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Starlight Express UK Tour


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Stu and Erroneous make a good point. Yes, it's good practice to do a lamp check (and check any other items which might possibly malfunction) before each performance. But don't forget, checking them is something that takes only a few minutes, whilst fixing them is something which might conceivably take a LOT longer.


It might just be as simple as opening a cover or enclosure of some sort and swapping a bulb or two. On the other hand, it might for example involve the movement of large items of scenery to allow access to the area where repair is required, or perhaps a Tallescope might have to be negotiated into a tight space or through a lot of obstructions to get to where the fix is needed. These things take both time and manpower, and it's quite conceivable that one or other (or both) of these might well be at a premium during a reset for a big show like Starlight. You do what you can before the half, perhaps there might be opportunity for a couple of 'quick fixes' in the interval, and then you do the rest at a more convenient moment.


Peter, I'm sure you'd be one of the first to complain if stage management had held the house to give electrics time to make all their repairs and the show had consequently gone up 15 or 20 minutes late.

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  • 2 months later...
If it is the same tour that was in the USA it is a very big tour full of movers and truss and molefays etc run off a GrandMA if I remember.
The UK tour is run off a Hog 2 (with all 4 DMX universes utilised). I didn't see any molefays either. But plenty of moving truss!
I believe there was a little hiccup on the opening night.....(re. the 3D projections)
According to the video tech, the big 3D screen ripped...and it had to be replaced before they could start. He said that they were now on their 5th screen!
The first part of the first half was particularly bad - well, when I say 'bad' I mean 'not really up to standard'; the dancing and choreaography wasn't 'tight' (which was particularly noticeable in a few big numbers), LX cues weren't amazing(they came in a bit late sometimes), trucks were crashed audibly together (there wasn't much scenery to crash yet it still managed to!) and lamps had gone in the big revolve/circular floor. (The latter was perhaps particularly noticeable to me since a) I'm a lighting person and b) we were high up in the gallery so got a good view of the circular stage area all the time!

Being in the stalls it was harder to see, but I think most of them if not all were working last night. Lighting cues were pretty good - if anything the followspots were slightly out, but on the whole very good.....but we all know what followspotting is like...!

There were a few other issues that were less important - some rather mediocre CO2 jets for example - but I'll try not to list any more :-)
Agreed, you could hardly see them! And one wasn't working.
That all sounds very critical - I know, perhaps it is - and I know I couldn't have done better myself but when it's a high profile, famous, big budget show I expected better to be honest. It wouldn't have taken 10 minutes to check all the lamps before the show, for example.


On the plus side, there were some nice effects; the 'starcloth' (starred set) and cooled smoke rolling over the stage in particular. I was impressed with the moving images - well, the DL1-style projectors on yokes and flown screens that interacted with each other - I'd like to know more about how that was achieved, technically. It was quite good to see the screens moving around and the projectors following them :-) It was the first time I've seen a yoked projector in a show (rather than in a PLASA booth!)

Apparently it is all run off a Hippotiser system. The 'small' projectors are normal projectors fixed into a moving yoke, and as such are programmed as a moving head. Sometimes the image missed the edge of the screen, but this was to do with the swing of the screens, despite the fact that the image is oversized already (I am told).
I was not too impressed with the 3D bits - well, they were fine in themselves but the actual 'races' seemed a bit gimmicky to me, to be honest. Almost like 'powerrangers' stylistically at one point... althuogh again, technically, it was good and a huge RP screen! As far as I can tell though there were no technical problems with the polarised 3D stuff (although the yoked ordinary projectors cut out at one point during the Electra scene...)

Yes I agree - the 3D bit got rather like a computer game towards the end.


Overall a vrey good tour - probably the best touring show I have seen....but the singing/dancing wasn't quite all there.



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....but the singing/dancing wasn't quite all there.


yes ive noticed this a lot recently, I have seen a lot of touring shows, and such like over the last 12 months, and technically I havent been able to pick up on much problems, but the standard of vocalists has really gone down.

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Its with us later this year, and we are apparently dark for two days plus opening night to fit it in. The current rumour is we are losing six rows of seats as well, but having seen a couple of photos I don't think thats quite right. The photos make it look like a lot of hard work mind.

I have used hippotizer and a moving yoke (one of) before on a show. They are rather good, giving DMX of at least focus, probably keystone, as well as position and all the stuff the hippo does. Used around 100 channels of Mux to do it mind.

The hippo crashed a couple of times, whichis concerning seeing where it is getting used now, but this was solved by hippo replacing the unit, quite good service actually. This was getting on for a year ago now and sorry for being vague I wasn't programming.

Having a movable projector flown over the centre of an ice rink (rather large projection surface anyone?) was really, really good fun though.

Why do you want to know the contact details Sam?

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You will probably loose the 6 rows of seats because (or the equivelent of spread between rows depending on how mig your rows are) becuase they bring a big catwalk out into the auditorium.


What venue do you work at Mikie??


As for contact details- have got them now!!





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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

I am the very man who swapped out the Hippotizer. Spent a couple of days in Manchester sorting out some issues. Just a couple of points:


Starlight show wanted to use the Hippotizer despite the fact it was still in Beta. Budget stretched to 2 x Express' which are the entry level server. The issues refered to were discovered to be a flakey chipset problem which applied to all pre-release Hippotizers but was fixed permanently following these visits and has been rock solid (we believe) ever since.


The Hippotizers on this show are still running Beta Software (succesfully). We've gone through a series of major updates ever since but they are still running with early software since most of the tweaks are user interface issues and because they have the programming done, and it runs nightly without any issues, we've elected to leave it be. The schedule and timescales for rigs and relocations doesn't allow for reprogramming in the unlikely event any DMX references being shifted following an update (newer versions mange adding of media differently) so its staying as is.


With reference to the no. of DMX channels, be aware that you can use all the funtionality of the Express with 10 channels of DMX. You use the systems Control Centre to create multi-layered compositions, complete with effects, positioning, rotation etc then save it as a preset. Then you can switch to Preset Mode and control from a DMX or MIDI device which allows you to recall each preset from one fader, levels for each layer and master from a further 5 and because you can save a layer as a preset you can also change layers and mix between them. Makes life a lot simpler.


The logic behind all this is that we've sat in venues until 5am ourselves in previous lives so we want things to be flexible. If your 'media' guy/gal can be creating the compositions for each scene and saving them while your main lampie is doing more trad stuff you're not fighting for the desk (or hiring 2 just for programming). Once you've got some stuff done LX just calls up what you've done from the desk and fine tunes/saves changes and its all done. Because its easier to visualise media creation on the Hippotizer than a desk (some real hardcore media-familiar LX guys might disagree but they are rare) it all works rather well in our humble opinion. Plus the obvious channel saving benefits.


I'm always wobbly about posting on forums as it can end up sounding like a sales pitch when you're trying to provide information. But that said, we are happy to entertain any professionals who think we're talking out of our a**es by letting you get hands on so do get in touch if you want to know more (now it does sound like a sales pitch.... damn! :blink: )

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The hippo I referred to was at Stageworks in Blackpool, on their Hot Ice Show.

I liked it alot, I can't remember which one it was, but it, except for the crash on opening night and a couple of times after, was very, very good.

Thanks for taking the time to explain their workings to us.

As it happens we had more problems with sending video image to the projectors using a VGA-cat5 converter, and re-converter system. The performer flying system's winch braking caused RF interference creating a momentary blackout each time the winches started or stopped. Solved by: junking the cat5 stuff and installing a very long set of VGA leads (right on the length limit, if not a couple metres longer).

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yeah I remember the Blackpool system. Couple of years ago now. Turned out to be a dodgy motherboard, which we ditched shortly after when we switched to the more bombproof ASUS boards. Must add that the boys at Blackpool were superb and understanding about the issue while we spent time swapping stuff to get to the bottom of it. They were very early adopters of the DMX variants and we learnt a lot on that one. Seems a long time ago now. Newer systems are rock solid now. Its always difficult to identify the hardware that will survive road conditions and running media flat out day in day out. Its a bit different from running MS Word!!! It seems to have run fine since and we have few returns for maintainance now so guess we've cracked it so to speak.


Blackpool uses Hippotizer DMX Stage from the V1 range which is no longer available. V2 is somewhat different. In short V1 was a clever box which did nothing without DMX whereas V2 is controllable from its onboard Control Centre, DMX, MIDI, RS232 (not yet implemented but its there and in test at the moment). Resolutions and no. of layers is higher but I'll spare the details here. We're always available to those who need more info.


What you working on these days? Profile says Liverpool Empire. We can always get you to see the new systems if you want to. All this talk about 'convergence' in the industry is well and good but we still find server-phobia common so anyone keen to get hands on equals a boiled kettle and a cumfy chair in our opinion.


I'm currently wetting my pants looking at the system next to me. The soon to be released Hippotizer Stage. Local monitor with Control Centre and dual-output with either 2 seperate images or one 2024 x 768 'pan' mode. You get a bit jaded after looking at stuff all day year in and out but the guys have come up trumps with this one. Its hard to get any proper work done this afternoon since I can't stop playing with the damn thing!

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