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Archive for February, 2014

Philips Selecon LED PL Range Provides Vivid Colours for RADA Plays

25th February, 2014

UK – London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) staged Harold Pinter’s Betrayal and Cole Porter’s High Society at the end of 2013 utilising the strong colours and smooth dimming of Philips Selecon’s PL range of LED fixtures.

RADA runs a four-term specialist course in Stage Electrics and Lighting Design as well as a two-year foundation degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management, which allows students to specialise in lighting in their final year.

Two of RADA’s specialist lighting design students worked on each of the productions: Amy Mae for Betrayal at RADA’s GBS Theatre; and Matt Leventhall for High Society at RADA’s Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre.

RADA’s Head of Lighting Matt Prentice consulted with Selecon to specify a mixture of PLprofile1s, PLfresnel1s, and PLcyc1s to the drama school, which is generally regarded as one of the most prestigious in the world.

“We had used LED lighting before, however, not as often as we would like as subtlety of colour is so important to us as we mainly do drama,” says Prentice. “It’s important for our students to use all kinds of new technologies, and as LED technology becomes more prevalent it’s great that they have the opportunity to design lighting using products such as Selecon’s PL range.”

RADA lighting design student Amy Mae used the Selecon PLprofile1s and PLfresnel1s for Betrayal: “I found the PLfresnel1s were excellent in terms of brightness, strong colours, and cold tones, and I was impressed with the versatility of the beam angle. They were so useful when changing the colour of the walls of a box set, which helped me cut back on fixtures, meaning I could use the dimmers for other specials, and I’d also find them useful as backlight.”

RADA lighting design student Matt Leventhall used Selecon’s PLcyc1s for High Society at RADA’s Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre: “Iused the PLcyc1son a 8m x 5m cyclorama at a spacing of 80cm, and they performed excellently with very good, smooth coverage. I found the colour mixing to be superb; the units produce a magnificent set of ambers and are also strong in the CTB range.The dimming is smooth and extremely beautiful. The intensity was good, but for a real kick I would have used more units, spaced at 0.5m intervals as Selecon recommend.

“It was a new experience having an entirely LED cyc – the freedom over the look is both daunting and exciting,” continues Leventhall. “What is daunting is the sheer power one has to totally overhaul a look at the touch of a button. It’s certainly a power I had to weald with caution, because in the ambitious eyes of the director and designer it could easily have run away from my control. What’s exciting, though, is that one has the ability to refine your picture to a high degree, achieving subtlety of colour that complements scenery in a way that is usually difficult to predict before the real structure sits on stage.”

The LED PLfresnel1, PLprofile1 and PLcyc1s operate in a familiar way to Philips Entertainment’s industry-respected traditional tungsten fixtures, yet benefit from the advantages LED offers including: low power consumption, no lamp replacements, greater creative flexibility through the RGBW light engine and less heat and wasted energy.

Philips Selecon recently launched a game changing pricing initiative that will put the PLfresnel1, PLprofile1, and PLcyc1 luminaires within the reach of all lighting professionals.

“Our aim is to bring future pricing levels forward and offer them to our customers today,” explains Philips’ senior sales manager Grant Bales-Smith. “We’ve been selling LED luminaires for a number of years, but we have found that they are often perceived as expensive when compared to traditional lighting tools. Now the cost is comparable to their conventional equivalents putting the PL range of LED luminaires in everyone’s reach.”


Philips Showline SL NITRO 510s Light Up South Africa’s TV, Live Music and Events Market

24th February, 2014

South Africa – Following the major investment in Philips Showline’s high-output SL NITRO 510s by two of South Africa’s most established rental houses, Gearhouse and MGG Productions, the super bright SL NITRO 510 strobes have proved a popular choice for some of the country’s biggest events.

The punchy and dynamic SL NITRO 510s, which offer an output of 68,000 lumens and six programmable zones, facilitates a multitude of looks. Gearhouse, technical Supplier to South Africa’s Live Event Industry, recently invested in 140x SL NITRO 510 units and immediately supplied them to the Johannesburg International Motor Show where they were used to light Tata trucks and buses on the Tata commercial vehicles stand.

“The SL NITRO 510 is an innovative unit in that offers all the functionality of a strobe, but can also be used as a static white wash,” says Gearhouse’s Lighting Operations Manager, Stuart Andrews. “It also has programming facilities that allows us to create some stunning visual effects. The unit reduces power consumption and can save a small fortune on lamps. It also has more features than a standard strobe so has potential for a number of purposes, from lighting trucks on an exhibition stand, to international concerts or as pixel mapping effects units for special events and shows. This is exactly the kind of innovation, in terms of product, that we at Gearhouse SA look for. On the Tata stand, the SL NITRO 510s were so bright we had to run them at 60%! They performed flawlessly and made the vehicles look as if they were glowing internally.”

“The SL NITRO 510 features an array of over 1300 tightly packed, high power LEDs that ensure maximum output and full-field, even distribution across 1200,” adds Duncan Riley, managing director of Philips Entertainment product distributor in South Africa – DWR Distribution. “Their rugged construction makes them ideal for touring or outdoor situations. And, Showline’s standard LCD menu system along with the continuous-on operation and lower power consumption make the SL NITRO 510 very simple to programme. In addition, the easy to use quick-connect systems allows SL NITRO 510 units to connect together top-to-bottom and side-by-side.”

Gearhouse also supplied SL NITRO 510s to South Africa’s popular televised reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance.

“This was a big night in South African television. The finale of the show was a big deal for our client – production company Rapid Blue,” continues Andrews. “Our in-house LD, Robert Grobler, wanted to use something with a real kick, so we added the SL NITRO 510s as effects strobes alongside other fixtures. I expect live events to be the SL NITRO 510’s forte – without a doubt the compact size belies their stunning output – they are blindingly bright!”

Around the same time MGG Productions, which also supplies lighting to events and productions across South Africa, invested in a number of Showline’s NITRO 510s and supplied them to the live music concerts – Afrikaans is Groot. The popular concerts attract some of the biggest names in African music, and played to sell-out audiences in Pretoria and Cape Town in 2013.

“The Afrikaans is Groot production team asked for an additional ‘stab’ lighting effect, and I knew the SL NITRO 510s would offer just that,” says MGG’s Mark Gaylard. “They worked very well for the live show and looked especially great on TV. The SL NITRO 510s are easy to rig with some very nice solid rigging hardware included, either flown or on the floor.”

Gaylard discovered the SL NITRO 510s on the Philips stand at Frankfurt and immediately ordered a batch from DWR Distribution.

“They’re awesome little units,” continues Gaylard. “We’re seeing many LED blinder units starting to arrive in South Africa, although the SL NITRO 510s are the first. I fully expect ours to be out on rental more often than not for the foreseeable future.”


Philips Vari-Lite 3000 Spot brings depth to Disclosure design

20th February, 2014

Lighting and show designer Will Potts is utilising the versatility and internal speed of Philips VL3000 Spot luminaires to execute his energetic lighting design for electronic music duo Disclosure.

Potts specified the VL3000s, which were provided by leading supplier PRG, to skillfully bring to life the band’s signature icon, the instantly recognisable line drawing of a face, as part of his design. For the preliminary stages of the project, Potts employed the VL3000’s powerful beam to project custom artwork through a series of gauze screens, transporting 2D images into a 3D space.

“VL3000s were always my first choice for this show,” says Potts. “The clarity of image projection combined with good brightness, wide zoom capabilities and its global availability made it a no brainer to use. I also really enjoy being able to use three rotating gobo wheels loaded with custom artwork. The VL3000’s consistency and accuracy in repeating my programming, not only within a single luminaire but across multiple fixtures, means I have more time on the road concentrating on adapting the design to suit each space.”

Potts explains that in the first stages of the project, the venue spaces were much smaller and therefore it was hard to harness the power of the VL3000s. However, now Disclosure play to increased crowd sizes in much larger locations he is able to fine-tune this depth and projection angle to work with each space, allowing him to get the maximum effect from the artwork.

Through the development of the project, Potts has animated some of his artwork, with the face now singing several of the tracks. Regardless, the VL3000s are still heavily relied upon to add significant depth to the design’s static images.

It’s apparent that the reliability, efficiency and global presence of the Vari-Lite VL3000 Spot means it remains the ideal fixture for Potts’ design as the tour increases in size and scope.

“Programming time is saved thanks to the VL3000’s gobo design with cogs permanently fixed onto the glass gobo itself. It’s also a very universal fixture, and there hasn’t been a show yet in the world where I haven’t been able to source them.It’s down to this that the VL3000 has been such a successful fixture in moving my design forwards and growing the live show’s personality with the band all over the world.”

Disclosure’s tour continues this year throughout Europe, and includes headline performances at a number of exciting festivals this summer.

Eric Prydz EPIC 2.0 Powered by Avolites Ai Media Servers and Sapphire Touch Consoles

20th February, 2014

EDM man-of-the-moment Eric Prydz is taking the US by storm with his brand new EPIC 2.0 tour featuring ‘freeform’ lighting design, 3D holograms, and giant, brighter LED-mapping surfaces powered by a mix of Avolites Sapphire consoles and Avolites Media Ai servers.

Lighting designer Jaz Bhullar used two Avolites Sapphire Touch consoles to create striking and original lighting for the shows – one live and one for backup.

“It was such a massive video show that we wanted to keep the lighting quite moody and subdued, only using it when necessary,” says Bhullar. “The main reason we wanted to use the Sapphires is because rather than being a time coded show where everything snaps completely to the music, we wanted it to be freeform with an organic feel. Avolites desks are perfect for this, and the latest Titan v7 software allowed us to use all the new functions to do some really cool things that we wouldn’t have been able to do on any other desk.”

After completing the two New York shows, Bhullar handed over to US lighting designer, Johnny III.

“Another great thing is the Avolites show import function,” continues Bhullar. “I can take any part of any show, regardless of whether it was used with the same fixtures or not, and apply it. The Sapphire is really user-friendly in that way – Johnny Ill could see how it was laid out and exactly how it worked. Everything on an Avolites desk is designed for quick usability. You can work very quickly, which was one of the reasons I spec’d Sapphires on this show.”

To power the visual content, Prydz worked with long-time collaborator Immersive to put together a package for the DJ consisting of two Apple Macbook Pro laptops with Avolites Miami dongles. These allow users to run Ai on laptops, enabling creation, design and full 3D visualisation of projects on the move. The Ai unlock keys also allow output of HD video, enabling shows and presentations to be run directly from a laptop or a full server.

Unlike many time code and computer generated DJ productions, EPIC 2.0 is a completely live event, with Prydz’s VJ, Liam Tomaszewski, conducting a huge range of visual content throughout the performance.

“With most other media servers you have to sequence video clips, playing a sequence of pre-recorded media,” explains Immersive’s MD Mark Calvert. “Working with the Ai server allows the clips to be changed every 15-20 seconds, and there are around 600 clips in the show, all custom made. The Ai server can also handle playback of very high res files, and no other server would allow us to work in this way. EPIC 2.0 runs at around two hours, which is very unusual in today’s DJ world where it’s usually an hour. We wanted to give the fans a really unforgettable live experience.”

The brutalist architecture theme to the staging created a feeling of perspective towards Prydz, situating the DJ in a giant structure encompassing wings that overlapped the audience. These also functioned as LED screens onto which visual content including 3D animations of gleaming, robotic machinery, rotating planets, and geometric patterns could be displayed.

“The most important thing to us was that the show’s not time coded or running off a computer in the background, Eric is DJing the entire time,” adds Immersive’s Creative Director John Munro. “Show producer Mark, Liam the VJ, Jaz the lighting designer and myself know the show, the artist and the music and we were conducting it live. We spent a lot of time talking about the choreography of that day’s show and how we were going to do it, and we couldn’t have done this without the Ai server.”

The EPIC (Eric Prydz In Concert) 2.0 shows toured to venues such as Aragon Ballroom, Illinois, the Hollywood Palladium, and Marquee, New York.

Einstein & Sons Intelligently Invests in Avolites Media Ai Media Servers

10th February, 2014

Design, programming, and lighting/video direction experts Einstein & Sons has chosen to boost its arsenal of innovative visuals engines by investing in Avolites Media’s industry-leading Ai Media Servers.

Einstein & Sons, which was founded in 2013 by lighting designers Roland Greil and Michael Kuehbandner, offers design and consulting, programming, lighting and video direction, media server programming and hire alongside pre-production services, to a wide range of clients.

Recent projects include supplying media server services to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, design work for Sony and Samsung Booths 2009-2013, design work at the FIS Ski World Cup Munich 2010-2012, as well as associate design work for internationally successful designers like Patrick Woodroffe.

“By investing in Avolites Media’s Ai Servers, we feel like we’ve invested in the future of server technology,” explains Michael Kuehbandner. “We decided to work with Ai for a specific reason – to push the boundaries of real-time video playback and manipulation as far as we can. Ai’s incredible visualization capabilities enable us to easily work within a virtual 3D environment.”

Roland Greil adds: “It definitely sets new standards in this genre and considerably improves the efficiency of the whole production process. However, another key factor affecting our decision is the system’s performance and the multiple interactivity possibilities using the powerful Salvation engine.”

The award winning, record breaking Ai Infinity server features an incredible 8 Full HD outputs, and a front panel mounted touch screen, which enables local control, system analysis and remote preview. Conveniently, each DVI output has an accompanying preview output. The Ai Infinity also includes internal EDID management, LTC and MIDI Time-code, Genloc Input, Multi-Server Frame-sync and Master-Slave remote control.

“We are delighted to see our Ai Servers are being utilised by such a forward-thinking, innovative production and design house,” says Avolites Media’s Managing Director Steve Warren. “The Avolites Media team is a long time fan of Einstein & Sons’ visionary work and direction on a variety of major projects. We’re really very excited to see where Ai can take them in 2014. We already know that the team from Einstein & Sons are currently working on a number of projects using Ai servers, in particular projects that involve interactive content and there are some interesting upcoming projects in the pipeline, so watch this space!”

Philips Showline SL NITRO 510s are Beat-Perfect for Diversity Tour

10th February, 2014

Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity have been breakdancing around the UK’s biggest arenas in a dynamic show entitled ‘Limitless’. Lighting designer Neil Trenell’s beat-perfect show design, featured sophisticated pyrotechnics and a backdrop of stunning video visuals, all cleverly punctuated with intense bursts of light from an array of Philips Showline LED SL NITRO 510s.

Trenell’s lighting trusses carried a number of LED wash and profile fixtures, peppered at regular intervals with Showline SL NITRO 510s. Although he only used 14 in total he used them in a multiplicity of imaginative ways including full on audience blinders, single snare accents, and flash flares.

“Incredibly, the SL NITRO 510s make it looks like there are at least 100 strobes on stage – not just 14!” explains Trenell. “I’m impressed, you get serious bang for your buck from these fixtures – the output is really impressive and they consume relatively little power.”

The SL NITRO 510s feature a tightly packed array of over 1300 high power LEDs,” explains Philips Vari-Lite and Showline product manager, EMEA, Martin Palmer. “This ensures maximum output and full-field, even distribution. However what really makes the SL NITRO 510 stand apart from other strobes is the six unique zones of control available on each fixture. This allows for the ultimate in design flexibility, while unique built in chases aid designer creativity and programming simplicity.”

“My design aim was to create an intimate, theatre style feel within large arenas,” continues Trenell. “However at the same time I wanted to use punchy bursts of light to maximize the high-octane feel of the fast-paced show. The fact that you can daisy-chain the SL NITRO 510s together and utilise the cell control means I could achieve four or five different looks from the units simply and quickly. This is exactly what I look for from fixtures that are built for today’s forward-thinking lighting designs – versatility and power from as few units as possible and consuming as little power as possible.”

With over 68,000 lumens of output, the SL NITRO 510 rivals conventional strobes and retains dynamic looks, whether washing a stage or pointing directly at an audience.”Other strobes are just on or off,” adds Trenell. “The zone control the SL NITRO 510s offer really makes them stand out from the crowd. Not only that the robust construction means touring with them is easy – we haven’t broken a single unit during this tour!”

The Showline standard LCD menu system, continuous-on operation and lower power consumption make the SL NITRO 510 a versatile and valuable strobe addition to any rig and for any application.

A unique quick-connect system allows SL NITRO 510 units to connect together easily, top-to-bottom and / or side-by-side.

The SL NITRO 510s were supplied, along with the rest of the lighting rig, by HSL.

“Simon Stuart of HSL insisted I had a look at the SL NITRO 510s and, having seen them in action, I’m looking forward to using them in much bigger clusters for future arena shows,” concludes Trenell.

HSL now has over 100 units and they have all been out on hire since they were purchased. Mike Oates, director at HSL is delighted: “We have been very impressed by this unit and the lighting designers we regularly work with seem to love them. We have been delighted with the outcome of the investment and hope to buy more in future.”

Diversity’s Limitless tour kicked off in November at Dublin’s O2 Arena and travelled to large UK venues such as Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Birmingham NIA, and London’s O2 in December.


Charcoalblue Delivers Lighting, Sound, and AV to Doncaster’s New Cultural Hub

10th February, 2014

Doncaster’s brand new performance venue ‘Cast’ is now open featuring a suite of four performance spaces with stage engineering, stagelighting, sound, and AV systems designed and specified by Charcoalblue.

Working alongside specialist architects, RHWL Arts Team, Charcoalblue’s brief was to deliver a full technical solution for the spaces, to a predetermined budget and programme, that adequately equipped them for a broad range of users from local drama groups to national productions.

RHWL Arts Team developed the design of the fixed form, 600-seat proscenium theatre which is large enough to attract high-profile acts and performers, and the flexible studio theatre which caters for up to 200 people seated, or 400 standing, and facilitates a wide range of uses thanks to its flexibility of the integrated systems design.

Dance and drama studios complete the suite of performance spaces. Two first-class rehearsal/meeting/education spaces, and a bar and café, were also created.

“Fundamental to the successful delivery of CAST was our willingness to be pragmatic in approach, tailoring our design responses to ensure that whilst meeting the very specific needs of the developer, theatrical function remained at the core of the project,” says Charcoalblue’s Senior Consultant Paul Crosbie. “With the building procured on a Design and Build basis, our presence on the main contractors’ novated design team ensured that theatrical function remained at the core of the project and was not compromised as part of the design and construction process.

“A substantial part of our role in projects of this type is to ensure that the voices of cultural clients and end-users are brought to the table and are not drowned out by ‘the construction machine’.”

In the theatre, Charcoalblue designed a variable proscenium system comprising a flown header and sliding side-masking panels, together with an orchestra pit elevator and seating wagon system capable of increasing the stage depth or alternatively adding 31 seats to the stalls capacity.

Charcoalblue also designed the over-stage counterweight flying system, and the flytower, high-level galleries, immediate adjacencies and power supplies to the theatre to facilitate future conversion to a powered flying system.

Following the appointment of VINCI Construction, Charcoalblue joined the VINCI team and worked alongside the selected specialist sub-contractors – Centerstage Engineering and Northern Light – to ensure the successful delivery of the theatre packages.

It’s hoped Cast – a theatrical term that can also, appropriately, be found ‘at the heart of DonCASTer’ – will play a pivotal role in the town’s new Civic and Cultural Quarter, raising its profile on a regional and national level. The venue will be open day and night and is expected to attract around 270,000 visitors a year, acting as a catalyst for regeneration in other parts of the town centre.

The £22 million project, built on behalf of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, opened in September 2013 and has launched a diverse programme including comedy, family shows, and music.

Charcoalblue’s Paul Crosbie concludes: “Once again I have been fortunate enough to lead an excellent Charcoalblue team in delivering a cultural building with the potential to raise the profile of its home town on both a regional and national level, whilst adding something new and exciting to the country’s theatrical landscape.”

AI Media Servers Power Spectacular ‘Videoscapes’ for Peter Pan Arena Show

10th February, 2014

Avolites Media Ai Media Servers formed the video delivery system of choice for the spectacular £10million UK arena tour of Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story.

The show, produced by Music Hall and creatively conceived by Luc Petit, thrilled audiences in their thousands during the festive period, with a dynamic set entirely shaped and contextualised using video mapped projection.

Belgium-based video house Dirty Monitor brought a series of intricately designed videoscapes, conceived by scenographer Michel Soucy, to animated life for the show.

The 120-minute movie took a year to produce and features vivid realisations of pirate ships, mermaid coves and enchanted jungle temples that effortlessly interact with the shows ‘real-life’ action. All this is projected onto the 37m long, 25m wide stage backed by 9m high rear stage wall, all of which was fully covered with projection.

Patrick Bellens of The Creative Factory was responsible for precision mapping the videoscapes using three Avolites Media AI infinity 8 media servers feeding 14 Panasonic PT-DS20 Projectors: “We chose to use the Avolites Media Ai Infinity 8 Media Server because we needed a powerful system that enabled us to visualise the show in 3D and precisely map it to the set pieces,” explains Bellens. “We mix live IMAG with pre-programmed content and the Ai 3D visualizer allows us to do this easily and seamlessly.”

In addition the Ai media server’s 3D Visualiser enabled Bellens to tailor and adjust the show’s content so as to precisely fit each venue visited during the tour.

“The Ai gives us total flexibility when it comes to changing the heights and angles of projection. This means we can adapt easily to different venues and still map and fine tune the output of 14 projectors in less then three hours,” explains Bellens. “The 3D visualiser gives us a useful insight into what is going on on-stage from all perspectives. Throughout, the Avolites system has been invaluable in allowing us to import a 3D set model and then map the content directly onto it. We can also move through the show in real time in the visualiser. That has enabled the creative team to view the stage set in the studio before it is even built.”

“We also did some custom patching within the Ai environment to create some easily adjustable masks,” adds Arran Rothwell-Eyre, Ai Support engineer for Avolites Media. “This allows Patrick to blank out sections of content, depending on which projector is in use. This ultimately means we can greatly reduce the number of media files being streamed at any one point – in this case down to just two.”

The flexibility Ai gives to adjust and reposition virtual projectors from venue to venue allows for structural and rigging differences in each space and precludes the need to re-render content. This was a deciding factor for Bellens when it came to his choice of media server.

“The team at Avolites Media gave me considerable assistance with the mode of delivery and the time-coded elements,” explains Bellens. “Because we have so much going on including on-stage – 3D flights, elevators and the wind turbine flying – everything is strictly time-coded to the audio in order to keep cues tight. Plus, we integrated a bespoke precautionary measure so that if there was a technical glitch or we had to skip a scene the video and audio elements sync together automatically, avoiding an impromptu blackout.”

Managing director of Avolites Media, Steve Warren is delighted: “Yet again the Ai Media Server has proved itself invaluable in a creatively challenging live performance environment. We relish seeing this technology being used to deliver such forward thinking and intricate visual content. The fact that we can now create an entirely convincing simulated world, where the boundaries between the real and the virtual are almost seamless, means the action can move more effortlessly between the two worlds – brilliant.”

For more information on Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story visit the show’s official website


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