People News Headlines
Creative Conversations: Wee Cheng Low
Singapore – Singapore’s Bicentennial Experience could hardly have been more successful. Conceived to illustrate milestones in the island’s history, it employed a rich mix of immersive audio-visual solutions, from the large-scale to the intimate. Originally aiming for 300,000 visitors, by the time of its close at the end of 2019, its remarkable creative storytelling had attracted an incredible 760,000.
Behind that success was show design specialist Ctrl Fre@k, whose Wee Cheng Low used the power and versatility of Hippotizer to realise the multitude of solutions. A founding partner of Ctrl Fre@k along with Jeffrey Yue, Wee is one of Singapore’s leading experts in video and lighting control solutions, a long-time Hippotizer user and a member of Green Hippos’s Key User Support Programme (KUSP).
Wee’s career path had its beginnings in 2002, when he worked for a time as a theatre technician for a local theatre company. “I had very little knowledge of the industry,” he says, “but I thought it could be a fun career.”
With his interest in show technology sparked, he moved to Singapore’s then brand-new arts centre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Assigned as operator to lighting programmer Ben Davis for the opening production, Wee had a valuable, if intensive, opportunity to learn lighting programming from an expert. “I would sit behind Ben daily,” he says. “He was kind enough to answer my questions, give me tips and tricks. That really encouraged me to build a proper foundation for my programming skills.”
Wee set about self-learning other consoles, and his obvious aptitude opened new opportunities. It also opened a door to the world of multimedia and media servers. Hired as a lighting programmer for Robert Wilson’s In the Evening at Koi Pond, for Japan’s 2005 EXPO, Wee arrived on site to find his programming remit expanded to include multimedia.
“Before this, I’d only programmed media playback through a lighting console once,” he recalls, “so it was a big leap. The multimedia component consisted of a huge water screen and four projectors. The lighting console was used for overall show control, including water jets, lighting, media servers, mist and automation. I had no knowledge of projection and soft-edge blending. I was taught how to align the image and blending from a media server via the console. That was how I began exploring media server programming.”
Exploration led him to Green Hippo and its Hippotizer media servers. In 2008, he took advantage of a European tour to check in for HippoSchool in London. He has been an enthusiastic Hippotizer user ever since. Not long after, in 2010, Ctrl Fre@k was born when Wee and Jeffrey Yue were asked to troubleshoot a control system. With Hippotizer in its toolkit, the company has gone from success to success, creating lighting and multimedia systems for countless theatre shows, installations and more.
Discussing Hippotizer’s standout advantages, Wee says: “First, the ZooKeeper GUI is very well designed, with all attribute controls easily accessible. Hippotizer V4 gives the flexibility to customise our workspace, which definitely speeds up programming and operation. Second, V4 maintains the 2D workflow from V3: for many simpler productions, users don’t need to build a 3D stage in the software before starting programming. But if a production requires 3D mapping, we can add SHAPE into the workflow and begin working in a 3D environment.”
Drilling down into the detail of his own working practices, Wee points to Hippotizer’s LiveMask feature as an important aid to creativity. “Being able to just draw and mask any area on the projected surface makes working with sets with irregular shapes so simple,” he says. “I always advise designers not to worry too much about unwanted areas, as the masking is done easily in the software. Not having this masking built into the original content is often helpful, because set pieces can turn up with slight differences in dimensions from those originally specified.”
Another go-to feature for Wee is the MultiController. “It’s one of the important tools that I use frequently. Being able to map Pins for external control as well as controlling external devices allows endless possibilities.”
Hippotizer helped Wee with one of his most challenging projects: a 2015 façade mapping show, Share The Hope, for the National Gallery Singapore’s opening festival. “With the building’s complex structure and the projectors’ positions, we had to provide a playback system that could handle high-res content and allow us to mend the shadowed areas with images,” he says. “I’d been working in 2D environments in media servers and the need to mend shadowed areas on this scale made workflow difficult. But the Green Hippo team introduced me to SHAPE and the 3D workflow, which helped to simplify the entire task.”
Another challenge, in 2018, introduced him to Hippotizer’s powerful integration with Notch generative effects. “A theatre play, I Came at Last to the Seas, had several projection surfaces that would fly in and out for various scenes,” he says. “For some scenes there was also a need for live feed with effects and generative content. We put together a system with a Boreal media server, Notch and a PTZ camera.”
Initially, only a trailing image effect was needed for the live feed. “Zep Mouris from Green Hippo helped us build the effect into the software and it worked great. Then the designer requested generative content, and we looked to Notch for the solution. It was our first time trying it, and running it in Hippotizer, and the integration was easy.”
Now with the success of 2019’s Bicentennial Experience also on its résumé, Ctrl Fre@k has a powerful reputation both at home and internationally, and with support from the Green Hippo team whenever it’s needed, they are prepared for even the biggest challenges.
“Being part of the KUSP group allows me to discuss queries about projects easily,” says Wee. “There’s always someone I can approach. With learning new features in the software, I can get updates quickly. The Green Hippo team are constantly checking in, making sure you’re in good shape with their products.”
22nd May 2020
Tom Harper Appointed as Unusual Rigging Managing Director
UK – Following the death of Alan Jacobi in April, Unusual Rigging has announced that Alan’s son, Tom Harper, will take on the role of managing director, with Alan’s wife Peta appointed as chair. Beyond this change, the board will continue to lead the Unusual team, directing the overall strategy of the business and assessing how best to respond to all future opportunities and challenges.
“The consequences of losing AJ are great,” says Tom “and his absence will be felt, both by his family, colleagues, and the industry as a whole for many years to come. As a business, there are obvious implications that need to be addressed which in turn, honour AJ’s wishes regarding succession. AJ shared with Peta and myself that after he was gone, Peta would become the company chair, and I would become the MD.”
This strategy was recently reviewed and approved by the board, which was formed in 2018 when Unusual was faced with exponential growth, and was enhanced by further directors: Simon Stone, Steve Porter, Simon Tiernan and Tom Harper, who each took on specific leadership roles within the organisation.
AJ said at the time: “We needed to regenerate the thread of continuity as we move forward and continue to grow, and the board needs to reflect this intention in the management and governance of the company. We needed a solid and secure base to guide us into the future where responsibilities are growing ever more demanding.”
And now,” says Tom, “our industry is facing challenges never before contemplated. Yet despite the extraordinarily difficult circumstances due to COVID-19, we have great confidence in Unusual’s ability to respond robustly, demonstrate its resilience and ensure AJ’s legacy is wholeheartedly continued.”
AJ was laid to rest on the 29th of April, with the funeral cortège making a final trip past the company’s Bugbrooke HQ, where colleagues gathered and lined the road, paying their final respects.
“My family and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their condolences, “Tom concluded. “Our loss is great, but made all the more bearable knowing that the Unusual family and the industry as a whole stands with us.”
Tom also wishes to offer, on behalf of his family, condolences to those affected by AJ’s death, knowing how much he meant to many people in his own unique way. “We hope you all keep talking about him ‐ with us and between yourselves ‐ to keep his spirit alive and to continue the success of this fantastic company which he founded, nurtured and loved.”
15th May 2020
Ayrton introduces Kseniia Igoshkina from its international sales team
Germany – Ayrton introduces Kseniia Igoshkina as the latest member of its international sales team. Based in Detmold, Germany, Igoshkina is responsible for emerging markets across the Baltic countries, the CIS states and South America.
Igoshkina joined Ayrton at the end of 2019, since when she has quickly established her position by appointing new distributors in Belarus, Armenia, Romania/Moldova, Colombia, Panama and the Caribbean. Her previous experience includes two years at Astera LED Technologies as key account manager based in China, after which she relocated to Europe to look for new challenges.
“My first experience of Ayrton was its famous light show,” she says. “I was immediately blown away by their unique products. Now, a few years later, I am working for this amazing company and I couldn’t be happier.
“Ayrton’s approach is very different from what I have experienced before. We handle many different types of project and take a very specialised, individual approach to each one. Ayrton products are so full of features that we have something to meet every requirement. It’s a perfect opportunity to create a bespoke solution for all our clients; every day is interesting and exciting.”
“Kseniia brings a freshness and dynamism to Ayrton which perfectly matches our team approach,” says Ayrton global sales director, Michael Althaus. “We are excited to see the response from the emerging markets as she helps raise brand awareness in these new areas.”
In picture: Kseniia Igoshkina with Ayrton’s Levante wash luminaire at Prolight+Sound, Frankfurt.
13th May 2020
Dirac Appoints Mats Oberg as Chief Sales Officer
Sweden – Adding to the momentum created by the CES 2020 launch of its award-winning headphone app and the completion of a new $6-million investment round, Swedish sound pioneer Dirac has announced that Agilent veteran Mats Oberg has joined the global leadership team as chief sales officer, reporting to Dirac CEO Mathias Johansson.
“I welcome Mats to Dirac, where I am confident his extensive sales experience across a broad range of industries is going to make an immediate and positive impact,” Johansson said. “He brings a wealth of experience from outside the audio industry, having held several senior sales and management positions within Agilent and at smaller, innovative tech companies. His leadership, customer focus and demonstrated track record of success make him the ideal addition to our global leadership team.”
Oberg comes to Dirac from Waystream AB, a provider of advanced digital infrastructure components and services, where he served as CEO since 2017. Before this he served as managing director at Sabre Corporation, a leading technology solutions provider offering a broad range of data-driven business intelligence, mobile, distribution and SaaS solutions. From 2000 to 2016, Oberg was at Agilent Technologies, the global market leader in analytical solutions for the biotech, chemical and pharma-industries, where he served in various managerial roles.
“I am excited to join Dirac at this very important inflection point in the company’s journey,” Oberg said today. “Dirac’s solutions are unlocking the full richness of sound and, in doing so, they are transforming the way consumers experience sound at home, in the car, or on their mobile devices. I look forward to building on what this great group of customer-focused sales professionals has already achieved.”
Dirac’s suite of audio optimisation solutions is currently used by leading blue chip technology companies in the mobile, automotive, headphone and home theatre markets such as Xiaomi, OPPO, OnePlus, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Volvo, RHA, Harman, NAD Electronics, StormAudio, Datasat, Pioneer, and many more.
At CES 2020, the company debuted a breakthrough Dirac headphone technology and app that automatically enhance the performance of any connected headphones to reveal even the most subtle beats, tones and sounds that are typically lost in standard headphones.
Since its debut, the app was named one of CES’s top new products and was recognised with a “CES 2020 Editors’ Choice Award” by leading tech publication SoundGuys.
7th May 2020
ETC’s Mark White announces retirement
UK – Mark White has announced his retirement from the company after nearly 20 years.
Speaking about his departure from ETC Ltd, Mark comments: “ETC has been a fine company to work for. I am retiring at a time of new and exciting product development in the company which will keep ETC in pole position as the go-to suppliers of entertainment lighting.”
Darren Beckley, sales manager, ETC Ltd, adds: “Mark has been an integral part of developing the company’s brand these past 20 years. We thank him for all of his efforts and wish him the very best on his retirement.”
Jeremy Roberts, ETC Ltd regional sales manager, will take over growing the business in Ireland and progressing ETC’s stage machinery offering across the UK.
6th May 2020
L-Acoustics Creations Appoints Business Manager
UK – For 35 years, L-Acoustics has provided the pro audio industry with premium solutions for live events worldwide. L-Acoustics Creations, a new division of the company, brings this concert-grade technology to extraordinary sound spaces in private residential, cultural, and marine AV environments. The appointment of Nick Fichte to the role of business manager, L-Acoustics Creations, completes the existing new business team and positions the division to make headway in key installation markets, leveraging the relationships and knowledge that Nick has forged in his 15-year career in the AV industry.
Nick first stepped into the AV industry when he was still a student, applying to work for custom installer, Audio Vision. He was offered the position and boarded a flight to Turkey the following day to assist on technology integration for one of the world’s largest super yachts. This experience cemented a vocation and led to his career progressing at Audio Vision where he became store manager of one of its Bang & Olufsen dealerships. Nick later held sales roles at London-based custom installers Olive Audio Visual and Inspired Dwellings, then, prior to joining L-Acoustics, Crestron.
At Crestron, Nick began as residential business development manager, working closely with architects, interior designers, and property developers to deliver professional development and solution-based designs. More recently, for the past four years, Nick has acted as Regional Sales Manager, Residential, interfacing as a trusted counterpart with many of the company’s leading dealers in the residential Crestron Residential reseller network.
Nick expresses: “I am extremely excited to join such a world-renowned professional audio manufacturer to drive growth as we enter the residential and marine AV markets. With unique solutions designed for the most exclusive homes and yachts, this is going to be a great journey.” He adds, “Although confinement and social distancing have impacted our dealings at this time, I welcome the opportunity to connect remotely during the coming weeks and lay the groundwork for doing business together in the future.”
“We are very pleased to have Nick on board,” comments Christian Heil, president and founder of L-Acoustics. “L-Acoustics Creations brings a new way to experience music and home entertainment to market. It requires rethinking current approaches which in turn requires close collaboration with integrators and end users. Nick’s proven ability to liaise with key players and stakeholders in the AV industry and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships will be key to our success.”
Nick joins the current dedicated L-Acoustics Creations team, led by L-Acoustics president Christian Heil, and comprising
Paul Keating, director of corporate and private relationships for L-Acoustics Creations and managing director of DeltaLive Ltd., the international distributor for L-Acoustics Creations
Julie Blore-Bizot, director of brand and communications, L-Acoustics Creations
Kevin Groom, application engineer
Emma Pettersson, project manager
L-Acoustics Creations is further supported by teams and functions throughout the L-Acoustics organisation. L-Acoustics Creations main office and Sound Art Gallery showcasing Island, Ocean, and Bubbles created in the BluSpace standard are located in Highgate, London.
30th April 2020
Robe UK Appoints New Head of Marketing
UK – Robe UK strengthens its team with the addition of Theresa Gibson as head of marketing.
Theresa’s lively and positive personality is a perfect match for Robe. Her impressive experience as a marketing and communications professional started after graduating from university with a business studies degree and further studies to gain the Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications.
She’s worked across a dynamic mix of sectors including blue chip, SME and with marketing and live event agencies, and also in the world of entertainment technology for a distribution company. Her spectrum of knowledge has embraced multiple disciplines including organising and running events, sponsorship and PR activations and orchestrating engagement campaigns, all of which will be a “massive asset” to Robe UK, comments managing director Mick Hannaford.
Theresa is super excited about joining Robe UK. She’s always had a passion for live events, and when running her own, was known for an “obsession” with lighting and ensuring sufficient budget was allocated to have a good light show. “Lights set the scene, create atmosphere and can really bring any environment to life, so to be working with a market-leading moving light manufacturer is fantastic,” she commented. Theresa has also been following Robe for some time, having been captivated by their spectacular lighting showcases at international trade shows.
Theresa will be based at Robe UK’s HQ in Northampton. The scope of her role there will include coordinating marketing activities across events, trade shows and exhibitions, digital and social media and a range of integrated brand communications. She will be collaborating closely with her colleagues at Robe UK as well as Robe’s highly proactive international marketing / communications team to continue developing essential brand value and enhancing the company’s business opportunities in tandem with the immersive ‘end-to-end’ customer experience for which Robe is renowned.
Theresa is “especially looking forward” to evolving market partnerships and associations with some of the coolest and most creative lighting and visual specialists, artists, visionaries, venues, organisations and establishments in the industry. Additionally, Theresa will be co-ordinating marketing for Anolis UK and supporting the sales team to increase awareness of this quality architectural lighting brand.
Theresa joins Robe UK at a highly challenging time for the whole live music, show and event industry as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds creating an extraordinary set of circumstances forcing companies, organisations and brands to re-evaluate their purpose and approaches to life and business.
“The quality and innovation of Robe’s products, the company’s commitment to – and valuing of – human relationships and their ability to react and adapt quickly to market shifts and requirements direct from the factory in the Czech Republic means we will be strong and well-positioned to hit-the-ground-running once we are through this crisis,” predicts Theresa.
In her spare time, she is a keen cyclist having twice completed in the 300 mile London to Paris bike ride for charity, and last year in the London to Brighton ride for the British Heart Foundation. She also loves “pottering around” the garden, live music, walking her border terrier George, and a good skiing break in the winter season with “plenty of Après!”
27th April 2020
Unusual Rigging's Alan Jacobi LVO
UK – It is with great sadness that Unusual Rigging announces that Alan Jacobi LVO, founder and managing director, passed away peacefully at home on 13th April following a long illness, aged 67.
Director and Alan’s son, Tom Harper said: “Alan, AJ or the ‘Old Man’ as we all knew him was adored and respected by so many – family, colleagues, clients and the live entertainment industry as a whole. His mark upon the industry was massive, through his charisma and can-do attitude, his extraordinary work ethic, occasional bloody mindedness and an ability to solve any problems that arose, he took Unusual Rigging to where it is today – leading the field internationally in entertainment rigging and engineering."
AJ began his career at the Old Vic theatre where he learnt the basics about technical theatre. A few years later, he was working in the lighting department of the National Theatre, under the directorship of Lord Olivier, and assisted in the theatre’s subsequent move to its current home on the South Bank. He continued to build his comprehensive technical knowledge of show production and toured the world as a freelance production electrician with theatre shows, music and concert production.
Forming Unusual Rigging in 1983, he expanded the company in 1990 to incorporate the production of large-scale national and international events.
In 2018, AJ was voted by his peers to receive the Gottelier Award in recognition of his work towards raising the profile and professionalism of the rigging industry. On receiving the award, he said: "I am so very honoured … to know how much support I have from industry peers, friends and colleagues. They not only voted me the winner of this year's award but have been a source of support over the years as we strive to give riggers the credit and professional respect they deserve."
AJ long championed the need for training and education in the sector and was a driving force behind the National Rigging Certificate (NRC) accreditation scheme since its inception in 2005. He was awarded the LVO in a special honours list drawn up by the Queen for his work on the production and co-ordination of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Tributes have been pouring in across social media since news of Alan's death broke on Monday. Tom commented: "Speaking on behalf of AJ's family and the Unusual team, we have been completely overwhelmed by the love and admiration that those who worked with him have been keen to share over the past few days. AJ undoubtedly left a huge impression on everyone he ever met. Although a larger than life character, he would have been stunned and deeply touched by the abundance of love and support sent his way in the past few days.”
Lee Dennison, head of business development at White Light commented: "It’s not often we talk about heroes in a real way. Alan Jacobi (AJ) is a hero to so many of our industry and no doubt we will all have our own memories, stories and smiles when thinking about him. A strong-minded businessman, loving family man and the most caring and passionate of trustees to BackUp."
Meanwhile, Artichoke Trust published its own tribute to AJ on its website, stating: "As a company, Artichoke is acutely conscious of the enormous debt we owe this legend of the entertainment industry. Our success is his success. Without AJ, the British public would have had no access to some of the most memorable cultural events of the last 15 years. His legacy will live on as we try to echo his relentless certainty that anything an artist can dream up can be made to happen."
A private funeral will take place for AJ (as per Covid-19 guidelines) at the end of the month, with a memorial open to the industry to be held in 2021, with venue and date to be confirmed at a later date.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in AJ's memory should contribute to BackUp, the technical entertainment charity which provides financial support to industry technical professionals working in live events, theatre, TV and film, of which AJ was a patron. https://www.backuptech.uk/support/
16th April 2020
Martin Audio expands US Product Support Group
USA – Martin Audio has grown its team in the US with the appointment of Will Harris as product support engineer. As the latest addition to the manufacturer’s Product Support Group, Harris will be supporting the Martin Audio team and resellers with demos, system design and implementation. He will also commission installations and provide technical support to customers.
Harris has experienced all aspects of the pro audio industry, from musician on stage to live sound engineer as well as technical support for a high-profile manufacturer. Based in Las Vegas, he will ensure that Martin Audio’s technical support will now cover US customers coast to coast, whenever they need it.
“Will is not only an experienced live sound engineer, but has experience working for a prominent manufacturer designing and supporting systems,” says Lee Stein VP of sales, North America. “Our rapid growth has required us to add additional staff to support our sales and our customers appropriately. Will has very strong technical expertise, practical experience and has held this position with another manufacturer. The fact that he’s located in Las Vegas is another plus as it expands our technical support presence across the country.”
“I joined Martin Audio to be part of their great history in music,” adds Harris. “Martin Audio has always put the musical experience first and that shows in every product we make. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to a large format concert touring rig like the iconic MLA or enjoying background music from an ADORN system at your neighbourhood pub, it is evident that pure enjoyment of music is at the core.”
Harris has been a fan of the classic Martin Audio sound since his time on stage as a bassist. “I fell in love with Martin Audio when I was still a performing musician, and I first experienced a Martin Audio stage monitor,” he recalls. “The form factor was so compact, and I loved how I always felt like I was in the ‘sweet spot’. Moreover, the sound was so smooth and musical. I quickly noticed other stage monitors were often voiced to help cut through a noisy stage, but not these wedges. They sounded smooth, putting the vocal out front while still providing a warm responsive low end.”
Looking to his new role, Harris is excited to become part of the Martin Audio family. “I am most looking forward to being part of such a great family of products and can’t wait to see what the future holds,” he states. “The idea of working with the great talent from different backgrounds to help develop the best listening experience possible is my true driving factor.”
15th April 2020
Green Hippo Strengthens Product Team
UK & USA – Green Hippo’s product specialist team has strengthened on both sides of the Atlantic with the appointments of Zep Mouris as Hippotizer product manager at its new London HQ and Nick Spencer as product specialist, based in Chicago.
The move comes as the company focuses on delivering enhancements to its range of real-time video manipulation products for the AV industries. It follows hot on the heels of a recent leadership change at Green Hippo, which saw the appointment of David March to sales and marketing director and Ryan Brown to operations and product director.
“Zep has been a cornerstone of software development since joining Green Hippo in 2013 and we’re thrilled that he now takes the role of Hippotizer product manager,” says March. “He has been instrumental in the design of many much-loved Hippotizer software innovations, including SHAPE, the advanced 3D mapping toolkit which integrates with all Hippotizer V4 media servers.
“We’ve worked alongside Nick on numerous projects over the years in his roles as freelance lighting and video programmer and witnessed his many talents. We welcome them both and look forward to rolling out developments for our end users born from their enthusiasm and skill.”
Nick Spencer graduated from Western Michigan University with a BFA in Theatre: Technical Production, before freelancing for five years in video for festivals, touring productions, films, corporate events and installations.
“I met and began working closely with Green Hippo during my time with design company Dunaway Designs,” says Spencer. “When this opportunity opened up, I was honoured that they thought of me for the role.”
Mouris comments: “I’m excited to be able to spearhead new product developments in my new role and look forward to discussing the needs and requirements with the Hippotizer community over the coming months.”
Ryan Brown, operations and product director at Green Hippo welcomes both to their new roles: “Congratulations to Zep and Nick. We know they’ll be great assets to Green Hippo, both in maintaining those vital support functions for our users, and contributing to our ongoing product development. We’re looking forward to an exciting future with Zep and Nick on board.”
In picture: Zep Mouris and Nick Spencer.