A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

Archive by David Steinberg

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Chooses Vista Systems’ Spyder Image Processor for Videowall in New Headquarters’ Welcome Center

Visitors to Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts get an immediate sense of the biotechnology company when they spot the impressive 2×8 videowall, comprised of 55-inch Primeview Ultra Narrow Bezel monitors, in the ninth floor Welcome Center. The videowall’s content is supported by a Spyder X20 0808 image processor from Vista Systems.

“We wanted to offer an immersive experience for guests that would give a sense of our corporate brand in a short amount of time,” says Theron Wallis at Vertex. “A couple of monitors would have been good – an array of 16 would be immersive. So we decided where to position the wall and began laying out the space.”

Vertex brought on ACT Associates as its AV consultant for the new campus. The videowall was positioned behind reception in the Welcome Center, whose floor also features a training room and conference rooms. The wall is designed to display branding information, company culture, company history, product news and science videos in a changing visual panorama that captures and holds visitors’ attention.

ACT Associates designed the system around Primeview Eco Line Ultra Narrow displays, their preferred videowall solution. “Our videowalls are unique because they are HDBaseT embedded and can carry all connectivity over a singe CAT5 or CAT6 cable. We’re the only manufacturer that does that,” explains Primeview’s Chanan Averbuch. “Since we are project based, our units come color-calibrated out of the box and have substantially better color fidelity than other brands. They are also virtually seamless, with the only bezel where the glass meets the glass.”

The Vertex videowall is configured with 16 Primeview monitors divided into four 2×2 arrays with a total of 8 inputs. Each 2×2 array comprises one signal. There are seven computer inputs and one digital signage input, the latter via a Visix media player. Four outputs are currently in use, so the system has room to grow.

Averbuch recommended Vista Systems’ Spyder for image processing. “It’s the best and most reliable solution in the industry,” he declares. “There are so many options out there, but cheaper solutions typically end up being more expensive in the long run.”

Peter Thompson of ACT Associates arranged a demo of the Spyder X20 while the Vertex HQ was still in the early stages of construction. Mark Pawelcyzk and Brian Macauto of Vista Systems led the demo, which was conducted with a Primeview display; the completed installation marks the first project on which Vista Systems and Primeview have collaborated.

Spyder “is very well known and well regarded in the industry,” says Thompson. “The product has a great track record for reliability, ease of set up and ease of use. And their customer support is great. The client loved Spyder when we pitched it to them, as well.”

“Spyder came out on top because we were shown how customizable it is,” notes Wallis. “We were convinced that we could manage it inhouse and update it as we see fit. Vista has been very helpful. We’re working with the company to see how we can optimize the system and get the most out of it.”

The completed videowall in the new Vertex HQ is “very impressive,” says Wallis. “It’s been very well received,” agrees Thompson. “It’s one of the better videowalls we’ve seen in a long time. Vista and Primeview combine for a great solution.”

“The install looks great,” reports Pawelcyzk. “It’s the best-looking total solution I’ve seen in quite a while.”

“When you all trust each other and respect each other’s solutions you get dynamic results,” concludes Averbuch.

George Bing at HB Communications was the integrator for the project.

About Vista Systems
Vista Systems’ switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching with real-time windowing and composition. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.

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Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Features Projection Support from WorldStage

Photo: Es Devlin

The inaugural production of Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), a non-profit theatre that produces Shakespeare along side other major authors in its new home at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn could hardly have been more ambitious: director Julie Taymor’s innovative staging of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” featuring extensive video projections designed by Sven Ortel. WorldStage provided seven Christie video projectors coupled with a content handling system centered on the d3 Technologies d3 media server to meet the complex needs of Ortel and the multiple, moving projection surfaces, which help create the enchanted atmosphere critics and theatregoers are raving about.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened in The Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, a 299-seat uniquely flexible space inspired by the Cottesloe Theatre on London’s Royal National Theatre. The Scripps merges an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with a modern black box. It has seven configurations and is 35 foot high from floor to grid, nearly twice the height of a typical Off Broadway theatre.

Taymor and her set designer, Es Devlin, devised a deep thrust configuration that reduced seating to 284. The deep thrust enabled the audience to get close to the stage and the performers and immerse themselves in The Bard’s magical comedy. During the show, expansive moving pieces of fabric serve as multi-functional projection surfaces: They act as the sky, a wedding canopy and bower; performers on flying rigs slide down the fabric and are raised and lowered on it. Fabric sometimes becomes a ground cloth that later disappears down a trap. Fabric tumbles out of the back wall. All of it is mapped with projections to set the scene for weddings, woods and fairies galore.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that the support of WorldStage was one of the essential elements that made this production possible,” says Jeffrey Horowitz, founding artistic director of TFANA. “This show is on a completely different scale for TFNA than any other of our productions in our 34 year history. The audience wrapped around the thrust on three levels. I’ve worked with projections before but never at this level of complexity. It was an incredible feat for WorldStage to configure the projectors and focus them to map the images precisely to the huge canopies of fabric. The staging appears to have the lightness and playfulness of a dream.”

Sven Ortel designed projections that feature a lot of naturalistic and woodsy elements, layered clouds with evocative colors and a number of fairy elements, including slow-motion footage of moths in various sizes and intensities, which represents the fairy kingdom. Animated cut-out silhouettes also create “a bit of mystery in a scary, fairy-tale way,” he adds.

WorldStage’s Lars Pedersen notes that, “the rectangular shape of the black-box theatre itself, the shapes of the projection surfaces and the fact that the fabric moves – it raises, it lowers, it billows, it vanishes down the trap at times – posed significant challenges for us. The projector configuration was unusual to the extreme with many of the projectors having to be placed in close proximity to the audience seating. Beyond the nonconforming projection angles, we also had to account for noise abatement when considering projector placement.”

Different types of fabric were tested to make sure the imagery would read well on the material and the fabric would “recede into nothing when it’s not acting as a projection surface,” Ortel explains. “We found a sheer, quite translucent fabric that looks quite magical.”

Ortel calls “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” “one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done from an installation point of view. I contacted Lars and (WorldStage president) Josh (Weisberg) very early on. They came on board with all they had to help us pull it off. They gave us a lot of confidence no matter what bold, challenging ideas Julie (Taymor) or I came up with.”

Ortel selected seven Christie projectors, which are mounted in the grid, low to the floor and on the back tiers of the theatre. Two Christie Roadster S+20K projectors provide top floor projection; an M Series DS+10KM near front projection; an M Series HD-14K-M video projector far front projection; one M Series DS+10KM back projection (flown) and four more M Series units to handle canopy projection.

“The projectors had to be positioned where they wouldn’t be in the way of the performers and still fulfill the function of covering certain surfaces,” notes Ortel. “Lars and his team helped me make it work – they wouldn’t go home until the job was done and that took quite some time with various iterations and changes.” Since the theatre had to act as a rehearsal venue during the day, time on site for WorldStage was limited to evenings and late nights.

The Christie projectors were chosen primarily for their low-noise, small footprint, and 110v operation. “In addition, the ChristieNET control software allowed the operators to quickly and effortlessly monitor and modify projector status throughout the run of the show.”

“We opted to go with the d3 server platform on this job due its inherent ability to facilitate image mapping along with a myriad of other incredibly useful features. We immediately recognized the difficulties we were up against given the amorphous form of the projection surfaces. Not only were we concerned about the indeterminate shapes of the fabric, but we also had to account for the fact that the fabric would reside in various stage positions. In order to create the requisite d3 mesh objects we employed a very sophisticated laser instrument to measure and record the vital information of the various shapes and positions of the fabric within the 3D space of the venue. We then used a brand new feature in d3 called Mesh Animation. This feature allowed us to seamlessly transition imagery and mapping information from one fabric shape and position to another in real time.”

Jeffrey Horowitz notes that TFANA’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has received “spectacular reviews and audiences are having a wonderful time. The imagery and production are fresh – Shakespeare wrote images, and this all comes from what he wrote. But it’s not duplicative of Shakespeare, it’s additive. You can sense its aliveness.”

“The show has been a big success for everyone involved,” says Ortel. “It’s been everything that we’ve hoped for – it’s really unlike anything anyone has seen before. What has been particularly exciting for me is to get email and Tweets from young projection designers who have been inspired by what they’ve seen. That’s a compliment to all of us, including WorldStage.”

“It’s unbelievable what WorldStage did for us,” Horowitz concludes. “A theatre only opens once. This production was the fireworks we hoped it would be, and WorldStage was a big part of the gunpowder!”

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.

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Clay Paky Lighting Fixtures, grandMA Consoles and MDG Fog and Haze Generators Make Luke Bryan’s Night on Country Artist’s New Tour

Luke Bryan has rolled out his That’s My Kind of Night Tour, and Elite Multimedia Productions in Nashville is providing Clay Paky A.LEDA, Sharpy and Sharpy Wash lighting fixtures; grandMA2 consoles; and MDG’s theONE fog/haze atmospheric generators as Bryan once again takes to the road. The popular country artist’s new tour is named after his latest single, which has catapulted to # 1 in the country charts. A.C.T Lighting Inc. is the exclusive distributor for Clay Paky, MA Lighting and MDG in North America.

“We just concluded the Dirt Road Diaries Tour with Luke; his new tour will run from January 2014 to the end of October,” says Tom Wilson, vice president of event productions at Elite Multimedia Productions. “For this tour they’ve doubled the number of Sharpys and added Sharpy Washes. They’ve been really thrilled with the Clay Paky fixtures, which have been very durable with a really low failure rate. In 10 months on the road, there have been almost no failures. The only light we lost was due to a guitar player accidentally kicking it into the audience!”

Lighting designer Justin Kitchenman of Fade Up Design Group points out that Bryan “wants all of his productions to be big, ambitious and with lots of bells and whistles. When someone walks into this show they’re walking into a party.”

Bryan is at the center of the action figuratively and literally. “We designed a 42-foot wide circle stage that sits at the end of the thrust giving the entire audience a 360º view of Luke for the majority of the show,” says Kitchenman. “Having a lighting rig that can light the entire room and have lots of punch was essential.”

Kitchenman was challenged to keep the sight lines clean and offer the entire audience “the full concert experience. We don’t want the people off to the sides or way up top to ever feel like they are missing out on elements of the show.”

Kitchenman’s Clay Paky complement consists of 46 Sharpy Beams, 20 Sharpy Washes and 12 A.LEDA Wash K10 and 32 A.LEDA Wash K5 LEDs, which are positioned “all over” forming “the teeth of this lighting rig,” he says.

“I chose Clay Paky based on the reputation of the manufacturer as well as the unparalleled support provided by A.C.T Lighting,” Kitchenman reports. “After a full year of touring with the same type of fixtures last year, there was very little down time. I’ve found all of the Clay Paky fixtures to be extremely rugged and reliable. There wasn’t a single reason why I should have been looking for alternatives this year.”

Kitchenman has been using grandMA and grandMA2 consoles almost exclusively for the last seven years. “MA consoles are by far the most user-friendly on the market today,” he says. For Bryan’s new tour he’s running two full-size grandMA2s at FOH and a grandMA2 light at dimmers for tech and emergency back up.

He programmed the majority of the show himself but brought in programmer Johnny Caudill for rehearsals; he plans to call on Caudill throughout the year for larger-scale productions that may need advance overnight programming.

Kitchenman admits that he’s become so accustomed to all of the features of the grandMA2 that he sometimes forgets “that they are unique.” He cites “the ease of MA net for data distribution on such a large production, which is huge for me” and the dedicated Art-Net output for running media servers. “The physical size of the console and number of playback faders and buttons give me the ability to operate the show with comfort and ease,” he adds.

MDG products round out the tour with Kitchenman deploying two MDG theOne fog/haze generators, a pair of MDG Atmosphere hazers and an MDG ICE Low Fogger. He selected them, as he did the Clay Paky fixtures, for the reputation of the manufacturer and A.C.T’s high level of support. Kitchenman also points to the devices’ high output and limited residue as “major contributors” to his choice.

“We use the low fogger to create a bit more of a dramatic scene during one of Luke’s new songs,” he says, “and the hazers just ensure that we have plenty of haze in the air for all of those Sharpys!”

Having come full circle to the Sharpys, Elite’s Wilson chimes in that the “Clay Paky fixtures are great performing lights that hold up well” during tours. “As a company owner, that’s a big one for me.”

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour Rolls Cross Country With Clay Paky

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mannheim Steamroller. The distinctive ensemble is marking the 29th anniversary of its Christmas concert tours with a multimedia display featuring a light show and big-screen images and videos synchronized with their music. Lighting designer Richard Jackson has included Clay Paky Sharpy Washes in his rig for the first time.

Mannheim Steamroller debuted their first Christmas album in 1984 combining the group’s signature mix of baroque instruments and rock ‘n roll beats to give a fresh twist to holiday classics. This year two tours of six-member ensembles are playing 80 dates on a Christmas tour running from mid-November to late December.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “It’s great to see our Sharpys added to such an iconic show. I’m glad that Mr. Jackson is getting good use out of them and I’m sure the audiences will enjoy them as well.”

“Mannheim Steamroller is the longest-running, best-selling Christmas show of all time,” declares Jackson, who has been the tour’s lighting designer for the last five years. “I design the show with the production manager and lighting director for the other tour. I go out with one of the tours and do all the programming as well.”

This year Jackson opted for 16 Sharpy Washes, from long-time Omaha-based equipment supplier TMS, as his primary wash units. “Thanks to the versatility of the light, they have become workhorses,” he says. “We have ten in the air and six on the ground. They do a lot of graphical stuff, high-beam stuff. I can go from a wide wash with great smooth coverage from ten of them then tighten them up and get nice beamy graphical stuff.

“What I really like about them is that they work great in the range of venues we play – from a small place with low trim to a big college auditorium or arena,” says Jackson. “I also like their speed – not just movement speed but the ability to change from a color wheel effect to a color mix wash almost instantly. They have also lowered my power consumption, which is I great. I think they’re fantastic!”

Jackson seems to have struck just the right note for the Christmas tour with his equipment. “All the gear has performed flawlessly even in the extreme temperature changes we experience,” he reports.

The LDs for the two tours are Richard Jackson and Patrick Haines and the lighting techs are Justin Borgelt, Tony Gibson and Andrew Shaw.

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Alcorn McBride Appoints Loren Barrows as Director of Business Development

Loren Barrows has been named Director of Business Development at Alcorn McBride, which is renowned for its show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry and an array of other applications.

Barrows, who was already part of the business development group, will join the leadership team in charting the direction for the company championing internal and external customer service. She will also engage in business strategy and planning and partner with the sales force to pave the way for continued growth.

Barrows moves into the top business development role following the departure of Jeremy Scheinberg, who has launched the venture, www.herecomestrobo.com. The father of young children, Scheinberg is creating innovative and fun programs focusing on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum. Scheinberg’s start-up features a storytelling plush robot “Trobo” and companion Apple iPad and Android adventures.

“Jeremy has been a key member of the Alcorn McBride team since 1996, and we will miss him. At the same time, he’s also a good friend, and we are all excited to see him follow his dream. We hope to see Trobo on everyone’s holiday gift list next year!” says Alcorn McBride’s CEO, Steve Alcorn.

“For nearly five years Loren has been a near-magical force here,” Alcorn continues. “Whether developing new customer relationships or organizing fun and creative activities for the Alcorn McBride family, Loren is indispensible. As her duties expand in her new role, I’m excited to hear the fresh insights and enthusiasm she brings to every project.”

Barrows is well prepared to take on her new position. “I’ve enjoyed working with Jeremy and learned so much from him,” she says. “I hope to build on his successes and grow our core product lines while keeping focus on our biggest strength – delivering above bar service and support experiences that will shock our customers.”

About Alcorn McBride:
Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit www.alcorn.com.

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Vista Systems’ Spyders Captivate Passengers at the New Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport

The new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) opened after a $1.9 billion renovation that has earned the facility world-class status. The terminal features an Integrated Environmental Media System (IEMS) designed to create a unique passenger experience and a new source of non-aeronautical revenues for the facility. Five of the seven media features that comprise the IEMS use Vista Systems’ Spyder image processors to enhance passenger arrivals and departures.

“The Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX is the first and last impression of Los Angeles for nine million travelers every year,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a released statement. “This new terminal enhances passenger safety and security, while giving travelers the first-class airport experience they expect from a world-class city like Los Angeles.”

The high-profile project’s unique IEMS take the lead in offering a new revenue stream for airports nationwide. Developed by MRA International in concert with Los Angeles World Airport’s (LAWA) executive team, the IEMS built within the Bradley West terminal architecture offers the first corporate sponsorship programs in a U.S. airport.

Daktronics, the industry leader in designing and manufacturing electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems and large-screen video displays, has a very visible presence in the new terminal. To support the content for the displays that comprise the Welcome Wall, Bon Voyage Wall, Story Board, Time Tower and Destination Board Daktronics selected five Spyder X20s, four with 16 inputs and one with 8 inputs. “We had experience working with Vista Systems on a number of other projects and felt most comfortable with the Spyder,” says Bob Seeley, LE project engineer at Daktronics. Daktronics worked in concert with the designer of the media features, Marcela Sardi of Sardi Design, and Smart Monkeys who programmed the features, to achieve the design intent and functionality designed for each of the features.

“Vista Systems is proud to be part of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and its innovative media features,” says Victor Vettorello, Director of Application Engineering at Vista Systems. “Working in tandem with Daktronics’ displays, Vista Systems’ Spyders are delivering fun, artful and informative content that elevates the passenger experience a cut above any other airport.”

The Welcome Wall greets international passengers as they exit passport control and descend to baggage claim. A dramatic 80-foot LED wall, in portrait mode, requires the equivalent of four HD feeds. It bisects the passenger departure bridge with content that ranges from gorgeous atmospherics to joyful scenes of welcome. The Bon Voyage Wall gives a special send off to departing passengers as they clear security and cross the departure bridge. Daktronics’ 6mm LED screen, also in portrait mode, showcases LA residents jumping in super-slow motion in scenes reminiscent of legendary photographer Philippe Halsman’s Jumpology pictures.

Spyder’s powerful capabilities allow a single Spyder X20 to operate both the Welcome Wall and Bon Voyage Wall with a total of eight HD-SDI feeds.

Another Spyder is configured to operate the Destination Board where a total of four HD-SDI feeds and three DVI sources combine background images as well as flight info from the FIDS system. The curved Destination Board displays departure data while entertaining passengers with visuals of destination cities. The 80-foot wide Daktronics screen is flanked by fun facts, weather briefs and images related to the passengers’ travels. An arched LED crest shows graceful patterns tied to the display, such as graphics of national flags and subtle arrays of color.

A fourth Spyder operates the Story Board feature, which has a total of eight HD-SDI sources and one DVI image. The Story Board is a 120-foot long multi-panel LED display from Daktronics spanning the west end of the Great Hall. Also called The Voyage of Discovery, the Story Board tells narrative journeys, relates stories of travel and transformation, and shows stunning visual panoramas on a series of floating screens suspended on custom trussing.

A pair of Spyders supports the complex Time Tower. Built around the Great Hall’s elevator tower, it both tells time and reveals time as part of the travel experience. Its upper surface is composed of high-resolution 6mm Daktronics LEDs and integrates a functional clock face with fun content such as the mechanical clockwork Dance Time with Busby Berkeley-style dancers and a puzzle formed by interlocking pieces of luggage.

“We chose Spyders because we needed a processor that could support the high resolutions of the displays,” says Seeley. “The iconic Time Tower has a resolution of 3198 pixels tall and 4128 pixels wide if the display was unwrapped in 2D space. The end user can provide pixel-accurate content – with no scaling – using a series of off-the-shelf players. The X20′s ability to stitch together the eight 1080×1920 HD-SDI frames required for this media feature made it a perfect fit.”

According to Seeley, the Time Tower has 10 primary source feeds (eight HD-SDI and two DVI) plus 10 backup feeds. They are broken down into various DVI outputs to the Daktronics VIP-4060 display interface processor.

“The Spyders are performing well and, by all accounts, the systems have met or exceeded the client’s expectations,” Seeley reports. “As usual, the Vista support staff has been very good and accommodated the various scheduling requirements for the project.”

The IEMS project was directed by MRA International; the media features and content program were designed by Marcela Sardi of Sardi Design Inc., who acted as creative director for the content. Smart Monkeys Inc. was the System Designer and conceptualized the unique AV/IT system; Electrosonic did provided the system engineering and integration. Montreal’s Moment Factory was executive content producer for the media features; LA’s Digital Kitchen was content co-producer responsible for giving expression to the LAX brand across the features and developing the Destination Board content.

Alan Anderson of Smart Monkeys Inc. concluded, “We really pushed this system to the limit and forced products to work like they’ve never worked before. The Spyder took everything we threw at it. The flexibility of what we could do with it is responsible for the system we have at LAX today. The Spyder is very robust, very reliable and a very mature product. Its role in bringing content to the screens cannot be understated.”

About Vista Systems
Vista Systems’ switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching with real-time windowing and composition. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.

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WorldStage and World Premiere Events Give Vista High School Students the Red-Carpet Treatment

It looked like a Hollywood premiere and everyone attending was a star when World Premiere Events (WPE) and WorldStage rolled out the red carpet to honor 100 students at Vista High School for their outstanding achievements.

“World Premiere Events celebrates the dedication of young people to their communities by partnering with high schools to create red-carpet events to honor students who volunteer for special programs,” says Shawn Oatey of WorldStage. “Upon completion of the students’ volunteer work, WPE comes in and hosts a Hollywood-style movie screening to recognize the students. It’s a unique way to salute young people who give their time and talents to their community, and WorldStage is proud to offer our support. It’s a cool opportunity for us to give back to the kids who have given so much of themselves in these programs.”

The latest gala evening in Vista, California served as a fundraiser for the school’s continuing community-based outreach program for students. “The red carpet is usually reserved for movie stars and celebrities, but on this special night the real stars of the show were the students being honored,” says Vangie van Esch, director of event management at WPE. “With the help of WorldStage we transformed Vista High School’s gymnasium into a movie theater and created the feel of a real Hollywood premiere. The students being honored drove up in limousines and were met by actor Noel G, who has appeared in ‘The Fast and The Furious,’ ‘Training Day’ and ‘Bruce Almighty.’ It was their night to shine!”

“It was hard to believe the front our gym would be turned into a complete red carpet experience,” says Amy a student who was recognized for her work with the Character Leader program on campus. “Not only was it the first time I was able to ride in a limo, but I was greeted by dozens of cheerleaders and hundreds of people applauding me. ME! The red carpet and atmosphere made me feel like a movie star!”

“WorldStage is pleased to assist WPE and support these events,” says Gregg Whitaker of WorldStage. “We have provided video projection and audio for the movies and will be offering WPE our expertise as they navigate the technical side of these events and expand their reach nationwide.”

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.

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Clay Paky Spends Thanksgiving with Lady Gaga and The Muppets

What’s Thanksgiving without The Muppets? Or Lady Gaga? Or all of them appearing together in ABC’s “Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular” with guests Sir Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ru Paul. It was definitely an occasion to roll out Clay Paky Sharpys and Sharpy Washes.

Lighting designer Tom Beck got a call for the show the Monday before the Friday load in as Lady Gaga was finishing her latest album and time was running short.

“I really wanted to use Sharpys and Sharpy Washes,” says Beck who grabbed 20 of the former and 23 of the latter from the inventory of ELS. “It was the first time I had the chance to use the Washes, which I really love. I wouldn’t mind trying a whole rig of just Sharpy units.”

The set designed by Tom Lenz featured “a lot of curves and arches – it was beautiful,” Beck reports. “I put up an arched truss with half a 60-foot radius and lined it with alternating Sharpy Washes and beams, mostly for effects and as a backdrop to the whole set. It looked really spectacular. We also had some more Sharpy fixtures on the floor. I was quite happy with all of them. I love the beams and the Washes were terrific – a great little unit.”

Programmer Mark Butts had used the Sharpy Washes on several projects but this was his first for television. “I was curious about how they were going to work, and they turned out to be really awesome. The Washes get almost as narrow as the Sharpy beams but have color mixing and zoom so you can use them as a wash light. They’re really fast and do all the stuff that Sharpy is known for. We also had a fairly low trim in the TV studio, so the lights worked well in that situation – they were compact and bright, a real winner!”

Butts notes that there’s nothing like spending holidays with The Muppets. “I grew up with them, so it’s the coolest thing in the world to do something with them. I spent the morning doing pick ups with Animal! It was such a fun show to work on – a real special experience.”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “There were three stars on television that night: Justin Timberlake, The Muppets and the Clay Paky Sharpys. And of course Mr. Beck and Mr. Butts are all stars in the lighting arena. We are proud to be part of this program with so many luminaries.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.

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WorldStage Helps New Yorkers Engage in “Talking Transition” as New Mayor Prepares to Take Office

As the New York mayoralty transitions from the Bloomberg era to the de Blasio era, New Yorkers were asked to share their views about the city’s future in an innovative citywide effort, “Talking Transition.” WorldStage provided extensive lighting support for the tent-like complex at Hudson Square at Canal and Varick Streets in Manhattan, which served as the initiative’s home base.

The nonpartisan project, Produced by Jennifer Kurland of production glue, was brought to NYC by the Atlantic Philanthropies, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Ford Foundation, NYCT, New York Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, North Star Fund, Open Society Foundations and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It was designed to initiate conversation amongst New Yorkers about what was important to them in the next administration.

The Duarte Square headquarters consisted of a 500-person meeting space that hosted programs and conversations on a wide range of public policy issues from taxes and infrastructure to lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy. UVLD supplied the lighting design for the “Talking Transition” HQ; production glue produced the event.

“We did the environmental lighting, the general illumination and lit the signage,” says UVLD lighting designer Greg Cohen. “In addition to the main stage, where headliners like Matt & Kim did a special DJ set, there were two large environmental tents that called for both accent and mood lighting. WorldStage and its vice president/director of lighting Terry Jackson gave us great support.

Cohen was challenged by the fact that the “Talking Transition” headquarters was a temporary structure – in a season where winter set in well before its arrival on the calendar. “The weather and wind determined how much gear could be hung,” he notes. “Tom Bussey at production glue encouraged the team to ground support – rather than hang – most of the fixtures. While there was never a question of safety, no one wanted the audience to wonder at the lighting rig swaying in the wind..”

Cohen points out that the scenic design evolved as the priorities of the initiative changed. “We thought there would be a lot of LED and video, so initially we were concerned about controlling daylight. But as the client honed their interests and made the space more about community dialogue and a well-illuminated public space than about technology, we opted for a clear tent roof so the daylight would just stream in. We made no attempt to control the lighting during the day. We prioritized lighting around the available light and gave it an environmental feel at night.”

The central scenic element was milk crates,. “We made milk crate chandeliers using WorldStage’s Color Kinetics iColor Cove fixtures,” says Cohen. “Outside there were big milk crate arrows with iColor Coves for chasing light. We also were able to add bare bulbs to milk crates on site to give the accent illumination a found object feel.”

Cohen also deployed a number of Martin MAC Aura washes, which he calls “very camera-friendly LED fixtures, which are extremely lightweight. We were thrilled that WorldStage was able to provide them in quantity.”

WorldStage also supplied VARI*LITE 2500 spots, Elation EPAR QA LED PARs, Litepanels1x1s and Source 4 ellipsoidals and PARs. The company provided a full grandMA console and a grandMA2 Light for lighting control.

At production glue, Jack Hilley was technical director.

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.

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Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour Rolls Cross Country With Clay Paky, MDG and grandMA2 Gear

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mannheim Steamroller. The distinctive ensemble is marking the 29th anniversary of its Christmas concert tours with a multimedia display featuring a light show and big-screen images and videos synchronized with their music. Lighting designer Richard Jackson has included Clay Paky Sharpy Washes in his rig for the first time along with an MDG Atmosphere hazer and grandMA2 Light console. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of all of those brands in North America.

Mannheim Steamroller debuted their first Christmas album in 1984 combining the group’s signature mix of baroque instruments and rock ‘n roll beats to give a fresh twist to holiday classics. This year two tours of six-member ensembles are playing 80 dates on a Christmas tour running from mid-November to late December.

“Mannheim Steamroller is the longest-running, best-selling Christmas show of all time,” declares Jackson, who has been the tour’s lighting designer for the last five years. “I design the show with the production manager and lighting director for the other tour. I go out with one of the tours and do all the programming as well.”

This year Jackson opted for 16 Sharpy Washes, from long-time Omaha-based equipment supplier TMS, as his primary wash units. “Thanks to the versatility of the light, they have become workhorses,” he says. “We have ten in the air and six on the ground. They do a lot of graphical stuff, high-beam stuff. I can go from a wide wash with great smooth coverage from ten of them then tighten them up and get nice beamy graphical stuff.

“What I really like about them is that they work great in the range of venues we play – from a small place with low trim to a big college auditorium or arena,” says Jackson. “I also like their speed – not just movement speed but the ability to change from a color wheel effect to a color mix wash almost instantly. They have also lowered my power consumption, which is I great. I think they’re fantastic!”

Controlling the lights is a grandMA2 light, Jackson’s “console of choice.” A veteran grandMA user, he made the switch to grandMA2 Light on last year’s tour. “The power of the desk is great, and the software is extremely intuitive and very easy to use,” he says. “We can create a lot of things a lot faster; I can program complicated things and it’s always rock solid.”

Jackson, who is president of Last Minute Lighting, LLC, took advantage of running grandMA 3D on his own command wing to do previs for the tour. “grandMA 3D is a major tool, an absolutely wonderful tool that I use for all my jobs,” he says. “I did previs at home on my command wing to start programming, cloning fixtures and solving problems. It was great to get a feel for the desk. Then I spent a week at TMS while the crews were prepping the system to wrap up previs on the console we took on the road.”

Also on the tour is an MDG Atmosphere hazer, which Jackson calls “TMS’s go-to hazer – and my favorite hazer as well. I love that we can get it every year. It’s quiet, which is very important. And there’s no mess with it. I don’t get any complaints about using oily equipment. It’s really nice how it creates haze that hangs in the air, too. It lasts a lot longer than haze manufactured by other hazers. I can fill the room up, turn off the machine and still have haze in the air for an hour or more.”

Jackson seems to have struck just the right note for the Christmas tour with his trio of Clay Paky, MDG and grandMA equipment. “All the gear has performed flawlessly even in the extreme temperature changes we experience,” he reports.

The LDs for the two tours are Richard Jackson and Patrick Haines and the lighting techs are Justin Borgelt, Tony Gibson and Andrew Shaw.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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