September Gold

Congratulations on your incredible story on the opening ceremonies…We were blown away and also dying to know how everything was done. Such are the joys of being designers.

Your article was packed with info and yet easy to read, with great pictures — where do you get them?!? I wondered who was going to come out with the definitive article on it, and of course it was you — congrats!
John McKernon
John McKernon Software

Ask Karl

I enjoyed [Karl G. Ruling's] article, “Got A Match,” [September LD]. I have two questions regarding the article.

  1. In the NFPA 705 test, it does not say how far above the ground the sample would have to be. Would that not make a difference in having the drip not burning after it hits the floor (i.e., 2“ off the floor, it might still burn. Two feet off the floor, it might have cooled down)?

  2. Is there not a difference in temperature between the wooden “kitchen match” and the “butane lighter?” It would appear to me that the temperature of the flame would make a difference in what it does to the material.

I would appreciate it if you could drop a line to a retired TD.
Dr. Albert F. C. Wehlburg
Gainesville, Florida


I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

The distance to the floor is important; the standard should be changed to define the pass/fail distance for falling flaming bits. (In the earlier Protocol version of this article, which had more space and more words, I mentioned that the distance was not defined. In the Live Design article, I focused on other issues.)

The assumption seems to be that a person is standing while doing the test, with the sample held high enough that it is easy to watch any flame spread, so the distance to the floor would be about 4' to 5'. This seems to be what people do in the field. While distances of 2" or 2' would not conflict with the standard, since the distance to the floor is not defined, neither are very practical. You'd have to lie on the floor to evaluate the flame spread of a sample held 2" above the floor, and you'd have to sit on the floor to evaluate the flame spread of a sample 2' above the floor — and probably would drop any flaming bits on your lap if you did this.

There probably are differences in temperature, but temperature, as long as it is above the temperature needed to make something melt or burn, is not all that important. More important is the flame size, which more clearly affects the rate at which heat energy is put into the sample, and thus the rate of flame spread or how much of the sample fabric melts. Temperature is only a measure of the concentration of that heat energy.

The flame size of a wooden kitchen match is pretty small, unless you tilt the match so that the flame spreads up the entire shaft, but then the match doesn't burn for the required length of time. The flame of a butane lighter can easily be made much larger than a match flame and held for a long time.

August Rush

It was great to see hometown boy, Michael Stipe, on the cover of Live Design [in the August issue]. He is not only a fabulous artist but a wonderful citizen of Athens, GA. We all remember fondly R.E.M. emerging from their student days in the art department at UGA, to the very popular town band venue, the 40 Watt Club, and into the national and international spotlight, and LD's article does a great job of detailing those lighting ins and outs!

This issue will be on our coffee table for a long time!
Sylvia Hillyard Pannell, Athens GA
Immediate Past President, United States Institute for Theatre Technology

It's Magic

I am part of The Magic of David Copperfield world tour and work directly with David to put on the best show possible. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how much your magazine is appreciated in the industry. The magazine not only keeps me up to speed with what's new and up and coming in technology but also motivates me with excitement each time I get a chance to glance through the happenings of the industry you write about!

I love technology and the progress we in the industry have made in the past few years. I cannot wait to see what's next for us in the live entertainment world. Keep up the good work.

Here's to you and your staff for a job well done! You are appreciated. Be awesome.
Nathaniel Mondell
The Magic of David Copperfield Tour