When you rent gear from Christie Lites, you get a long list of every cable, nut and bolt, rigging piece, etc., on a spreadsheet. I normally hate these things, but last month I happened to look through it just to see what was listed. All the cables were in weird lengths. There are no 5- and 10-foot jumpers. They are 4 feet and 8 feet instead. The multi cables are not all your industry standard lengths of 25-foot increments. Nope, they are all just another facet of Christie Lites founder Huntly Christie’s way of doing things. I tried to decipher the logic of this. It wasn’t metric, and it didn’t make sense. Not until I sat down with the guy himself and asked him why. “When I started out, I was keen on some of the latest technology and what one could purchase at the time. Back in 1985, there were no people I found that were mass-producing truss in America for what I wanted to do. But Thomas, a truss manufacturer out of the U.K., was building and selling pre-rig truss. The same stuff you get today for double hung rows of PARs, etc. These truss sections were all standard 7-foot, 10-inch sections,” Christie states. “And I just hated the fact that all the cables, when they reached the dimmers, were different lengths. I found it messy and there was a lot of unnecessary copper lying around so I borrowed the idea of 8-foot cable denominations from two smart Quebecers — Jacques Tanguay and Louis Racine.” Interesting concept, one that I think is unique. And pretty cool if you can get away with it for three decades.
—Nook Schoenfeld, from “LD-at-Large,” PLSN, June, 2013
New Quick-Connect USB Platform Includes Both USB and Ethernet Streaming and Control
Vaddio introduces a new Quick-Connect technology that allows any Vaddio camera that supports a Quick-Connect Short-Range (SR) to output USB or Ethernet. Based on Vaddio’s Quick-Connect technology, that allows cameras to be extended up to 150 feet over Cat. 5 cabling, now USB cameras can be deployed in system designs where distance was an issue.
For more information on the new Quick-Connect USB please visit the Vaddio website at www.vaddio.com.
The newest feature article in the Rose Brand Know-How Blog showcases Designer Ivy Flores, “A Scenic View of the End of the World” at the California Institute of Arts-Black and White Studio. The installation consisted of panoramic projections on hanging strips of cotton scrim, arranged in a cave-like structure that visitors were able to walk through and touch. The ultra-fine cotton scrim chosen for the installation is a light, soft and durable fabric that helps soften and diffuse light. It can also be used for quick, economical swags and billows in special event, theater and other interior design settings.
Sight & Sound’s Millennium Theatre, which opened in Strasburg, PA with a production of Noah on Sept. 1, 1998, got an assist from Mountain Productions, Columbus McKinnon (CM) and Motion Laboratories on a new rigging solution for their productions at the venue, seen by some 800,000 visitors per year. For an updated production of Noah that featured 60 live animals, 100 animatronic animals and a cast of 52 along with 11 set elements used for the Ark’s interior, Sight & Sound’s Glen Broderson was looking for an alternative to the existing rigging setup that required the entire grid to be lowered for maintenance. The old truss grid was removed and replaced with seven rows of 115-foot truss with eight motors for each. Now, only the parts of the rig that need attention can be lowered, reducing the manpower needed for ongoing maintenance. The new system is expected to streamline the workflow required for major show changeovers as well.
From “Installations,” by Justin Lang, PLSN, May 2013.
The test consists of 150 questions that need to be completed within a three-hour testing period. Each test is different; the computer chooses from a large pool of questions created by a panel of experts. The number of questions you need to answer correctly to pass is determined by the questions you get on the exam. Each question has been rated by its difficulty by the team of experts who created the test, and this rating is used to determine the final score. Detailed content of each test can be found at etcp.plasa.org. Shortly after the test, you will be given a raw score and a report that indicates a pass or fail. If you do not pass the test, you can take it again. If you take it within a year, you’ll get a significant discount. If you did pass, you will get a certificate, wallet card and pin, all identifying you as being an ETCP-certified rigger…Certification lasts for five years, after which you will need to get recertified. To renew your certification, you need a total of 40 points. You can earn points via job experience, taking or teaching classes in rigging, being involved in writing rigging standards and even by taking the exam. But the maximum points they’ll accept in any one category is 30—so to qualify for renewal you’ll need points in multiple categories.
—By Todd Proffitt from “Focus on Fundamentals,” PLSN, May, 2013
Most automated lighting consoles provide programmers with the ability to assign a priority level to individual playbacks. Just as the name implies, a playback can be given a numeric value that gives it more control than those with a lower numeric value. This can be very useful. A common scenario is to set a high priority for a playback that assigns a group of fixtures to light a podium. When these lights are focused and illuminated on the podium, you generally do not want any other playbacks to override the podium lighting (because usually the person at the podium is the most important). If you suddenly need to trigger an audience ballyhoo, you want to ensure the podium lights stay put. By assigning the podium playback a higher priority than other playbacks, the console will ensure that their programing is never overridden by other playbacks with lower priority. So even if your ballyhoo playback includes the same fixtures that are in the podium playback, the fixtures in the podium playback will always overrule the ballyhoo playback.
—Brad Schiller, “Feeding the Machines,” PLSN, May, 2013
“One thing you learn rapidly in lighting cars is that there are a lot of specular surfaces, including chrome, glass and mirrors. When you combine that with the turntables that are used for most exhibits and shows, you realize that reflections appear different from every seat in the audience. You simply don’t have the control that you would have in a studio environment where you can light the car using lighting reflective surfaces such as a cyc or bounce cards. In any case, the goal is simply to make the product look as elegant and sexy as you can. Cars are more than mere transportation — they are aspirational products, meaning that, in many cases, people project themselves, or how they would like to be seen, through their choice of vehicle. Lighting, if done right, plays a large part in selling the product to the customers.”
—LD Jim Tetlow, as quoted by Debi Moen, “Designer Watch,” PLSN, May, 2013
I appreciate a lighting tech that goes out of his way to send the house guys up to the spot perches to fire and fine tune the local spotlights at every venue. It’s a thankless task that easily takes an hour of your day. Most lighting crew chiefs hate this and cannot be bothered with the task. I’ve actually had a touring tech tell me that if I wanted good spots everyday, I should’ve rented them and another tech from his lighting company. The majority of shows I do are at the mercy of the local house or rental companies’ inventory. And if I wait until show time to find out that half of the lights are dim and useless, I’m in trouble. That’s why I can’t always depend on the crew chief sent to me by a lighting vendor. It’s why LDs often request that rental companies use their personal electricians on certain gigs. Because we need guys who care about all the lights on the show.
—From “LD at Large” by Nook Schoenfeld, PLSN, May, 2013
Television lighting designer Ted Wells has been honing his craft since the early 1970s. PLSN contributor Michael S. Eddy asked him about career advice. Here’s Wells’ reply: “I got two pieces of advice, and I count both of them equally in their value. One was to be available, be helpful, and have a good work ethic, because attitude and desire will take you a long way. You can be extremely talented, but if you don’t have the other qualities, it doesn’t matter who you are; ever.
"The most valuable piece of advice in terms of lighting was, it’s about the face. The television medium is about close-ups. I think that’s why people watch TV — to see those close shots of the faces of the performer or actor. It’s about being in close with them, so it is important to make sure you always get the face right. The background will always take care of itself. The background is just painting. Don’t take away from who the performer is — it’s okay to bring huge energy to the moment with lighting, but don’t overpower the performer.”
—From “PLSN Interview” by Michael S. Eddy, PLSN, April, 2013, page 42.
Shania Twain’s new show, Still the One, began its two-year, 110-show residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Dec. 1, 2012. A key issue for show director Raj Kapoor and production designer Michael Cotton was how to make use of the venue’s huge LED screen in a manner where it would not marginalize the talent performing in front of it. As video designer Bob Bonniol related to PLSN’s Vickie Claiborne, “their idea was to go in the opposite direction. Make the media more environmental, and the audience reacts to it not as a facet of the design, but as a whole... In blending the show with the venue and making it totally environmental, it allows Shania to be a center of it all, as opposed to “her vs. the screen.” It works. It’s brilliant.”
—From “Video Interview” by Vickie Claiborne, PLSN, April 2013