Rigging specialists Nippy Industries has supplied London’s National Theatre with a 14-way Kinesys automation system featuring Liftket vari-speed motors. The system will be primarily based in the popular Lyttelton Theatre, but will also be available for use in the National’s other venues.

Nippy has been a rigging supplier at the National since 2001 and works closely with the National’s rigging department and rigging resources technician, Matthew Wheeler, and Rob Barnard, head of stage facilities.

Wheeler and Barnard first saw the Kinesys system on the Nippy Industries stand at the 2005 ABTT show, and were immediately struck by its potential flexibility for the National, with its action-packed production and repertory schedule. “The demands of the theatre are really quite considerable,” says Wheeler. With sets and productions getting more ambitious and changeover times more compressed, they were interested in a compact, cost-effective system to help them move large set pieces quickly, easily, and safely.

A key factor in their choice was also that they wanted a ‘”plug and play” system—something that came out of the box, plugged in, and worked without any fuss or compatibility issues.

They initially tested the Kinesys system with a hire from Nippy Industries which went extremely well. The deal was completed for Nippy by Hannah Sneath. The full system consists of the 14 Kinesys Elevation 1+ controllers, the 14 20-metres-a-minute Liftkets, a Kinesys Array PD-ES power distro, and a laptop running Kinesys’ proprietary Vector software.

The Elevation 1+ mounts close to the motor and has a 32A 3-phase inlet and outlet allowing units to be ‘daisy-chained’ together. Data is provided via an RS485 data link and an LED display on the front and full menu system are integrated, together with movement and speed controls. Nippy industries coordinated full training sessions on the new kit between Kinesys and the National’s staff.

The new system went straight into use on two Lyttleton productions Voysey Inheritance and a production of the Stanislavsky’s classic, The Seagull.

Wheeler comments, “It’s proving hugely versatile—quick to rig, allowing units to be swapped around quickly and it’s easy to operate and program. The hoist noise is also minimal. Nippy Industries has been a great help in all stages of the hire that preceded the sale, the subsequent purchase, and the training.”