Stage Technologies, architectural lighting

Stage technologies combine technical solutions related to the specialized technical provision of theatrical performances, concerts and other events taking place on the stage and other premises of the main hall of a theatre or similar object. These technologies also include lighting, audio and video equipment used in television studios. Stage technologies include not only stage lighting, its management, sound projection, video projection, but also mechanization equipment, curtains, decorations, mobile scenes, aluminium traversing, fastening equipment. The modern mechanization equipment used in concerts in theatres, outdoor spaces and indoor spaces greatly facilitates the work of stage workers, ensures safe performances without interference, looks aesthetically and works quietly.

Although the old hand-operated decor mechanisms are still being used in theatres and cultural centres that were built several decades ago, new projects today only use automated systems. The benefits of modern stage technologies are not only good for performance, but also for people’s safety and reliability. In the last century and before, many theatres have been equipped with rope lifts and counterweight systems. These hoists are operated manually by lifting or lowering the traverse connected by ropes through the pulley system. Hand movement is transmitted by pulling up – down natural fiber or synthetic rope, which is tied to several steel cables, with a horizontal tube for hanging decorations. The whole system is balanced by additional counterweights, that weight the same as the total weight of the raised decorations or luminaires. Counterweights are weights placed on a vertical axis. The system is balancing when the traverse with decoration or spotlights is lowered on the stage floor, then the contrast arm – the anchor – rises to a few meters in height. For this purpose, on the sides of the stage, there should be special balconies dedicated to stage workers – galleries.

These systems are relatively simple, but currently they are no longer designed and becoming used less frequently in new systems, and will probably no longer be used in the near future. Until now, the only advantage of handheld systems was the much lower price. However, in the newly-built theatres, this difference is diminishing, as automated systems do not require some costly constructional solutions, such as unnecessary bridges – galleries that are used for mounting counterweights, unnecessary side space on the wall for mounting these systems, sometimes with no need for technical floors – grate, with pulleys, ropes and more. Another important reason for the introduction of only automated systems in new projects is the safety of people and the risks that can be caused by incorrect use of manual systems.

Motorized stage lifts with fixed lifting speed

Small budget projects, cultural centres or smaller theatres sometimes have low-cost motorized lifts with fixed speeds, but their lifting speed is low, up to a maximum of 10m / min. Frequently used chain lifts for the entertainment industry are often used in concert halls. These synchronously operated elevators are mostly used for lifting floodlight bridges, hanging acoustic systems, or lifting a mobile part of a roof. Chain hoists are inappropriate for changing decorations during the performance because they are slow and noisy. For lifting decorations, lifts with steel ropes or steel strips that are silent and smooth are most often installed.

Motorized variable speed hoists with computerized control

This type of lift is most often used and designed in theatre stages and multifunctional entertainment complexes. Complex computerized management systems are implemented to manage these lifts, with many technical solutions to ensure system security. For the control of scaffolding lifts, complex electric hoist controllers are used – frequency converters with industrial type computers, various control devices, overload protection and emergency systems, and other technologically complex elements. The speed of these lifts can be adjusted evenly from zero to high speeds of 1.5-1.8m per second. Also, these elevators are extremely precise, operate very quietly, and their stopping positions in the control system can be programmed to the nearest millimeter.

Control systems

For variable speed hoists with a lifting capacity of 500 kg to 1500 kg, their control systems are subject to special safety requirements for the mechanization of the entertainment industry regulated in the European Union. Stage control systems must be easy to manage, allowing the director or stage designer to implement the most complex and diverse artistic solutions. With high-speed lifting equipment and quick change of decorations, you can quickly and easily create and change the stage design.

In modern stage technology systems, the necessary components are the computer management and visualization software, Internet and computer network infrastructure devices. Computerized network servers, computerized electromechanical drives, operator consoles with interactive touch screens and robotic system manipulators are used to manage scene technologies and store information.

Stage floor level mechanization devices

Various mechanization systems are used in the lower part of the theatre scene:

  • Automatically controlled floor platforms descending below and rising above stage floor level
  • Orchestral pit platforms
  • Stage rotating wheels

Fixed technology systems are complemented by various mobile devices. Theatre or event scenes are powered by motorized human lifts, various pick-ups, or autonomously remotely controlled scooters.

Stage technologies, using a variety of virtual reality tricks, can turn the stage into a magical world. The key to the success of musicals or shows created in impressive world theatres is not only the work of great actors or professional directors, but also the use of sophisticated technological solutions. As a typical example, the “Circue du Soleil” projects in New York or Las Vegas at www.cirquedusoleil.com or the Bregenzer Permorming Art Festival in Austria every summer, where performances with spectacular scenography are arranged on a stage floating on Lake Constance at www.bregenzerfestspiele.com.

Television and filming studio technology

Television studios, like stages, use decorations, mechanization equipment, lighting systems. The amount of equipment required for studio depends on its size and main purpose. Equipment quantities and device models will differ significantly for a small news studio and a large entertainment program studio. If the studio is multifunctional, which must consistently replace and update the scenography, an important part of the technology is the mechanization system (the term rigging is also used in English), which consists of a ceiling-mounted track and boom lifts and trolley system.

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