It’s Official, High End Systems is an ETC Company Now

Just heard the news — ETC has officially acquired High End Systems, so now High End Systems is an ETC company.  I’ve heard lots of rumors and speculation about the future, but none of it is bad, all of it is good for High End Systems.  Richard Belliveau and his team have innovated our industry very far, and I would argue that we have him to thank, among others of course, for what we have to call an industry today.

From the news room at ETC:

High End Systems, an ETC Company

ETC acquires High End Systems

Middleton, WI (31 March 2017) – ETC and High End Systems announce today they are joining forces as ETC completes the acquisition of the Austin, TX based company from Barco Inc. “We welcome the High End team to the ETC family. ETC will provide a strong support structure for High End to continue to innovate and make great products for the industry,” says ETC CEO Fred Foster.

High End is known for dynamic products such as the Sola family of all-LED automated fixtures, and Wholehog consoles. David Lincecum, VP of Marketing at ETC says, “We value the High End products and plan to expand work on their portfolio. We want customers to know that ETC will protect your investment in High End products through strengthened service, support, and development.”

The addition of High End enables ETC, a current market leader in the theatrical, broadcast and architectural markets, to broaden its strategic focus and pursue additional desired areas of technology growth. High End gains the oversight of an experienced lighting industry management team to help the company better realize its full potential as a market leader in event lighting.

ETC will operate High End as a separate company located in its current Austin, TX facility. High End customers will continue to contact the Austin office for sales and service, and sales distribution channels worldwide remain the same for the foreseeable future.

And there we have it!

Help Our Angels of Mercy, BEHIND THE SCENES – We’re Giving 25%

Hiya, world.  Considering the amount of times I’ve been in ATL this year, I can see it’s gonna be a busy one for all of us.

It’s been a crazy fall and an even more insane beginning of 2017.  If I’ve seen you at a show or a training or a tour stop or something like those places, I’m glad I had that minute to spend with you, I’ve learned to cherish each little minute I get to stop moving forward in this industry.

There’s something I want to write about and I always find myself being “too busy” to stop and do so.  Screw that.  Now’s the time for my brothers and sisters of lighting and entertainment, right now.  I’m sorry, friends, that I’ve not done this before and with more fervor.  Our people are hurting, as are so many other industry’s people.  No one is coming to help, we have to help our own. Right now, with the world in one of the craziest places politically that at least I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, our industry’s people need to have someone with their back.

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There’s one organization that has our back when something happens to us.  Let’s say you get cancer or some kind of illness where you’re just unable to work — I hate even thinking that for you, cancer SUCKS and IT MUST DIE, but if that were to happen, Behind the Scenes comes in, and they help you figure out how to live while you can’t work.  Behind the Scenes brings help and hope to individuals in our industry in times of great need. Individuals, organizations, and businesses in the industry continue to help us help our own by donating funds to the charity, but in addition to those generous contributions we’re looking for something else.

I’m announcing today that JimOnLight.com is going to be donating 25% of all future advertising proceeds to the Behind the Scenes Charity until further notice.  Our people need help.  I challenge my fellow lighting bloggers and journalists/publishers who make income from advertising to also make a commitment.  

Contact me if you’re interested in advertising with us here on JimOnLight.com, we will make all donations in our name and yours.

Check this out:

BTS is always looking for photos to help them spread the word.  From the office:

We want to better tell the story of who Behind the Scenes helps, so we are looking for engaging imagery, taken either backstage, on set, or in our shops showing everyday entertainment technology tasks. Think over the shoulder shots or close-ups of hands doing work. These images will be incorporated into ads and posters for Behind the Scenes reminding people that help is available if they, or someone they know, are seriously ill or injured. Please make sure you have written permission to let us use the photo, from the production and from anyone in the picture. The higher the resolution the better.

You can email photos or address any questions you have to: lrubinstein@behindthescenescharity.org or tneis@barbizon.com

Also, check out the Behind the Scenes website, http://behindthescenescharity.org/bts.htm, and the BTS Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/BTSCharity/ — this is a good thing for our industry, friends.  Please help if you can, I know I do.

If we love what we do, we must help those who make these shows so incredible.  We need to be able to pick our people up if they fall down.  The more and more I watch the news, the more evident this becomes to me.  I never expected to make money from JimOnLight; I’ve never made operating costs for anything and even then I still owe for the money I’ve put into it and advertising it, but I have spoken across the world because of it and I have been able to help people advance in this industry that we all love so freaking much.

If you want to help Behind the Scenes, and consequently our professionals and industry players, go here:

http://behindthescenescharity.org/bts/give.htm

Everything helps.  Consider spending some of your donation money here at home, I can assure you it is needed.

Thanks for reading, brothers and sisters.  Your support is greatly appreciated, and without it, I’d be worthless.

Namaste,
Jim Hutchison

SGM Lighting Files for Bankruptcy

G_Spot

G-Spot image courtesy of SGM Lighting

A source that wishes to remain anonymous has informed JimOnLight.com that SGM Lighting has filed for bankruptcy.  A press release is pending on the subject and will be released early next week from SGM.

Peter Johansen, founder of the Martin Lighting group, took over SGM Lighting about 18 months ago — today we learn that the company has filed for bankruptcy, and most of its 80+ employees have been sent home pending status clarification of their jobs.  This sucks.

From a Danish-news language article I found on this while trying to get more information — this is the first news of this here in the US, broken by JimOnLight.com:

Peter Johansen bought the Italian company SGM Lighting in 2013 and moved in this regard all workplaces to Denmark – specifically Sommervej in Haslemere.

The aim was to create a leading global supplier of intelligent lighting design, such as machines that can perform 3D lighting effects.

The acquisition was also a reunion with the industry in which he left in late 1990, when he claims that it was ‘squeezed’ out of the Martin Group, which he was the founder:

I left the industry as number one in the world and then going back again .. It feels a bit back then, Muhammad Ali had won the World Cup and definitely going back and got a lot of beatings,” told Peter Johansen in an interview with TV 2 | ØSTJYLLAND in 2013.

Peter Johansen has also previously had a brief career in the luxury yacht industry with the company ‘Royal Denship’. The adventure ended in bankruptcy.

Sorry to break this news, world.  I for one loved the G-Spot.  In other news about SGM, the reallocation/acquisition of SGM by a new financier will bring another 400 jobs back to Denmark, so there is that.  Not sure how that helps the American lighting industry, but people having a way to sustain themselves no matter where they are is a good thing.  I’m sorry for the SGM employees who will suffer from this loss.

If You Have A Few Bucks, Please Help Heidi

heidi

When I was at Oklahoma City University, I had a master electrician named Heidi Hamilton.  Heidi is an industry veteran who has worked more tour load-ins and load-outs than most people who tour.  As a local IA electrician in OKC, she has worked on every kind of show you can imagine, and her knowledge base is a gift that every student that comes in contact with her gets for free.

Heidi needs our help.  She had a work accident about two years ago, she’s been unable to work, and her bills are piling up.  If you have a few extra bucks this season — and I mean anything and everything from a dollar to ten dollars to whatever dollars — can you help my friend?

Heidi Hamilton’s GOFUNDME:

http://www.gofundme.com/itmgx8

Thank you, Lighting Industry.

 

We Can Be Heroes, Just For One Day

Sometimes it’s best to let the content do the talking.

Have you been a hero to our industry lately?  Like the Behind the Scenes Facebook page, support our hurt and fallen brethren of entertainment.

UNPRECEDENTED IDIOCY – Shelby Stage Collapse Organizer Says ‘Safety Protocol Was Followed’

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

This article shot me out of bed like a cannon.  Bobby McLamb, the promoter for this potential death machine, says that the rig that tumbled last weekend in Shelby, North Carolina followed safety protocols, and that L&N Productions out of Hickory used all “industry standard” practices.  The mainstream publications need to get ahold of me or another expert in the industry to put an end to this crap.  They are printing garbage that makes the promoter and L&N Productions look like they did no wrong!!!

Get a load of this, from the Charlotte Observer:

The event in Shelby was part of the American Legion World Series concert series and featured three Christian rock bands, including the headliner, the top-selling national group MercyMe.

Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series executive committee and a Cleveland County commissioner, said L&N Productions had worked last year’s Montgomery Gentry concert at the American Legion World series.

“They’ve been very satisfactory,” he said. “We’ve had no problem.”

Holbrook said performers and stage managers expressed no reservations about the stage.

Also, he said the weather had been a concern. Holbrook said officials had been tracking storms on weather radar.

A line of storms in the area of Greenville, S.C., appeared to be edging north of Shelby, he said.

When a severe weather alert for Cleveland County flashed on the radar, Holbrook said, “we immediately started getting people off stage.” The surrounding area with electrical equipment was also evacuated, he said.

The National Weather service had no reports of damaging wind gusts – 50 mph or stronger – in Cleveland County on Aug 10. But an automated weather station on the north side of Shelby measured a wind gust of about 35 mph between 3 and 4 p.m.

At the fairground, which is on the east side of Shelby, a “quick burst of vicious wind” got under the stage roof and “disassembled it,” Holbrook said.

Law enforcement and emergency personnel were already at the fairground. But thankfully, nobody got hurt, Holbrook said.

Looking back, “I don’t know of anything we would have done differently,” he said.

MUST this be posted again?!  Here’s one of the first pages of the Genie tower safety manual:

genie-tower-wind-safetyMore from the article at the Charlotte Observer — apparently L&N’s rig adheres to building codes, according to James Little of L&N Productions:

James Little, owner and president of L&N Productions, Inc., said the company has been in business more than 25 years, carries liability insurance and has done events all over the U.S. Local code officials aren’t required to inspect temporary stages, Little said, but some, like Hickory, do inspect the structures.

Wherever L&N sets up a stage “we adhere to building codes,” Little said. “Ultimately, people can be hurt, and you have to be cautious in what you do.”

In Shelby, Little said the fire marshal inspected the stage, which met industry standards and had been assembled by L&N employees and 30 members of the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

The stage’s roof was held up by 12 18-foot-tall Genie Super Towers, not four as stated by some on the Internet, Little said. The towers were secured by straps tied to 4-foot metal stakes driven into the ground.

Wind bent the stakes, but didn’t pull them out of the ground, and all the straps held, he said.

According to Little, the roof shifted 10 feet and lodged against a lighting pole, about 5 feet above the stage. No musical instruments or electrical equipment were damaged, and 10 light bulbs out of 108 were broken, Little said. Although he doesn’t have a total damage estimate, he said six of the towers, valued at $3,000 each, are out of commission.

A spokesperson for the Genie lift company said the super towers aren’t designed to support structures like roofs.

But Little said what was used at the fairground wasn’t a load-bearing roof, but a stage cover, and that the towers weren’t supporting the entire rig. He said the Genies supported canvas and lights individually and that the practice was common in the industry.

WHY does the media keep posting this shit without getting ahold of one of us experts in the media?!

THIS is what happens when your rig is NOT UP TO INDUSTRY STANDARD SAFETY PRACTICES, LET ALONE EVEN FOLLOWING THE MANUAL ON THE GEAR YOU USE!  These photos are from L&N’s OWN WEBSITE!  Did the media not even do their research?!

GAH!  This is infuriating!  PLEASE, mainstream media, YOU ARE NOT EXPERTS LIKE WE ARE!  Start asking around!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!

 

william-kennedy-dickson1.png

What the what?!  That’s William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, the guy who invented the Kinetoscope, among other completely awesome stuff!  Today is Billy Boy’s birthday!  Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!

Dickson was one of Edison’s “muckers,” the guys who did all of Edison’s work for him.  What a d-bag he was, that Edison!

Check out the Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson Official Birthday Post!

 

Workplace Safety in Our Industry — An Awesome Primer from Sound Prospects

Another day, another reminder of how careful we all have to be when we’re out there defying the laws of reality:

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

It’s no secret in our business that there are people out doing shows RIGHT NOW that should not be doing work, and companies that are one disaster from screwing up our peace and serenity with their incompetence.  There are also a lot of people out there who have never had their hands on a piece of equipment but feel qualified to give the rest of us advice on how to do things.

The opposite of the two aforementioned groups are folks like the ones at Sound Prospects in Switzerland; Sound Prospects recently wrote a great piece on workplace safety, and I needed to cross-post that article so people hear the safety chant from people OTHER than myself, Erich Friend at Teqniqal Systems (and the awesome Theatre Safety Blog), Richard Cadena from PLASA and the Academy of Production Technology, among other people chanting the Gregorian chant of survival in our business.

Please check out the article at Sound Prospects, written by Alex Schoenknecht.  I recommend also checking out some of Alex’s other articles! — a few highlights from the Workplace Safety article:

Most Common Rigging Mistakes

1.) Unrated Hardware

It is essential that the Safe Working Load (SWL) of all components in a system is known and that the Safe Working Load for the weakest component is not exceeded. Hardware that does not have the SWL clearly forged into it is a “wild card”. Most industrial applications work on a SWL of 5:1. A component that will fail under a load of 5000 lbs. that is given a safety factor of 5:1 has an SWL of 1000 lbs. In the entertainment industry an SWL of 8:1 is the accepted standard.

2.) Incomplete Installation

Even though a component may have a sufficient SWL rating, it becomes a liability if it is not installed correctly. Installations should be neat and clean with hardware properly terminated. An installation that is neat and orderly allows for easier inspections and ensures that the forces on components, such as pulleys, are within the equipment’s design limits.

3.) Damaged Equipment

A piece of damaged equipment becomes the weak link and a liability to the system as a whole. Damaged components must be replaced immediately with ones that are of equal or greater rating. Replacing a broken part, even temporarily, with a substandard piece is putting the integrity of the system at risk.

4.) Wear and Tear

Even the best of systems wear out. This is why it is essential for maintenance to be an ongoing process. Most Countries require yearly inspections of all hoisting equipment. The owner must keep a maintenance and repair log. Since we are often lifting over head the operator must be aware of any changes in how the system is running and investigate the cause immediately to ensure that safe operation is not compromised.

5.) Improper Use

Using equipment for purposes that it was not designed for, or modifying equipment for other purposes, can easily result in overloading and failure. Many components also have strict guidelines as to how and where they should be used by the manufacturer. For example Spectrum 3 proof coil chain is suitable for suspending stationary loads, but if the load will be moving a Spectrum 8 chain is required. It is important to ensure that the components are appropriate for the application.

Thanks for the great article, Alex!

Ken Johnson, Father of Drum Tech Killed in Radiohead’s Stage Collapse in Toronto, Wants Answers

toronto-stage-collapse-radiohead

hi-stage-radiohead-truong-8col

Just over a year ago, Scott Johnson was onstage under a massive roof structure in Toronto, Ontario tuning drums for Radiohead’s upcoming show that night.  This would be the last time he ever tuned the kit again, as later that afternoon the roof structure came tumbling down on top of Scott and three other people.  The others made it.  Scott Johnson was killed.

A year has passed, and Scott Johnson’s dad, Ken, is destroyed.  He’s also pissed at how long this is taking, getting some justice for his dead son — who was doing the one thing he loved to do more than anything.  All he wants is answers, but the Crown hasn’t any for him.  From an interview article at The Spec:

Ken has been searching for answers ever since, crying daily over the loss of his only child, waiting to hear who’s to blame.

The Ministry of Labour recently announced 13 charges against concert organizer Live Nation, a staging company, and an engineer.

A postponed trial is expected to begin Thursday.

“I want to be there,” said Ken, weeping over the phone. “I want to see the people involved and hear what they have to say.”

The charges include eight against Live Nation Canada Inc. and Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The ministry alleges that Live Nation failed to ensure the stage was adequately designed and that every employer complied with the act.

Optex Staging & Services Inc. faces four charges, and engineer Domenic Cugliari is charged with endangering a worker, resulting from his advice or certification.

The maximum fine against a corporation, if convicted, is $500,000 per charge. Individuals face $25,000 per charge or up to a year in prison.

Ken Johnson, who works for a scaffolding safety association in England, is hoping the trial results in some “lessons” for those involved.

“Maybe people should have done some things differently,” he said. “Whatever the outcome of the trial, I just hope that it’s fair and honest.”

He said Scott was an honest, hard worker living his dream. Tuning drums for Radiohead was a pinnacle in his career, reached after years of determination.

“He always wanted to be a performer, but realized that wasn’t going to pan out,” said Ken, who used to cart his son around to perform small shows as a teen. “This was the next best thing.”

It breaks my heart to read of how this is going.  I know legal matters take time and accidents of this nature need investigated — but one has to wonder just exactly what is going to come of this, who is going to pay, and why.  “Scott’s message in life was to be fair, and none of this is fair,” said Ken Johnson, interviewed over the phone. “I still cry every day.”

Scott had been on the road with The Killers, the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Keane over the previous 8 years, taking on Radiohead in his career as the pinnacle of his performance.  Scott’s dad also talks about calling home once a week or more, spending time with his folks via Skype in his hotel room while on the road.

A memorial fund has been started for Scott Johnson that donates drum kits to students, along with other awesome positive acts for young musicians.  Visit the Scott Johnson Bursary Fund for Young Musicians.

scottdrumkit

 

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Geoff Short’s Gig Lab — A 4th of July Truss Flag!

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This is pretty awesome for the Independence Day mid-week break!  Check out Geoff Short’s LED and truss-based American Flag!  It might not have as many stripes as are there, and there’s about twice the amount of stars, but if you’re a gear nerd, you’ll love this!

I, for example, am a gear nerd.

Happy Fourth of July!