For an industry as international as live entertainment, it’s not surprising that the load monitoring practices now common in Europe are also being seen more often on this side of the Atlantic and beyond. Venues and rigging companies that have adopted load monitoring technologies include Kish Rigging, The Orange County Convention Center, The Boston Symphony Orchestra Center, The Seattle Opera, Hall Associates, and tours for top bands such as AC/DC. The reason load cell monitoring technologies have become more prevalent around the world is because they can replace guesswork with real-time data — and that becomes particularly important for anyone working with a large grid with dynamic loads. “There is no way that you can just level it by using tape measures,” notes Martin Gehring, an owner at Dart GmbH, a German rigging company that has supported tours for Rammstein’s world tour using load cells from Ron StageMaster from Eilon Engineering. For one of Rammstein’s tours, the rig included 20 truckloads of gear weighing close to 40 tons, and each of the 15 2-ton motors on the journey were equipped with the load-monitoring devices.
—PLSN, March 2012, page 43
Each of the Androids, iOS and other computing devices all require a certain amount of logic. The main tool in my kit is also based on logic: my own mind. I must keep my mind sharp and focused when programming. I also continually feed new information to my mind to ensure it is well prepared for every gig. This might require reading scripts, listening to music, reading manuals, studying lighting specifications and more. In order to ensure my mind is always as active and available as possible, I avoid toxins such as drugs and alcohol. I also try to provide my mind with plenty of rest and sleep. This is not always possible on every gig, and sometimes I do have to experience some sleep deprivation. There are, however, many foods and natural supplements that can assist when the mind lags due to lack of rest. Consult with your physician as to which is best for you. Meditation, a healthy diet, puzzle solving, reading, and other brain exercises will keep your brain fresh and alert. This will certainly aid you in the middle of long programming session when you are fully tasked. Keeping my mind in superb working order is key to my success as an automated lighting programming. It helps with data management, conversations, creativity and all other elements of programming
—Brad Schiller, from "Feeding the Machines,” PLSN, March 2012
Genielux is my new favorite tool. It has an updated list of the majority of gear that most lighting vendors carry. The user simply types in their current location and they can then scroll through a list of fixtures on the program. Say you are looking to rent 35 Atomic strobes. The app will tell you who the closest vendor (who rents these) to your location is. They won’t tell you if they are in stock, but it sure beats any alternatives. Years ago, I had to sift through pages of a printed guide to find some truss in North Carolina. What seemed like an easy task at first soon occupied my entire morning. I found this app when a client requested a ceiling of star strobes for a hotel job. I figured I would need to rent them from a few companies and it would be a logistics nightmare to get the correct ones back to the right company after the gig. But, lo and behold, I found someone who owned over 500 of these things, and they were only 200 miles away.
—Nook Schoenfeld, from "LD-at-Large,” PLSN, March 2012
Vision Communications, Inc., a California-based dealer offering sales and rentals of two-way radios and paging equipment, has used Information Integration Group (IIG)'s Rental Maestro to tame accounting challenges posed by both sales and rental inventories. “Years ago, when we were a much smaller company, we were able to use simple Excel sheets to track our sales and rental inventories. But then, we grew, and we kept growing. It quickly became obvious that we needed a comprehensive business management software tool that could combine the sales and rental sides of our business into one,” says Vision Communications owner Bob Moayeri. “Using two programs is a waste of time and money, and with some of the same information being entered into more than one place, there’s a greater risk of something getting typed in incorrectly,” Moayeri notes. “From an inventory standpoint, it just makes sense to have everything accounted for in one place.”
—From "Information Integration Group: Taming the Rental Management Tigers,” PLSN, Feb. 2012, page 34
The DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, a mainstay of the professional photographer for high quality stills, is now an equally remarkable video tool. SLR-type cameras enable photographers to see exactly what’s captured on film or digital media, because shots are composed directly through the lens. DSLRs are also equipped with on-board video features that have expanded and improved exponentially over the last few years — to the point where many videographers prefer them over their larger purpose-built video cameras. The DSLR is small, lightweight, versatile and cost effective, and they include a wealth of benefits for the videographer…In 2008, the designers at Canon got the message, with the introduction of the Canon 5D Mark II — essentially, an HDSLR. Just like its predecessors, the groundbreaking 5D has changed the way a great deal of video is shot today, and launched yet another industry (plus a number of copycats from the major DSLR players). The Canon 5D Mark II employs a remarkable “full frame” image sensor — one that’s the same size as a 35mm film frame (36×24mm). In HD mode, the 5D shoots 1080p video, and the sensor’s total resolution is 5616×3744 pixels (21.1 megapixels)…In fact, an HD image (at 1920x1080) fits nicely inside the sensor’s dimensions — thus providing the videographer with tremendous latitude in composition. Typically, a used 5D sells for between $2K and $3K.
—Paul Berliner, from “Video World,” PLSN, Feb. 2012
Tree Power & Sound began about eight years ago in Norcross, GA. Owner Paul Diaz’s Tree Sound Studios was hired to record the Echo Project live event in 2003, and he was taken by Sustainable Waves’ solar-powered stage. It inspired him to build a solar-and-wind-powered generator for future remote recording gigs. Later, one of Sustainable Waves’ smaller stage rigs became available, and Diaz bought it. He now operates two solar-and-wind-powered sound systems. They are modest but effective for small- to mid-sized gigs. For the 30 percent of clients that are nonprofits, Diaz tries to simply break even after supplying the equipment and operators. For-profit clients usually pay about $3,000 per 15-hour day. Tree Power & Sound has been providing a stage for Bonaroo for the past four years, where it commands about $2,000 per night. The same stage was used for gigs featuring the singer/songwriter duo, The Civil Wars, in the Atlanta area late last year. The alternative-energy systems might not put Diaz’ kids through college, but they are still profitable, with additional value coming from the good will it brings to Diaz’ studio business.
Dan Daley, from “The Biz,” PLSN, Feb. 2012
Once you have your fixtures positioned where they look great and are properly lighting their subjects, you need to look further. The output of the fixture might be causing problems for the performers, audience members or television cameras. I will often walk the stage and ensure that the lights are not too blinding for the performers, and I pay attention to where overhead focuses are ending. For instance, many years ago, I had a pretty look on stage and fixtures in an “up and out” focus pointing above the stage and audience. This look was used during a 45-minute speech. While it looked great to most of the audience, people in the upper rows of the top section of the arena where unhappy about the fixtures just sitting there, pointing in their eyes. I was asked to adjust the focus so that none of the “pretty” lights were annoying the audience. As I did this, the look above the stage lost some ambiance, but was more pleasing to the crowd. Now I always ensure that “up and out” focuses are not pointing directly into audience eyes (unless it is just for a moment of an effect).
Brad Schiller, from “Feeding the Machines,” PLSN, Feb. 2012
Koen de Puysseleir, principal of Belgium-based Light in Motion, notes a key difference in lighting a DJ performance as opposed to a conventional concert: The lighting doesn’t need to illuminate the performer. Instead, its purpose is to engage the audience and immerse them in the energy of the music party…Having worked with Tiësto for the past five and half years, de Puysseleir has learned to craft a show that allows him to literally play the lights and video to creatively improvise to the fluid nature of Tiësto’s performance style, ensuring the visuals match the music for intensity and mood, even though there is no preset play list. Since much of the show’s design evolves live, de Puysseleir runs both the lighting and video, which lets him create a unified visual performance on the fly…Before performances, de Puysseleir builds up his lighting and video looks so he can quickly pick and choose what he needs at a moment’s notice. “Basically, my lighting is a very, very extensive festival page. I wouldn’t call it a buss page anymore, but it’s a similar idea. I can pick different elements for lighting and put them all together. This lets me follow the music and quickly adapt as I go. As for video, most is content that’s in the media server that’s laid out with the flow of the show; there is, musically, a general direction, if not specific song lists.” Even though every show is different, all the performances are still unmistakably a “Tiësto show” because of the close collaboration between de Puysseleir and Tiësto on the look of the shows.
Michael S. Eddy, from “Production Profile,” PLSN, Jan. 2012
Jim Moody has many vocations, but despite an amazing career so far, producing a head-spinning list of great rock acts he’s worked with, there’s one role that he puts above all those: Mentor. “I’m a big believer in mentoring,” he states. “I tell all my students that finding a mentor is important.” Moody himself still has a mentor in GAM Products founder and president Joe Tawil, and both Moody and Tawil continue to mentor scores of prolific professionals in the field. “Joe was that person for me, and I’ve done it for many others. I started a mentoring program at USITT — we had a famous lighting designer sitting there, and I overheard some kids stop and say, ‘Isn’t that so-and-so?’ followed by, ‘Oh, we couldn’t bother him.’ I thought, ‘I bet he’d love you kids to ask him something.’ It’s important to have someone encourage a younger lighting designer and have someone to call to ask a specific questions … or just talk to. I still take those calls myself.”
Jim Moody, as quoted by Kevin M. Mitchell for “Industry Perspective,” PLSN, Jan. 2012
Santa Claus came early for me this year, and as a result, I’ve been propelled into the exciting world of the iPad2. I spent the first few days with it loading games and magazines (i.e. PLSN, http://plsn.com/app), but then I thought about what else might be available for lighting professionals. And that’s when a whole new world unveiled itself for me. In terms of productivity apps, iTunes has quite a few choices. I chose iAnnotate PDF, Evernote and Dropbox right away because of their flexibility and mobility between desktop and iPad. Many more — available for free or as little as $.99 — can be found at http://plsn.me/iosprod. By helping you be better organized and prepared for your next project, they’re well worth the price. The next search led me to find out what apps are available for popular lighting control systems. Today, many consoles offer PC versions of their console software, and most of those PC versions are Art-Net friendly…so, I was curious to find out what iPad apps were available, and if they could be used as a stand-alone controller if needed. (For a sampling, click here.)
Vickie Claiborne, from “Video Digerati,” PLSN, Jan. 2012