Fog Manufacturers Give Thumbs Up to Equity Guidelines

Manufacturers of smoke and fog products are, for the most part, in favor of the ruling announced earlier this summer that sets absolute limits on the amount of smoke that can be used safely on theatrical productions.

The limits, set by Actors' Equity and the League of American Theatres and Producers, were spurred by a report the two groups commissioned which concluded that actors are at risk when exposed to "elevated or peak levels of glycol smoke and mineral oil." However, it also noted that if exposure levels are kept below the limits established in the study, actors should "not suffer adverse impacts to their health or their vocal abilities."

In a press release, Stan Miller, president of Rosco, says, "The first conclusion in the Equity report is 'no evidence of serious health effects was found to be associated with exposure to any of the theatrical effects evaluated in this study.'

"The study goes on: 'No significant acute changes in voice quality, pulmonary function, or vocal chord appearances was found among actors exposed to theatrical smoke, haze, or pyrotechnic agents.'

"This study...clearly established that theatrical smoke and haze, when properly used, remains a useful and viable stage technique, on Broadway and everywhere else."

The study, which took three years to complete, was jointly prepared by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and the Environ International Corporation. It included the participation of 439 actors performing in 16 Broadway musicals during the 1997-1998 seasons. In four of those productions, Jekyll & Hyde, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and Phantom of the Opera, the potential peak concentration of smoke exceeded the recommended levels. Of those shows, only Les Miz and Phantom are still running.

According to Ken Greenwood, Equity's senior business representative, "Those productions will now have to assess whether actors are subjected to peak exposure levels and whether the exposures can be reduced through changes in the blocking or choreography. If such changes cannot be made, an adjustment in the amount of smoke discharged will be necessary. We will also review exposure levels in any new production to make sure they are in compliance with the guidelines."

The study recommends the following guidance levels with respect to glycols and mineral oil: The use of glycols should be such that an Actors' exposure does not exceed 40 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3); mineral oil should be used in such a manner that an Actors' exposure does not exceed a peak concentration of 25mg/m3; for chronic exposures to mineral oil, the existing standards established for oil mists (5mg/m3 as an eight-hour time-weighted average) should also be protective for actors in theatrical productions.

The full report can now be seen on the Equity website (www.actorsequity.org/TheatreNews/smokefog_0501.html).

PRG Buys Four Star Lighting

Production Resource Group, the collective of lighting, sound, and scenery companies that includes Fourth Phase Lighting, has purchased Four Star Lighting, the New York supply house that has been hobbled by recent troubles with bankruptcy.

For years owned and operated by the DeVerna family, Four Star Lighting was purchased in 1998 by Matthews Studio Group, the Hollywood-based grip manufacturer for the TV and film industries, as part of a diversification that included the purchase of Olesen, the West Coast-based theatrical supplier. However, in April 2000, Matthews declared bankruptcy, placing the future of Four Star in doubt.

"We just bought [Four Star's] equipment," says Jere Harris, head of PRG, noting that everything will be folded into Fourth Phase, PRG's lighting division. "The banks will hold onto the revenue [from the current show rentals] and we'll service their shows, going forward from here."

Four Star supplies and services a significant number of Broadway shows, including Aida, Kiss Me Kate, Blast, The Dinner Party, The Full Monty, and Fosse.

The deal reduces the number of supply houses competing for Broadway, although Westsun America has established a substantial New York presence this past season. The new warehouse will span 13,000 sq. ft. and provide more storage space, including racks and shelves for product storage, and an expanded service lab, making it possible for the service department to grow. The addition was to be completed by late July.

New Digs, Part 1: Martin Professional

Martin Professional opened its new facility in Sunrise, FL, with a bang in June, inviting 200 guests to a grand opening party. Guests toured the new facility and checked out the light show in the company's new demo room. An after-party, with dancing to the music of DJ Willie Imbeault (a Martin employee), kept the action going far into the night.

The new facility is unique in the entertainment technology industry as least in the US in that it was designed with both functionality and aesthetics in mind. All of Martin's sales reps are located in one open, high-ceilinged space, which features a specially commissioned painting by Danish artist Palle Mernild. The Martin demo room features a rig that includes a full lineup of Martin equipment. The building's exterior is fully illuminated by MAC Exterior 600s and Exterior 200s; the lobby features a reception desk bearing the Martin logo and a triangular truss bearing Martin MAC 500s, MAC 600s, and MiniMAC wash fixtures, installed and programmed by Carl Wake.

Turning to the West Coast, Martin opened its new Las Vegas facility on May 31. Las Vegas office head and regional sales manager Tim Brennan was there to greet guests, along with Martin USA CEO Troels Volver and other company personnel.

Brennan is a well-known industry figure; his family founded the lighting distributor Cinema Services, and he has worked for a number of key industry players. His task will be to work with Martin's West Coast office to develop a stronger presence for the company in the Vegas market.

New Digs, Part 2: Strand Lighting US

After nearly 20 years in Rancho Dominguez, CA, Strand Lighting has a new facility 12 miles down the road in Cypress, CA. "The old building did not meet our needs and was not suitable for the type of high-tech assembly and manufacturing we do now as compared to 20 years ago when we moved to the site in Rancho Dominguez," says Peter Rogers, global sales and marketing director for Strand Lighting.

"The new building offers better office, training, and presentation areas, as well as the new manufacturing areas. The new building is in an area where a wide range of high-tech manufacturers are located, such as Panasonic and others, so it is a better environment for our staff as well.

"We will build CD80 and SLD dimmer systems, SL spotlights (recently moved to the US), distribution equipment (plugging boxes, plug strips, etc.), and custom project-related items like Network racks, and stage manager panels for all North and South American projects," explains Rogers.

Phil O'Donnell, CEO of Strand Lighting worldwide, adds, "We have wanted to upgrade our facilities in North America for some time and we looked extensively around the LA area to identify a suitable facility. The new building met all of our requirements for a strong manufacturing and sales operation for this market."

The design of Strand's new building is also energy-efficient. "Even the manufacturing area is fully insulated with the latest in heating and cooling systems," notes Rogers. "This is essential in California these days."

New Digs, Part 3: AC Lighting UK

Following 10 years of continuous expansion at its former location, AC Lighting moved to a new headquarters located less than two-thirds of a mile from the previous location on the western side of High Wycombe in the UK.

The new building has undergone extensive remodeling to increase the floor space by over 40% to 37,000 sq. ft. The construction project lasted five months and has created two floors of offices, manufacturing facilities for the production of cables and color scrolls, a new service center, and substantial warehousing. The layout also includes a demonstration facility, with adjacent training rooms and a reception area.

The provisioning of a new IT infrastructure and telephone system has involved the installation of approximately six miles of twisted-pair cabling and a high-speed digital link to the Northern Region sales office located in Leeds.

Address Book

AC Lighting
Centauri House, Hillbottom Road, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP12 4HQ, England, ph: 44-1494-446000, fax: 44-1494-461024

Martin Professional
700 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Sunrise, FL 33325, ph: 954-858-1800, fax: 954-858-1811

Strand Lighting
6603 Darin Way, Cypress, CA 90630, ph: 714-230-8200, fax: 714-899-0042

Stanton Magnetics, Tracoman, Inc., KRK Systems
World Headquarters
3000 SW 42nd Street, Hollywood, FL
33312, ph: 954-689-8833, fax: 954-689-8460

Tomcat
Western Region Office
4020 West Ali Baba Lane, Bldg D,
Suite A, Las Vegas, NV 89118, ph: 702-798-6200, fax: 702-798-6225

Movers and Shakers

Bob Schacherl, who was president and founding partner of the Austin, TX-based High End Systems for nearly a quarter of a century until his departure in December 2000, has joined Dallas-based Vari-Lite International as vice president of sales and marketing. He replaces Ken Matthews, and will handle sales and marketing efforts for new Vari*Lite® luminaires and consoles.

Returning to the Vari-Lite fold is Tom Littrell, who is taking on the task of technical marketing for its luminaires and consoles. Littrell, who operated the first Vari*Lite system for a Genesis concert in Barcelona in 1981, has most recently worked for Ignition!, a Vari-Lite subsidiary, where he produced corporate events. "I missed the lighting business and I'm glad to be back in it," he says.

Thommy Hall joins Mobolazer, Inc. as sales department manager. Hall was previously the Northeast Region Sales Manager for High End Systems and Sales Manager for Hawaii Stage and Lighting.

Dave Bryant and Mike Townsend, founders of Midnight Design Ltd., have left the Production Resource Group of lighting companies to return to lighting design. Fourth Phase London is in the process of reorganizing after their departures.