio File

On A Clair Day


Marketplace Products & Services


Rigging Call From Road Safety to Rigging


In Profile Anne Valentino of ETC


Classic Gear The Jack Plug

Round-Up of Latest Tech

• Speed up to 42 m/min • Free progammable Start/Stop Ramps • EN 818-7 Load Chain • Low Noise Operation • 5-Pocket Chain Wheel • 2 Independent DC Brakes • Gear Limit Switch • Precise Chain Guide • Textil Chain Bag • Removeable Control Box • BGV D8 / D8Plus Models on Request CHAIN HOISTS • CONTROL SYSTEMS • SOLUTIONS

inside our next issue . . .


Advertising: advertise@lsionline.co.uk Copy deadline: Friday 19 August 2016

CHAINMASTER BÜHNENTECHNIK GMBH Lighting&Sound International Online - published 11 times a year by PLASA. © Copyright PLASA. ISSN 1759-6343 The views expressed in Lighting&Sound International are not necessarily those of the Editor or PLASA.

Uferstrasse 23, 04838 Eilenburg, Germany Tel.: +49 (0) 3423 - 69 22 0 Fax: +49 (0) 3423 - 69 22 21 E-Mail: info@chainmaster.de www.chainmaster.de

LSi - July 2016


On Tour: Coldplay • PLASA Show Preview! • Tech Trail: Festival Sound LD Atul Sonpal • Royal Windsor Horse Show • Enlightened in Profile TF: MA dot2 • TF: GLP GT-1 • TF: Nexo ID Series • TF: Meyer Sound MJF-208


LSeye Fog is our passion!

>lee.baldock@plasa.org ‘May you live in interesting times’ is sometimes known as ‘the Chinese curse’, and although there may be some doubt about its Chineseness, we in the UK are currently in no doubt about its cursiness. Our EU Referendum result and its implications continue to rumble on

Battery-operated fog generators to be built into costumes and props, powerful Haze- and Fog generators from 650 W to 3 kW, a 9 kW machine to fill big halls and stadiums and a powerful low fog machine as a low power or high power version: We have the right machine for any effect.

as we go to press in early July, barely two weeks since the vote. As I write, the country feels like a headless chicken with an infected right wing. While the spectacular political confusion continues, one clear short-term effect has been an unprecedented slide in the value of the Pound, now at its lowest level against the US dollar since 1985 and predicted to fall further still. That’s already hurting many UK importers. What the longer-term effects will be, only time will tell. Months will pass before anything becomes clear, so we probably don’t need a Carnet school just yet. But, as a major player in Europe’s entertainment technology industry, the UK’s fate - not just its economic fate but its existence as a political union - will have repercussions beyond its own borders. Still, we’ll watch and wait. After all, it may yet turn out that of all the lies told during the Brexit campaign, the biggest was that they could ever actually allow it to happen.

Tiny S, Tiny FX, Tiny CX, Power-Tiny

Arts Fundamentals: Whatever the future holds, we do know that ours is a resilient and resourceful industry. In this issue, Julie Harper takes a fascinating look at how successive rounds of arts cuts have affected regional theatres, and how their technical teams have responded to the resulting challenges. The cuts have been significant for many venues, and the actions they have taken can provide useful insights for performing arts venues everywhere.

Battery-operated fog generators, 30 W/70 W/400 W

Tech Trail: Also in this issue, Jerry Gilbert provides us with another look back at how the event production industry has been shaped by the innovations of the past. This time it’s the turn of Big Screen Video - from the cumbersome projection systems of the ‘70s, through the ubiquitous use of Imag, to the integration of screens and pixels into set design and eventually into the audience itself.

Unique 2.1

More . . . We’ve got lots more inside too, including Rob Halliday’s tribute to the late, great lighting designer Francis Reid, a salutary tale of planning permissions affecting London music venue KOKO, 3D projections for an opera production in Beijing and a visit to the Tim Routledge Lighting Design studio. We also have a production report on the latest tour by soul singer Beverley Knight, and technical reviews of Shure’s QLXD4 Digital Wireless Combo System, Robe’s latest seven-colour LED moving head - the DL7S Profile, and Chauvet’s Ovation ED-190WW LED profile spot. Our next issue will be September: look out for a few changes . . .

Haze generator DMX, 1500 W Viper S, Viper nt, Viper 2.6 & Orka

Lee Baldock Editor > lee.baldock@plasa.org

LSi is available on annual subscription at the following rates: UK: £38.00 - Europe (Airmail): £60.00 (€77 - US$96) - RoW Airmail: £70.00 (€90 - US$111) - RoW standard: £50.00 (€64 - US$80) Single copy price: £3.50 (€5 - US$5)

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Lee Baldock - lee.baldock@plasa.org

Deputy Editor

Claire Beeson - claire.beeson@plasa.org

Technical Editor

Richard Cadena - richard.cadena@plasa.org

Commercial Manager Andrew Organ - andrew.organ@plasa.org Business Dev. Mgr.

Greg Morley - greg.morley@plasa.org

Production Manager

Sonja Walker - sonja.walker@plasa.org

Features Sales

Ashley Harwood - ashley.harwood@plasa.org

Digital Sales

Daisy Bennett - daisy.bennett@plasa.org

LSiOnline Manager

David Clarke - david.clarke@plasa.org


Sheila Bartholomew - sheila.bartholomew@plasa.org

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information carried in LSi is accurate, but the Publisher cannot accept responsibility for its contents or any consequential loss or damage arising as a result of the use of material printed. The editor’s consent must be obtained before any part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever. LSi welcomes relevant press information and feature ideas, but is under no obligation to include unsolicited items, or return articles, news stories or photographs. Any photographs submitted may be used to promote the Association across its other media. LSi reserves the right to edit news and features as required.

PLASA MD: Peter Heath - peter.heath@plasa.org PLASA FD: Shane McGreevy - shane.mcgreevy@plasa.org Regular Contributors: Simon Allen, Tim Atkinson, Mike Clark, Ian Dow, Jim Evans, Rob Halliday, Roland Hemming, Julie Harper, Chris Henry, Mark Johnson, Mel Lambert, Kate Lyon, Steve Moles, Sarah Rushton-Read, The Shend, Louise Stickland, Dave Swallow, Phil Ward, Mike Wood. LSi is published by PLASA Media Ltd, a commercial arm of PLASA. While LSi does work to promote the interests of PLASA’s membership, and the activities and initiatives of the Association itself, it is not positioned as a PLASA member’s newsletter or as a service to PLASA members. LSi is supported by an editorial advisory board of industry professionals which feeds back suggestions for improving the content, direction and circulation of LSi. Our aim is to continually improve and refine LSi to ensure that it continues to offer the best coverage of this varied, dynamic and rapidly evolving industry. PLASA Media aims to produce LSi with an approximate 60/40 split between editorial content and advertising respectively, and also for an average of 40-50% of LSi’s editorial content to be ‘International’ in any one calendar year. Published from the PLASA office: Redoubt House, 1 Edward Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 8AS, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1323 524120 Fax: +44 (0)1323 524121


LSi - July 2016


INTELLIPIX-XT CREATIVE SOLUTIONS INTELLIPIX™XT is a versatile luminaire fitted with nine ultra-powerful, low-etendue, multichip LED emitters, which can be controlled individually and are coupled with AYRTON’s new proprietary 126 mm diameter optics. This configuration pushes the limits with a 2° full beam and a centre-beam luminous intensity of 580 candelas per lumem.



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Read LSi online for FREE! Our ‘LSi-View’ app - available for Apple and Android devices!

In the news this month

PLASA 2016 AGM focuses on change and renewal UK - PLASA will host its 2016 AGM & Members Lunch on 26 July at the magnificent Jacobean stately home, Hatfield House, just 20 minutes by train from

Business - 10-11

London’s King’s Cross. All PLASA members are invited to attend and contribute to this key event for the Association, whilst enjoying the chance to network with fellow members. At the meeting, the association’s new managing director, Peter Heath, will be outlining his plans for the development of PLASA during this time of change and renewal. Peter commented: “I am looking forward to meeting many industry colleagues and friends at my first AGM in charge of PLASA. The AGM is our big opportunity to bring members together, to communicate our aim to grow PLASA and clearly explain the benefits this will bring to all.”

3D Dvořàk - 22

PLASA members will be encouraged to ask questions and participate, and, perhaps most importantly, to come together as a community of partners that care about the future of the industry and PLASA’s role in that future.

The PLASA AGM will take place at Hatfield House The AGM will be followed by an informal drinks reception on the terrace overlooking the gardens and then a three-course lunch in the Old Palace. PLASA has secured Roger Martin-Fagg, renowned economist and strategist, as its guest speaker. Roger will provide an insightful economic update and offer some practical strategies for members to use within their own businesses. > www.plasa.org

Koko’s Victory - 26

First Look: PLASA Show 2016 UK - Don’t miss part one of our PLASA Preview coverage on pages 32-33 of this issue. Here you


can find initial information on expected highlights

RADA Soundscapes - 28

of the show, including the ever-popular seminar programme, the Rigging Conference, the PLASA

Awards Reminder: If you’ve released an innovative

Awards for Innovation and the Gottelier Award, plus

product in the past year then don’t miss your chance

various networking opportunities and the

to enter the prestigious PLASA Awards for

introduciton of a PLASA party.

Innovation. The Awards are accessible to all PLASA exhibitors and members. To register your interest in

Registration for the show is now open and free for those signing up before 1 September when the price goes up to £10.

entering, please email: awards@plasa.org > www.plasashow.com

Tim Routledge - 30

Equipment Rental Audio



Rigging & Trussing

Power, Cabling & Distribution Stage Lighting

Brands include: Avolites Chamsys Lab.gruppen L-Acoustics Martin


CM Lodestar Prolyte Robe

www.pearcehire.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1733 554950 info@pearcehire.co.uk



LSi - July 2016


> pages 32-33 >>>


Launched in May this year, BB3 is the latest performance laser in ER Productions’ Beamburst range. It’s the first professional laser that’s completely DMX controlled without the need to upload frames or other laser-related software. Already taking the summer by storm, the BB3 was a huge hit during Kasabian’s recent celebratory gig at Leicester City FC’s home ground. The band’s electric performance of Put Your Life On It, which was accompanied by vocals from a 30-strong choir, was heightened by clever laser choreography with the BB3 producing stunning, 180-degree linear line grating effects. The BB3 allows for safe audience scanning via rotating diffraction gratings or Pangolin PASS controlled scanned effects (Professional Audience Safety System). Fully CDRH compliant, the BB3 is approved for use in the USA. The scanned beam effects pan and tilt via high speed X/Y scanning. All scanned effects are stored on-board via the macro library. The BB3 can be seen in action in upcoming shows for Fatboy Slim, Ariana Grande, Vasco Rossi and at the Riverside Festival in Glasgow. Stay tuned to our news section for more information on the BB3’s outings this summer www.er-productions.com/news

UK +44 1322 293 135 | USA +1 214 2700665 | AUSTRALIA +61 403 703 731 | SPAIN +34 938 000291 info@er-productions.com | www.er-productions.com


voices in this issue “That is odd, because KOKO’s JBL VerTec system crosses over at 100Hz - so they ignored something like 30,000W of bass bin.” Consultant Richard Vivian talks to Phil Ward about live music venue KOKO’s sound victory (News, 26-27) “Following discussions with Steve Mayo, RADA’s Head of Sound, and Josh Gunn, the production sound electrician on Kindertransport, the sound design concept was realised by means of a collaboration with costume supervisor Ellie Edwards, creating what became known as the ‘sound jacket’.” A sound solution with Shure (Soundscapes for RADA, 28-29) “Actually, a lot of the ‘art’ comes out of the console, in the programming. Most of what we do is about strong looks with great timing . . . Tom finesses those looks and offers up those solutions.” Lighting designer Tim Routledge talks to Lee Baldock (Grand Designs, 30-31)

Turnover hits all-time high at Sennheiser Group Germany - Sennheiser Group’s recently published annual results show a successful fiscal year 2015. With record turnover, strong growth in key regions and numerous new products, the Group’s total turnover rose by 7.5% to €682.2m. Across all global regions, the company’s turnover developed significantly, particularly in the Americas and APAC. Profit before taxes in 2015 amounted to €30.3 million. “Having achieved record turnover once more, we continue to drive the growth trend seen over the past few years,” commented Daniel Sennheiser, co-CEO of Sennheiser GmbH & Co. KG. “It demonstrates that our strategy of long-term and sustainable growth is successful in all regions.” > www.sennheiser.co.uk

Barco acquires MTT Innovation Canada - Barco has acquired MTT Innovation Inc., based in Vancouver, Canada. MTT is a developer of next-generation projection technology with expertise in high dynamic range, applied imaging algorithms, advanced colour science and specialised hardware development. > www.barco.com

“In a few minutes, I was able to create a daytime look, a sunset look, and a night time look, all with just the touch of a couple of buttons - no gels, no filters, no extra time for the crew . . . It was so simple, and that, to me, is really, truly amazing.”


Bill Holshevnikoff talks LED set lighting with Richard Cadena (Video Matters, 64-65) “The Robe DL7S has the best accuracy performance of anything I’ve measured to date. Pan and tilt moves stop precisely on target with no overshoot, no ringing, and no bounce.” Mike Wood assesses the DL7S (Technical Focus, 78-83)

10 LSi - July 2016

Cadac director of sales and marketing Richard Ferriday, HESED MD Dene Dave Laoh and Cadac marketing manager James Godbehear. Indonesia - Cadac has appointed PT HESED Kharis Indonesia as its exclusive distributor for that country. HESED is a leading distributor and system integrator in the territory, and adds Cadac to a portfolio that includes the likes of TW Audio, Powersoft and Lab.gruppen. > www.cadac-sound.com > www.hesedindonesia.com

Mojo Barriers appoints Indonesian distributor

Penn Elcom launches Irish operation Emil Mahyudin, owner of event company Nada Promotama, has become Mojo Barriers’ representative in Indonesia.

“We try to identify which shows are easier to put in, so we can alter our practises by scheduling a lighter show to follow something that put a lot of demands on the staff. This kept man hours down and minimised expenditure on overtime.” Tim Mackrill, technical manager of the Palace Theatre, Redditch, talks with Julie Harper about arts funding cuts (Arts Fundamentals, 58-63)

Leading integrator takes on Cadac in Indonesia

Rory Winston and Penn Elcom chairman Roger Willems. Ireland - Global flightcase hardware and premium 19” racking manufacturer Penn Elcom is launching Penn Elcom Ireland, a new all-encompassing facility and operation headed by Rory Winston. Penn Elcom chairman and founder Roger Willems comments: “The Irish pro entertainment industry market shows definitive signs of recovering from the economic dip, there are many installations and other projects happening and flourishing! It’s been our intention to open a base there for some time, but then circumstances converged to make this a really opportune time.” These circumstances include Winston becoming available and also the 7000sq.ft warehouse facility in south County Dublin coming on-stream. Stock of Penn’s extensive standard flightcase hardware and accessories and its most popular 19” rack ranges will be available for Irish clients from stock, the company says. > www.penn-elcom.com

Indonesia - Working in partnership with Mojo Barriers’ Australian office, Emil Mahyudin, owner of Indonesian event company Nada Promotama, has become Mojo Barriers’ representative in Indonesia. Emil Mahyudin has been running large-scale events for all types of bands and DJs across Indonesia since 2009 and has a strong position in the market as a leader in his field. His team now manages up to 120 events and shows annually. > www.mojobarriers.com > //nadapromotama.com

RCF UK appoints UK voice alarm distributor

RCF’s Phil Price (left) with SigNET’s Tremayne Crossley - and RCF voice alarm equipment. UK - RCF UK has appointed SigNET(AC) as its specialist distributor in the UK for the DXT 3000 Emergency Evacuation System. In addition to the Italian manufacturer’s EN 54-16 certified DXT 3000, SigNET will also be able to offer

sales of RCF’s associated EN 54 certified voice alarm products into the fire alarm and security systems market within the UK. > www.rcfaudio.co.uk

New home for FBT Audio UK

Company founder John Hornby Skewes, who stepped down from his role as chairman of the board of directors along with his wife Madge on 30 June said: “We retire leaving the company in the sound hands of our daughter Linda Drumm and son-in-law Dennis Drumm, who head up an experienced board of directors and a dedicated team of employees. All will continue to serve the trade in the JHS tradition of excellent service and dedication to the needs of customers and suppliers.” > www.jhs.co.uk

Alcons teams up with new UK distributor InSynergy

FBT Audio UK is now located at Unit 16, Stirling Park, Laker Road, Rochester Airport Estate, Rochester, Kent ME1 3QR. Telephone numbers remain unchanged. > www.fbtaudio.co.uk

AVC to distribute Community in Russia Russia - Community Professional Loudspeakers has appointed AVC LLC as its distributor for Russia, to operate in parallel with its long-time distributor Arsenal Music. Established in 1994, Anton Motuzny and AVC is focused on Eugene Vertyachikh. supplying and supporting projects with distributed background and foreground music, as well as announcement systems including PAVA (EVAC). > www.communitypro.com > www.avc.ae

JHS rebrands as chairman steps down UK - JHS & Co. Ltd, the international trade distributor, has revealed a fresh new logo and branding for 2016. With a new management structure, JHS has taken the opportunity to freshen up with a more modern logo - as featured for the very first time on its recently released catalogue.

Steve Badham and Tom Back. UK - Alcons Audio has appointed InSynergy as its new UK distributor. InSynergy is a new Lancashire-based distribution and installation business, set up by Steve Badham, who has a long association with Alcons. Badham is already taking a very proactive approach with the Alcons brand, complementing InSynergy’s presence at the ABTT show by setting up a programme of structured demo sessions and training for potential customers. > www.alconsaudio.com

ARX announces distributor for Cyprus

ARX’s Colin Park (right) with V HyperSound & Light’s managing director Vassos Mouzouras. Cyprus - ARX Systems has appointed Nicosiabased V HyperSound & Light Ltd as its exclusive distributor for Cyprus. ARX joins a distribution portfolio that includes Mackie, Clock Audio, Logic Systems and Pan Acoustics.


“V HyperSound & Light’s is a well known and respected distributor of professional audio and lighting products,” says ARX MD, Colin Park. “Here at ARX, we’re looking forward to working with Vassos Mouzouras and his team. They’re the ideal partner to grow the market and user base for our digital and analogue product range throughout Cyprus.” > www.arx.com.au > //hypersound.com.cy

These stories were reported in full online at lsionline.co.uk prior to LSi’s publication.

LO U D S P E A KE R S R E D E F I N E D LSi - July 2016


UK - FBT Audio UK has moved to new warehouse and office premises in Rochester, Kent, following a period of exceptional growth, says company MD, Mark Parkhouse. “Sales of FBT audio products and JTS microphones have increased so much during the past year that we had run out of space in our previous facility,” he said. “What we needed most was a considerable increase in warehouse space so that we can make more products available for quick delivery. We have particularly increased stocks of FBT’s growing installation and touring range of products, enabling us to offer next day, and even same day, delivery in some cases.”



First Night Riders set out on ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ for Theatrical Guild UK - As we went to press with this issue, riders were revving up to participate in the 2016 First Night Riders ‘Magical Mystery’ charity motorbike and classic car ride, visiting theatres across the country to raise money and awareness for The Theatrical Guild (TTG). The Theatrical Guild, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, has long helped those working in backstage and front of house roles during their times of need. The organisation offers advice, re-training opportunities or one-off grants to those who, due to a range of circumstances, may require support. The motorbike and classic car ride is organised by Triple E’s David and Brenda Edelstein on behalf of The Theatrical Guild. “We’re very excited for this year’s ‘Magical Mystery Tour’,” says David Edelstein. “We’re thankful to everyone that supports us and we are always overwhelmed by the donations we receive for TTG, it’s such a worthy cause.” First Night Riders has raised more than £70,000 to date, enabling the charity to help hundreds of people. The Theatrical Guild has many supporters in the industry, including Dara O’Briain and patrons Keira Knightley and Simon Russell-Beale. For more information about how to donate to this year’s ride, please visit the web address below. > www.firstnightride.com

Events Diary Integrate 23-25 August 2016 Sydney, Australia www.integrate-expo.com

IBC 9-13 September 2016 Amsterdam, Netherlands www.ibc.org

PRO 11-13 September 2016 Birmingham, UK www.visitpro.co.uk

PLASA 2016 18-20 September 2016 Olympia, London, UK www.plasashow.com

PLASA Rigging Conference 19 September 2016 Olympia, London, UK www.plasashow.com/prc

Sennheiser hosts roadshows in Iran and Jordan Iran / Jordan - As a part of Sound Academy an ongoing set of roadshows across the Middle East - Sennheiser has successfully conducted two events in Iran and Jordan, in collaboration with its partners Ertebat Co. and Advanced Solutions respectively. While both events were conducted in May and followed a two-day format, the roadshow in Iran was tailored to end-users and focused on Sennheiser’s Audio for Video and Business Communications product ranges while the event in Jordan had a split focus on microphone The Sennheiser Sound Academy event in Iran. technologies and RF management for rental companies and installers, and Business Communications solutions for end users and consultants.

AES 141st Convention 29 September - 1 October 2016 Los Angeles, CA, USA www.aes.org/events

LDI 21-23 October 2016 Las Vegas, NV, USA www.ldishow.com

JTSE 29-30 November 2016 Paris, France www.jtse.fr

> www.sennheiser.co.uk

PLASA Focus Glasgow

Dot2 roadshow tours South Africa


South Africa - MA Lighting’s Michael Strathmann (a.k.a Qincy) joined South African distributor DWR Distribution for a dot2 training roadshow that visited Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Namibia during May. “The overall experience using the dot 2 is fun,” said Qincy. “You don’t have to search for what you need which means you can fully concentrate on doing lighting. I enjoy that a lot.” Those who attended the roadshow loved the dot2 too. “For the exact same reasons I do,” said Quincy. “They enjoyed seeing the straightforward way of working on the console and immediately wanted to use it.” > www.malighting.com

12 LSi - July 2016

> www.dwrdistribution.co.za

18-19 January 2017 Glasgow, Scotland www.plasafocus.com/glasgow

NAMM 19-22 January 2017 Anaheim, CA, USA www.thenammshow.com

ISE 7-10 February 2017 Amsterdam, Netherlands www.iseurope.org

BVE 28 February - 2 March 2017 London, UK www.bvexpo.com




The first intake recently completed a six-month pilot, making use of the existing workforce at Lighthouse to gain creative, hands-on learning experiences.

Victory Tour Production provides One Stop solutions to high profile touring musicians, artists, events and festivals worldwide. Our mission is to do our best every day, at any hour, to exceed our clients’ expectations through integrity, innovation, attention to detail, and customer service worldwide.

UK - Young Technicians - a new learning programme for young people at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts - has been hailed “a great success and a valuable experience that has improved participants’ chances of working in the industry”.

VOLBEAT US Onestop Solution

Part of Lighthouse’s Young Programmers scheme, Young Technicians aims to develop the next generation of arts practitioners. The first intake recently completed a six-month pilot, making use of the existing workforce at Lighthouse to gain creative, hands-on learning experiences.


“It was a unique and fulfilling experience that you don’t get in many other places,” said one Young Technician. Another added: “The best part was the freedom and opportunity to put what we had been learning into practice, it allowed us to test ourselves and to be involved in a creative show.”

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND EU Audio/Video/Manpower TOP GEAR LIVE OSLO Onestop Solution

After the final event the Young Technicians all said they were more interested in the arts, had learned new skills, made new friends, felt happier and would recommend Lighthouse to friends, with 90% saying they were more interested in pursuing a career in the arts and agreeing the course had improved other areas of their education.

GHOST EU Light/Trucking

> //plasa.me/m4ysc

THE JACKSONS EU Onestop Solution

Sound Technology schedules JBL Intellivox training UK - Sound Technology Ltd, distributor of Harman Professional audio products in the UK and Eire, is to host free training for JBL’s Intellivox digitally controlled beam-forming loudspeakers on 27 and 28 September 2016.


The course takes place over two days and includes a mix of classroom and practical The Intellivox training course takes place at Sound Technology’s base sessions. Day one covers in Letchworth Garden City. JBL’s DDC (Digital Directivity Control) and DDS (Digital Directivity Synthesis) technologies, design guidelines and WinControl & Rapid DDS software whilst day two focuses on DDA (Digital Directivity Analysis) acoustic prediction software and DDS Control. Participants are welcome to attend either day or both, depending on their requirements. The Intellivox training course takes place at Sound Technology’s office and demonstration suite in Letchworth Garden City. The course is free to attend. To register, please visit the web address below. > www.soundtech.co.uk/events

+45 70 23 01 75 · WWW.VICTORY.DK LSi - July 2016


Young Technicians scheme shines at Poole’s Lighthouse



Chinese companies join Media Networking Alliance

Popular title The Sound of Theatre available as eBook

China - The Media Networking Alliance (MNA) - the professional AV industry alliance established to promote awareness and uptake of AES67 - has announced the membership of two major Chinese audio technology companies.

World - Published by PLASA, popular industry title The Sound of Theatre by David Collison is now available in eBook format.

Sam Zhao, newly appointed MNA representative, Greater China.

3G Audio and Ningbo Soundking Electronics & Sound Company are the first mainland China-based companies to join the MNA through the offices of Sam Zhao, newly appointed MNA representative, Greater China. > //medianetworkingalliance.com

Reviewing the book for LSi, James Eade said of it: “David Collison’s book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the development of sound from Greek times through to the basics of the technology we have today.” Purchase the book in digital or hardback format: > www.soundoftheatre.com

ETCP to launch computer-based testing USA - Due to overwhelming interest, the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) Portable Power Distribution Technician (PPDT) examination will be offered at over 190 testing centres in North America beginning 15 July for computer-based testing. There is no application deadline and once a candidate is approved he/she can usually test within a couple of weeks, depending on candidate volume. Because this is a new examination, score reports will be delayed during testing time. ETCP uses a point system to determine eligibility to sit for examinations. A candidate must have 25 points to apply for the ETCP Portable Power Distribution Technician examination. Points can be earned through work experience alone or through a combination of

To apply, candidates must submit the 2016 PPDT CBT Application, which can be found here: //etcp.esta.org/ppdt ETCP is also offering the examinations via paper and pencil in the following cities in August 2016: Orlando, Dallas and Phoenix. If you would like to test in one of those cities, please contact Meredith Moseley-Bennett, etcp@esta.org. > www.etcp.esta.org




The Global Event for the Rigging Community


The PLASA Rigging Conference returns on Monday 19th September in its new location alongside PLASA 2016, at Olympia in West London.

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This year, this unique event will provide the opportunity to get together with members of the international rigging community to discuss, amongst other topics, issues surrounding the chain of responsibility, the challenges of flying performers and PA systems, and the chance to hear from our key-note speaker Rocky Paulson, the founder of Stage Rigging Inc., probably the world’s original rigging company.


training (i.e., internships or apprenticeships), licensure, and degrees from accredited institutions. Courses taken outside a formal programme of undergraduate or graduate studies do not count towards eligibility.

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www.plasashow.com/prc For more info go to . . . www.plasa.org/traineerigger neerigger LONDON, OLYMPIA | 18-20 SEPTEMBER

14 LSi - July 2016

GLASGOW | 18-19 JANUARY, 2017

LEEDS | 9-10 MAY, 2017

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Classic Gear: Francis Reid remembered, by Rob Halliday UK - Lighting designer and LSi’s Classic Gear columnist Rob Halliday remembers the late Francis Reid, who sadly passed away in June, aged 86 . . . (I wrote this five years ago, as a gift to Francis on his 80th birthday. Following the news of his passing last week, it feels like it deserves a wider audience, with just a very sad change of tense.)

stage, the period from 1979-1981 seeing him take charge of the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmonds. More importantly, he was a compulsive communicator, always wanting to share what he knew with the world. He became editor of another classic, Strand’s legendary Tabs magazine, in 1974 and wrote for most of the technical publications around the world. He’s written books not just about lighting but also design, theatre administration and more - the ABCs of Stage Technology and Stage Lighting (full disclosure . . .) both an inspiration and now a reference for this column. And he taught lucky students around the world - at Central, RADA, in Canada and at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, where he was made a fellow with a great title - I think it’s ‘theatre technologist’ - that I am hugely envious of.

Every month as I sat down to write about another classic product, a wave of guilt swept across me: I was the wrong man for the job. There was someone out there who could write better, light better and, for good measure, lived through more of Francis Reid, who passed away aged 86 on the products that are now classics (and many, many 9 June, pictured in 1986. less good ones besides!). Maybe Classic Gear would have been better in the hands of Francis Reid. His skill was always to provide a deep insight in an accessible, easy-toOr maybe that age, that experience means something different: that we read, friendly way. I think this was because of his enquiring mind that - as should actually have considered Francis himself a classic! those who enjoyed his regular questioning of speakers at Showlight and The qualifications? Well, there were the shows, of course: he lit more than elsewhere will know - tended not to let go until he had an answer that 300 of them, including such West End hits as Grease, Joseph, Man of La satisfied him. Perhaps that’s the holdover of his science degree? Mancha plus more than 60 pantomimes; Francis was a student of theatre That urge to communicate remained unabated to the end, recording the around the world yet he still loved a good panto’, partly for the challenge history he lived through for posterity and the process of stepping away of getting the show on, partly for the bonus pay-cheque just before from lighting that we’ll all eventually live through. Sadly, unless there’s Christmas (ever pragmatic!), but mainly for wanting to get right the show a draft hidden away somewhere, we will now not see a book called that might be a child’s first ever experience of live theatre. Living The Showbiz Life expanding on his sage advice about staying Alongside that, he spent the 60s as resident lighting director at married (“marry a stage manager, they expect rehearsals to over-run Glyndebourne, lighting their productions while also working with Strand to and you to be late for meals”) since that’s the hardest part of the create an innovative new control system that let him sit in the stalls and business and he did that, too, incredibly well; our thoughts are with Jo, who survives him. play his own lighting. He never limited himself to lighting, though, preferring to be a jack of all trades. His interest in every aspect of theatre even took him beyond the

Jim Douglas, 1962-2016 UK - LSi recently learned the sad news that Jim Douglas, founder of Projected Image, passed away in June. A lighting industry veteran, Jim worked for many years at Vari-Lite Europe, from its earliest days in Cricklewood, before founding Projected Image, a specialist gobo manufacturing company, in 1999. In 2002, along with his former Vari-Lite colleague David March, he set up Projected Image Digital. A statement on the Projected Image website says: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our founder Jim Douglas. Jim created Projected Image and built it up into the brightest and best gobo manufacturing company in the world. He was a courageous businessman with scruples and morals. As long as we are here, his vision will always shine brightly.


Jim’s business mantras included “we never say no” and “the customer is always right, even if we think they are wrong” and my personal favourite, “we have to throw some bread on the water for the ducks” He had a generosity of spirit, a ‘can do’ attitude combined with an extraordinary skill set that were the basis of his being; the builder, the tinkerer, the fixer of things, his poetry, his out of tune singing, his beautiful voice, and his insightful wit.

We’ve all learnt from you Francis. Thanks for sharing so freely, and so well.

LIA signs partnership with University of South Wales UK - The University of South Wales (USW) and the Lighting Industry Association (LIA) have formed a partnership which will see the development of a range of specialist lighting courses. Stuart Green, course leader of Lighting Various courses will be delivered and Design Technology at USW and at the new LIA Academy facility in Steve Davies, LIA, CEO. Telford. Students will additionally be given special access to the LIA Laboratory in Telford. This is the UK’s largest independent ISO 17025 test laboratory dedicated to lighting and features industry-leading test equipment.

Stuart Green, course leader of Lighting and Design Technology at USW, said: “The LIA and USW are both leaders in the field of lighting design and technology. Our partnership provides us with new opportunities for collaboration in both teaching and learning, effectively creating an environment of improved knowledge that will benefit both organisations and the wider industry.” LIA CEO Steve Davies said: “We’ve been impressed with the University’s commitment to quality and due diligence and feel confident that we are meeting the needs (as expressed by our members) for robust qualifications to support the career development lighting professionals.”

We will miss him, he was one hell of a guy. The show must go on.” > www.projectedimage.com

16 LSi - July 2016

> More info: training@thelia.org.uk > www.southwales.ac.uk > www.thelia.org.uk

Harmony needs balance, silence, and quality of light.

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Michael Northen Bursary Award winners 2016 UK - The ALD has announced the winners of its prestigious Michael Northen Bursary Award, at an awards ceremony aligned with the recent ABTT Show. The bursary is awarded annually to students or recent graduates of lighting studies in the UK, who have demonstrated strong, imaginative and creative lighting design. The award is bestowed in collaboration with the Mousetrap Foundation, alongside the generous support of sponsors ETC and Stage Jobs Pro. Mark Jonathan, deputy chairman of the ALD, hosted the ceremony and lighting designer Prema Mehta awarded the Michael Northen Bursary to Rory Beaton (Guildhall) for his detailed submission which was felt to demonstrate his professional and comprehensive approach alongside well executed decisions.

Sana Yamaguchi, the ALD’s Sean Gleason, Rory Beaton, Jai Morjaria, lighting designer Prema Mehta, and Mark Jonathan, deputy chairman of the ALD and host of the awards

The Francis Reid Award was presented to finalist Sana Yamaguchi (Central School of Speech and Drama), while the ETC Award was received by Jai Morjaria (RADA). Sana impressed with her concise presentation and with clear concepts. She caught the judges’ attention with her bold use of angles and colour choices. Jai’s submission demonstrated a strong vision for lighting design. His unique ideas, his attitude and processes throughout, particularly impressed the judges. As the Francis Reid award had been established during his lifetime, it was with sadness that Mark Jonathan reported the recent death of Francis Reid. He paid tribute to the great contribution Reid had made to theatre lighting in Britain and across the World. Summing up, Jonathan stated: “His memory is now celebrated in this prestigious award.”

Sound Summit Toronto Canada - DPA Microphones, Lectrosonics, Sound Devices, and K-Tek, will host The Sound Summit Toronto on 19 July at The Church on the Queensway in the city. Part of The Sound Summit series of informal networking and educational presentations, the event will bring together audio professionals and leading manufacturers who specialise in professional location audio capture. > //thesoundsummit.org/toronto


> www.ald.org.uk

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LSi - July 2016

UK - PRG XL Video offers training and technical support to a number of universities, drama schools and colleges around the UK. So when Geraint Pughe from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts contacted PRG’s Peter Marshall with a request for a longterm loan of some (L-R): Geraint Pughe with students Deanna Marie-Hart and Vicky Ashton. moving lights for students to experiment with and train on, the company was happy to help.

UK - The Gus Dudgeon Foundation and JAMES have announced that their Post Graduate Summer Course will this year be taking place from 11-15 July at Leeds Beckett University.

Peter Marshall says: “We were delighted to support Mountview, as we have previously done with many colleges, with a combination of Arc and LED sourced automated lights, namely the Vari*Lite VL3000 spot and the GLP Impression LED RZ120 RGB zoom wash light.” Geraint said: “It’s important for us that all lighting students have access to up-to-date lighting technology in the classroom, so they will know what to expect when they work on shows. For six months the lights were used purely as a teaching tool in our Digital Design Studio, on Mountview’s Wood Green campus. The first year students used both fixtures with our ETC Ion console to learn lighting systems training and the principles of DMX. The Impressions were particularly useful for teaching the students about LED lighting technology and RGB colour mixing. Peter Marshall added: “It’s important that we give these lighting design students the chance to use and learn from lighting with moving lights as they move from a college degree course into the industry in the years to follow.” > www.prg.com

> www.mountview.org.uk

Gus Dudgeon Foundation announces summer course


PRG XL Video supports Mountview Academy

The course this year sees producer Mark Hutchinson tutor 12 top-graduating students from JAMES’ accredited music technology and production courses through five days of recording on both analogue and digital systems. The students will also benefit from the attendance of Ken Scott. Known for his work with The Beatles, Elton John, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Supertramp, Scott will drop in during the week and will award the student prize at the end of the course. Dr Steve Parker, principal lecturer in music technology and production at Leeds Beckett commented, "We're thrilled to be holding this year's GDF Summer Course here at Leeds Beckett University as it allows our students to meet and network with those from the other JAMES accredited courses. > //gusdudgeon.wordpress.com

industryjobs . . . industryjobs . . .

Analog Way launches training academy for Americas USA - Analog Way, the specialist in computer and video signal processing and distribution has launched a Training Academy for the Americas, located at the new Analog Way facility in Metro-Atlanta.

To lead the new academy, the company has welcomed Christina Spurlock (pictured) as technology instructor. Spurlock holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Southeastern University, has served as a product specialist trainer and has a rounded background in video and live event production, acquired while working at TV stations during the early part of her career, the company says. > www.analogway.com

Send your training and event news to: news@lsionline.co.uk LSi - July 2016


Jay Gonzalez, president of Analog Way Americas, says: “Developing training programmes for our customers is one of the main goals of Analog Way Americas. We want to offer product and technology training to integrators, consultants, freelance technicians, and end-users - training that will enable them to gain all the competence necessary to take full advantage of our products in a plethora of applications.”



LSi at ABTT 2016 In its second year at London’s Alexandra Palace, the ABTT Theatre Show seemed to maintain its ever-popular character, despite being visited by the twin plagues of flood and referendum. Lee Baldock and Claire Beeson present a few highlights from the show floor . . . AC-ET (www.ac-et.com) showed a range of its latest lighting, audio, rigging, video, and film and TV solutions, including the latest LED solutions from Chroma-Q, such as the innovative new Space Force LED space light; the Color One 100 RGBA, homogenous output LED PAR; the Inspire family of colour-changing LED house lights; the popular Color Force multi-purpose LED washlights; and various models from the Studio range of white LED lighting solutions. Other highlights included a selection of Dynamic Audio Device's high performance loudspeaker solutions, Audio-Technica's Series 10, 2.4GHz modular digital wireless, Sennheiser's 300 series wireless, Shure's QLX-D digital wireless system and the Yamaha's QL1 digital mixer.


Following the success of the MA Lighting dot2 console training sessions at PLASA Focus in both Glasgow and Leeds, Ambersphere Solutions (www.ambersphere.co.uk) once again offered its free training visitors to ABTT. Sessions were designed to provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the features of the MA Lighting dot2 console and were designed and delivered by Thor Andre and Sam Parsons.

20 LSi - July 2016

Artistic Licence (www.artisticlicence.com) showed a newly launched variant of its nanoScope DMX tester - nanoScope tx a DMX transmitter designed for test, configuration and faultfinding of lighting rigs). Lightweight and battery powered, the nanoScope tx has a built-in five-pin XLR connector that enables it to be attached directly to the DMX512 cable. Artistic also demo’d the capabilities of its versaSplit DMX distribution system.

The Chauvet Professional (www.chauvetprofessional.eu) team, including new recruit Dave Faulkes, highlighted the theatrical side of the company’s product offering. This included new members of the Ovation family which made their debut at the show - the Ovation B2805 FC, the Ovation C805 FC cyc light - both of which use a RGBAL light engine - and the E260 warm white elipsodial spot. Distributed by City Theatrical (www.citytheatrical.com) in UK & Europe, Pathway Connectivy’s new Choreo made its UK debut. It provides stand-alone programming and playback for DMX-512 lighting systems, in a three-gang wall box. Once programmed, the screen can be used as a virtual button/fader station, or run shows from time code, serial input or contact closures. The new SHoW DMX SHoW Baby 6 and the newly released Lightwright 6 were also highlighted (see Technology Focus, page 72-73 for more on this). Creative Technology (www.ct-group.com) and audio arm Dimension Audio exhibited together, with Dimension presenting its new identity and CT launching its new Integrated Networks division. CT has made a large investment in providing technical event infrastructure and is now able to provide Integrated Networks for events, complementing the company’s display and control expertise. d&b GB (www.dbaudio.com)’s V-Series point source loudspeakers took centre stage in the show’s pop-up Studio Theatre - accompanied by Y7s, V-SUBs, E6s and E8s all powered by the flagship D80. Also on stand was the brand new DS10 audio network bridge.

ABTT Award Winners

Facing page, clockwise from top left:

This year’s ABTT product awards were presented as follows . . .

Lee House and Glyn O’Donoghue of Ambersphere with the much-praised Scenius from Clay Paky.

ABTT 2016 Sound Product of the Year went to Clear-Com for its FreeSpeak II Wireless Comms Base Station, exhibited by Autograph (www.autograph.co.uk). The judges said it brought “high quality, multichannel wireless communications to more users, in an easy to use package.”

David Kelland and Mike Wheeler from UK sound reinforcement manufacturer EM Acoustics. Award winners . . . Mark Ravenhilll and Roly Smith collected the Lighting Product of the Year award for the GLP impression X4 Bar. Miniature theatre-style LED lights by Gantom, shown by Paul Butler (left) of Mushroom Lighting.

A special mention went to EM Acoustics (www.emacoustics.co.uk) for its DQ20 DSP Dante enabled amplifier, designed to give optimum performance from any EM Acoustics loudspeaker.

Look out for more pictures from the 2016 ABTT Theatre Show in our photo album at LSiOnline’s facebook page - www.facebook.com/lsionline - and don’t forget to Like and Share . . .

From ETC (www.etcconnect.com) was the new ColorSource AV console (expected for release at the end of Q3) and the standard ColorSource console (for which training workshops were held throughout the show) plus a selection of luminaires, consoles and rigging solutions. Hawthorn (www.hawthorn.biz) promoted its ever-growing theatre touring division with products on show including Clay Paky’s Scenius Profile, Martin Professional’s Viper Performance and the whole ETC Lustr and ColorSource range. Lighting product of the year went to GLP (www.glp.de) for the Impression X4 Bar 20 LED Batten. The judges said the “new Batten, with its innovative zoom feature and impressive light output, reinvents the light curtain.” Drawing very little power but plenty of attention were the Gantom range of tiny theatre-style display luminaires on the Mushroom Lighting stand (www.mushroomlighting.com). The tiny LED spots, floods and gobo projectors

draw up to 4.8W and are controlled via a smartphone app, which outputs DMX via your device’s audio output.

A special mention went to PRG (www.prg.com) for its Ground Control remote-controlled followspot system.

Philips Entertainment (www.lighting.philips.com) showed the latest stage lighting and control from Strand Lighting, Selecon and Showline. Strand Lighting’s latest additions are its range of control tools - the Philips Strand 500ML lighting control console and the NEO console. The new Philips Showline SL Hydrus 350 was shown, along with the refreshed Philips Selecon LED PLprofile1 and PLprofile4 MKII. The new models offer boosted light output, superior colour consistency and beam quality.

Engineering Product of the Year was won by Live Pipe, from Hoffend & Sons, and exhibited by Hall Stage (www.hallstage.com). The judges said this self-climbing hoist for “simple installation and maintenance, obviates the need for work at height.” A special mention went to the Tiger Head Chain Block, shown by presented by Rope Assemblies (www.ropeassemblies.co.uk), for its innovative double brake system. Widget of the Year went to Hatoscreen Projection Paint, shown by Flints (www.flints.co.uk). The paint can turn a seemingly black surface into an excellent, affordable projection screen, opening up “endless fascinating opportunities for venues and designers”.

The Robe (www.robe.cz) stand saw the latest product demos, including the Patt 2013 and PicklePatt luminaires designed by LD Tim Routledge. The company was also drawing attention to its latest education initiative, NRG (for ‘Next Robe Generation’), which brings lighting students into contact with lighting professionals at monthly social events. Look out for more on this in the next issue of LSi.

Special mention went to the Dirty Rigger Grid Mat, from Le Mark (www.lemark.co.uk). Developed in conjunction with master carpenter Rikki Newman, Grid Mat reduces the risk of dropped tools, provides a comfortable working pad to save your knees and also stores tools when not in use in an easily identified package.

Newly appointed Sony Pro Audio distributor and long-time distribution partner for DPA Microphones, Sound Network (www.soundnetwork.co.uk) showed the latest mics from DPA. d:screet Miniature Mics and d:fine Headset Mics for bodyworn applications, d:dicate Recording and d:vote Live Mics for instrument miking all featured. Meanwhile, Sony’s new DWX-N digital wireless system was also demo’d. Triple-E (www.3-eee.com) returned with its award-winning ModTruss. Often described as ‘full-size Meccano’, ModTruss’s lightweight aluminium construction and repetitious hole pattern makes build configurations and applications practically limitless, the company says.

Robin Townley, CEO ABTT, with Charles Haines, MD Hall Stage, winner of the ABTT 2016 Engineering Product of the Year Award, and ABTT chairman Louise Jeffreys. LSi - July 2016


Drapemakers (www.designservices.co.uk) presented an attractive walk-through stand on which the team were hard at work showing their drape-making skills. The stand proved very popular with visitors - not least because freelance lighting tech Rosie Haigh was handing out tubs of ice cream - each with bespoke theatre-themed names. Drapemakers: we like your style!

Lighting Product of the Year went to GLP (www.glp.de) for the Impression X4 Bar 20 LED Batten. The judges said “[the] new Batten, with its innovative zoom feature and impressive light output, reinvents the light curtain.”

Photo: Sam Shrimpton

Doughty Engineering (www.doughtyengineering.co.uk) had three product debuts, including the Super Lightweight Drop Arm and Projector Mount - both new additions to the Modular Rigging System plus a new floor stand. Manufactured in steel and with a powder painted finish, the stand is designed specifically for mounting moving lights and has a SWL of 50kg.


Right: Jess Morris of Le Mark demonstrates the new Grid Mat from the Dirty Rigger range.



3D Dvořàk 3D projections were used for the first Czech opera to be staged in China. Mike Clark reports . . .

China - The 2,398-seat Opera Theatre in Beijing’s huge National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), recently hosted two firsts for the country: the first performance of a Czech opera and the first use of 3D video projections in an operatic context. The 3D projections, by Italian projection designer Sergio Metalli, were screened during the overture of each of the three acts of Dvořák’s Rusalka. A 4K video recording of the performance was made by Leipzig-based Accentus Music.


The opera is based on the mythical water sprites of Slavic folklore. In the story, the WaterGoblin’s daughter, Rusalka, falls in love with a prince who regularly swims in the lake that she lives in but, because sprites are invisible to humans, is unaware of her existence. Founder of Rimini-based Ideogamma studios, Sergio Metalli’s projection creations have been acclaimed in countless theatres worldwide: Teatro Reina Sofìa (Valencia), Teatro Municipal (Rio de Janeiro), Madrid’s Teatro Real di Madrid, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich’s Opernhaus and the English National Opera, to mention just a few. Rusalka was Metalli’s 16th production at the NCPA. He was called in by the opera’s director, set designer and costume designer, Argentinean Hugo de Ana.

Lighting designer Paolo Mazzon.

22 LSi - July 2016

As well as Metalli and his son Mattia (a 3D graphic designer), the Ideogamma team in Beijing included Enrico Pazzagli and Fabio Bellia. The team fielded seven Barco FLMHD20 (20,000 ANSI lumen, 1080p HD, 3-chip DLP) projectors: four for front 3D projections and three for “normal” rear projections. The four

media servers fielded for playout were custom models (Watchout Dataport 4X), with Intel i7 processors and ATI V7900 FirePro graphics cards, chosen for their Framelock and Genlock functions. Metalli explains: “The idea of using ‘stereoscopic’ projections on this production was proposed by Hugo, who came to our studios and gave me the initial input for the content. We looked at some illustrations, and he gave me one of the white and blue wigs to be worn by the artistes, on which we based our sprites’ hair, which was actually longer than their bodies and flowed to great effect underwater.” Working on the content for two-and-a-half months, the team created everything from scratch: the seabed and virtual backdrop had to have great perspective and at various points in the opera there appears a sunken ship and a huge cathedral-type building with doors which open and close. The team then populated the depths with anemones waving in the currents, butterflies, fish, sharks and even eagles (the last of which got a big ‘oooh!’ from the audience - including the PRC’s minister for culture - when they seemed about to fly out of the screen). A flying rig was set up in the Ideogamma studios and an aerial performer recorded with a motion capture system to create the sprites’ movements. As far as hardware was concerned, Metalli says: “I used a custom screen for the 3D projections, which I’m in currently patenting, so can’t give any details on it, apart from the fact that there is nothing else like it currently on the market!”




ND U O S PURE P E E K Mounting a circular polarisation filter on each of the four DLP projectors (two for each eye) enabled the 3D results to be achieved without using any other (expensive) equipment - all that was necessary was a pair of polarised glasses, which the spectators donned for a few minutes at the beginning of each act. Metalli continues: “The creation of 3D content requires twice the amount of time for rendering; in fact we took a render farm made up of 25 computers from Italy to Beijing and on-site work before the first night lasted three days, with long hours.” Another Italian with a key role on the production was Verona Arena’s lighting designer Paolo Mazzon, who was aided and abetted by inhouse LD Sun Nanpu. The lighting rig for the opera featured 60 Clay Paky Alpha 1200 Profiles, 40 Clay Paky Alpha 1200 Washes, 30 ADB F201 (L201-L204-L143) 2K Fresnels, 15 ADB DN 10/22 and 70 Par CP62, controlled by a pair of MA Lighting GrandMA 2 Full Size consoles. Mazzon explains: “Taking into careful consideration the fact that there were video projections during the entire show, with Hugo we decided to use the same lighting angles on stage as in the projections, and the result was really great - a perfect amalgamation of projections, lighting, performers and scenery. The Clay Paky Alpha fixtures were particularly useful to this end and responded excellently from every point of view.” Hong Kong-headquartered Advanced Communication Equipment (Int’l) Co (ACE) is

the main contractor for all the NCPA’s sound systems. Of the opera house’s Meyer Sound set-up, ACE’s Ben Lui explains: “The centre FOH cluster is formed of three MSL-4 longthrow loudspeakers, three DF-4 down-fills and four PSW-2 subwoofers. Each left and right FOH cluster comprises eight CQ-1 full-range loudspeakers on each side and there are two additional 650-P subwoofers on each side of left and right front-of-house.” In addition, 12 MM-4 enclosures are on stage apron fill duty and a combination of UPM-1 and UPJ-1 cabinets provide two levels of underbalcony speakers, and another 22 UPJ-1 are wall-mounted for audience effects coverage. The system is completed by a further 38 strategically positioned UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers, with processing by an MM-4 CEU and RMS control software monitoring the set-up. Audio consoles currently in the control room are a Studer Vista 8 and a Soundcraft MH4-32. After the show, before flying off for initial work on at the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Balbeck in Lebanon, Metalli enthused, “Hugo did a beautiful imaginative job on this - really brilliant!” He added: “Following up on the great results obtained with this production, we’re boosting our 3D facilities to ensure even greater technological innovation in the future. We’ve constantly upgraded since our first important opera with video projections in 1999, and intend to continue doing so in order to precede the market, not follow it.”

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See us at BPM 11-13th Sept Stand PD17 & PLASA 18-20th Sept Stand N50

Sergio and Matta Metalli. LSi - July 2016



People on the Move UK - Chauvet Professional UK has appointed David Faulkes as UK south territory manager for Chauvet Professional and Iluminarc, and Simon Cox as UK south professional key accounts manager. Faulkes joins Chauvet with 25 years’ industry experience, with companies such as Martin Professional and Miltec. Cox, previously UK south territory manager, has moved across to a new position covering UK key accounts with a greater focus on the TV and theatre marketplace. UK - Adlib has made two key appointments to its Scottish operation, with Barclay Dakers joining as business development manager and Craig Hamilton as operations manager. Both have strong backgrounds in professional audio and the production industry and will bring further dynamics to the mix in the Scottish market. Barclay and Craig will be working alongside general manager Graham Cochrane and head of audio Steph Fleming. USA - CEO of the PRG Music Group, Mickey Curbishley left the company on 30 June after 18 years. As CEO of PRG’s Music Group, Curbishley oversaw business development and client support for concert tours, special events, television, and other music-related projects around the world. Curbishley comments: “I have been extremely proud of the professional and personal achievements my time at PRG has afforded me but now I feel it is time to begin a new journey in this amazing and ever-changing industry.” UK - Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Tingle has joined the corporate team at PRG XL Video, the UK operation of PRG, as a senior account manager. Tingle joins from Eclipse Presentations where he applied his technical expertise to the role of project manager. Media server and creative video technology expert Patrick Verhey also joins the PRG XL team in the new role of director media/creative, reporting directly to UK CEO, Lucas Covers.


Germany - Green Hippo has appointed Denis Hessberger as a freelance product specialist, to be based in Germany. Hessberger has a strong background in the world of lighting and video programming and design, and is a longtime user of Hippotizer.

24 LSi - July 2016

UK - POLARaudio has promoted Stuart Leader to fill the new role of integrated solutions director. New installed business development manager Adam Brown takes on direct responsibility for key accounts in London and the South East, whilst Jason Spooner and Matthew Farrugia have been appointed to expand POLARaudio’s technical support team. USA - VUE Audiotechnik has appointed Frank Loyko as vice-president global sales. Based in Seattle, Loyko brings 36 years of executive experience building sales networks at pro audio companies including EAW, RCF, Avid Technology and the TC Group. USA - ETC has hired Wendy Luedtke to join its new Advance Research Group (ARG) as a product technology specialist. Luedtke joins ETC after six years with Rosco Laboratories, Inc., where she was the product manager for colour and lighting. Australia - Lexair Entertainment has appointed Renaat De Wilde as sales and marketing director. De Wilde has moved to Australia from Texas where he was most recently VP of sales and business development at High End Systems and before that, Barco’s regional director for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. UK - The Theatres Trust has announced that Mhora Samuel is stepping down as its director after 10 years in the role. Rebecca Morland, currently the Trust’s Theatres Adviser, will take up the role of acting director pending the recruitment of a new director. USA - Peavey Commercial Audio, a division of Peavey Electronics, has appointed Joe Kurta as chief technical officer. An experienced technical architect and pro audio designer, Kurta rejoins the Mississippi-based company, having previously served as a systems integration specialist at the turn of the millennium. Thailand - Kim Muurholm Jürgensen has joined Apart Audio as sales manager for the Asia-Pacific region, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He is also appointed as APAC sales manager for Community Professional Loudspeakers, a sister company of Apart Audio nv within the Audioprof Group International.

From top: Simon Cox becomes UK south professional key accounts manager at Chauvet Professional; Barclay Dakers and Craig Hamilton join Adlib’s growing Scotland-based team; Mickey Curbishey steps down as CEO of PRG’s Music Group; Jonny Tingle joins PRG XL Video’s corporate team; Stuart Leader is promoted at POLARaudio; Frank Loyko becomes VP of global sales at VUE Audiotechnik; Wendy Luedtke joins ETC’s product technology team; Renaat De Wilde joins Lexair Entertainment as sales and marketing director; Joe Kurta returns to Peavey Commercial Audio.

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KOKO victory makes the right noises Phil Ward reports on a salutary lesson for urban venues . . .

UK - Imagine you’ve parked the car on a meter. You’re certain you’ve paid the right money yet you return, 10 minutes before the time is up, to discover the car has been towed away. Upon inquiry you discover that (a) the meter was faulty and (b) the traffic warden didn’t bother to check the details provided. OK, you probably get off the fine, but you’ve still had to trudge off to retrieve the car from the pound probably paying a huge fee up front to get the keys back.


In this allegory, the car represents venerable North London venue KOKO; you, the driver, represent its owner, Obar Camden Ltd; the traffic warden represents the London Borough of Camden; and the meter represents all the apparatus available to the Borough’s environmental health ministrations. The point is that a perfectly innocent venue, one that adheres to all the normal health and safety regulations and licensing restrictions, was placed in a situation of peril by the flawed actions of others while it was wasn’t even looking . . . just like our figurative motorist.

26 LSi - July 2016

Had a scheme gone ahead to erect residential flats right next to KOKO, complaints about noise from the perennially popular nightspot would have followed as sure as night follows day, and hangovers follow the night. It might well have threatened the closure of the venue, and would certainly have led to unwanted legal procedures and other unwelcome costs. And this is in spite of

the fact that the venue had understandably provided solid evidence that, with the best will in the world, placing tax-paying residents slap in the middle of this cool corner of Camden was not a good idea. Fortunately, a challenge in the High Court by Obar Camden Ltd resulted in the judge, Mr Justice Stewart, overturning the planning permission granted by the Borough of Camden - following consultation with its environmental health officers to property developer Vidacraft Ltd. But the whole issue raises the question of how planning permission was granted in the first place, given that it is the responsibility of planning officers within organisations like Camden - on the front line of environmentally controlled business decisions all over the country - to be aware of and to understand all of the ramifications in each case. It also acts as a warning to those who, unlike Obar Camden, may not have the resources to fight such loosely-handled red tape. Entertainment noise expert Richard Vivian, founder of independent consultancy Big Sky Acoustics, advised Obar Camden at various stages of the case and gave evidence for them in the High Court. “I was on a public webcast from the Council Chamber,” Vivian recounts, “telling the planning committee that they didn’t have enough information to make a decision, that the applicant hadn’t designed any sound insulation and they certainly hadn’t tested the conditions. We couldn’t

According to Vivian, the developers’ original acoustic report was submitted without a site visit, while subsequent measurements failed to document any frequencies below 100Hz. “That is odd,” says Vivian, “because KOKO’s JBL VerTec system crosses over at 100Hz - so they ignored something like 30,000W of bass bin. And before you guess that they must have taken the measurement at two in the afternoon . . . no, it was done while the club was trading at night.”


understand why the Borough of Camden would want to approve the application. Nevertheless, permission was granted on the word of a Planning Officer, with no Environmental Health Officers present. That’s why we took it to the High Court.”

In his judgement, Mr Justice Stewart observed that Camden’s councillors were “significantly misled” by their own officers and that their response to acoustic circumstances bound to affect their new residents adversely had been “irrational”. Richard Vivian believes that without the kind of diligence shown by Obar Camden, not to mention resources, such decisions could significantly harm any given venue. “Imagine a smaller business,” he says, “perhaps a wine bar with a guy on a bar stool playing guitar on a Friday evening . . . well, there’s no point in even approaching a senior planning barrister with the idea of securing a judicial review - which is what it took for KOKO - unless you’re confident that you could stand a loss of £70,000 to £80,000. That’s what the bill would be. So how many venues would be facing ruin as a result of distinctly negligent planning processes like this one in Camden?” The debacle in Camden occurred shortly before new moves were put in place to safeguard against exactly this kind of mismanagement. In April, legislation prepared by the Department for Communities & Local Government came into force stemming a dangerous tide of yielding planning terms in which noise had been relegated from the criteria. New regulations, lobbied for and supported by both the Musicians Union and the recently formed charity Music Venue Trust, should help to prevent cases such as KOKO and Camden by making noise a key issue in any deliberations whereby commercial buildings could be converted to residential use: not to protect future residents from nearby pub and club sound, but to defend those pubs and clubs from the inevitable complaints. The Music Venue Trust was founded in 2014 and is already playing a key role in the protection of “grassroots live music venues” in the UK, with particular emphasis on new business development, site security and the preservation of those small venues considered iconic by an informed music audience. In other words, MVT is trawling the streets and stuffing coins into the meters marking time on Britain’s coolest gigs. Spare some change . . .


The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 was presented to Parliament on 11 March 2016 and came into effect on 6 April 2016. The new regulations can be found here: //plasa.me/xnx4d

Sound advice - Richard Vivian of Big Sky Audio. LSi - July 2016



Soundscapes for RADA

A RADA production of

Kindertransport created innovative, impressionistic soundscapes using wireless microphones, in-ear monitoring and loudspeakers.


LSi reports . . .

Isobel Newbury.

28 LSi - July 2016

UK - Diane Samuels’ play Kindertransport (1993) was recently staged at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) by final year Acting students and students on the Technical Theatre and Stage Management (TTSM) course, including sound designer Isobel Newbury (a second year TTSM student). Together with director Psyche Stott, Newbury wanted to create an enveloping, surroundsound world for the audience, to reflect the skilful blend of the real and the imagined. “The sound world for Kindertransport is intricately woven into the story - the writer is very specific about its place, but leaves it to us to interpret how best to achieve it,” explains Stott. Kindertransport concerns Jewish children escaping from Nazi Germany just before the onset of World War II. The play blends fiction with true stories, and features scenes set in the past and present. The plot veers between a realistic depiction of events seen through the eyes of one child, the refugee Eva, and more stylised scenarios that invoke the imaginations of Eva, other characters on stage, and also of the audience. Isobel Newbury wanted the sound to suggest what Eva is experiencing, not only in reality, but also in her imagination. She drew on two inspirations for the play’s eventual approach to sound design: visits to the AV displays at London’s Jewish Museum and Imperial War Museum, and the recent production of Complicité’s Encounter, for which sound designer Gareth Fry designed the kind of heavily immersive soundscape she had in mind. “We tried to avoid ‘literal’ sounds, as some of

the storytelling scenes are stylised,” she explains. “In our production, we created a vision where the sound enhances the audience’s imagination.” This approach came to the fore in the production’s realisation of The Ratcatcher. This character appears throughout the play in different guises, and it’s deliberately ambiguous whether the character’s dialogue is spoken to Eva, or is merely playing out in her mind. To suggest this sonically, Newbury had the idea of adding processing to the character’s speech to represent imagination creeping into the realworld dialogue. This can be achieved by playing back pre-recorded processed dialogue clips during the action and having the actor lip-sync to the processed dialogue, but getting the timing right can be tricky. Instead, for the RADA production, Newbury chose to close-mic Lawrence Stagg (the actor playing The Ratcatcher) so that his live dialogue could be fed separately to an audio processor. His voice could therefore be periodically treated and processed when required, and left untreated in between. This meant a wireless microphone capable of capturing Stagg’s dialogue would have to be concealed in The Ratcatcher’s costume; Newbury chose a Shure QLX-D wireless microphone for the job. Continuing discussion between Newbury and Stott took this concept further. If The Ratcatcher’s dialogue could be captured and processed to enhance the sense of the unreal, could The Ratcatcher himself not also be a source of some of the enveloping soundscapes that suggest Eva’s imagination at work? Having already put a microphone into The Ratcatcher’s

“I had thought about putting a speaker in one of the boxes on the set,” explains Newbury, “but once I saw the costume for the Ratcatcher, the idea of him being an actual part of this impressionistic sound world became very exciting. I was very lucky to have access to the right equipment and support to achieve this. I knew what I needed to realise the sound design I had in mind, thanks to my RADA training and the Academy’s good working relationship with Shure.” Following discussions with Steve Mayo, RADA’s Head of Sound, and Josh Gunn, the production sound electrician on Kindertransport, the sound design concept was realised by means of a collaboration with costume supervisor Ellie Edwards, creating what became known as the ‘sound jacket’. The Shure QLX-D wireless microphone head was discreetly attached to the front of Stagg’s jacket, and its short cable fed through his clothing to the wireless transmitter, which was placed in a mic belt. Extra pockets were added to the jacket to house two XMI X-Mini compact loudspeakers, and audio was routed to them wirelessly by means of a Shure PSM300 in-ear monitoring system, the receiver for which was also concealed in the sound jacket. “I knew that I wanted the actor playing The Ratcatcher to be able to conjure up a whole sound world, somehow,” adds Psyche Stott. “But it was Isobel who suggested the possibilities of the sound actually coming from him, along with the possibilities of playing with the actor’s own vocal sound. It was her knowledge of the possibilities of the technology that enabled the creative development of the

character within the story. She was also able to bring the technology into the rehearsal room, so we could fully understand its potential. This allowed us to collaborate organically, so the sound design evolved alongside the creative process in the room, rather than just being a technical element added on later.” In this way, the concept was developed further. In one scene, where The Ratcatcher makes the menacing sound of the steam train that will take Eva away from her parents, the effect was enhanced by adding processing to the audio captured by the character’s vocal mic. “I then routed the audio from the mic to the speakers in the jacket so in effect, The Ratcatcher becomes the train that Eva boards to leave Germany,” continues Newbury. “Autograph Sound kindly lent us some d&b E3 speakers which I hid behind the audience, and positioned in a way that reflects or ‘bounces’ the sound off the walls of the auditorium, giving the feeling of being inside a train.” The result was an integrated, successful marriage of the technical and the artistic that perfectly encapsulates the ambiguous nature of the reality depicted on stage in Kindertransport. Echoing the importance attached to sound design by all truly great directors throughout stage and film history, Psyche Stott looks back on the Kindertransport sound and costume design experiments with pride. “Sound is often underestimated in theatre - because you can’t see it, it is often an after-thought in a creative process, and budgets often limit your ability to explore its full potential,” she concludes. “But thankfully, not at RADA!” Kindertransport was performed in March 2016 in RADA’s Gielgud Theatre. > www.shure.co.uk


Scenes from the RADA production of Kindertransport - and two views inside the ‘sound jacket’ worn by the Ratcatcher character.

costume, Newbury suggested incorporating compact loudspeakers too, so that surreal, stylistic soundscapes could literally emanate from The Ratcatcher during the performance.


Facing page:

LSi - July 2016



Grand Designs

Lee Baldock visits the studio of Tim Routledge Lighting Design . . .

UK - “That show was very much about gaining maximum bang for buck,” says Tim Routledge about his lighting for Busted’s recent Pigs Can Fly tour. He says: “The creative director, Paul Caslin, really worked some magic, which didn’t cost a fortune but which gave it more of an edge . . . We did some clever tricks with LED strobes: after the support act we faded them up as if they were the house lights. Then, every few minutes, just for a millisecond or so, they would strobe, the onstage screens would suddenly jitter, and the boys’ faces would appear, with static noise effects. Gradually these built, and every single time the audience freaked. Then it all went completely bananas and into the show.”


The set design featured three upstage tiers of scaffold bays containing audience members. “We put a single LED strobe in each bay, and crowned the whole thing with a triple row of chrome PAR cans, which are cheap, but also gave us a great ‘rock’ look, which is currently back in vogue,” says Tim. “Backlighting the audience gave us our set. On vertical trusses dividing the bays we had PRG Icon Beams - a really bright beamlight probably one of the cheapest lights you can rent from PRG. So altogether, we had these huge, epic rock looks without huge cost.”

The Busted tour came in a busy year. We have seen Tim’s brilliant set and lighting design for Jeff Lynne’s ELO (see LSi May 2016), but between that and Busted, another artist called on his services. He says: “We were lucky: ELO we’d got designed, approved and costed very early in the year, and we had time earmarked for Busted, so when Beyoncé came in, I could do that as well. We brought in a lighting director, Sam O’Riordan (Royal Blood’s LD) for Busted’s WYSIWYG preprogramming sessions and rehearsals. I came up with the architecture, the design and the specification, briefed Tom and Sam, and Tom toured the show. My work with Beyoncé finished just in time for me to get back here for production rehearsals.” He adds: “We’re fortunate as a design agency in that I invested in grandMA a long time ago, so we have a number of consoles, and we can have two shows programming in here at the same time. So we are quite agile; we knew we could absolutely make it work.”

Above, clockwise from top: Jeff Lynne’s ELO; two views of Busted - bang for buck (photos © Kris Goodman www.theflyinglampie.com)

There was more bang-for-buck on the B-stage, where a ‘chandelier’ of simple festoon lighting was animated by Kinesys motors. Tim explains: “At the top of the show, the festoon is draped over the B-stage, and on a cue, as the boys are entering, it picks up to form this chandelier. And we could create this kind of animated sine-wave of festoon bulbs - an amazing effect - and very cost effective.”

Long known as a leading lighting programmer, Tim turned full-time LD in 2012 following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, for which he was Durham Marenghi’s associate LD, and the London Olympics Ceremonies, for which he designed the lighting control system and was lead programmer. The timing was right, and he hasn’t looked back. He has lit theatre tours for Gary Barlow and Katherine Jenkins, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Ceremonies, Take That’s 2015 arena tour and other solo and TV outings for Barlow, among many other shows. His work extends beyond music to TV, corporates and sporting events, and beyond lighting to full creative design services, as with ELO.

Facing page : Tim Routledge (left) and Tom Young pictured at Tim’s studio in south-west London.

He adds: “I’m really glad that we took that tour on, because artistically it worked very well - far more so than one might have originally anticipated.”

As the workload has intensified, Tim has found an invaluable resource in programmer Tom Young. A 2013 graduate of Rose Bruford’s Creative Lighting Control

30 LSi - July 2016

So how did Tom get from Rose Bruford to Tim’s design studio? Tom explains: “While at Bruford, I was shadowing Andy Voller at East Molesey (PRG), while Andy and Tim were programming the Olympics. Andy had come in to Rose Bruford to help with a concert lighting project. It was PRG equipment - and he’s one of the leading programmers on their console.” I ask Tom how, of all those on his course, he came to be the one to shadow Andy Voller? “I just asked him!” he says. “And through that I met Tim. I wanted to be a programmer and Tim was doing a lot of MA2 at the time. I ended up shadowing him at the Royal Albert Hall. He asked me if I’d do some show file prep for another show, and that was where it started.”

Most of what we do is about strong looks with great timing . . . Tom finesses those looks and offers up those solutions.” “We’ve had an exceptionally good year,” says Tim. “Not every year will be like this. But it’s given us the ability to choose a little bit more, and decide where we want to be.” So what’s next? “We’ll be doing the next series of X Factor,” says Tim. “That’s a co-design with Nigel Catmur - he and I are doing alternate weeks - and Tom will be programming the whole series . . . TV is a growing side for us.” At the time of my visit, ELO were still to play Glastonbury and two new, bespoke shows with new designs in LA and NYC. Tom was busy programming Take That’s summer shows for Hyde Park and was also set to do some festival dates for Busted. Looking further ahead, Tim reveals an ambition to light Eurovision one day - but then we would probably have to win it first. Until then, there’s plenty more in the pipeline - watch this space . . .


degree course, Tom programmed the Rahmanishq tour by A R Rahman in Calcutta for Tim, and was one of his programmers on the 2014 Commonwealth Games Ceremonies and the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards. He has also designed and programmed many shows at the Royal Albert Hall. Tim says: “Tom has certainly freed me up to spend more time creatively. If I’m looking at the desk, or worrying about patch or data, then I’m not focusing on the show. That has absolutely helped to improve the way our shows look.”

> www.timroutledge.co.uk > www.bruford.ac.uk

Of Tom’s degree course, Tim says: “Rose Bruford has the Lighting Design course, which is more about pure ‘light’ as art . . . and then there’s the Creative Lighting Control course, which deals with lighting design but also with consoles, media servers and projection mapping - anything that puts out data. It has a more technical base and, for my needs, it’s possibly the better of the two courses.” I ask Tom, does he have design ambitions? “I’m much happier behind the console,” he says - despite which he has successfully completed many designs, and continues to work collaboratively with Tim. Tim says: “Tom is more technical - he sees in zeros and ones! But he’s also artistic and he is developing an eye for design, to the point that he deputises for me on Gary Barlow and Take That shows when I’m not available, and I know I can trust him to keep the design in the same vein. Actually, a lot of the ‘art’ comes out of the console, in the programming.


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First Look: PLASA 2016 The PLASA Show, sponsored by Robe & Chauvet, is striving for a more interactive showcase for 2016. Here, in the first part of our show preview, we take a look at some early expected highlights . . . UK - Attracting a diverse variety of brands, the PLASA Show (18-20 September, London Olympia), will offer visitors exciting product showcases, hands-on educational content and the chance to see some of the industry’s latest product innovations for the first time, right in the heart of London. On top of this, the show will feature the launch of invaluable networking functions and a new show party, sponsored by ArKaos, Production Park and Robe. It is hoped that these new initiatives will encourage more business conversations in the relaxed and social atmosphere that PLASA is renowned for.


As widely reported, PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) recently appointed Peter Heath as its new managing director. Peter has spent a large proportion of his career within the entertainment industry - including 19 years at Roland where most recently he held the position of Head of Europe Pro AV. As such, PLASA believes that Peter is very much in-tune with the marketplace - particularly the audio sector. Working alongside the PLASA team, he is currently in the process of streamlining the PLASA business, reviewing all products and adapting the offerings.

32 LSi - July 2016

He comments: “I am working closely with the PLASA Board and the team here at PLASA to develop the association and ensure its offering is relevant to the current needs of the Members and our industry. A key part of the association is the Events division and our flagship show in London. “We are striving to deliver a renewed and refocused show based on feedback received from the industry. 85% of our audience supported the change of date line and also the move back to the heart of West London - the hub of the

entertainment community and more accessible to the international attendees which make up one-fifth of our audience. “We are currently working closely with brands right across the industry to increase the value of our offering through content and interactivity. The 2015 show attracted £3billion of combined purchasing power - so we are focusing on how we can continue this trend and facilitate more opportunities for informal business conversations. With registration for the show already 30% ahead of 2015, we are positive we are focusing and streamlining the PLASA Show to the current needs of the industry.” >www.plasashow.com Seminars, forums & more . . . Bringing a wide range of global experts together to share their insight and experience, the programme of seminars will again be a key feature of the PLASA Show. The first tranche of seminar sessions was recently announced, featuring a diverse array of fascinating and thought-provoking subjects. Two seminar theatres, plus product demo areas and interactive showcases are set to be situated on the Gallery floor of Olympia. Every session in the PLASA 2016 Seminar Programme is free-to-attend, with subjects including audio, lighting, AV, staging and business skills being covered. Early highlights include the return of LSi’s Audio File columnist Phil Ward with more popular panel sessions on a variety of subjects including immersive sound technologies, managing perimeter sound and mixing on tablet computers.

The PLASA Awards for Innovation have long been respected for being independently and impartially judged by an invited team of industry experts. Entries must meet one of the following ‘Innovation’ criteria: demonstrate a new style of thinking; improve technical practice; introduce new technology, new material or new techniques; include patents or unique intellectual property; offer a new commercial advantage or improve safety. The annual Gottelier Award - recognising the people behind the innovations - will also be presented at the show. It aims to recognise those product developers who have made significant and long-term contributions to the advancement of entertainment, presentation or installation technology - whether in audio, lighting, rigging, staging, or any other related field.

> www.plasashow.com/awards

“I’ve chosen this year’s panel discussions based on a handful of topics that have really caught my eye as LSi magazine reports, month-in month-out, on the industry’s activities,” says Phil. “Some keep coming round every time, but there are always new voices to join the conversation. I’m sure that the panels will once again represent the most authoritative of these voices.” Zoe Milton from the Association of Sound Designers (ASD) is another returning presenter, with a session titled Pin The Mic On The Actor. The ASD will also be hosting further seminars on sound design, while Soulsound will present another audio-themed session guaranteed to inspire debate, as live sound engineer Jon Burton asks Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Analogue?

comparing the differing requirements for the two disciplines and offering solutions for the two audiences. Of course, the PLASA 2016 Seminar Programme will have plenty for visual specialists. A highlight is guaranteed to be renowned lighting designer Durham Marenghi describing the journey taken to create the lighting production for the opening and closing ceremonies of July’s Rio Olympics, while James Simpson from the Royal Opera House will be discussing visualisation technologies. “I’m delighted to be involved in the PLASA 2016 Seminar Programme and have the opportunity to share some major new developments in visualisation technologies with the PLASA community,” says James.

A further session hosted by Soulsound will look at fundamental issues of a different kind, as Justin Grealy presents his thoughts on Roadie Etiquette, while actress and arts marketing specialist Samantha Baines will be running a masterclass on the most effective use of social media for freelancers.

The show will also host a Eurovision Song Contest production masterclass by Eurovision’s technical director Ola Melzig and lighting designer Fredrik Jonsson, who return to PLASA to discuss the design and technical challenges of this year’s spectacular show.

Elsewhere, Simon Bishop from the Institute of Professional Sound will discuss Good Sound - What is it, and how can we get it right? and Broadcast Meets Live Sound -

Another great session being featured at the show is Sadlers Wells: New Technology for the Stage, presented by Emma Wilson, Sadler’s Wells director of technical

Extra Curricular Activities . . . During the show, London buzzes with parties, awards ceremonies and parallel events, creating an exciting environment that deepens and strengthens the relationship between manufacturers, distributors, rental houses, dealers and end-users. 2016 is set to kick-start a successful new era for the industry-led PLASA Show, so make sure you register today at the web address below.

> www.plasashow.com/register

Rigging Conference returns to PLASA!

The PLASA show will again host the PLASA Rigging Conference - sponsored by Unusual Rigging and Outback Rigging. One of the most important annual meeting places for the professional rigging community, the conference focuses specifically on rigging for the live entertainment industry. 2016 sessions will include an attempt to decipher the chain of responsibilities involved in staging a production and discuss who is responsible for what, and to whom. This is something that many of us struggle with, and the introduction of CDM has highlighted the issue. A panel of industry experts representing promoters, production managers and contractors will debate the issue with the help of regulators and enforcers. The opening presentation is by Rocky Paulson, well-known rigger and founder of California-based Stage Rigging Inc. Rocky retired some years ago but is still regarded as one of the pioneers of what is known as rigging in the entertainment industry world-wide. Held on Monday 19 September the session hosts up to 20 international speakers and panelists and attracts 150 delegates from across the globe.

> www.plasashow.com/prc

production and Christian Wallace, technical manager. This session will highlight significant improvements of the theatre’s systems and technical collaborations and, as London is the heart of the creative industry, PLASA is the perfect platform to showcase such collaborative projects to designers and technical engineers. As well as the popular Seminar Programme, the show will also feature the Rigging Conference and Forum (see above) as well as audio demo sessions, interactive technical workshops, light shows and experiential features. The full PLASA 2016 Seminar Programme will be announced soon. For more information and to register interest in attending any of the sessions, please visit:


Innovation is at the heart of the entertainment production industry, and is therefore a hugely important element of the PLASA Show. To celebrate the latest advances in technology, the PLASA Awards for Innovation, sponsored by LSi magazine, will take place on the Monday of the show. These awards aim to recognise and reward new product ideas and are open to show exhibitors and PLASA members to enter. Nominated products will be showcased on the show floor within the PLASA Innovation Gallery.


Innovation at the fore . . .

> www.plasashow.com/seminars LSi - July 2016



30 Years Ago . . . LSi July 1986 “Burnham is back” we announced, as the TBA Technology part of the recently-defunct Tim Burnham Associates was purchased by ARRI GB, with Burnham himself heading the new operation Imagination Technology Ltd. Burnham described the move as “a tremendous opportunity to carry forward the work which began with so much promise at TBA.” There was news from Australia of company expansion, as Peter Kemp, of Melbourne-based Getlit had formed a new branch of his company called Wired for Sound, which would import and distribute a wide range of pro audio equipment.

We also reported on Eurovision, hosted by Norway that year. Lighting was controlled via two Strand Gemini desks - one for the 10 Pancan fixtures in the rig, the other for “the rest of the stage and auditorium lighting”. We also featured a profile of Technical Projects Ltd - the Isle of Wight-based designer and manufacturer of communications and test equipment. Company founder Sam Wise told LSi: “One of the unfortunate things about intercoms is that it is never the most important thing the customer is buying . . . [only] at the end they think about intercoms. So, often the money comes out of what’s left over.”

20 Years Ago . . . LSi July 1996 Martin Professional and Strand Lighting had ended the OEM agreement which had seen the Danish manufacturer producing the Hyperbeam automated luminaires for Strand. The two companies “continue to enjoy friendly relations,” we reported. Also featured in this issue was the production of the Prince’s Trust Masters of Music show in Hyde Park. Unusual Services put the site together under the guidance of Chuck Crampton, and production manager was Mick Double. Stage design was by Jonathan Park, lighting was provided by LSD, Meteorlites and Vari-Lite, with design by Tom Kenny. Sound system design was by

Spencer-Hey Associates, a new company formed earlier that year by ex-Brit Row men Steve Spencer and Chris Hey, with sound equipment sourced from Audio Rent (Switzerland) and Clair Bros (USA). Ton Panico of Meteorlites was pictured with Tom Kenny and lighting crew chief Paul Hawkes. We profiled Britannia Row Productions, celebrating its 21st anniversary this summer. Mike Lowe said: “Operating a sound rental company is . . . like operating a mixing console. One fader is your kit, others drive the service, technical back-up and so on. And you are constantly adjusting that mix.”

10 Years Ago . . . LSi July 2006 ‘Strand acquisition sees 60 redundancies in UK’ said our main news headline in this issue. The revered British manufacturer had been bought by US-based general lighting giant Genlyte Group, which already owned Vari-Lite. We reported that 80 Strand employees in Los Angeles and 22 in Hong Kong would join the Genlyte organisation, but the UK operation was closed with immediate effect, and all 60 staff laid off.


The other major acquisition news was that of Telex Communications - owner of pro audio brands including Electro-Voice, Dynacord, Midas and Klark-Teknik - by

34 LSi - July 2016

Bosch for $420m. Telex’s president of Pro Audio Worldwide, Matthias von Heydekampf, had reassured the company’s partners: “Once you have looked at Bosch and how they run their business, I’m sure that you will share my optimism about the future of Telex and the Pro Audio Group under their leadership.” Also in this issue: ETC unveiled the ‘Playhouse at Gypsy Corner’, its new, theatre-themed London office; Tony Andrews of Funktion-One was interviewed; Imagination’s lighting department was profiled; and we provided an update on the BEIRG campaign and the threat posed by Ofcom’s proposed sell-off of radio spectrum.

ontour After the terrific excess of Eurovision last month it was a real pleasure to walk down the road to Sheffield City Hall and see just one Redburn Transfer 45-footer parked outside. “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to get such a lovely show into one truck,” said production manager Richie Clark by way of confirmation. “John Henrys supplied all the stage set for us, the backdrop is from Rock Drops. It has worked out really well.” Steve Moles reports . . .

The surprise in the one truck confinement is the stage set. I was expecting two risers and a backdrop, instead there’s a proper bit of set - back walkway, one tier down, central steps, handrail, the whole thing. Put some light on it and the stage is transformed; even a little gobo chase splashed across it adds some dimension to a slow ballad. Of course, all this means tight crewing: the lighting system is all the job of lighting operator Andy Rowe, there are two sound crew, and Knight’s doughty backline crew put up the set. I didn’t find anyone moaning - a happy band. FOH Sound: Robin Tombs Having heard from Capital Sound that the tour was using Martin Audio’s MLA Compact, I was eager to hear what is, for me, a new beast. Even better, the system tech’ was Liam Halpin, a man unafraid to tell it like it is. What did FOH mixer Robin Tombs think? “Liam? He’s a bit of a Jedi. He’s made the system work every night and in some fairly peculiar places.” The tour has visited venues as varied as the London Palladium, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and the Wolverhampton Slade Rooms. Traditionally, Knight always plays her hometown gig at Wolverhampton Civic, but it’s in the midst of refurbishment. “We used the house system there,” said Tombs, with something of a raised eyebrow. Tombs said: “Budget and truck space influenced a change to SD10 for this tour. Typically, I’ve been using Avid desks for [Beverley] for some time, but have used DiGiCo for other artists.” Tombs regularly takes the FOH mantle for Morcheeba and has mixed Razorlight for several years. He also mixes monitors for Grace Jones brave man. “I’d used an SD9 for Morcheeba and really liked it. Having been on one desk for so long, when I made the change to DiGiCo I was surprised by the difference. It’s more dynamic, more open - and I get the feeling I have more headroom.”

We had a brief discussion about the relative impact of ageing digital control surfaces. “For the last couple of years I’ve been using DiGiCo more and more. I got to mix Beverley on an SD7 for a BBC Hyde Park festival and really liked it. With the SD10 I was offered for this tour, there were several considerations, starting with its small size.” Every piece of technology for this tour was rated on size and how it affected the truck pack. Tombs continues: “It seems well laid out, it’s a desk I could walk up to and understand immediately. It arrived at rehearsals and I did have to give a re-think to what I do for the show, but actually that proved to be a benefit. I could route anything to anything - for example, I could route into a channel, out to a group, and back to an input channel easily. Likewise in the way I manage her voice - or with the drummer. He has three different snares; they’re right on top of each other and the top snare triggers the gate on the bottom snare. You could do that any way you like, it’s got versatility.” Tombs then qualified: “You do tend to experiment. Then I go back to doing things in simpler ways.” But the key there is that he has the latitude and ease of operation to make those forward and backward experiments. What of the band? “Just four musicians, drums, two guitars and keyboards, and three BVs. For some shows we have a live two-piece brass section as well.” I sensed immediately that Tombs wished they were there every night. “I really notice the difference between live brass and the track - the dynamics really punch through. That’s important, this is more of a visual show than she’s done in previous years,” (Tombs has mixed Knight for six years.) “The fact there is a stage set is new - she starts the show up on the back platform, it’s a nod to her new audience that saw her perform in the West End,” (Knight took the lead in the Whitney Houston movie musical The Bodyguard, and to much acclaim). “In that sense, it sounds like a gig, but looks more like a show. It has brought in a new audience and has tempered her show. She’s even more energetic and it has raised everyone’s game, including mine. It’s a very exciting show to do and the 90 minutes passes in a flash.” “Interestingly, apart from her MD who has been with her for 21 years, and two of the BVs, this band is all new. We’ve only been on the road for nine shows and the music has grown, getting louder and more confident with each day. We started in Ipswich, went to Southend and Bournemouth, and then to the Palladium - that’s when it went up.” LSi - July 2016


There is a qualification to that in terms of lighting - they do pick up whatever is available in house at each venue - but on balance I’d say it’s the right place to make the compromise. Without a focus firmly on sound, this performance would struggle. There is an infinite variety to the human voice, and Beverley Knight is certainly one of its finer exponents. Soulsville is her latest album, only just released as her tour ends. It’s as fine an exposition on the nuance, subtlety and power of blues, soul, gospel and R&B (that’s the real stuff from way back when) that you’d ever want. And she can do all that live - no artificial additives here. So as I said, a focus on sound is essential.


ontour Politely skipping the Wolverhampton show, how about the Bridgewater Hall? Surely a tricky room for those not accustomed to a modern classical venue? “I’ve mixed there three times before,” he paused. “Interesting room.” Personally, I’d have rated it just too clean and clinical for her style of gutsy, soul-infused blues R&B, and a bit too lively. “But she’s a pro’ and can adapt her performance to any hall.” The more interesting thing to ponder is the sheer variety of venues, but that’s more a discussion with Tombs’ system tech, Liam Halpin, later . . .


Tombs says: “What I like about this system is its quite high fidelity, that’s down to Liam. Normally I’d be quite nervous, in particular about the higher frequencies. I’ve done a lot of work with d&b J-Series and this package, desk and system, has made me mix in a different way. But I had experienced the bigger MLA system at the Volt festival in Hungary and though I initially thought it’s a brighter sounding system, what I have found now is it’s really stable. In that sense I’m confident and comfortable and feel free to hit it quite hard when I want to. It doesn’t get abrasive and it doesn’t tire the ears.”

38 LSi - July 2016

On her heavier stuff - and she had more than I remembered he does crank it. It’s worth noting that Knight has quite a mature audience, but they are a hip bunch: mainly couples, they’re on their feet for most of the night and not just swaying, they’re swinging and stepping and having a good time. So energy thoughtfully applied, as Tombs indicated, works entirely well. “It responds well to the clubby stuff, and when she sings a ballad it sounds like a ballad - you’re not always chasing the mix. You’re not continually adjusting between songs, it’s naturally versatile in that way. And it doesn’t sound over-processed, so it’s pleasant to mix on. There’s never a point in any show where I’ve thought ‘oh’ - and reached for the EQ. It just keeps coming. I do pull the odd

thing here and there, but I’ve been getting good reports. Her management are very happy; as a question of budget they can now see why we spent the money.” I ventured he is fortunate in having a consummate vocal performer. “She is an amazing performer, and that’s half the battle.” Reverting to her voice, what about microphone? Knight has a broad dynamic and musical range. “After a long time we have switched to a Sennheiser 965 - it can take the pressure. We did a Christmas show down at St Luke’s on Old Street [rehearsal home of the London Symphony Orchestra] and they had some 945s and 965s. I don’t often use condensers on her but the 965 sounded great - it really gave her voice something else. It takes out the bark and adds an extra sheen. Now she’s used to it, we will stick with it. And the 945s I use for the BVs, when they’re belting it out, as they do for the Earth Wind and Fire cameo while she goes off for a costume change.” “The rest of the mics are all pretty standard. The drum kit is a monster - it must take half of the 48 inputs. But the drummer is a very considerate player; sometimes I have to tell him to just hit the thing. We’ve always been blessed with a good level of musicianship. There are eight channels of playback - strings, brass, that sort of thing. All vocals are completely live.” I spotted a pair of d&b M2 wedges centre stage. “She has been back to wedges before, but we’re all on IEMs for now. Before, the BVs were on wedges but it restricted movement and, as I said, this is a lot more lively show. They use the wedges for the EW&F interlude, when they come down centre stage. Again, getting everyone back to in-ears has saved on truck space.” As said, Capital Sound provides all the gear and pushed Tombs towards the SD10. “I’ve worked with them a lot down the years

Good news for Capital, and well deserved. This was great to listen to. Down at the front edge of the sideburns of the first balcony was entirely bearable; the drop to the back seats lost only level, not fidelity. There were times when Knight had nowhere to hide, just her voice and an acoustic guitar; it’s her quieter numbers that reveal she’s not just another big voice who can belt out a good gospel song. Tombs had structure in his mix - the Hammond panned slightly stage left of centre, the kit stage right. That could have been the weird City Hall acoustics, especially with the drum kit - but I like to think Tombs made the effort to give the audio some landscape to rest on. Monitors: Simon Panos Simon Panos is a warm, engaging son of South Africa and has been with Knight since 2011. A former resident of London, he moved back to Cape Town to start his family in 2013. Credits include working with Rudimental and Katy B and he has mixed at both ends of the snake. He burns a candle for a local band back in his native SA: “Beatenberg - they’ve been picked up by Mumford & Sons and will be playing over here this summer.” As for Knight: “She’s a lovely lady to work for, she is very loyal, and it was so nice to be asked back.” Like Tombs, Panos sees change derived from her success in the West End. “This is a lot more energetic show than her last tour. There’s a lot of energy and good vibes on stage, and we see that in the audience: there is a new cross-section to the crowd, with people who know her from her West End success.” So what of the job in hand? “I have the cutdown SD10 (SD10-24), the same as Robin. It’s small format, perfect for everything I need. It’s the first time I’ve toured with DiGiCo, though I have used their boards for one-offs.

“The show is not snap-shot heavy; all the track stuff is consistent level. There are a few cues, but generally this is a manual operation mix. The mix for everyone has been stable since band rehearsals, so I’m just responding to the things she might ask for day-to-day. The stage sound is simple, the kit is the biggest thing, but the guitars are mic’d, so if they’re turned up I trim as we go.” Doesn’t sound too taxing? “No, we don’t even have a drum screen. For me, she has the most powerful voice I’ve ever encountered so I’m not fighting for gain. In fact, she used to overwhelm her old mic, so the move to the 935 is a big help for me. The IEM system is all Shure, ten channels of PSM 1000 and a pair of PSM 900 for when we get live brass. We do still carry a pair of d&b M2 wedges which are positioned centre stage (see Tombs’ explanation above) . . . But they are a useful safety-net - we did have a wardrobe/beltpack problem after one costume change. We’re nine shows in now and settled. What I would say about the desk is that I find the workflow a lot quicker. These boards are longer to setup, but once you have what you want they’re just so easy.” System Tech: Liam Halpin Liam Halpin has appeared in these pages many times before. A highly-rated tech for all things d&b, here he is running a Martin Audio MLA Compact system for Capital. “It’s certainly a new system for me,” he explained. “I did the MLA course last year after TCT (the Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall). That was shortly after I’d done the Array Processing course with d&b. From my

LD Steve Bewley “Originally my brief came from Beverley and her MD Gareth, mainly ideas around how the set-list would run and how they envisaged the scenic transitions between different parts of the set. I took those loose, fairly undefined ideas, interpreted them, and then drew up some 3D renders in WYSIWYG. The light bulbs, the visual presence of those big filaments, that was my response to an idea they had suggested.” Bewley got it right first time; Knight agreed all those initial renders - not bad, seeing as this was his first time designing for her. “Our tour manager Richie (Clark) and I have worked together a lot over the years; he put me up for the job,” he says.


Normally I’d have a Profile or Midas PRO6 or PRO9. This was just a lot smaller footprint, but it fits: I have 12 stereo in-ear mixes plus all the thumper and reverb sends, maybe another 10 mono. Every BV has their own distinct reverb. Last tour, all three shared a pair of wedges on centre, that limited me in what I could put in them, and it limited them in terms of how they could move on stage. Now they’re much more part of the choreography of the show and that switch to all in-ears lets me tailor their mix to what they want individually.

There are two distinct features that set the ’50s tone, the light bulbs you mentioned, and the 5kW floods. “The bulbs worked perfectly. Although they appear random, they’re actually rigged in bars of six, and you can shrink in the ones at the end. That meant that no matter what the venue, we could always fit them in.” And the sheer variety of the tour meant Bewley was well advised to make such flexibility a consideration in his deign. “The old 5k floods with the LEDs pre-existed and were suggested to me by Richie - I think they belong to Razorlight who he also TMs for. They gave me the atmospheric impact of their presence, and a very adequate variable colour flood. With so much of the show lit by what we could get from each venue, we obviously called ahead to see exactly what was available. I had a minimum requirement for a dozen profiles and followspots. The key light was essential.” He might have been spoilt at the Palladium as lighting director Andy Rowe says in the main text, but not so everywhere. Personally, I find it refreshing to encounter a lighting designer not intimidated by a minimal lighting tool-kit. “In fairness, this never had to be a big, ballsy show. The overall look of the stage was determined by the set, not by having the newest lighting technology.” Well said that man. Of Rowe’s MA2 Light, he says: “I’ve been using MA2 since they came out, they just make my life a hell of a lot easier, particularly in the way you can customise them to your workflow.” Specifically? “This tour is a good example, where from one venue to the next you’re working with different sized stages and equipment, there are so many things in the desk that help you manage that. DMX Search: if the house guy hasn’t got his patch up to scratch - and in busy houses that can so often be the case - it just makes sorting that so easy. They make the cleverest things simple.”

LSi - July 2016


and they’ve always been Bev’s provider; they’ve always done Grace Jones as well. Hopefully, when Morcheeba go out at the end of this year we’ll use the same - definitely the SD10.”



perspective they’re similar concepts: because Martin has an amplifier channel per individual driver it does offer greater resolution in the system. For the MLA Compact we have here, there are five amplifiers for each box - four HF drivers off two channels, two 5” mids off two channels, and the pair of 10”s off a single channel.” Quite a distinct difference. Has he thought about the differences between the two? “We’re nine shows in and so far we haven’t rigged even a similar system twice, so not yet. But it has been interesting. These advanced sound reinforcement systems are becoming more prevalent and, in a way, Martin should be feeling a little bit smug - they got there first. What I like is the amount of variation. You can do anything with this - fly it upside down if you like. It’s a full digital drive, AES to the Lakes, redundant fibre to the MLA. Simple. I do the system set-up with Tuning Capture a lot less annoying than pink noise for forty-five minutes.” Any faster? “A bit faster than Smaart, but depends on the venue generally.” Sheffield City Hall has its own unique considerations for audio: it’s probably as awkward a room as any system tech could encounter. How has this been for Halpin? “Handling the rig - it’s friendly enough. The thing that surprised me originally is how light the system is, especially when you consider all the amp channels inside. I think this is around 50kg a cabinet. I’ve certainly had no weight issues at any venue. It’s consistent straight out the box though the software requests from me have tended to be similar. Any EQ you do tends to apply throughout the room. I like it.”


Crew, from top:

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Lighting director: Andy Rowe Steve Bewley did the lighting design and very distinctive it is, but he is not here to drive the show. That role falls to Andy Rowe. “I’ve done quite a bit for him (Bewley),” he explains, but Rowe also does his own design work, most recently for Ben Howard.

Lighting director, Andy Rowe. LR: Simon Panos (monitors) and Finlay Watt (Capital Sound). Above left: System tech Liam Halpin. Above right: Robin Tombs at FOH sound.

The rig is startlingly minimal - just a handful of moving heads scattered around the stage set, some big movie studio 10kW (the physical shells at least) on stands, two either side of stage. And a bunch of large (maybe 6” globes) incandescent light bulbs hung in an arch overhead. “Yes, it’s a simple rig and we do tap into whatever the house can give us each day. It’s all from PRG: the 10ks have i-Pix BB7 inside them; the movers on stage are

And you can’t fault Bewley’s design nor Rowe’s operation: that’s exactly what you get - even the more modernist twist from the Vari*Lites doesn’t detract from this simple premise of dated studio look. “Steve and I had several conversations about how the rig would be used, and we also talked with the choreographer. I programmed the desk working from a sheet of instructions from Steve, and there was no rehearsal. The big thing is that venue-to-venue the rig changes. Here I’m just taking some front light from the house system, mainly ETC Source Four Profiles; at the London Palladium I used almost a hundred fixtures. I do use some blue wash from overhead here as well.” The City Hall doesn’t have a stage rig as such, just a uniformly distributed set of single hung PAR 64s attached to the flying grid, and not many at that, but Rowe squeezed what he could. There are a modest amount for profiles out along the balcony edge and these worked hard and effectively, entirely in the idiom of the show. “I also have the two house followspots - they’re always on for her. We open the show with some big looks, the first four songs feature lots of colour and are big, open looks. Then we pull back to a more conservative studio look - lots of straw and other warm colours, back light, silhouettes, that sort of thing. But the big opening is classic Beverley. “The show is a balance between those two looks, the classic for her many hits, what her fans are used to, and the more mannered look that


suits her new album and the music she is now exploring. The Sunstrips I ride, and also the bulbs - it’s different levels of intensity that brings variety to the show. Nothing too complicated, over the hour and forty-five minutes of the show we’re just trying to make sure nothing looks the same. The BB7 are my main wash, so the stage is always side lit. The houses we have visited have been helpful, they have let me re-rig stuff, and bring stuff in for us. Steve did send out a spec’ sheet of his show rig to all the venues. To be honest, I haven’t seen it yet, but the houses have all been willing and helpful. Yes, I’d like a bit more overhead stuff in our rig - what we had at the Palladium was ideal - but the reduced lighting rig is a compromise to the set. It’s down to truck space, but then the stage set really adds to the show: It does make it look much bigger than it is.” As an after-thought I asked about the dimmers. “Racks are an Avolites 48-channel and Pulsar 36-channel, both in incredible condition, especially the Pulsar which I use just for the floor lights. Personally, I love doing stuff like this.” Good man. Rowe is using an MA2 Lite “I will use anything really; this desk is Steve’s. The versatility of the board is definitely a help - it’s great from the point of view of quickly patching dimmers. And you can do literally anything.” Rowe runs a tight show filled by nuance and subtlety - this is not Janet Jackson. The trick is not to do something just because a cue presents itself. Moderating his work brings rhythm to the changes and they’re all stronger for his restraint. Personally, I wish the 10kWs were positioned asymmetrically just to break the rectangle of stage, but they were used that way on occasions, so it’s a moot point. On balance, this was a show about balance. No-one in the audience could feel short-changed by the presentation, and certainly not by the performance, which was strong enough for me to order a copy of Soulsville the next morning.


seven VL2500s - Sunstrips line just about every horizontal edge of the set. As for the bulbs, there are 48 of them in the air, and another 12 on stands dotted about the stage. They’re standard 300W ES (Edison Screw) and, as you can imagine, we travel with two racks of dimmers. I can’t remember the last time I travelled with dimmers.” Fortunately, not too long: Rowe is the sole member of the lighting crew and does everything himself, including patching the racks. “The whole idea is a ‘50s look - the specific brief was to look like a ‘50s recording studio, and to look pretty.”

LSi - July 2016



The Shend interrogates video guy Andy Coates Turn someone in for questioning . . . E-mail: crewcuts@lsionline.co.uk

Crewperson: Andy Coates

QuartsComposer, Sketchup, C4d, AutoCAD.

Age: 36 Location: UK Job: Video programmer / technology integrator / system designer

Most crucial invention since you started out? The advancements in the miniaturisation of technology. What do you never leave home without when working? Passport and my OP1 synth’, though I’ve managed to leave the OP1 at the Royal Court and haven’t gotten round to picking it up.

Recent Activity? Lumiere London, projection mapping Janet Echelman’s 1.8 sculpture above Oxford Circus [see cover of LSi April 2016]. Recently been projecting onto mountain sides in Spain for a car advert.


Worthy Past Glories? Creating the media server and pixelmapping the bus for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, London, 2009. LED system design and custom server for the UK Pavilion at the Milan Expo. Sochi winter Olympics - custom software for critical data handling allowing LX to trigger the climax of the opening ceremony. No pressure.

Proudest moment? Being part of the Sochi ceremony team; pulling off what should have been impossible in the time-frame and conditions. Best gig while working? A really small gig in Tynemouth: my mate’s company, Nitelites, were helping put on a surf party in a tiny venue. I was VJ’ing, Shaun was on LX and Pimpy was on sound, it was hilarious. Best gig as a punter? Nitelites were doing production for James Bay at Hammersmith Apollo recently and have to say it was a bloody good show.

Why are you what you are? Curiosity, pressure and being thrown in at the deep end. I’ll always remember Jim Tinsley saying to me “Don’t run away little Andy Coates as I’ll find you.” This was when I was struggling to get the server and the LED working on Priscilla.

Biggest nightmare on the job? Getting 81 automation carriages working again on the Sochi Olympics after a storm had ripped the roof off the hangar and water rained in and froze on the electrics. Two teams of us worked dayshifts and nightshifts to get it running again.

Three best things about your job? Seeing things and going places most people will never see. Playing with new technology often breaking it, then making it work. The very good social life you have meeting new people and making new friends on various jobs.

Most irritating request from a member of the public, artist or promoter? “Can’t you just do it on a laptop?”

Three worst things about your job? Not being able to project black on to stage to make it darker. Windows firewall turning itself on randomly. Finding reasonable parking in central London.

What phrase sends a chill down your spine while working? “I think we’re going to have to make a trip to Maplins.”

Detail the equipment you use in an ideal world? d3 media servers, Panasonic and Christie projectors, MacBook, RazerBlade, Arduinos, PLCs. Software, vvvv,

42 LSi - July 2016

Artist from the past you’d most like to have worked for? I really wish I’d met Paul Daniels before he sadly passed away.

What invention would make your job easier? Self-driving cars they’re coming soon! What other member of the crew would you least like to be? A runner on a big corporate gig, answering to rude people.

Which other member of the crew do you take your hat off to? Those people from various departments who manage to remain calm, level-headed and funny under mass pressure. These people are gold dust. Name three best sounds and three best videos on the crew bus? I’ve only ever toured on a bus twice - once in 2004 for a Russian dance company going round the UK and second with Jonsi in 2010. I have to say, I prefer the Icelandic’s taste in music most. Most irritating thing on the crew bus and why? Snoring - though I’m just as guilty. Also I quite like wandering around in my pants in the morning and this isn’t always appreciated, even when wearing Marks & Spencer’s finest. Best hotel you’ve stayed at while working? I love the little, cozy independent ones. I stayed a night at the Coach & Horses in Cardross whilst working on Hinterland near Glasgow. Like all music journalists, are you really just a frustrated musician? I’m frustrated when I cant figure out the simplest thing sometimes. Artist you’d happily swap places with if you had the talent? Lennart Green - probably the best sleight of hand magician I have ever seen. Members of the audience you loathe the most? I can’t say I loathe any audience member. However, I just can’t comprehend the ones who spoil it for others and why? Any artists you’d happily spend time with socially? Most of the designers I’ve worked with. Best passing-through-customs anecdote? Trying to explain in Schiphol what the suspicious item was in my bag: it was four hard drives taped together with the cables hanging out . . . it did look a bit dodgy. Most bizarre sight you’ve ever seen at work? When Dinosaurs

Live was being rehearsed at Stage One in 2010 we would regularly see a set of raptors running across the car park. Favourite artist to work for? I can’t single out one - I’m lucky to have worked and continue to work with some really good artists and designers. Favourite food and drink on tour? I really like beluga gold and Edamame beans - not at the same time though. Favourite / Most hated venue? Favourite - The Royal Court, for the people who work there. I didn’t hate it but the Fisht Stadium in Sochi was so dodgy. Open air or under a roof? Under a roof, unless it’s dark and over 15°C and somewhere nice. Best item of clothing when working? Engelbert Strauss Gore-Tex insulated trousers: even in minus 12°C they are so warm. Closest you’ve come to death whilst touring? Working in a temperamental Russian sky jack I almost tipped Phil and myself out of the basket. We were 40m up and felt the basket tipping; we got to about 45° before I realised the controller had dropped in the basket. Turns out the dead-man’s switch on the button on the side of the controller didn’t do anything and had been bypassed. Most outrageous thing you ever did on tour? I was working in Orlando on the Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana doing pre-production. Simon, Ed and myself had just done a nightshift and as it was my first day (night) there, Simon insisted that we go for a drink after finishing nightshift at 09:00 in the morning. A few hours later I left the pub blind drunk turned left instead of right and to this day I’m not actually quite sure, but I think I ended up in an Asian couple’s living room, mistaking it for a restaurant. Most sensible thing you ever did on tour? Started running 5ks and writing a work blog. Email: andy@andy-coates.com


From heavy metal rock festival origins to a staple of live productions, Jerry Gilbert charts the rise

Photo: K Mazur/Getty Images, courtesy of Creative Technology


of big screen video . . .

44 LSi - July 2016

Tech Trail: Big Screen Video Once a static, clunky and cumbersome combination of projectors and displays, designed principally for stage image magnification (IMAG), it has developed into the most amorphous and creative hub in an event’s technical infrastructure. Graduating from early heavy metal rock festivals to the more foppish New Romantics movement of the 1980s, its traditional use in sports stadia and arenas today seems almost passé. The medium has migrated and now appears in every conceivable manifestation. According to Creative Technology CEO, Dave Crump, the original template has been “commoditised” and cascaded down “almost to village fete level”. However, he and creatives like Frederic Opsomer have consistently ploughed an empirical furrow into the unknown, most famously with U2’s PopMart tour and spectacular Games Opening and Closing Games ceremonies as far afield as Beijing, Doha and Baku. The latter believes that with these events “video has now really broken out of its physical mould”. When and how did this evolution take place? Actually there have been several major step changes. When CRT evolved into LCD/LED and both screens and projectors dropped their enormous payload and improved their acuity with razor sharp, solid-state pixels, nothing immediately changed at first. And then suddenly it did . . . At the start of the new millennium came the Catalyst digital media manipulation system, a magnum opus from Richard Bleasdale, Peter Wynne-Willson and Tony Gottelier, and the world of kinetic visuals went through its second paradigm change.

If innovators like Frederic Opsomer had already been delivering levels of immersion and altered images that would have been unimaginable several years earlier, then the radical departure in hardware came around the start of the new century, brought about by the invention of semi-transparent mesh screens from companies like Lars Wolf’s G-LEC (whose first semi-transparent screen product was introduced in 2000) and Element Labs. In 2006 Element Labs’ Stealth debuted on Madonna’s Confessions tour. More radically, it was followed by a stupendous custom architectural deployment of a 3,600sq.m screen for the opening of the Asian Games in Doha and CT Germany’s innovative application of a white Stealth screen for SAAB at the Paris Motor Show spearheaded by then MD Georg Rossler. Suddenly the medium had broken loose and was no longer the exclusive province of concert touring. Claas Ernst, who with Nils Thorjussen drove the early Element Labs innovation, recalls scrambling to meet that Madonna deadline in May 2006, given the rare opportunity to showcase unproven technology. “The show was a big success but we also learned a lot - especially about mechanics - and immediately implemented some modifications to make the product easier to rig,” he reports. Dave Crump flew in to the rehearsals in LA direct from Doha to review the processing system and thereby finalise the deal for the 15th Asian Games at the Khalifa International Stadium, a process that had seen Element Labs pitched against Frederic Opsomer and a rival solution from Barco using the MiPIX. Element Labs had built a massive display featuring 20,000 Versa RAY elements containing 762,000 RGB LEDs - the world’s biggest LED screen, measuring over 4,500sq.m. Dave Crump assisted with the procurement, recalling that “they paid US$7.5m for the screen for the opening and closing ceremonies, and that was without the structure cost . . . and afterwards it just became scrap!” This was two years before the recession, remember.


Of all the journeys fusing past and future technologies in our Tech Trail series, none can have travelled further than large-scale video, and its associated manipulation and delivery of content.

Opposite, from top: Imag for Spandau Ballet by Robot TV, 1983; LED on stage - U2’s PopMart tour, 1997; Robot TV again, with AC/DC at Nuremburg, 1984; Creative Technology provided the giant LED screen backdrop for rock’s biggest reunion - Led Zeppelin at London’s O2 Arena, 2007. The band’s 1979 Knebworth Park shows had been a landmark event for Robot TV. LSi - July 2016


auspicious event was attended “by about 150 stoners and a bunch of sheep.” You get the picture (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Significantly, the company that had originally provided the inspiration for Stealth was the Japanese outfit, Komaden, who at LDI 2005 had displayed a prototype of a transparent screen called Image Mesh. “Although it was far from tour-ready, you could see the transparent video

While Lee’s own fascinating early career of experimentation (with products like the Murraypro video synthesizer) had taken him through conventional light projection, Davies had been pulled into the first proper Glastonbury Fayre (in 1979) by the legendary

effect,” Claas remembers. Barco was soon to follow with products like its MiStrip creative pixel strips.

Bill Harkin, who had constructed the first Pyramid stage in 1971.

Yet such cheap shots fly in the face of genuine frontiersmen like Tim Davies, Richard Lee and technical genius, John Goodman, whose Robot TV broke through many barriers. It was they who largely kick-started the big screen revolution and got us to where we are today.

Photo: Steve Moles


And yet while much of the innovation back then came from Northern Europe and the USA, post recession the power brokers are found mostly in the Far East as the hegemony battle ramped up. Today, rental inventories increasingly stock an array of Chinese-manufactured and flexible curtains, soft LED mesh screens, lightweight, modular and with ultra-high pixel density from companies such as ROE Visual Co, Shenzhen AOTO Electronics, Unilumin and Absen.

As for radical developments in image processing, Frederic Opsomer singles out another Japanese visionary, Shinsaku Kikkawa from Chromatek. “He was always operating at a higher level and started making processors for the major Japanese companies way before the LED era.” But today he says the real innovation takes place in front of the processors, in the advanced world of media servers and motion tracking.

Above, from top: Creative Technology’s Dave Crump.


An animated LED screen took centre stage in the set design for U2’s 360 Tour. Frederic Opsomer pictured in front of the 360 stage.

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So let’s travel back in time to to somewhere near the beginning . . . in fact, the tiny and quaintly-named Cheshire village of Pott Shrigley where Starvision, manufactured by the equally quaintly-named English Electric Valve Company, made its UK debut in 1985 - covering the ‘Alternative Live Aid’ and standing by to relay the action on stage intermittently back to Wembley. The unlikely choice of location was probably a reaction by the production company Robot TV, after being refused permission from the Royal Parks authorities and GLC respectively for a relay to either Hyde Park or Trafalgar Square. According to a blog site, this far from

Ironically, the launch of Starvision virtually marked the swansong for Robot TV, whose large-scale projections in UK rock concerts had dominated the first half of the decade. Enshrined in the annals are landmark events such as the Knebworth Festival (a direct result of Tim’s earlier work for Harkin) when Led Zeppelin played concerts over two weekends in August 1979, while Hijack Productions (Robot TV in an earlier guise) covered the inaugural Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington in 1980 for promoter Paul Loasby. In fact the giant Eidophor projectors, manufactured by Gretag AG in Switzerland, had been used by Led Zep as far back as 1975. And for the 1984 Monsters festival at Donington Park (with AC-DC) when Robot TV projected a 40ft x 30ft image onto a craned-in 10m Harkness screen, they used a special souped-up 7000 lumens Eidophor, flown in from Switzerland (the effect nearly tripping up a flight coming into East Midlands Airport). But if Monsters of Rock represented logistical nightmares, manhandling huge tonnages of display and projection ironmongery onto site, the New Romantics idiom of the mid-80s was

Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, in particular, would ensure the movement espoused the big screen market. But it was the seminal 1986 Sigue Sigue Sputnik show at the Royal Albert Hall featuring the new Fairlight CVI computer video processor from Syco, a Kreon video wall, hotheads and Talaria projectors from General Electric, that was significant - for a number of reasons. Bono was in the audience that night - and legend has it that what he saw would provide him with the core inspiration for Zoo TV’s touring video. Whether fact or fable, certainly the use of mash-up, multi-screen video art from the Duvet Brothers - the degraded images in non-time based correction, with roll bars across the screen and using a technique known as non-additive mixing - would influence that tour. We have already established that the first wave of large screen projectors was characterized by some serious ordnance in the form of early oil film devices - notably the aforementioned Eidophor, and Talaria light valve projector. Weighing around 500 kilos (and representing a six- to eight-man lift) the Eidophor resembled

“Bono was in the audience that night - and legend has it that what he saw would provide him with the core inspiration for Zoo TV’s touring video.”

Initially rear projecting onto screen material generally supplied by Harkness, this largely predated the later CRT all-in one daylight screens, although the first huge Diamond Vision colour video-display system had been installed into Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles back in 1980. (Diamond Vision became established in the UK after two screens went into Twickenham rugby stadium in the early 80s, later replaced with Starvisions).


a slightly cut down (and hugely expensive) red telephone box in size but was considerably brighter than the GEs.

These huge beasts generally needed to be craned artfully into position behind the stage before later modularity and lighter aluminium chassis took over. Meanwhile, parallel advances were taking place in the burgeoning disco world by the mid-80s, and GE Talarias had even been installed in the UK’s leading discotheque, The Hippodrome in 1983, with its colossal infrastructural spend, and men like Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park leading Peter Stringfellow’s technology team. LED screens arrived in 1996, with companies like SACO and Invision, and the industry soon exploded with LED producers. But this was not before displayLED’s Graham Burgess, then general manager of Sony JumboTron, had turned the ‘JumboTron’ brand into the genericised trademark it was to become, before


more delicate, and witnessed the birth of new performance video techniques . . . tight camera shots turning into FX, such as dissolves, fades and slo-mo, which even then was threatening the role of the LD. It may have been where the phrase ‘vidiots’ was first coined in these early technical turf wars.

LSi - July 2016



later going on to become a director of another major big screen company, Lighthouse Technologies. JumboTron was simply one of the largest non-projection video displays ever manufactured. The other creative force arriving on the scene in the late 80s was Dave Crump. He had initially joined Link Electronics, who looked after UK distribution of both Eidophor, and later Talaria, back in 1983. Then in 1986 Avesco was formed as a joint venture between Steve Lakin’s major rental house Viewplan, and former Viewplan man Richard Murray. The young Dave Crump was asked to become general manager of their start-up daylight screen company, Screenco.

Screenco purchased the first Starvision systems, as Crump who coincidentally had been a projectionist on that Sigue Sigue Sputnik show - recognised that in the mid-80s it was only major stadiums around the world that could afford the capital investment of large screen video display for close-up views and replays. With a market gaping for transportable displays, the advantage of Starvision had been the incredible weight drop - typically dropping from 40 to 20 tons, and significantly requiring just one truck to transport. By the early 1990s the Gearhouse company, PSL, had appeared on the map, scoring a touring breakthrough when their Barco 5000 single lens LCD projector, rated at 2000 ANSI lumens, was used on Depeche Mode’s 1993 Devotional tour. PSL considered this to be the first stable LCD projector - easy to truck and it could be flown upside down. Devotional featured two large screens and nine smaller ones, and with Peter Gabriel’s Secret World tour out the same year, PSL believed that Barco - who would follow this up with the successful 8000 and 9000 Series - had made video reinforcement more economical and tour friendly.

Above, from top: Imag at London 2012 Opening Ceremony, by Creative Technology.


Video screen as performance: Closing Ceremony of the 2015 European Games in Baku (photo: Ralph Larmann). Coordinated projection: Athens 2004 (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images) The audience becomes the screen: the LED modules distributed at London’s Olympic stadium, 2012.

48 LSi - July 2016

Fuelled by this success, in 1998 Gearhouse formed an LED division to market the Rudi Enos designed (but short-lived) ‘Opti-Screen’. The system’s brief life reached its pinnacle in a massive 9m x 9m form at the famous Gatecrasher (GC2000) party held at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield which saw in the new millennium explode into life in some style. Another landmark event - and one of the Millennium party highlights. Also working within the Gearhouse Group were others who would become fundamental to the development of big screen in the ‘90s and ‘00s, notably Chris Mounsor, Lee Spencer and Des Fallon, who helped establish the new and

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“Everything about PopMart was new . . . the greatest accomplishment was bringing all these unknowns together and turning out a working video screen in six months.” Frederic Opsomer

predominant XL Video in March 2000 - initially as Nocturne Europe and today PRG XL Video. But, by the time LED screens started to dominate the early part of the new millennium, Frederic Opsomer had already consigned to history the old paradigm. And manufacturers like Barco and later Element Labs were ready to respond. To the public at large, the art form arguably reached its zenith at the 2012 London Olympics, where Dave Crump and Frederic Opsomer again worked together, with CT providing projection, playback production and LED, while the audience pixels were in the hands of Opsomer with Barco - along with Ai, who provided the server and mapping control.


The ‘wow factor’ was now being created by video mapping. Speaking of how he met the challenge of London 2012, the Belgian remarked: “During my years at Barco, we had

Above, from top: Robot TV’s Tim Davies. Take That tour with Stealth, 2007. G-LEC founder Lars Wolf. Nils Thorjussen and Claas Ernst of Element Labs.

Facing page: Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front tour, 2012.

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been working on the FLX platform which was designed to break the pixels loose from their Cartesian matrix. This resulted in products such as MiTrix, MiStrip and the single pixel products FLX 24 and FLX 60. “This platform proved to be the perfect backbone for a pixel installation in the stadium, although we had to replace the single pixel with a 9-pixel tablet.” He had been tasked with developing the 9-pixel tablet at short notice and then installing 72,000 of them in the new Olympic Stadium. “Mapping all the pixels in 3D space was a phenomenal task and there were a lot of safety considerations to take into account.” The installation required almost enough cable to stretch from London to Paris. With conventional video reinforcement now commoditised, the old shibboleths prevailed and the future was truly in the hands of the new age creatives. The ability to do things dynamically and map objects had created a tectonic shift. “Relaying opera via big screen to the Covent Garden piazza etc had become passé,” mused Dave Crump. So how had Opsomer’s own long and winding road led him to the vortex of the industrydefining PopMart, Zoo TV and 360° tours? He had become involved with the company VIP in 1986, while still a student. And when fellow

techtrail VIP/Lorimage, who were among several prominent Benelux companies touring daylight screens (including JVR), maintained a close connection with Philips Vidiwall, and this led to an introduction to U2, whose records at that time were distributed by Polygram, a Philips subsidiary. Seeking a new screen for the European leg of their Zoo TV tour, U2 were put in contact with VIP who proposed a new product under development called Digiwall - a rear projection cube developed by VIP in cooperation with Barco - with a customised version of the new Barco 700 as the projection engine. It was Opsomer’s responsibility to make this cube sufficiently ‘tourable’ to impress Zoo TV’s lighting and show designer, Willie Williams. When this huge wall made its debut, the fact that the 36 screens appeared with aircraft warning lights on top of the stacks spoke volumes about the scale. Around the same time, Marcel DeKeyzer arrived at VIP and set up the Lorimage US operation. But in 1995 Opsomer left to and set up his own business, as did DeKeyser - the former inaugurating System Technologies while the latter would become founding director of XL Video, moving out to the US to head up their North American operation. And as U2 started to plan the PopMart tour in 1996, which would take the world by storm throughout 1997, the band’s production were soon back in contact with Frederic Opsomer. This time the Williams/Fisher design included a massive backdrop videoscreen - measuring 706sq.m - but the proviso was that the system needed to be lightweight, transportable and bright.

They hoped the new LED technology would enable them to meet these criteria and considered several options, including a video ‘blanket’, with the LEDs on cargo netting - this was even prototyped at Brilliant Stages with Opsomer transferring it to aluminium. With LED in its embryonic state, the Belgian scoured the world, visiting LED-based companies in Taiwan, Japan, USA, UK and finally Canada. The one company that stood out was Saco. Saco was run by brothers, Fred and Bassam Jalbout, who supplied much of the LED inventory for Nocturne (now PRG Nocturne), including V Bright and V Light, and built the V9 LED display for Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope tour. On PopMart they were tasked with developing the electronic components for Opsomer to integrate in such a way that the 706sq.m of moving landscape could be set up in a couple of hours, require only two trucks to transport, and be handled by just four crew members. This was almost certainly the first videowall to be designed and built entirely by touring personnel - Fisher and Opsomer. But it needed the influence of another legend . . . “U2 decided to send an expert on rigging and touring project management, which was when Richard [Hartman] walked through the door,” remembers Opsomer. “He taught me everything I needed to know about concert touring and we have worked together on many more large scale projects such as PopMart, 360°, Athens Olympics and Sochi ceremonies. I have always seen him as my mentor in concert touring.” In a time span of just six months, development, prototyping, manufacturing, assembly and transport from Europe to Las Vegas of PopMart were accomplished. Reflecting today, he says: “Everything about PopMart was new: the technology, the size of the thing, the packing, the installation method, the companies involved . . . the greatest accomplishment was bringing all these unknowns together and turning out a working video screen in six months.”

The PopMart screen marked the birth of a new generation. While the concept was initiated by Williams and Fisher, it needed real faith to get the first one on the road, as the technology was far from mature. “There is only one band in the world who would engage in such a venture,” mused Opsomer, “and despite scepticism about LED technology, show designers saw a huge amount of new creative possibilities. It changed video in entertainment overnight.” Entirely as a consequence of PopMart, the demand for LED went into orbit. After Popmart, Opsomer’s System Technologies continued to focus on making LED screens transportable, developing systems and mechanical carriers in cooperation with Saco, Lighthouse, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and Hibino. He believes that had he also been given a say in the design of the electronics, life on the road could have been much easier still. But in 2005 he sold his company to Barco (where it was renamed Innovative Designs), since when he has remained central to many Barco product developments and tour designs. So what grand scale events remain most graphically and emotionally etched in Opsomer’s memory? The Closing Ceremony of the 2015 European Games in Baku is far up the list. “There we had 500 small video screens, all with the content on board which we steered from a central location,” he explains. “We were thus able to have a 100% freeform video display.” This saw the old creative team reunited, Opsomer developing the hexagons while CT built an LED floor system, creating three custom shaped stages around which the hexagons weaved their visual magic. Another feat of engineering and transportation that should be referenced is U2’s following 360° tour. In terms of both logistics and creative endeavour, the challenges involved in building, trucking and installing the ‘claw’ and 360° transformable LED wall with Barco FLX were even greater, as Opsomer explained. LSi - July 2016


Benelux company Philips launched their back-projected Vidiwall cubes VIP invested and offered Opsomer the position of operational and technical manager, his career in large format displays had begun.



Left: Stealth screen in the exhibition environment. Below: Stealth incorporated into an extravagant set design for Marco Borsato, 2008.

A technological breakthrough was linking image processing to the motion equipment - with processing now a major cog in the chain of motion control. The real innovation in pixel mapping was now coming from the combination of the mapping with other elements such as motion control. “For instance, each of the 500-plus elements on the Baku ceremonies had its own media server on board,” notes the designer. So how significant today had been the invention of lightweight transparent mesh LED panels? Claas Ernst admits the first time he had seen a transparent screen backdrop, let alone on such a scale, had been on PopMart and referred to the “genius” of Messrs Williams and Fisher.


If Madonna had marked the breakthrough for Stealth, as stated earlier, it was CT’s Georg Roessler and the creative team at SAAB (who had seen Stealth at prototype stage), who were set to migrate a product that was initially made for a stage into the stylish booth design at the Paris Motor Show, with Stealth as the central building element. The design intent was to build multiple free-standing curved screens to divide zones. “The screen had to be white, which contradicts ideas of high contrast LED screens by making all housing parts black,” remembers Ernst. “However, we conducted tests and even in the high ambient light levels that are typically seen at car shows you could read content extremely well.” CT’s team designed a slick looking support system for the individual panels, while Element Labs made a special production run of Stealth with white housings, white cables, and white connectors, fully integrated into the SAAB stand architecture. Reflecting on that event Dave Crump says: “SAAB was the first automotive company to impress the idea of a digital stand, nowadays this is becoming the norm. Car companies are amongst our most demanding clients, needing

52 LSi - July 2016

Photo: Steve Moles

“Because of the shape of the screen, all parts were in pairs from a different size or shape, each having his twin on the opposite of the screen. The sequence of installation became vitally important while installing each module into the screen was a challenge in its own right. This was because each had to be tilted in three dimensions and literally set like a puzzle into the screen, with each block weighing around 300kg. So we had to develop special lifters which had to tour as well.”

to perfectly replicate the image of a car, its colour and logo. This is vital when you are working with an audience that is likely to be only a few metres from the display - unlike a concert audience.” Stealth picked up a ‘Best Product’ award at LDI in its first year, the judges impressed with the unique characteristics such as the transparency which allowed designers to stack multiple layers of video behind each other, or to shoot with light through the screen. The reduced weight was another advantage as it allowed the product to be used in situations where weight loading of sets was limited but also saved cost in transportation as you could pack a lot of screen in a small volume. The third feature that people in the touring world favoured, believes Claas Ernst, was ease and speed of rigging, and the fact that the screen could be fan-folded out of a flightcase and concertina’d back in afterwards, while rapid rigging and de-rigging also greatly improved the cost of freight. However, the confluence of lighting and video sensibilities had already been bonded together earlier by the arrival of products like High End Systems’ Catalyst media server and Orbital Mirror Head. The lighting community was starting to show interest in treating their fixtures as pixels and controlling them from video, while video people had stopped thinking in just ‘flat’ effects. “We launched Stealth at a time when pixel-controlled lights were starting to be integrated into set design and then lighting board operators suddenly started to control video products via

DMX from media servers,” continued Ernst. “There was already a new young generation of designers that was hungry for these new toys and Catalyst allowed you to rotate a video image generated by a static projector in a threedimensional room.” Crump was another who recognised the importance of Catalyst, which he saw for the first time at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. “The ability to trigger it from the lighting desk, allowing the LD to control the content in real time, was incredible. The orbital heads tracking aerial scenic elements became the precursor to much of the dynamic projection mapping we see today.” Concave and convex curving of LED displays has also become a growing feature, with varying pixel pitches, some for outdoor use and other creative elements, while products like the ROE Hybrid range of products even integrated two products in one physical form, offering two layers of different pitch content within a display. However, the collapse of the global economy put paid to a number of companies - including Element Labs, which by this time had been absorbed into Barco. And when the two-year freeze on capex lifted, resulting in a purchase resurgence from rental companies, Far East companies had caught up with technology and costs had become a mere fraction of what they had been 10 years earlier. Suddenly, production budgets could accommodate way more LED surface on shows. Crump comments: “Because of these


“With modern processing technology allowing for easy mapping of creative LED screen setups, coupled with motion tracking precision, a new generation of set designers, lighting designers, video artists and content creators has sprung up.” Claas Ernst

cost reductions, and the explosion of digital content, designers are creating outstanding digital scenery. Witness the massive development of EDM and similar spectaculars where the entire set becomes a digital canvas for the performer and LD.” There was so much inventory appearing that it started to be perceived as disposable. Crump says companies routinely buy 10% more display panels than they need from China to allow for breakage. “If it cannot be repaired, it will either be cannibalised for spares or simply thrown away,” he states. But his bigger concern is that the quest for ever-reduced weight can lead to fragility - making screens particularly vulnerable in windy conditions. He also says that RF emissions that emanate from these products tend to be ignored. With modern processing technology allowing for easy mapping of creative LED screen setups, coupled with motion tracking precision, a new generation of set designers, lighting designers, video artists, content creators has sprung up. “The last couple years I have watched many young designers and design studios that simply do breathtaking and incredible work. There is a whole new generation that understands the interaction of cutting edge modern technology and art as never before,” suggests Ernst.

at the cutting edge. His displayLED showroom near Dorking (known as The Pixel Depot) boasts Europe's most comprehensive collection of LED video displays giving designers the ability to see a wide range of resolutions and technology types (including dancefloors) under one roof and at the same time play with their own content on the various displays. This is the state-of-the-art . . . but for how long? As we were preparing for press, Frederic Opsomer provided a beguiling ‘teaser’ about his latest project - pixels integrated into a digital volleyball net, offering direct multi-communication from the sporting arena to the spectators in the form of ‘infotainment’, while simultaneously offering advertising opportunities for commercial sponsors. “LEDs in the audience was a first step to having LED in the field of play. Following on from the pixel tablets, this series of products will be on the market in the next two years,” he predicts. You heard it here first.

There are many examples of the new art - but one that perfectly espouses the notion of moving objects in real time, and following it dynamically, was Creative Technology’s work for Miley Cyrus’ controversial 2014-15 BANGERZ tour. This featured some extravagant and technically jaw-dropping projection mapping, with the stage settings altering with every costume change. When Miley’s beloved pet dog died, a 60ft PVC inflatable was brought in to honour the dog. This requiring full projection mapping, and CT was brought in by projection mapping experts VYV to deliver the full effect on the inflatable dog and, in Cyrus’ random style, an inflatable monkey face. CT provided 14 OptiTrack cameras and six HD projectors and placed custom made infrared emitters on the projection surface, tracked via the cameras to perfectly cover the 210° of the inflatable figures (including during the inflation and deflation process). More than 26 sensors were used with five Photon media servers running the entire project and utilising Realtime Vertex Tracking development. The inflatables were tracked in real-time, as were the projection warps, based on the deformation of the inflatables.


The powerful and dynamic 3D mapping capabilities of products such as Photon, Ai and D3 show just how far the industry has come. Tracking and mapping dynamic shapes in real time within a 3D space is now a regular occurrence, as is the ability to automatically and digitally align multiple projectors in a fraction of the time taken to do it manually. This will herald a whole new chapter in the video world and is now driving the massive resurgence of projection in the entertainment mix, observes Crump. The industry has certainly travelled some distance since the days of Robot TV and Hijack Productions. So how will the next chapter write itself? Anyone looking for a snapshot of modern state-of-the-art in 2016 only has to turn to the wise old head of Graham Burgess, who remains firmly LSi - July 2016



Phil Ward speaks volumes . . . This month: On a Clair Day

“There are other synergies. In South America, for example, some countries can purchase a system made by Clair Brothers and also rent something similar from Clair Global if there’s a shortfall . . .”

Let’s get this straight once and for all. Clair Global rents. Clair Companies sells and installs. Right. Although the Clair legend is 50 years in the making this year - one night in 1966, as they passed through Lancaster, PA, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons hit upon two young brothers with just the right blend of enthusiasm, good loudspeakers and Italian haircuts - for half of that time there have been two separate companies. Further sub-divisions, and changes of name, perennially tax the perceptions of otherwise sober onlookers, me included.


After two-and-a-half decades on the road, many among the crew of Clair Global had begun to miss the Susquehanna River and the rustic clatter of an Amish buggy on its way to the five and dime. In due course a business more anchored to the neighbourhood was created, prompting a diversification into sales and fixed installation although these activities too, as we all know, can carry you a long way from home.

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Clair Companies became distinct from Clair Global, with Gene Clair remaining at the helm of the latter while his brother Roy developed the new entity and its opportunity to re-think loudspeaker design for different purposes or, at least, different sales channels. Another differentiation that you’ll see in various references stems from when the original incorporation of the company was used - Clair Brothers Audio Enterprises - to refer to the rental business, while Clair Brothers Audio Systems was used to denote the sales and installation. It’s the same distinction, but thankfully the nomenclature has shortened. However, Clair Companies later mixed things up by christening the sales dimension Clair Brothers and the installation section Clair Solutions. And by

‘sales’, referring to Clair Brothers, we are of course talking about design and manufacturing, not reselling or distribution: this is the home, after all, of the ‘i’ Series line arrays, the kiT Series, the CX coaxials and many more products. On the other hand, Clair Solutions will call upon any brand of system from JBL to L-Acoustics in order to fulfil its role of installer and integrator, as well as drawing upon the inhouse portfolio. There are other synergies. In South America, for example, some countries can purchase a system made by Clair Brothers and also rent something similar from Clair Global if there’s a shortfall - or even simply while waiting for the system on order to be built and shipped. At Kyle Field, the stadium of Texas A&M University, a complete re-fit by Clair Companies had to wait while the venue was gradually refurbished and, in the meantime, a rapidly deployed interim system was supplied on a rental basis by Clair Global. Such joined-up thinking may seem obvious, but remember that Clair Global and Clair Companies are completely independent of one another. This does create complications in the wider marketplaces. Originally only Clair Global - the name gives it away - operated outside of the US as well as within it, but for the last few years Clair Companies has expanded its footprint beyond the MasonDixon line, and a little further, with a distribution network that is obliged to refrain from direct competition with Clair Global in most territories. Fortunately, and this is the thrust behind Roy Clair’s adaptations of the enclosures for permanent installation as opposed to touring, customers are showing satisfaction with these Clair solutions without the rental albatross. The more dedicated the products are to installation,

the less resellers are troubled by any - real or perceived - overlap with the Clair Global channels. Trouble is, specification patterns are changing. In a way that equally affects Clair Companies’ distribution network and Clair Global’s partnerships in Europe and beyond, venues are calling the shots as much as the rental companies when it comes to riders, which further complicates the rental-install ratio. The European wing of Clair Global the company in Switzerland now called AudioRent Clair AG, ably networked to M&R Multimedia Productions GmbH and Clair UK, née Concert Sound - has the same arrangement as exists in the US: two companies, one that stores and rents equipment from Lititz, PA to everyone in Europe; and one that installs and sells. The sales stock is not shipped from Pennsylvania: AudioRent Clair has everything that Clair Global has in America. Clair Brothers boxes - optimised for install, keep up - are distributed in Europe by The Audio Specialists in Netherlands and Germany; Prase Engineering in Italy; and Audio Concept in France. So far. The story of the European operation began a long time ago with Swiss harp player Andreas Vollenweider, who was touring the States with a modest rental company from Basel called Audio Rent. Owner Jürg Hügin rented Clair’s R4 system and persuaded the brothers to part with one - so planting the seeds of a rental dimension across the water. Things were a little bit simpler then, even though this was four years after the Clair empire was first divided. At least rental was rental and sales were sales, and Clair Companies had no interests outside of the US until 2010. The increase in house systems today that are indistinguishable from the ones on the trucks is not going to help with this kind of business navigation. Sorry. I did try.

G E T C LO S E R TO THE POWER OF LIVE When it’s your reputation on the line, choose mics that will provide the most consistently honest sound. DPA Microphones offers a wide range of specially-designed produc ts for your close-miking or ambience-miking needs. No matter what you choose, you can be cer tain that there are no other mics that will deliver a live experience as powerful to your audience. Visit your local audio dealer to learn more about the range of options available.


Made in Denmark

riggingcall #64

A look at things (impartially, of course) from a rigging point of view . . . This month: How did road safety in the ‘50s provide us with one of the most useful bits of rigging gear?

“The Klippan seat belts were fitted in Volvo Amazons and 544s from 1959 and so successful was the webbing product that the co-owner of Klippan, Erik Ehnimb, founded the SpanSet company in Malmö in 1966 . . .”

Thousands of years ago, loads were slung by wrapping vines around them. The multiple turns provided great strength with little or no need to join or terminate them. Later, ‘selvagee strops’ were a skein of fibres, often the staple fibres saved from older ropes, laid up into a circular sling bound(1) with smaller diameter cord. These were often used as the strops (same root as strap - a strip of something to bind or fix with) on timber pulley blocks on old sailing ships, the block being rigged by a rope wrapped around its centreline with an eye made(2) at the top. These strops were often covered in canvas to protect the fibres from abrasion, and sometimes the canvas was also tarred against the worst the sea could throw at them.


We can only assume that in the ‘60s, one Ruben Norrman (see below) saw the potential to improve a traditional method of making them but in modern materials (in this case polyester) rather than natural fibres. Polyester is not significantly affected by many substances and has a good resistance to most water-based solutions and strong alkalis. Though entertainment rigging doesn’t often encounter chemical hazards, polyester possesses many other useful properties. Stretch is low, approximately 4% when the working limits are reached, so energy is not wasted in overcoming stretch when lifting and, unlike nylon (polyamide), polyester does not lose strength as a result of absorbing water.

56 LSi - July 2016

So what of the road safety aspect? In the late ‘50s, to offer additional safety features to their already robust cars, Volvo asked Klippan - a Swedish weaving company - to develop webbing for seat belts in its vehicles. Klippan developed the world’s first seat belt made from man-made fibre webbing. The Klippan seat belts were fitted in Volvo Amazons and 544s from 1959 and so successful was the webbing product that the co-owner of Klippan, Erik Ehnimb,

founded the SpanSet company in Malmö in 1966. The webbing produced by SpanSet was quickly employed in many other areas, not least the industrial lifting market. Up to that point the only alternative to natural fibre rope slings for lifting were wire rope or chain slings. Webbing slings offer significant benefits in handling and in use with regard to easily damaged materials and quickly their slings became the go-to product. In 1967, Ehnimb founded SpanSet AG in Hombrechtikon, Switzerland from where the global company is still run. Shortly after this, Ruben Norrman, coincidentally (?) also from Malmö, invented a way of making a roundsling using a seamless cover to protect the internal polyester fibres. He invented and patented the machinery used to do this and kept it a secret to anyone outside his licencing agreements. In 1972 Norrman licensed his invention to SpanSet in Switzerland and to LiftAll in the USA. The roundsling we are familiar with has remained pretty much unchanged ever since, apart from their method of manufacture. In 1980, another Swede, Bengt Lindahl, produced a variation on the theme that used a side seamed cover for the internal load bearing yarn. This style prevailed because it didn’t require the special machinery needed for the Norrman method and made slings considerably cheaper to produce. Today the roundsling cover tends to be a tube of webbing, that once threaded through with the yarn loop is seamed at the overlap. LiftAll developed their range to include dual strands, wear indicators and to use aramid fibres (offering improved heat resistance to about 170°C). The only other significant development of roundslings using polyester yarn was in Canada in 2009 where the invention of a transparent sheath through which the inner yarn could be inspected was first launched.

Using polyester roundslings means paying attention to their two Achilles’ heels (if that’s possible(3)). The first is that to obtain the full strength in the fibres, they should lie flat with minimal crossover of the internal fibres and at the same time not be bent over too tight a radius. About 16mm is the advised minimum diameter that should be used with a 2000kg sling. The width of a 2000kg sling will typically be around 40mm in width and it’s essential to size shackles or hooks with these factors in mind since they can pinch fibres or bend them over too small a diameter, dramatically affecting their strength. This is also the reason that roundslings should never be joined or shortened with a knot. The second limiting factor is heat. Manufacturers advise an acceptable temperature exposure range typically between -40°C and +90°C. The extremes are unlikely to be met in entertainment industry rigging applications, however high temperatures are not impossible to reach and the use of pyrotechnics, and ambient or direct heat from modern luminaires can each create a risk. For this reason, roundslings that use a steel wire rope core are now a common sight in most venues and supplied by a number of manufacturers. Their maximum operating temperature is around 200°C - much higher than manmade yarn making them more suitable for use on trusses and structures where heat damage is a risk. So who would have thought that the roundsling owes its success to that of the internal combustion engine?

Notes: For the salty old matelots reading this, you may prefer to substitute at (1) ‘served’ and at (2) ‘seized’. (3) Yes, classics scholars, I realise the whole point was that Achilles’ mum held him by one heel so as much of his body as possible was immersed in the Styx . . .

Rob Halliday takes a nostalgic but instructive look back at the tools that have shaped the industry . . . As is usual at this time of year, the tech rumour mill is ramping up into over-drive about the features of the next generation of Apple’s iPhone. And the recurring rumour is that this company which famously has no time for legacy technology if it gets in the way of making smaller, thinner, neater products, might be set to kill off that most versatile - and, it turns out, long-established of connectors, the headphone jack plug. This will be a pity for those with headphones they like, particularly if they don’t want to pay for the inevitable jack-to-whatever-new-connector adaptor. But one suspects that if connectors had feelings, this one wouldn’t be too bothered about this rejection. It’s already found plenty of uses; it will surely find plenty more. The 3.5mm jack plug found on your phone is the little brother to the quarter-inch jack, which can trace its history all the way back to the late 19th century: the picture on the 1895 patent looks very like the connector we know today. The patent’s title, ‘Plug and Spring Jack for Telephone Boards’ reveals the connector’s first life: in telephone switchboards. These would have rows of sockets, one per phone line; the operator would use patch cables to link the sockets and so complete a call. Many of the design details we know today are right there: the


pointed tip, the insulating rings providing several separate contact areas, the recess allowing the connector to lock snugly into place. From telephony, its descendants evolved in shape, and in material - from brass to the robust, shiny nickel plating in the 1940s to gold plating for those looking for something a bit fancier. Variants appeared offering mono or stereo connection, ‘tip sleeve’ and ‘tip-ringsleeve’ to give them their more formal names. They became the connector of choice for headphones, and for electric guitars, as well as for patch bays and countless other uses despite the crackling and buzzing often caused when they were connected or disconnected, a result of the ground connection, carried by the sleeve section of the connector, mating last. When smaller devices needed a smaller connector, a solution was just to downsize what was already working well, and so the 3.5mm jack was born in the early 1960s, firstly for connecting headphones to tiny new transistor radios, then sweeping the world as the connector-of-choice for Sony’s revolutionary Walkman and its undoubted successors, the iPod and then the iPhone. As new functionality demanded more versatility from the connector, extra rings were squeezed into it, to give extra capacity for microphones or remote controls built into a headphone’s cable; some jack sockets came

with switches, able to tell when a jack plug was inserted. The design meant that - for the most part - things just worked if you plugged one kind of mini-jack into another kind of mini-socket, the worst usually just being that sound didn’t appear from one ear or the other.


Classic Gear: The Jack Plug

It’s a classic because it works, for the most part reliably and cheaply. More importantly, because it is a de facto standard, cables are readily available; it’s easy to get audio out of one jackequipped device into another. Not that it’s ever limited itself to audio: the Square payment card device featured in Tools (LSi August 2012), uses a jack as its interface, cunningly converting the magnetic stripe on a credit card into an audio signal that it feeds into its software on the phone. There’s even a range of tiny LED lighting fixtures that use 3.5mm jacks as their DMX control cable; these, too, will connect to your phone for set-up or control, and an adaptor lets you run them from a standard DMX cable. That versatility is why this classic will survive even the mighty Apple. If they axe the jack, as predicted, I, for one, will be holding on to my old phone for just a little longer: it’s too useful a connector not to just have it there when you need it. Original patent, 1898: > //plasa.me/5oihu


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www.impactproductions.co.uk LSi - July 2016



Arts Fundamentals . . . With successive cuts to arts funding continuing to take their toll on the UK’s regional theatres - and now possibly with further uncertain times ahead - Julie Harper talks to the technical departments of three venues to find out how they have adapted to survive with less . . .


In July 2015, George Osborne asked non-protected government departments, including the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), to draw up plans to cut their budgets by up to 40% by 2019/2020 in readiness for a new wave of cuts due in the autumn spending review. This followed the already swingeing cuts on Arts Funding in 2010/11, which saw Arts Council England (ACE) lose 30% of its budget (from £449m to £349m), and a further 5% cut in the 2013 review. So how are our regional theatres coping with less money and with the prospect of further funding losses to come?

58 LSi - July 2016

During the Theatres Trust Conference in June 2015, Jim Beirne, Chief Executive at Live Theatre, Newcastle and Chair of the conference, discussed how theatres might work with the property sector to develop economic and cultural returns for the future, as they have done at Live Theatre with its £10 million capital development project, LiveWorks. He warned: “As we face another five years of austerity, the outlook for public bodies such as Local Authorities looks outstandingly bad, with projected cuts made even worse by some protected government departments. So it is important that theatres think differently about their future, their assets and their opportunities, and use these as a mechanism to continue to grow.”

With this scenario in mind, I spoke to some of our regional theatres to find out how the funding cuts have affected their technical departments and operations, and to find out if and how they are rising to the challenges. Responses were varied, according to what proportion of funding came from ACE, county councils or local councils. Talk tended to centre on the effects of the 2011 Arts Council cuts, rather than the more recent local council ones, which implies it has taken a little time for the effects to trickle down.

Palace Theatre, Redditch For the Palace Theatre, Redditch, a 420-seat receiving house funded solely by the local council, the 2011 cuts hit hardest. Then, its £8000 production budget was cut to £5000 and the theatre’s programmer was made redundant, all of which had a massive influence on the technical department. “My workload tripled overnight,” says technical manager, Tim Mackrill, “as I suddenly had to take on the additional roles of programmer and theatre manager.” Yet in the same year, the theatre had to make savings of £150,000 and put on more shows and events with fewer staff and fewer resources. In 2014 it won the Venue Sustainability Award at Technical Theatre Awards, a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2015 and became an A-rated energy efficient building. How did they manage to achieve all this against such odds?

Below: The Palace Theatre, Redditch

“Far from reducing the diversity of the programme, it has revitalised the place by offering a more varied programme, attracting greater audiences and increasing the number of companies and clients that hire the venue. It also raised the profile of the building - which in turn maintains the cycle.” “I networked with new agents and theatre managers to attract new clients to hire the building and we instituted a Studio space which lends itself to a highly diverse programme including comedy, small-scale drama, a meeting room, line dancing and art groups. It’s run by a volunteer as a loss leader to attract more audiences and more potential hire customers to the building. This has unlocked a lot more of the building’s potential and altogether we run around 100 more events a year, despite our reduction in staff and resources.” Mackrill also changed the website, sold unwanted equipment and invested in more up-to-date lighting fixtures. But how have these equipment changes been financed? Many theatres would like to invest in low-maintenance fixtures but the initial outlay is prohibitively expensive and slashed budgets often fail to extend to such investments.

“Having over-achieved my budget, I cheekily asked the council to have that money back to reinvest in the equipment before the end of that financial year. The council recognised the ‘spend to save’ project and agreed. I then prioritised by spending it on the kit that would save money and time.” Equipment Mackrill first invested in a rig of ETC Source Four Lustr+ LED profiles to replace most of the conventional rig, retaining only a small stock of Par Cans and conventionals for film use, and a few spots and specials. He also redesigned the lighting rig to reduce the need for ladders, making it more flexible and faster to work with. “The Source Four LEDs instantly slashed the lamp and colour budget,” says Mackrill. “We have many band and dance events - up to eight events per week - so the massive range of colours is ideal for colour washes and can be changed so quickly at the press a button. No more buying and cutting gel, or ladder-time between events - it’s saved hundreds of man-hours and filter costs. We have also made huge power savings - the 26,000W of kit it took just to do a 202 and a 152 wash, is now only 2,000W and will produce all the colours we need in washing the stage, and most of the time our solar panels are producing more than this, so it all adds up.” The auditorium lighting has also been changed to Fusion LED dimmable lamps which are a cheaper option: “As long as you keep a minimum inductive load on each rack they are problem-free,” says Mackrill. “Lamp changes now only take place as and when required instead of every four or five months, again saving on lamp costs and man-hours. Technology has certainly moved in our favour.” Saving to spend to save In 2011, the Palace Theatre generated an income of £590k with audience totals of 48,678. In 2015 this had increased to a £730k income and audiences of 52,000 as a direct result of the new initiatives. The Theatre’s annual running costs are £300,000 lower across the whole building, having reduced from £467,000 to £169,000, while the running costs for lighting


Infrastructure “Basically, I changed our business operations and modified the programme of events to make savings,” says Mackrill. “I compared the returns on the staffing costs to the audience numbers and changed our programming in a way that made a significant difference to running costs. We had to squash the big shows with 12-14 hours set-up time, especially if they did not attract large audiences as we can no longer sustain the kind of losses that certain productions made. We try to identify which shows are easier to put in, so we can alter our practises by scheduling a lighter show to follow something that put a lot of demands on the staff. This kept man hours down and minimised expenditure on overtime. We’ve also created cheaper hire rates in the earlier parts of the weeks for local schools so we can grow working relationships with them and get more people through our doors.


Left: Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

LSi - July 2016



Left: Palace Theatre crew (L-R) - Carl Phillips (full-time deputy technical manager); Owen Goodgame (full-time assistant theatre manager/ bar/FOH operations), Tim Mackrill (technical manager), Paul Hughes (marketing manager shared with the council leisure services) and Paul Edwins (full-time senior theatre technician). Below: The Circle in the Palace Theatre, Redditch. Facing page, bottom: The auditorium at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

average £3000-£4000 per year and a mere £1000 was spent on lamps and colour that will not require replacing for a long time. Manpower Much of the maintenance of the Grade II listed building is done in-house by Mackrill and his technicians, to whom he has devolved some of his tasks whilst still minimising hours to avoid costly overtime. The Palace Theatre has five full-time staff, three part-time box office staff, two part-time cleaners, and shares a marketing person with the council, but is ‘lucky’ to have a small army of around 30 technically experienced volunteers including programmers, lighting and sound technicians, followspot operators and flymen, as well as a studio programmer, marketing assistant, handyman and 100 front-of-house staff. All shows are supported by these volunteers to increase efficiency and reduce running costs. “We have to work around their own jobs but it’s a very tight unit and an amazing team who all work hard and work well,” says Mackrill. “We have always had this level of volunteers but have definitely increased their usage since the cuts, especially now that we have over 300 performances each year!”


Mackrill’s aim to “work smarter not harder” has involved a lot of inventive reorganisation and forward planning - but what happens going forward? With more cuts inevitable and everything sold, replaced and streamlined to the max, where can the Palace Theatre go from here? Budget benefits to local economy “We are now at a plateau and cannot increase further after having over-achieved for the last two or three years and been allowed to reinvest with the ‘spend to save’ initiative,” says Mackrill “So far our money-saving has not resulted in the council cutting our funding. In fact, they’re still investing as we have proved how good this is for our business, and we are now upgrading our box office and bar systems. The council recognise the impact we have on the local economy: a survey in 2012 showed that local businesses increased their turnover by 25-35% every time we put on a show. “If we get the programming and demographics right (Mackrill’s programming committee consists of seven members who range in age from 20 to 70 years), people will travel to see their favourite artists and then discover this

60 LSi - July 2016

stunningly beautiful building for themselves. That then draws in more people and increases repeat business. “Theatres are the first to be cut but only if the councils don't see how much they generate in the local economy. We’ve done all we can. I’ve told them, if you want to save money, go somewhere elsewhere!” It is important to ACE that theatres are seen to be producing resilient, sustainable, diverse projects that generating business for the local and thus wider - economy.

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough The Stephen Joseph Theatre (SJT) in Scarborough is a producing house with a special association with playwright Alan Ayckbourn, whose plays premiere there. Before 2011, it was funded by county and local councils and Arts Council England. It has since lost its entire funding from the county council, a fair proportion from the local council, and some from the Arts Council, although not quite so heavily as feared. “Nonetheless, we have still lost an entire production every year, which for a venue that exists to promote new writing, is pretty dire,” says technical manager, Paul Stear. To help counteract this, SJT devised some interesting programming which included last year’s Sixty by Sixty, a special project that coincided with the SJT’s 60th anniversary

‘Diamond Jubilee’. Sixty 60-second plays were written by both established and new writers, and by writers from the local community. These were then recorded by professional actors, directors and technicians who donated their services for free, and the plays given a rehearsed reading and broadcast on the SJT website in the autumn. “Sixty by Sixty meant we produced 60 new plays in a season, in addition to a new piece by Alan Ayckbourn, with the remainder of the programme celebrating the best of the Stephen Joseph’s illustrious history.” The cuts resulted in hefty staffing reductions, but Stear has managed to keep his department afloat by some creative shifting of staff and a clear focus on maintaining standards. “We were lean before, but now we are a positive greyhound!” he says. “We have always worked our staff hard and now we are asking even more of them. “Before 2011 we had the usual lighting and sound departments, stage management, wardrobe, a workshop on site - everything you would expect a producing house to have. But we lost many of these in the cuts and have had to move staff and duties around. “The master carpenter retired and was not replaced, and the workshop was closed down, so we make less on site now, and contract out set-building. The wardrobe supervisor is no longer full-time, but is contracted per season and shares their expertise with several other venues.

Equipment Stear has maintained a sagacious approach to spending on equipment. “We have never been short on kit. We carry a wide range of lanterns, for example, but not many of each, just enough to cover the basics of running three shows in rep’ - a fixed rig for general cover with show specials split between the three productions. “To replace this would be expensive so we have to be sure to invest in the right equipment. It’s only a matter of time until LED/non-incandescent technology has been nailed to the same quality as tungsten, and that’s when we’ll invest. Everyone says there’s no budget to do this, but I’m optimistic that, once the technology reaches a good enough

Council Stear says, “Our local council understands the added value the SJT brings to the area. It’s a destination venue - people come on holiday here because of us, and Alan Ayckbourn’s loyal following come here from all over the country. It all helps add to the economy.” In November 2015, Arts Professional reported, to much relief, on the acknowledgement from George Osbourne of the enormous benefit of the Arts to the economy when he stated: “£1bn in DCMS funds generate £250bn for the economy, making arts and culture among ‘the best investments we can make’” and that “Deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media & Sport are a false economy.” Consequently, the feared 40% cuts were averted and ACE funding protected, with no fall in cash terms until at least 2019-20. Nonetheless, the DCMS will receive a 20% cut to its administrative budget and local councils were still hit hard and forced to decide where their axes will fall. But is this recognition of the commercial value of theatres, as well as the cultural, a promising sign? From speaking to Royal & Derngate in Northampton this year, after the autumn 2015 cuts, it is hard to tell. The cuts from their local council were significant, despite it being very supportive of the theatres and what they bring to the economy: 50% of local council funding was lost, along with £50,000 of borough council funding, with the prospect of losing more of each in future, yet ACE funding was retained.

Royal & Derngate, Northampton Royal & Derngate Northampton is a tiny powerhouse of two theatres - a receiving house and a producing house - which were joined together in a major refurbishment and reopened in October 2006. A multi-purpose 1200-1500seat touring venue with full in-the-round capabilities and multi-configuration floor

Further Reading . . . How Newcastle’s arts venues survived the cuts //plasa.me/yp656 (BBC News, 30 March 2015) Arts Council boss makes funding plea //plasa.me/bkc29 (BBC News, 28 May 2015)


“My role has now changed from chief electrician to technical manager with responsibilities across all departments including sound, lighting, flying and the stage lift - which in itself is a full-time job! We also lost our production manager for a while, so I also had to assume those responsibilities between seasons to look after visiting companies. I also lost my deputy, so we had to promote my assistant to take on more responsibility. At one point, we were down one member of staff for 18 months, but a new production manager arrived who prioritised differently. He could see we couldn’t function fully so he procured us the budget to take on a junior technician to look after the everyday stage duties. This left us slightly under-skilled and we had to train on the job, which is more time consuming, but luckily the new recruit turned out to be brilliant. We now have two excellent technicians - ostensibly one for stage and one for lighting, although they both actually do everything - and a projectionist. Now we’re back up to a full team plus casual staff.”

standard, the government will provide grants. Look at solar panels, for example: the resulting cut in power consumption makes the outlay worthwhile, especially if the government is paying out money for excess electricity.”

Arts Council pleads for end to cuts but should taxes fund art? //plasa.me/73in0 (The Week, 29 May 2015) £30m cuts to DCMS with more to come //plasa.me/ll6s8 (Arts Professional, 8 June 2015) Arts Impact Fund: a radical new way of getting extra funding for the arts //plasa.me/7orcd (Independent, 10 June 2015) How Do You Raise $3.47 Billion? Ask These Guys //plasa.me/jpbi1 Private income growth brings extra £127m into the arts //plasa.me/tpwie (Arts Professional, 6 November 2015) Fears of Arts Cuts dispelled in Spending Review //plasa.me/0qj2y (Arts Professional, 25 November 2015) ‘Astonishing’ result for ACE in spending review, says Bazalgette //plasa.me/pb88l (Arts Professional, 27 November 2015) Arts becoming less reliant on government funding //plasa.me/32435 (Arts Professional, 2 February 2016) Training for Senior Fundraisers //plasa.me/uj6zt (Arts Professional, 19 May 2016)

Loans etc . . . Energy Saving Solutions from Siemens finance Siemens offers financial as well as energy saving solutions so you can put in place energy efficiency measures without any upfront capital. //plasa.me/7v455

Carbon Trust Carbon Trust help your business put cost-saving energy efficiency strategies into practice, with leases, loans, finance and implementation support to make energy efficiency easy. //plasa.me/2spt7 LSi - July 2016


“We have retained a company manager but the stage management, including the DSM and ASMs, are contracted per production rather than per season. Our technical stage manager has been moved from the Production Department to the Outreach Department, working with and facilitating new theatre, three choirs and school and visitor workshops - it’s a completely different, and much broader, remit.



throughout, Derngate is predominantly a receiving house. The Royal is a 450-seat, traditional format producing house with six productions created under the Made in Northampton banner last year. The facilities include a fully staffed workshop, wardrobe and original Victorian paint shop with two full-size paint frames. The venue was awarded the Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre at the 2015 UK Theatre Awards. Maximised Spaces & Secondary Spend “The diverse programme across the platforms of theatre, film and creative projects allows us to balance our approach, ensuring any risk is balanced with other aspects of the programme and our activity,” says production manager Conor McGivern. “We use every space to bring people in, increase activity and maximise ways for all areas of the building to increase secondary spend. We don’t generate revenue just from ticket sales - that just facilitates everything else. The amount of income derived from the sale of drinks, ice cream, programmes and merchandise is considerable.” During the refurbishment, the two building were brought together physically, providing a shared front-of-house space that improved the customer experience and the potential for secondary spend. Further initiatives since the refurbishment have seen LED lighting installed throughout all front-of-house areas, and motion sensor lighting and water saving measures installed in the public toilets to reduce running costs. This was supported through a local lighting company, Collingwood Lighting, who partnered as a Business Club member. “The theatres work hard to secure sponsorship and partnerships that will deliver a benefit,” says McGivern. “The theatres have worked hard to build strong relations with our local authorities, who are very proud of what we do and our contribution to the town’s economy. Whilst they have been forced to pass on cuts, they have been supportive in providing a new location for our Wardrobe department, and supporting us with our boiler replacement programme by providing technical assessments and suitability advice on the proposed upgrade plan.” The public is further encouraged to engage with the building through Underground, a studio space which is put to near constant used by The Actors Company, the Youth Theatre and Young Company. Close contact with the theatres’ dynamic programme is fostered with initiatives such as ‘React and Respond’, a series of 30-minute presentations devised and performed by the Youth Theatre in connection to the current play in the main house. Other areas transformed into good commercial use include the Errol Flynn Film House, which is built onto the side of the Derngate. Named after one of Northampton’s most famous sons, this is a compact, luxury cinema with leather seats, tables and waitress service. This has proved so successful that, despite two multi-screen cinemas operating in the town, a second picture house is to be built this year. Most recently, a largely under-used space on the corner of the Guildhall Road frontage was opened as the Hygge Bar, serving craft beers which, due to popular demand, is about to extend its activities as a daytime café.

Training for Fundraisers


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Operations “It’s our responsibility to make sure our teams are developed and looked after, and that we nurture their trades, the building and keep the equipment current and up to standard,” says McGivern. “We have to constantly balance these demands within limited resources, and what is clear is that any investment has to be carefully considered, looking at the benefits and any potential payback in cash terms and in the artistic contribution. “For example, our lighting rig needs upgrading with modern, less power hungry versions, but this is costly, and with LED technology developing so rapidly, it’s difficult to know which is the best to buy and what LDs will ask for. We need to lock down the requirements and find investment, sponsorship or funding before it can happen.

Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme Developed and led by the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Consortium (including the DARE Partnership of Opera North and the University of Leeds, Cause4 and the Arts Marketing Association), the programme will deliver, over three years, a collaborative series of training and coaching initiatives. //artsfundraising.org.uk

62 LSi - July 2016

“Similarly, we want to install Kinesys motors in the flies to complement our original hemp system, but as these both cost rather than earn money, they get knocked down the priority list. We may be able to apply for funding from the Theatres Trust or Architects Trust on the grounds of the Royal being a Grade II listed building. It will happen, but with less money to invest it’s a much longer process now.

The Arts Impact Fund A new £7million initiative set up to demonstrate the potential for social investment in arts. The fund offers repayable finance to arts organisations working in England that can show they are sustainable, have great artistic ambitions and have a positive impact on society. Depending on needs, they can provide repayable finance between £150,000 and £600,000. //artsimpactfund.org

Arts Council England Funding Finder:

Facing page, from top: The new Swan Street entrance of the Royal & Derngate, and the auditorium of the 19th century Royal Theatre, Northampton.

“The cuts have forced us to think more cleverly, to really consider and justify what we need. We have to examine and review our procedures: is it more cost effective to invest in equipment than to hire it? Ownership enables us to train our staff, keeping their skills current and our equipment up to date whilst simultaneously cutting hire costs, and turning investment into a source of future income.” McGivern states that the best asset Royal & Derngate has is the skill set of its staff. CEO Martin Sutherland is committed to maintaining a full quota of skilled staff and, despite the cuts, there have been no staff losses. “We have three full-time carpenters and an apprentice, two wardrobe staff, a head of scenic, three members in the lighting and sound department and another three in the stage department, a company manager and production manager,” says McGivern. “This allows us to continue to build everything in-house, which is much more cost-effective once you’re producing more than six shows a year, and ensures a level of quality. “With our ambitious programme of produced work, we work with creatives who have a clear vision, and who have often worked with the larger national organisations that are well resourced to deliver the ambition. To successfully deliver our ambition within our resources you need a great experienced team, and my guys have a massive skill base and wealth of experience. “It has also enabled us to work with a larger number of co-producers with other companies such as the English Touring Theatre. This has the advantage of bringing in additional

resources which, in turn, helps deliver the ambition and proves much more cost-effective for the co-producers who make use of Royal & Derngate’s in-house teams.

Details of ACE funding programmes with key information, including key dates and eligibility criteria. New funds are added regularly. www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/ funding-finder

ACE Grants for the Arts

“It makes sense to retain and develop this as a resource going forward, utilising the expertise of our staff. We are always assessing how we operate our physical production departments and have previously discussed turning these into a commercial enterprise in the same way as those in Coventry and Birmingham. This would need a bigger workshop, possibly off-site, which will all require investment. So we have to think cleverly and enterprisingly about how to achieve this.”

Grants for the Arts is an open access funding programme for individuals, art organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. ACE offers awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to support a wide variety of artsrelated activities, from dance to visual arts, literature to theatre, music to combined arts. www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/ grants-arts


ACE’s ‘Other Sources of Funding’ listing

Theatres are battling the cuts and continuing to evolve ways to survive thanks to some creative and ingenious forms of diversification and the dedication of their committed staff, many of whom that remain are expected to take on more responsibility. The greatest success appears to lie where the councils can see and appreciate the value of theatres to the local economy and with theatres which maximise the outreach potential to their communities as envisioned by ACE. In February, Arts Professional reported a decrease in the reliance on government funding with more theatres turning their energies to generating income through fund-raising, earned revenue, trusts and foundations, renting out spaces and co-ventures with other organisations, including businesses and the private sector. Below are just a very few alternative sources of funding. There must be many others, and many more ideas of how to compensate for funding cuts. It’s a constantly changing picture and flexibility is key. We welcome your input and ideas that can be shared with other organisations which may be struggling to make ends meet.

Lists some of the main sources of funding for the arts in the UK, particularly for those activities that ACE cannot provide grants for. Categories include trusts and foundations, business funding, film funding, non-UK funding, education and training and funding resources. //plasa.me/imcip

Theatres Protection Fund from Theatres Trust Theatres Protection Fund provides capital funds to theatres in need and at risk.The Fund awards capital grants to support small theatre building projects which address urgent building repairs, improve operational viability, introduce environmental improvements, and which enhance physical accessibility. It currently runs two programmes: the UK Small Grants Scheme and London Theatres Small Grants Scheme. www.theatrestrust.org.uk/grants LSi - July 2016


Above: The Derngate auditorium.

“Conversely, we have just invested considerably in projection equipment, primarily for use on the current production of Soul in the Royal. Also, the spend on rental in 2015/16 gave us the confidence to make the investment on the basis that over time we would make a saving and it could subsequently become a source of revenue for the future as we hire it out.


Arts Funding: Alternative Sources



Video Matters by Richard Cadena This month: Put Your Gels Away “. . . the L7-C Fresnel is a fully tunable white light that allows you to match the colour at any location. In a matter of moments I can dial to any one of those colour temperatures with a minor tweak of the knob on the side of the light. It’s that simple.”

Last week I had the opportunity to sit through a video lighting workshop presented by director of photography Bill Holshevnikoff. Bill has been lighting and shooting broadcast studios, corporate programmes and documentaries for over 30 years for clients like the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Resorts, National Geographic, ESPN, CNN and many others. In addition to earning several Emmy Awards, Bill has been busy teaching this video lighting workshop that he calls Power of Lighting. Everything Has Changed A recurring theme in the workshop and the one thing that Bill kept coming back to is that ‘everything has changed’. The rules have been thrown out of the window, and the way cinematographers used to work has drastically altered. The culprit or the catalyst for this change is, of course, LEDs. Advances in LED technology have enabled them to emulate conventional lenses and light sources well enough to make them virtually indistinguishable from the originals.

The New Normal Bill has lit many broadcast studios all over the world with a mix of conventional tungsten fixtures and LEDs, integrating the new technology with the old. But today, he says, there is a shift to “full LED” lighting with a daylight colour temperature. The reason, he says, is because LEDs are being used as part of the set whether they are viewed directly, obscured by diffusion, or hidden in coves - and “all of those (LED sources) are closer to daylight colour.” So, rather than fight the colour of all these giant LED screens and monitors, he’ll defer to daylight colour temperature. Daylight, he says, is now the norm for this type of work. “So all of the (conventional) Source Fours, all of the old lights, are kind of useless at the moment. I might use one or two, but they don’t even want me to use them. They don’t want a tungsten light on set any more, and they’re saying, ‘Let’s just go all LED.’ If it’s an older facility, they’re trying to get of those for heat and (other reasons). If it’s a newer facility, they set it up for

LED only for power consumption, air conditioning, etcetera. It’s a big, big change.” The L7: Anything But Square Before continuing and demonstrating how he sets up a shoot, Bill played a video about the ARRI L7 LED Fresnel. He touted its advantages as a tunable LED source, but many of its advantages apply to LED fixtures in general. “They’re DMX-controllable,” he says in the video. “I have the ability to do full dimming; I can do minor colour correction; I can do full party colours and go into wild colours and make them background colours or hang them down behind the talent. “When you change colours on a traditional tungsten Fresnel, you have to add gels - and gels eat up a lot of light. So a 1000W Fresnel drops down significantly with a heavy purple or a heavy red. But with this light you get the same output, and you can choose your colours, preset them, do chases . . . “It has a huge variety of options in DMX control. Never before could you do that with a Fresnel. And the lamp engine probably lasts up to maybe 200 times longer than a traditional tungsten lamp.


“A traditional Fresnel has a quality and a look to it that a lot

of cinematograhpers love,” he said. So the question is, how can we use this new technology to get back to that look that everybody loves?

Bill Holshevnikoff demonstrating how he lights a subject and balances the background.

64 LSi - July 2016

Innovation | Inspiration

“For me, the other really exciting thing about this new digital revolution is getting into the manipulation of the colour of light via the camera, like an Alexa, and working with the L7.” Same Light, Different Looks Bill went into detail talking about commercial shoots in which they set up very different shots with little effort: “With the violin shot we gave it three very different moods, and all we did was manipulate colour temperature. We set the Alexa at 4000 Kelvin, and we set the L7 at 4000 Kelvin, and that gave me true white light for our first shot. And from there, we backed the colour temperature on the L7 light down to 2800, and that gave us a warm kind of sunset glow. Then we went to the other end of the dial - all the way to 10,000 Kelvin, and that gave us this very blue moonlight. In a few minutes, I was able to create a daytime look, a sunset look, and a night time look, all with just the touch of a couple of buttons - no gels, no filters, no extra time for the crew . . . It was so simple, and that, to me, is really, truly amazing.” He also talked about the advantages of the low power consumption: “With a low power draw, high output and the ability to control colour, the L-Series Fresnels are a perfect fit for location lighting. Locations for film and television productions can be anywhere and everywhere. This light pulls barely two amps. In an operation like this, that can really save you. “The other problem,” he said, “is that sometimes you walk into a location and you’ve got daylight spilling in, you’ve got tungsten lights, and even fluorescent. But the L7-C Fresnel is a fully tunable white light that allows you to match the colour at any location. In a matter of moments I can dial to any one of those colour temperatures with a minor tweak of the knob on the side of the light. It’s that simple.” Shocking Revelation Bill continued the workshop by demonstrating how he uses an ARRI lighting kit with a Chimera soft box to create stunning pictures. “I love the look of (Chimeras),” he said. “I can almost see something on film or television and say: ‘That’s a Chimera bank - that’s a medium Chimera.’ I can look at the shadow quality and see it. The very first thing that I do as a lighting guy, is I turn it on and I just look at the quality of the light. I want to see what it looks like on a human. People work really hard with cuts and diffusion and all kinds of tricks to get a look on a person. That’s why Chimera has been so successful for so long.” Bill shot a feature last year, and one of the actors is an African American gentleman named Mike Colter. Bill says Mike has “really dark skin . . . He was right next to a bunch of very white people,” Bill said. “I used L7s for background elements and edges and bars - things like that - and I was playing with colour, and it was so fun. Even my gaffer, who wasn’t used to these yet, was saying: ‘Do you want me to gel that?’ And I’d say: ‘No, dude, put your gels away. We don’t use those any more!’ And it was kind of shocking for him.”

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“So not only are we dealing with a new generation of electronics and controllability, but they’ve duplicated the look of a Fresnel as far as the light it throws out on set - and for a lighting designer, that’s incredibly important.





Product & technology news . . .

Lighting & Video Ayrton debuts AlienPix-RS and MagicBurst France - Inspired by fixtures from the ‘70s and ‘80s, Ayrton’s new AlienPix-RS is a reinterpretation using modern technology, optics and LED sources to “create revolutionary new volumetric 3D effects”, the company says.


AlienPix-RS is formed of five individually controlled spot heads surrounding a central disk, each containing a tight, 3.5° RGBW LED emitter with a centre-beam luminous intensity of over 180 candelas per lumen. The spot heads can each tilt continuously as the main saucer with central emitter pans, tilts and rotates in any direction, and tri-phase stepper motors allow fast, accurate and silent positioning. AlienPix-RS can simultaneously perform up to eight multi-directional continuous rotations and deliver a total light output up to 6,000 lumens, say Ayrton. AlienPix-RS benefits from series connectivity and can be driven by DMX-RDM, Art-Net or a wireless DMX-RDM from LumenRadio. Also new from Ayrton, and billed as “the industry’s first dynamic LED strobe”, the MagicBurst is a highpower graphic LED strobe offering continuous, unlimited rotation on its pan and tilt axes. Ayrton’s first strobe unit, and the world’s only motorised strobe, the MagicBurst has a 384 x 384mm square face with 3,840 highoutput white LEDs grouped into 64 pixels on an 8 x 8 matrix. With a new ultra-compact 1,300W power supply, MagicBurst can deliver a peak light output of over 240,000 lumens perfectly calibrated at 5600K - for several seconds, and put it into continuous rotation. www.ayrton.eu

compatible with v10 if an upgrade kit is fitted: users in doubt are urged to contact Avolites directly. Titan v10 enhances existing features and introduces many new ones, created in response to user feedback. One of the main additions is the full 3D visualiser powered by the Capture engine, which allows the user to create and edit shows inside the Titan interface and lay out fixtures in the space using the console’s encoder wheels. Titan v10 also allows the user to view intensity values in one place via the Intensity Grid, which shows levels, source of information, whether increasing or decreasing and tracking information. Avolites has also added the set legend Halo, which allows the user to add colour borders around fixtures and groups, and view fixtures much more easily within the console screen, as well as easily identify which group they belong to. All Avolites consoles will ship with Titan v10 installed from Avolites’ head office in London from July onwards. www.avolites.com

Chauvet’s Rogue R1 FX-B USA - Chauvet Professional’s Rogue R1 FX-B features a bar of five individually controlled 15W RGBW LED heads offering fast movement and infinitely variable pan and tilt options. The Rogue R1 FX-B has 16-bit dimming of the master dimmer, as well as individual colours for smooth control of fades. Built-in colour macros add even more options to the lighting designer’s creative toolbox. For even greater creative possibilities in pixel mapping, the fixture can be used in a dual mode allowing the pixels to be operated by a separate controller from the rest of the functions. Control of the Rogue R1 FX-B can be achieved via DMX, Art-Net, sACN or Kling-Net. www.chauvetprofessional.eu

Elation’s EVHD LED video displays Avolites Titan v10 now available UK - Avolites’ Titan v10 software, officially launched at PL+S in Frankfurt earlier in the year, is now available for free download onto all consoles from the popular Tiger Touch Pro onwards. Some older consoles may be

66 LSi - July 2016

USA - Elation Professional’s EVHD Series is a new family of professional, HD LED video display panels available in three different pixel pitches (2.8, 3.9 and 5.9mm). The black-face EVHD video panels have a lightweight, fanless and bezel-free design

with durable die-cast aluminium frame. A modular front maintenance construction means the EVHD panels can be mounted just inches off a wall for use in tight spaces and accessibility from both back and front allows for easier installation and servicing. Lockable curve adjustments make smooth, more creative convex or concave designs possible for a greater variety of design possibilities. Designers can create seamless curved video displays, even full circle designs, while maintaining pixel pitch and without visible gaps. www.elationlighting.eu

ETC launches new Mosaic Show Controller X USA - ETC’s Unison Mosaic Show Controller X (MSCX) has a new, improved version which is smaller, housed in a one-unit, 19” rack-mount enclosure. The updated Show Controller X is offered with capacities from 5,120 channels (10 universes) up to 50,000 channels of DMX-overEthernet. It is compatible with all existing and new Mosaic control systems that utilise Mosaic Designer 2 software. “Mosaic Show Controller X was created for larger lighting and LED installations that demand synchronised control and extensive capabilities,” explains ETC architectural product manager Lowell Olcott, “which is why the MSCX offers an extensive range of external triggering interfaces, including Ethernet, RS232 Serial, and more. It also provides astronomical, real-time and lunar-time time-based control as well as video output for multiple pixel matrices simultaneously, say ETC. www.etcconnect.com

Send your product news to: news@lsionline.co.uk

China - PR Lighting has expanded its Xpar family with the new Arc LED unit, the Xpar 1012, which employs patented PR Lighting technology and combines 12 highpowered 10W (RGBW 4-in-1) LEDs in a compact form factor. The Xpar 1012 weighs just 10kg and silent in operation, and also has an IP67 protection rating. Available with or without barn-doors, features include RGBW colour mixing (with macro), colour temperature of 2700K-10000K (linear correction), beam angle of 14° (with 10°, 20° and 40° options), dimmer 0-100% (linearly adjustable) and strobe function of 0.533fps. www.pr-lighting.com

Audio Allen & Heath debuts dLive Director UK - Allen & Heath has released a major firmware update for its dLive series, which includes Director software to enable offline editing and live mixing on a PC with or without a Surface, plus preamp modelling on all 128 channels, 5.1 surround sound, and dedicated Mute Groups.

show offline and then mix the performance from their laptop or Windows tablet. Director can be used either as a supplement to a dLive Surface, or with a MixRack as part of a compact, surfaceless system. The touchfriendly interface mirrors the physical surface layout and has resizable fader banks to suit different resolutions on various devices. www.allen-heath.com

PowerShare amplifiers from Bose

dLive Director is a multi-platform editor and control software for Mac or Windows OS (below), allowing the engineer to prepare the USA - Bose’s new PowerShare adaptable power amplifier line consists of three 1U models: 2- and 4- channel fixed-install models (PS602 and PS604) and one 2-channel portable amplifier (PS602P). Each model delivers 600W that can be shared across all output channels.

>> continued


PR extends Xpar family


Product News updates online: www.lsionline.co.uk

LSi - July 2016



The models support both low- and high-impedance loads up to 100V, while configurable processing and direct access to zone controllers eliminate the need for additional signal processing in many installations Patented PowerShare technology allows asymmetrical sharing of total amplifier power across outputs. Instead of selecting amplifier power based on the needs of the largest zone, installers now have the flexibility to use total amplifier power in the application. This enables more flexibility during the initial design, or later on-site when making unplanned changes that take advantage of surplus power, say Bose. www.bose.com

Community debuts Compact I Series USA Community has introduced three I Series Compact models designed to match the performance, appearance and voicing of its larger I Series Point Source and Subwoofer models. I Series Compact loudspeakers complement Community’s larger I Series 800-Level and 600-Level models for distributed applications, front-fill or side-fill or as the main loudspeakers in smaller spaces, the company says.


The 6.5” IC6-1062 features unprecedented LF extension for its cabinet size and a very wide dispersion 100 x 100° fabric dome HF on a shallow waveguide, providing a smooth response while retaining high sensitivity. The single 8” IC6-1082 and symmetrical dual 8” IC6-2082 are available with two rotatable horn patterns (120 x 60°, 90 x 60°) paired with low distortion, high output 1.7” diaphragm HF compression drivers. www.communitypro.com

68 LSi - July 2016

FBT’s Vertus compact line array Europe - FBT has introduced its new modular Vertus CS 1000 compact line array. A bi-amplified design, it comprises a long excursion 12” bass reflex subwoofer and a passive mounted satellite, linked via a Neutrik Speakon connector, equipped with six full-range neodymium 3” drivers. Onboard the subwoofer is a Class-D, 2-channel amplifier, complete with switch-mode power supply, delivering 600W RMS to the subwoofer and 400W RMS to the satellite, both of which are housed in birch plywood enclosures. The slim proportions of the satellite facilitate a wide horizontal dispersion of 110°, while the precision placement of the six 3” drivers to form a J-array creates a vertical dispersion of 30° (+10° / -20°). A storage compartment in the subwoofer enclosure can securely house both the satellite speaker and its mounting pole for storage and transport. www.fbt.it/en/

Yamaha adds to EMX mixer series Europe - Yamaha has added two new models to its popular EMX series of integrated mixers, the EMX5 and EMX7. Joining the EMX2, launched earlier in the year, the EMX5 and EMX7 bring greater power and more features to the lightweight and portable design of the range.

Aimed at musicians, performers, DJs and public speakers, the EMX5 and EMX7 offer

a solution for a wide range of situations from small to mid-sized musical or cooperate events, to fixed installations at bars and restaurants, houses of worship, rehearsal studios and more, say Yamaha. The EMX5 and EMX7 feature high efficiency power amplifiers, which respectively deliver 630W and 710W output into each channel, with an overload protection function for maximum reliability. Both are equipped with four mono and four mono/stereo input channels, which allow up to eight microphones and line-level input sources to be connected. Channel 4 can be used with Hi-Z inputs, allowing direct input from instruments such as electric guitars and basses. www.yamahaproaudio.com

Other Sommer debuts HD all-round cable Germany - Sommer Cable’s new Transit MC 1031 is a hybrid cable for use at professional events, in OB vehicles or for installations, which can transmit HD video picture together with power and network signals. “We attach great importance to the flexibility and ruggedness at bending, reeling or under severe tensile strain,” says Pascal Miguet, product and sales manager at Sommer. “We therefore rely on a doubleshielded video cable, a sturdy Cat 7 cable and a 3mm x 2.5mm power line in a flame-retardant PVC jacket. Under most conditions, the hybrid cable allows trouble-free transmissions beyond 100m, the company says. www.sommercable.com


Tools from Beyond: Tile Rob Halliday highlights tools & services from beyond our industry . . . Some tools are just a pain. Take the card-reading security PIN device my bank makes me use to access it online. Secure, yes. But, ever since my children spirited it away to some unknown place in the house, it’s become hyper-secure since even I can’t get into the account. I know it’s nearby . . . I just cannot figure out quite where. If only I’d discovered this month’s tool before this disappearance rather than after: Tile. It is, to some extent, a high-tech re-make of those old devices, beloved of a certain era of American sitcom, that beeped when you whistled or clapped to help you find your keys. Not ideal, of course, for those who work on shows . . .


Here in the 21st century, it is, inevitably, now crowdfunded, and app-powered. A Tile is a 37x37mm, 5.3mm thick plastic square, with a hole in one corner you can thread a keyring or a strap through. Inside is a Bluetooth transceiver that communicates with a nearby iPhone/iPad or Android device. The app can register and name multiple Tiles; select one from the list and, provided that Tile is nearby - a range of up to 100ft, perhaps closer to

70 LSi - July 2016

30ft in a real-world environment - it will chirrup away, loudly enough to be heard elsewhere in the house. So it’s for misplaced items - it doesn’t extend to something like find-my-iPhone’s ability to locate a device wherever it is in the world to all of your possessions. But it does have a few other useful tricks that get it closer. Firstly, press the Tile and it operates in reverse, making the associated phone beep - even if set to silent. Secondly, any time the app notices a Tile of yours, it logs its location - so when you leave your keys at the theatre the app can at least tell you that’s the last place it saw them. Finally there’s what Tile calls Community Find: if something Tiled goes missing, tell the app to ‘notify when found’. Now all of the devices running Tile in the world become a secret search party for you; if one gets close to the missing Tile it’ll contact you, anonymously, with the location of your property. For that to work well depends on a lot of people having the Tile app running, but a tiny percentage chance of finding your stolen bag or bike is better than no chance at all, right?

For all that, $25 feels a little steep to me, particularly given that the device itself feels just a bit too big, a bit too hard to hide in some of the places you might want to hide it. And where the rated life on the sealed-in battery is just a year, albeit that the company offer to ‘re-tile’ you with a replacement at a reduced cost, taking the original back for recycling. On the other hand, it would be worth every penny if it helped me get back into my bank account without pulling the house apart. And - hint, hint - as trade show season approaches, they can brand them so you can give them out as swag . . . > //thetileapp.com



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Technology Focus by Richard Cadena This month: Lightwright 6 Works Like Magic “Lightwright 6 [can do] cool tricks, like automatically balancing loads among three phases. If you’ve ever worked out the phasing of a large show, then you know what a trick


that is . . .”

72 LSi - July 2016

I saw the most amazing trick yesterday. Penn and Teller were on TV while I was working on a lighting plot and documenting it using the new Lightwright 6 software. They had a giant electric saw with a huge blade and really big teeth. A young woman was lying on the table directly under the saw, and the saw was spinning at a frighteningly fast speed just inches away from her torso. What happened next really blew my mind. I pressed the Auto Balance button in Lightwright, and all of the circuits in the entire lighting plot were almost perfectly balanced automatically. And then Penn and Teller did some sort of magic trick. Not to take anything away from Penn and Teller - they are amazing magicians, but Lightwright stole the show. Lightwright is, of course, a software app that helps designers, programmers and electricians manage the paperwork associated with a show. It keeps track of all of those details that help to make a show happen smoothly, including the type of instruments being used, their position, purpose, settings, and so many other details that are essential to the effective management of the information associated with a show. And now the latest version, Lightwright 6, features several additions that can help electricians keep up with a myriad of data and notes associated with a show as well as performing other cool tricks, like automatically balancing loads among three phases. If you’ve ever worked out the phasing of a large show, then you know what a trick that is. It’s time-consuming and it can be frustrating, so having a tool like this is a huge help.

Real World Emulation That’s not the only area in which this software can help electricians. The increasing use of LEDs means that, not only do fixtures have a DMX address, but now they might also have a menu display to configure the mode or personality, find the software version, and configure many other settings like the pulse-width modulation frequency. Some even have an Art-Net input, which means they now have an IP address. All of this is changing the way electricians work because there is more information to keep track of. For example, it used to be that most of the lights - and in some cases all of the lights - in a show were connected to a dimmer, which not only provides power but is also under direct control of DMX by virtue of a starting DMX address. That paradigm is shifting now, thanks to the proliferation of LEDs, which have built-in dimming. Now, not all devices that supply power have a DMX address. Some, like portable power distros, simply supply power to devices that have their own DMX address. In the latest version of Lightwright, that change is reflected by the fact that the ‘dimmers’ column in the Dimming & Control section can now be used for any source of power - including dimmers, portable power distros, company switches, etc - which may or may not have an associated DMX address. The default has no DMX address but you can configure the software to associate it with a DMX address by using the legacy mode. This makes it easier to document cables and manage the design of power distribution equipment and systems. You can create an equipment schedule - including

lights, power sources, and cables - and assign a light to a ‘dimmer,’ and you can label power sources and associate them with cables and the gear they supply. The software basically emulates the way you work in the real world.

Labour-Free Labeling And as the number of DMX universes that are used in a typical show continues to grow, the importance of being able to quickly and easily document them becomes more important. Version 6 allows more universes than you are likely to ever need, which is what you would expect in 2016 from an app designed to help you document a show. John McKernon, the author of the software, cautions that a large number of universes might slow the response of the software, but I would guess that if you have a relatively modern computer with a decent amount of RAM and a solid-state hard drive that it will likely behave well. With all of this complexity and the size of modern day shows comes the laborious task of creating a huge number of labels to stick on everything from lights, to cables, to road cases, and more. The good news is that V6 has a new label printing feature that allows you to lay out and configure labels exactly as you like them using the data from the worksheet. You can then save the layout you create as a template and use it in subsequent shows. According to McKernon, this was a popular request since some electricians print up to about 60,000 labels every year. My guess is that the label count is growing, so this feature alone is worth the price of admission, which is £460 for the full version or £240 for an upgrade from LW5. There is also institutional pricing and student pricing from £90.

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igus Caswell Road Northampton NN4 7PW Tel 01604 677240 Fax 01604 677242 sales@igus.co.uk ®

LSi - July 2016


There are a lot more new features and old features that make this software a must-have for serious professionals. If you work with the ETC Eos console, you’ll love the dynamic linking and the ability to control dimming levels and trigger cues from the LW worksheet, among other neat tricks. LW has been dynamically linked with Vectorworks for a while now, but it’s still a feature worth mentioning. I also like the fact that the software can run on a Mac or on a PC, which is rare



Shure QLXD4 Digital Wireless Combo System by Mark Johnson

History One of the most well-known names in pro audio is Shure. Among many other products, they manufacture what is arguably the de facto standard of hand-held dynamic microphones, the SM58.


Shure started in downtown Chicago in 1925 as the Shure Radio Company. Founded by S. N. Shure, it was a one-man operation selling radio parts at a time when manufactured radios were not commonplace. In 1928 Shure’s brother, Samuel joined the company, the name changed to Shure Brothers Company, and the number of employees grew. After the Great Depression of 1929, and the availability of factory-made radios reduces the market for kits. The company is forced to downsize staff. Also at that time Shure became an exclusive distributor for a small microphone manufacturer and started development of its own microphone. In 1932 it introduced the Model 33N Two Button Carbon Microphone; 1933 saw the introduction of the Model 40D, Shure’s first condenser microphone.

74 LSi - July 2016

The iconic Model 55 Unidyne Microphone was introduced in 1939, the first single-element unidirectional mic. From 1942-44, Shure developed and supplied microphones for the military for World War II. Shure Brothers Company became Shure Brothers Incorporated in 1946, and the company also is the largest manufacturer of phonograph cartridges in the US.

In 1953, Shure produced the Vagabond wireless mic system, and in 1959 the Unidyne III microphone. It was the first unidirectional mic that was designed to pick up sound from the end rather than the side, and was a precursor to the SM57, which followed in 1965. The ‘SM’ stands for ‘Studio Microphone’. The SM58 debuted in 1966. The Vocal Master “portable total sound system” with a mixer, amplifier and loudspeakers was introduced in 1967 and in 1968 Shure featured the M67 Portable Mixer. Other highlights included the introduction of the SM81 condenser microphone in 1981, and the SM91 boundary-effect microphone in 1984. And in 1990 Shure marketed the L Series Wireless microphone system. QLXD4 In 2014 Shure introduced the QLXD4 Digital Wireless system. The combo system consists of two transmitters (QLXD1 Bodypack transmitter, and QLXD2 Handheld transmitter) and a single channel receiver (QLXD4). The


Mark Johnson examines the digital wireless system from the famed US microphone systems manufacturer . . .

receiver comes in Shure’s familiar half-rack-width form factor. The front surface has minimal controls - five buttons within the display bezel and an On/Off switch on the far right. When not powered up, the front face of the receiver is elegantly blacked out. Upon firing up the system the buttons are illuminated and indicate their function: up and down navigation buttons to adjust gain or change menu parameters are just to the right of the display, next to the navigation buttons are the Menu and Enter buttons, next up is the Sync button. In between the Up/Down navigator buttons is an Audio Present indicator that glows green when signal is present, yellow when nearing the limiter threshold, and red when the limiter is engaged. Between the Menu and the Enter buttons is the RF indicator that glows blue when the transmitter is on. Right above the Sync button is the sync indicator that flashes when Sync mode is enabled and stays on briefly once the transmitter and receiver are synced together. The IR window fills the top right of the display. The display itself is rather bright and provides an overview of the status of the system; TV channel, frequency, battery level, group and channel, RF signal strength, audio level, and gain. Other indications that can be displayed are receiver lock status, encryption, scan, network connection, and battery runtime (in hh:mm format) when a Shure SB900 rechargeable battery is used.

Shure QLX-D4 rear panel I/O.

QLX-D4 front panel display.

There is also a facility to reach another ‘Advanced’ menu. From there you have the ability to add channels and frequencies to Custom Groups, select regional bandwidth for the TV channel display, do a Firmware Update, select and edit IP settings and subnet masks, reset network settings and IP address to the factory default, and reset overall factory settings.

Facing page: The Shure QLX-D4 Digital Wireless Combo System includes handheld and bodypack transmitters. Options are available for the handheld transmitter capsule and the lavalier microphone.

QLXD2 Handheld transmitter with and SM58 cardioid dynamic capsule.


The back of the receiver sports a switchable Mic/Line XLR out, ¼” Inst/Aux out, two BNC connectors for attaching the ½ Wave antennas. The now requisite-onany-modern-piece-of audio-equipment Ethernet connector for networking, a recessed default setting reset button, and the DC power input connector.

QLXD2 Handheld transmitter battery compartment and menu navigation control. LSi - July 2016


technicalfocus QLXD2 Handheld transmitter with capsule removed.

The battery life available depends on the type of battery used. AA Alkaline batteries can provide up to 9.5 hours, NiMH batteries will give about 10 hours, and if you use Lithium Primary batteries you can get as much as 16 hours of runtime. Shure provides a chart that shows the approximate amount of time left depending on how many bars appear on the display. As mentioned, you can also use the optional Shure SB900 battery and battery life is shown on the display in hours and minutes. Three available chargers provide single battery charging, including the SBC100 single battery charger. The BC-200 two bay docking station and SBC-800 eight bay battery charger provides the ability to charge multiple batteries either in, or out, of the transmitters. The transmitter power is adjustable to either Lo (1mW) for use when the distance between the transmitter and receiver are relatively close, or Hi (10mW). Even though the power switches are easily accessible on the transmitters the controls can be locked via a menu option. Secure Signal The QLXD4 provides 24-bit digital audio with a 120dB dynamic range, and features AES-256 encryption for situations that require a wireless system and secure audio. The electronic package provides 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, though the microphone choice will dictate what the performance response will be. Full Metal Jacket One of the first things I noticed was everything is encased in metal - both of the transmitters and the receiver. That tells me these are meant for business. Built to withstand the rigours of the road, or the day-to-day use (and abuse) in an AV production environment.

QLXD1 Bodypack transmitter with battery compartment open and showing menu navigation buttons.


QLXD1 Bodypack transmitter off/on switch, antenna, and microphone input.

76 LSi - July 2016

The review system was the Combo version, which includes handheld (with an SM58 capsule), and bodypack (with WL185 lavalier mic) transmitters. Other versions are available including handheld only (with eight capsule options), a guitar bodypack (with an instrument cable) and a bodypack only (with choice of multiple headworn and lavalier microphone options). Being the manufacturer of microphones and wireless electronics enables one to provide many options from which to choose, so ultimately you can get pretty much what ever you need. Changing a capsule on the handheld transmitter provides flexibility to configure the mic for a variety of production situations or to tailor the system for a specific performer. The contacts for the capsule to the transmitter are the familiar three concentric circles “bulls eye target�. The system was very easy to get up and running without undue navigation through the menu structure. Truth be told, basically it was plug and play. The menu allows access for frequency scanning, editing group and channel settings, turning encryption on or off, updating the firmware, selecting IP setting etc. All of the features are decidedly utilitarian, things to make it just work. The menu structure is straightforward and easy to navigate. I had the opportunity to use the system in a performance situation with a few other wireless systems and the audio quality for the QLXD system was noticeably better -

Two’s company, Three’s a network The ability to network is high on the list of must haves for any pro audio electronic device. Shure’s Wireless Workbench software provides the ability to monitor and control networked Shure wireless systems. Wireless Workbench 6 (WWB 6) is the latest revision (be on the lookout for WWB 6.12). It’s a free download from Shure and works on both Mac and Windows platforms. Wireless Workbench allows; inventory management with automatic discovery of Shure devices on a network, and the ability to configure device parameters for multiple units at one time. Frequency coordination can also be accomplished with

For those with iOS devices, ShurePlus Channels provides the other necessity in pro audio today - control and monitoring of the device or devices via an iPad or iPhone. The app allows monitoring of signal strength, audio level, Frequency assignment information, RF interference, encryption status, and battery life. Control features include frequency assignment, output level adjustment, muting, channel and device naming, and menu locking. While the app is free, it just provides the monitoring capabilities. An in-app purchase gets you the ability to access the control features of the app.


Wireless Workbench. And, real time monitoring of systems during performance.

I downloaded the free app from the Apple Store and loaded it to my iPhone, connected the receiver to my Wi-Fi router and launched the app. Bam! The receiver was immediately found and recognised. Absolutely no waiting. I was really surprised at how fast my iPhone found the receiver. The manufacturing and performance quality is obvious in the Shure QLXD4 system. The system can be employed in a variety of situations including touring, houses of worship, performing arts facilities, and meeting and convention service companies. It is a workhorse product designed and built for durability, with great performance to match. > www.shure.com


though, as I have frequently said, it’s almost a given that in this day and time, the majority of the equipment destined for the pro audio market should sound good. The technology, engineering and experience are all there for the established manufacturers. The areas where attention has to be focused are: How does it work? How easy is it to use in a performance situation? How is the user interface (an area of ever increasing importance)? How is the customer support (another area of increasing importance)? And, in the world of wireless systems, how to best utilise what’s left of the ever-decreasing spectrum. The QLXD literature states that up to 17 compatible systems can be used within a 6MHz TV band, and 22 systems per 8MHz TV channel. At the time of the review Shure had also announced that QLXD system operating in VHF bands would be available Summer of 2016.

LSi - July 2016



The Robe Robin DL7S Profile By Mike Wood

This has to be one of the largest LED-based moving lights I’ve tested. The Robe Robin DL7S tips the scales at 36kg and has every innovation and feature that Robe’s busy R&D department has thought of over the last few years, including framing shutters. But never mind the mechanical features, the main claim to fame of the DL7S has to be the use of seven colours of LED to provide a broader spectrum of colour mixing.

LED-based automated spot luminaires are a real thing now. Yes, I know they’ve been available for a number of years, but most

As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing else quite like the DL7S on the market right now, so comparisons are tricky. Nevertheless, as always I’ve tried to test and measure everything I can, from power input to light output, and report the raw data so you have information to help you make your own mind up.

of them just didn’t have the punch to work on anything but small rigs. This month I’m testing one of the newest entries into that market, the Robe Robin Figure 1: Fixture as tested.


DL7S Profile . . .

78 LSi - July 2016

The results presented here are based on the testing, with the fixture operating on a nominal 120V / 60Hz supply, of a single Robin DL7S Profile unit supplied to me by Robe. The unit is self-adjusting for supply voltage and will run on any voltage from 100-240V, 50/60Hz. Light Source As with its four-colour predecessor, the Robe Robin DLS Profile, the DL7S uses a sealed, ‘black box’, light engine. The major change, as already mentioned, is that Robe’s engineers worked to squeeze in three more colours, for a total of seven. Robe lists the colours as red, green, blue, amber, cyan, light green and congo blue. I suspect the light green is actually a lime and the congo blue is really a deep or royal blue (a true congo blue has red in the output as well as the deep blue). The trick with using this many colours is to homogenise the outputs into a single beam and avoid coloured shadows or the coloured dot ‘M&Ms’ in the lens. The crossed dichroics and fly-eye lens system in the DL7S light engine do a good job of this, squeezing the homogenised light down into the 25mm aperture of a moving light, albeit with some inevitable lost light. Robe’s literature states that it is an 800W LED engine: however, in practice with real colour mixes, I was pulling around 650W on average. Because it’s a sealed black box I can’t tell you precisely which emitters it uses and how many of each, we’ll just have to measure the output and see if we like what it does. Figure 2 shows the output of the light engine with some of the LED drivers below it. The whole assembly is kept cool by an array of heat pipes, large finned heat sinks, and two fans mounted top and bottom of the heat sink. These components can be seen in Figure 3. The thermal image in Figure 4 shows the rear of the unit where the heat is exhausted.

technicalfocus Figure 2: LED engine and driver.

Figure 4: Thermals.

There’s no hot mirror of course, as LEDs produce very little IR in their output, so we immediately move into the various optical modules.

pre-program 10 user colours which are then accessible through this same channel.

Colour Systems Robe offers the options to control the colour mixing system through standard RGB or CMY controls as well as providing, in one of the operating modes, direct access to each of the seven LED channels. I’d recommend, unless you have a real need to get your hands dirty, letting the fixture do the colour mixing and sticking to RGB or CMY. There’s also a virtual colour wheel channel which gives instant access to about 90 pre-mixed colours, 66 of which are chosen to match popular gel colours. The user can also

Col. Temp. (K)




















Figure 3: Head side 1.

The final column shows how light output reduces as you lower the color temperature.


Dimming & Strobe As you would expect, intensity control is all done electronically with the DL7S. Most functions are 16-bit resolution, including the colour controls. Figure 5 shows the dimming curve in its default setting. Dimming was very smooth with no visible steps, even down at low dim levels. You also have the option to set the DL7S in tungsten emulation mode, where it adds simulated thermal delay to the dimming so that it matches the fade curves of incandescent lamps. It also introduces red-shift to the dimming in this mode so that the output warms as the lamp is dimmed. The PWM waveform was interesting: it looks like Robe uses a couple of frequencies of PWM, one superimposed on top of the other. The fundamental is 300Hz, the same as I measured with the Robe Robin DLS, but there looks to be a higher frequency 1200Hz component on top of that, which is introduced as you dim down. I don’t know how that will look on a video camera but it looked a little strange on my iPhone camera (often a very difficult test to pass as iPhone cameras use slow scan rolling shutter CMOS detectors). Strobe range is adjustable from 0.3Hz up to 19Hz.

As with the DLS, Robe calibrates a range of whites with colour temperatures ranging from 2700K to 8000K. I measured these using a Sekonic C7000 spectrometer-based meter as follows . . .

Figure 5: Dimmer curve. LSi - July 2016


technicalfocus Figure 6: Spectrum at 3200K.

Figure 7: Spectrum at 8500K.

Figure 6 and Figure 7 show the measured spectra at nominal 3200K and 8500K. Six out of the seven colours are clearly visible as peaks, only cyan is hiding, presumably underneath the broad lime peak. The colour system has a great many options. As well as the already mentioned tungsten emulation mode, you can choose to run with colour calibration on or off and, most significantly, choose whether the white mixes are optimised for output or for their colour rendering ability. I ran the unit in the ‘CRI 70’ mode, which was how the unit was delivered and seems like a good compromise between output and rendering. It is possible to select CRI modes all the way up to 90+, but inevitably the output suffers as you increase the rendering. Figure 8 shows an information screen on the unit showing the specific mode I was using. As an example, using 8500K white light in CRI 70 mode as the baseline. Switching to ‘maximise intensity’ mode gave an extra 10% output while, conversely, running in ‘CRI 90’ mode dropped the output by 30%. I like having the choice - often you need good colour rendering, but not always. When running at 3200K in CRI 70 mode, I measured the CRI at 68 and the TM-30 values as an Rf of 80, and an Rg of 111. As you will see in my other reviews, I’m switching over to using TM-30 instead of CRI. It is a much better colour rendering metric for discontinuous light sources like LEDs. The two different parameters Rf and Rg represent the colour fidelity and the gamut index respectively. Rf tells you how faithfully the light reproduces colours on a 0-100 scale that you can use in much the same way as you did CRI. Rg tells you whether the light tends to over or under saturate colours and can, as in this case, go above or below 100. I strongly recommend you switch to using TM-30 as well, and ask your suppliers for the data. Stop using CRI - it’s useless with LEDs! Please read my article in the Fall 2015 issue of Protocol magazine for more information on TM-30 (//plasa.me/g7qm0).

Colour Mixing Colour














Now we move into the imaging portion of the optical train. The DL7S has all major optical components mounted on three, easily removable, modules. Working from the back there is a gobo module, a framing module, and a lens module. I’ll cover each in turn. Gobo Module Figure 9 and Figure 10 show both sides of the gobo module. There is no need to remove the module to change gobos on either wheel, I just did so for the photographs. First in line is the animation wheel. This uses a large breakup patterned gobo that can be adjusted for coverage angle and rotation and took 0.3 sec to insert or remove. As well as allowing the programmer full access to the animation wheel to program their own effects, Robe provides a set of pre-programmed macros for the animation wheel and gobos combined that showcase some of the possible results. Immediately after this is the rotating gobo wheel which has six replaceable glass gobos and an open slot. Figure 11 shows a gobo being replaced into the snap-and-lock wheel in its carrier.

Rotating Gobo Speeds Gobo change speed – adjacent

0.2 sec

Gobo change speed – worst case

0.5 sec

Maximum gobo spin speed

0.3 sec/rev = 191 rpm

Minimum gobo spin speed

1276 sec/rev = 0.05 rpm

Maximum wheel spin speed

0.7 sec/rev = 82 rpm

Minimum wheel spin speed

212 sec/rev = 0.3 rpm


Just to give you an idea on the colour mixing, I’ve included the usual table of outputs for various standard colours. Note that these are not the outputs of single emitters, but rather the output when producing the specified colour using one of the colours on the virtual colour wheel. The light engine homogenises the colours extremely well; there was an even colour across the beam with no visible coloured shadows.

Figure 8: Colour parameters.

Figure 9: Gobo module 1.

80 LSi - July 2016

Figure 10: Gobo module 2.


Rotation and indexing were very smooth, with a good range of rotation speeds. Movement was clean when changing direction with very little hysteresis. I measured the accuracy at an excellent 0.02° of hysteresis error which equates to 4mm at 10m. All wheels use a quick-path algorithm to minimise change times. The fixed gobo wheel has 8 replaceable gobos plus open. Fixed Gobo Speeds Gobo change speed - adjacent

0.5 sec

Gobo change speed - worst case

0.5 sec

Maximum wheel spin speed

0.7 sec/rev = 82 rpm

Figure 12 shows the effect of pulling focus to morph from one gobo wheel to the other. This image also shows the focus quality on the static gobo (left) and rotating gobo (right). Both are very good with very little colour fringing. The static gobo shows a little pin-cushion distortion in wide angles.

Figure 11: Gobo change.

Framing Module Figure 13 shows the framing module, which also contains the iris. Clearly visible are all ten motors. Eight for the individual shutter blades, one (black gear top right) to rotate the entire framing assembly, and finally the iris motor at the bottom left. Each shutter blade has approximately +/- 25° of rotation and can move in to cover about 60% of the beam. The entire assembly can then be rotated


Figure 12: Gobo morph

LSi - July 2016


technicalfocus Figure 13: Framing module.

Figure 15: Frost and prism.

as shown in Figure 14. There are the usual three lens groups, the first two of which move and provide zoom and focus, while the last element is fixed as the large output lens. The DL7S has a single 5-facet rotating and indexable prism and a replaceable variable frost filter, both of which are inserted between lens groups one and two. This requires a little lens juggling by the system when frost or prism is requested at some zoom/focus settings. Figure 15 shows the frost flag and prism arm. Both prism and frost insertion and removal took about 0.3 sec if no lenses were in the way, a little longer if lenses had to be moved. Once in place the prism was able to be rotated at speeds ranging from 0.25 rpm to 150 rpm. Output As mentioned above I tested the unit at 8500K in CRI 70 mode and, with those settings, I measured the output in open at 7,400 lumens at a wide field angle of 37°, ramping down to 5,030 lumens at 7° field angle. As can be seen from Figure 16 and Figure 17 the beam distribution is extremely flat and smooth. You will need to increase or reduce these figures to suit the colour temperature and CRI mode you operate in.

Figure 16: Output at maximum zoom.


Figure 16: Output at maximum zoom.

a further +/- 45°. The blades move very quickly, about 0.1 sec from fully open to fully closed so can be used for a dynamic effect as well as framing. Rotation was a little slower at 0.9 seconds from a full 90°. The shutter cuts were nice and straight; I saw very little evidence of pincushion or barrel distortion. (See my Robin DLS review in LSi January 2013 for more on the framing shutter construction: //plasa.me/mxytz).

82 LSi - July 2016

Last but not least in this module is the iris. The fully closed 14-blade iris reduces the aperture to 17% of its full size, which gives equivalent field angles of 1.2° at minimum zoom and 6.2° at maximum zoom. I measured the opening/closing time at around 0.3 sec. Lens Module The final optical elements in the Robe DL7S are the frost and prism systems, and lenses

Pan & Tilt I measured the pan and tilt range of the Robin DL7S at 540° and 270° respectively. A full range 540° pan move took 4.6 seconds to complete, while a more typical 180° move finished in 2.7 seconds. Tilt took 3 seconds for a full 270° move and the same 2.7 seconds for 180°. The pan and tilt systems use Robe’s Electronic Motion Stabiliser system which, as I understand, incorporates accelerometers in the head to close the loop and feedback any vibration and movement to the control system. This results in very smooth, precise movement. The DL7S has the best accuracy performance of anything I’ve measured to date. Pan and tilt moves stop precisely on target with no overshoot, no ringing, and no bounce. Very impressive for such a heavy unit. I measured hysteresis on both pan and tilt at at 0.03°, equivalent to about 5mm at 10m. Noise The twin cooling fans for the LED light engine provide the primary background noise from the Robin DL7S. As usual, zoom and focus were the noisiest movement functions, followed by the framing shutters when run at fast speed.

Figure 18 shows one of the two yoke arms with the main power wires running through past the red and green yoke lock and the tilt mechanism. The other yoke is similar, but contains the data bus and the pan motor.


Construction The DL7S is of modular construction with the vast majority of the head components on the three main modules, all of which are very straightforward and simple to remove - just two captive screws and power and data connectors for each module.

With no lamp ballast or ignitor, all that is in the top box are power supplies and the main electronics. Again, construction is very simple. Figure 14: Lens module

Electronics & Control The Robe Robin DL7S uses the familiar Robe colour touch-screen system used in many of their products. This provides access to a comprehensive array of set-up and service functions (see Figure 19). This includes RDM, Ethernet protocols, optional wireless DMX using the LumenRadio CRMX system, stand-alone operation, and self-test modes. There is an internal rechargeable battery to power this display and menu when the unit is unpowered allowing easy set-up.

Figure 19: Display

Figure 18: Yoke arm and lock

The connector panel on the opposite side of the top box contains Neutrik True-1 power input along with standard 5-pin and 3-pin DMX-512 connections and an Ethernet port (see Figure 20).

Figure 20: Connectors

Normal Mode Ambient

<35 dBA at 1m


48.5 dBA at 1m


55.2 dBA at 1m


48.7 dBA at 1m


54.8 dBA at 1m


48.7 dBA at 1m

Gobo rotate

49.6 dBA at 1m


55.6 dBA at 1m


50.1 dBA at 1m

Animation wheel

48.6 dBA at 1m


48.6 dBA at 1m


48.6 dBA at 1m


48.6 dBA at 1m

Framing Shutters

53.3 dBA at 1m

The DL7S also offers a theatre mode where the fans are run much slower and the output is reduced as necessary. In full open white I measured the stationary noise level at a much reduced 37dBA at 1m (down from 48.5dBA). However, the output was reduced to 45% of its full value. The reduction in output in colours is less. The more saturated the colour, the less the reduction in light output. Homing/Initialisation Time Full initialisation took a very long 105 seconds from either a cold start or a DMX512 reset command. I’m not sure why homing was so slow. Homing is well behaved in that the fixture fades out smoothly, resets and keeps its shutter closed before fading up again after all reset movement is finished.

That’s it for the Robe Robin DL7S. We’ve covered its features from one end to the other. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s really the use of seven LED colours and the improved colour rendering and colour mixing that are the main features of this unit. Does your rig have a space waiting for it? You get to decide . . .

Mike Wood provides technical, design and intellectual property consulting services to the entertainment technology industry. He can be contacted at mike@mikewoodconsulting.com


Sound Levels

I measured power consumption when running at full output in 8500K open white as 5.43A, 605W, 615VA, a power factor of 0.99. The quiescent load with all LEDs off was 0.9A, 97W, 108VA, power factor of 0.88.

More on TM-30 colour evaluation . . . IES TM-30-15 is a document approved by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) that describes a method for evaluating light source colour rendition. The three highest-level components of the system are the Fidelity Index (Rf), Gamut Index (Rg), and Color Vector Graphic.

TM-30 remedies flaws and limitations of the CRI method and provides more detailed information, which can benefit specifiers, manufacturers and researchers. See the IES website: //plasa.me/kog0n

LSi - July 2016



The Chauvet Professional Ovation E-910FC By Mike Wood

About a year ago we took a look at Chauvetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first entry into the LED profile spot market, the Ovation ED-190WW. This month we examine the colour version in the Ovation family, the Chauvet Professional Ovation E-910FC. Similar styling, but this time with a five-colour LED

The results presented here are based on the testing, with the fixture operating on a nominal 115V 60Hz supply, of a single Ovation E-910FC unit supplied to me by Chauvet. Light Source The Ovation E-910FC uses an hexagonal array of 90 LEDs in five colours - red, green, blue, amber, and lime. There are 18 emitters for each of the colours apart from blue, which has 19. Figure 2 is a view into the lens showing the LED array and the surrounding hexagonal mirror tube array which serves to homogenise the colours. Each LED has its own primary optic feeding into the long hexagonal tube which, in turn, has a second field lens at its output. Figure 3 shows the layout of the mixing tube with the LEDs on the left.

light engine . . . The LED board is attached to a large, finned heatsink with a fan (also visible in Figure 3) drawing air through and away. Finally, layered behind all this at the rear of the unit are the driver and display electronics. The main power supply is mounted underneath the tube. As with the Ovation ED-190WW the fan is temperature controlled and the Ovation provides the option to run it all the time, or in auto mode. I ran all tests in Auto Fan mode. Figure 4 shows a thermal camera view of the fixture after running at full output for 30 minutes. Most of the heat, as expected, is immediately behind the LEDs.


Dimming The Ovation E910-FC offers a choice of options for control. I ran the unit with 16-bit control on all five LED channels through DMX-512. Further options are provided through the menu system for dimmer curve and speed, here I used the default settings to achieve the result shown in Figure 5. The dimming when controlled from DMX-512 was smooth and clean with a dimming curve that is a very good match for a standard square law curve. The various options for dimmer speed allow the Ovation to emulate the thermal lag of an incandescent lamp.

84 LSi - July 2016

Figure 1: Fixture as tested.

Whites The colour with all emitters at full is somewhat pink but, by pulling back just the red emitter, I was able to get back to the black body curve at 17,500K with very little reduction in output. This then is effectively the brightest white the unit can produce. The table below shows the measured results for the pre-specified white colour points that Chauvet offers in the fixture through the virtual colour wheel channel. The measured colour rendering metrics at 3200K were: TM-30 Rf of 83, TM-30 Rg of 115, TLCI 68, CRI 77. (Note: I highly recommend using TM-30 instead of CRI to judge colour rendering, particularly with LED sources. CRI can give wildly incorrect values with narrow band sources.) A TM-30 Rf of 83 is a reasonable result and the TM-30 Rg value of 115 shows that the unit oversaturates some colours. In this case it was reds and greens that were somewhat over-saturated. The colour rendering varied across the colour temperature range, with the higher colour temperatures providing better rendering in general. This is primarily because of the lack of deep red for the lower colour temperatures. Figure 7 shows the spectra at the extremes. Specified colour temperature

Measured colour temperature



















technicalfocus Figure 2: LED layout and homogeniser.

Figure 3: Integrating tube.

Thermal droop was quite low: I measured a drop from 100% output to 90% in 30 minutes at full power. Colour Colour mixing from a five-colour system using amber and lime on top of the usual RGB is a great improvement. As you know if you’ve read prior reviews, I’m not a great believer in RGB alone. It’s OK for lighting backings and effects use, but, in my opinion, never looks great on skin tones. The lack of cyan and magenta and the narrow spikes always makes the result look a bit cartoonish. Lime is the great addition that a number of manufacturers have added to their mixes in recent years. First developed by Philips for use in their Hue domestic colour changing lamps in 2014, it’s now finding its way into an increasing number of entertainment lighting products. It’s a blue pumped broad phosphor LED designed to address precisely the problem of maximising efficacy and improving colour.

Figure 4: Thermal.


Output As with the Ovation ED-190 WW the E910-FC uses standard changeable, ellipsoidal lens tubes offering a range of output angles. These all offer manual shutters and accessory slots for gobos and colour frames. Although, in this case, with a full colour mixing unit the colour frame is more likely to be used for diffusion rather than colour. For my tests I used the 26° lens (as I did with the ED-190WW last year: see LSi May-June 2015 - //plasa.me/6cx2v) and all results are reported with that lens fitted. At full output with all colours running at maximum I measured 4,500 lumens at a field angle of just under 24° (see Figure 6).

Figure 8 shows the SPD (Spectral Power Distribution) of a Lime LED superimposed over the top of the photopic curve (both the LSi - July 2016


technicalfocus Figure 5: Dimmer curve.

Figure 8: Lime vs V (Lambda).

Figure 6: Output.

Figure 9: Front lens.

old, familiar CIE 1924, and the new E1.48) to show you how good a fit it is. It peaks at just over 560nm, right about where the human eye is most sensitive, and follows the photopic curve very closely either side. In other words, lime (and the similar Mint from Osram) is an LED designed to be as efficacious as it possibly can be. A perfect match to the human eye response is as good as you can get when you want to make visible light. As far as theatre is concerned, lime helps a lot when trying to mix good pastels, particularly the pale blue and yellow tints beloved of lighting designers. The measured output contribution from each emitter was as follows:


Colours Colour












One difficulty of having all those colours is, of course, trying to mix them into a single, homogenised beam. Ovation has done a pretty good job with the mixing tube: however, there is still some colour variation visible across the beam and some coloured shadows. Figure 9 and Figure 10 show the front lens and a cyc with a single vertical pipe to cast shadows. Figure 7: Spectral curves.

86 LSi - July 2016

Noise The cooling fan is the only noise source. I measured 37.4dBA at 1m when run in full power with the fan in auto mode.

Figure 11: Rear panel.


shown in Figure 11 has both 5-pin XLR DMX connectors and 3-pin data connectors, as well as Powercon in and out, to allow daisy-chaining units. The menu system through the LCD panel allows local control, choice of the DMX-512 or dimmer control modes, as well as self-test and configuration options. The unit also offers RDM and a range of preset colours for stand-alone operation along with quick access to a ‘Focus’ mode where the light turns on full, overriding DMX-512, for focusing. There is a virtual colour wheel channel offering a range of pre-mixed gel colours but you can always mix your own using the five colours. That about covers it for the Chauvet Professional E-910FC. I hope I’ve given you enough information to decide if you should try it out for yourself . . .

Electrical Parameters I measured power consumption with the LEDs at full power at 1.82A from a nominal 115V 60 Hz supply. Power was 218W, 220VA, with a power factor of 0.99. Quiescent consumption with the LEDs off was 0.13A, 8W, 16VA at a power factor of 0.5. Construction & Electronics As with its siblings, the Chauvet Ovation E-910FC is styled like a familiar theatrical luminaire: black, die-cast aluminium and manual yoke. The rear panel of the unit

Mike Wood provides technical, design and intellectual property consulting services to the entertainment technology industry. He can be contacted at mike@mikewoodconsulting.com


Figure 10: Coloured shadows.

LSi - July 2016


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Elliot Herman talks to Anne Valentino, controls product manager for ETC “One of my favourite parts of my work is seeing it in use in theatre. It’s a pretty big thrill to walk into a production that takes full advantage of the multi-console operation and the features that have

Having started as a volunteer in a local theatre in the props department while studying anthropology, Anne quickly became known for her welding skills - her dad was a ship builder and could help with construction of the aluminium composite sets. She fell in love with the place, and the people who worked there. “Everyone was so friendly and warm, and happy that you were there to help,” she says. “I loved watching the people crafting together, and seeing the life of a production, from birth to death.”

vastly matured in


the past 10 years . . .”

“No, Jody! Don’t pee there, go pee in the yard please!” begs Anne Valentino, controls product manager for ETC. Anne is speaking to me from Texas, and Jody is her new golden retriever puppy. Anyone who knows Anne knows that she has two lives. One is spent at home in Bandera, Texas, working from her patio, surrounded by her three dogs and idyllic-sounding local wildlife; the other is spent working on ETC’s Eos control desk product line, travelling every few days to meet users and attend trade shows.

90 LSi - July 2016

She continued to work on shows, changing her degree to do lighting in her final year, followed by grad school “to buy a couple more years while I figured out what to do with my life.” After graduation, she landed a job as technical director in a brand new, 1,500-seat performing arts centre near Houston, which was, she says, “the worst functioning theatre ever.” Millions of dollars had been spent on a dysfunctional building, and Anne took the decision to try make it work as best she could going back to the consultant and, referring to plans and building codes, forcing him and the builders to come back and address tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of issues. She quickly became renowned as a problem solver among other new build theatres that the consultant had worked on, and people started phoning her boss, asking her to come to visit their venue to see if she could help. “It was a lot a lot of fun,” she says, “but I was also very interested in the supply side.” She moved to New York, and console manufacturer Kliegl, where she worked as a technical writer; in addition to writing training manuals, she also developed product training, which had previously been handled by the research and development staff. After a sales stint at Crews Folsom Associates in San Antonio, Anne realised she wanted to learn something new - so she moved to Strand in Los Angeles, where she

first came across ‘product platforming’. This is when common software is packaged into different hardware, with different price points for different uses. But the concept was still under development, and was a long, slow process. In 1989, Anne met ETC’s CEO Fred Foster at the USITT show, where his company had just introduced the Expression platform - the first desk which wasn’t completely independent of others in the same line, and would allow show file compatibility with other desks in the family. “After so many years of talking about product platforming,” she says, “here was a product which finally achieved it. A tiny company in Madison, Wisconsin, had finally pulled it off. So I wrote to Fred, congratulating him - which resulted in a phone call inviting me to come and work for ETC as manager of research and development.” His reason for this position, rather than product manager, was to make sure that the people designing the product have the closest possible contact with the end users. In 1992, ETC launched the Obsession desk, Sensor dimming, and the lamp which would change theatre lighting: the Source Four. But Anne wasn’t satisfied - she recognised that she needed to know more about moving lights, and ETC didn’t offer one. She moved again, back to LA, consulting for Entertec, and working on developing ETC’s Obsession and Expression desks. Just six months later, with her possessions barely unpacked, she moved again, this time to join VariLite, where she was to help get their architectural division started. Shortly thereafter, she began work on Virtuoso, a replacement to the much-loved Artisan control system. When Vari-Lite went public, she moved to PRG as the Vice President of Marketing, with an aim at re-branding the various lighting companies that had recently been acquired. “But within 18 months, they’d brought in an integration specialist who said that all their

marketing should be done on a local level,” she says. “If one region wanted to do a trade show, they’d organise it themselves which meant that half-way into my three-year contract, I found myself redundant.” So after a nervous start and plenty of encouragement from colleagues, Anne started doing consulting and web design, working with the former webmaster of PRG. It wasn’t until 2001 that Dennis Varian at ETC asked her to get involved in a new project, which was to become Eos. “For the first time,” she smiles, “I got to work on a project which started with an empty whiteboard - everything I’d done before was an iteration of something else. But ETC told us that this product could take whatever shape we thought was best to meet market requirements. “We spent a lot of time doing market research for a new desk which would easily handle both conventionals and moving lights natively - previous desks had done one or the other.” The original Eos classic came out five years later, in 2006, followed by Ion, Gio, and finally Eos Ti, all of which are compatible with one another. Product platforming had matured. “One of my favourite parts of my work is seeing it in use in theatres,” she says. “It’s a pretty big thrill to walk into a production that takes full advantage of the multi-console operation and the features that have vastly matured in the past 10 years. We have a very passionate user-base, whom we rely on heavily for on-going development which comes via email, forums, SMS, Skype, text message, social media . . . almost everything but carrier pigeon.” Anne describes herself as a “synthesiser of ideas. The challenge is being able to synthesise all of this input and these ideas into something meaningful and cohesive with a decided personality. That’s the fun of it.”

1/5 Creativity. Design. Technology. PLASA 2016 Re-focused After substantial market research PLASA 2016 is moving back to the heart of the city to London Olympia on 18-20 September. See the very latest live entertainment technology, live product demos, technical workshops and the free to attend seminar sessions.

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