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Automation Gear in Action, March 6 – 8 at SETC Convention

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Automation Gear in Action, March 6 – 8 at SETC Convention

We love automation.

We love sharing our expertise in automation.

We’ve even written a limerick about our scenic automation.  (ya srsly. read on.)

We’ll be sharing this enthusiasm in just TEN DAYS at the 65th Annual Southeastern Theatre Conference Convention  March 5-9 at the state-of-the-art Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, AL .

Visit us at our booth for hands-on experience with our gear during exhibition hours March 6th & 7th 10am – 6pm, as well as March 8th 10am – 1pm.

If you aren’t already registered, you can download the onsite registration form which will admit you to all workshops, festival performances, keynotes, exhibits and general social events. Top on your list, however, should be our “Diary of an Automation Junkie” session 9am – 10:15am on Friday March 7.

Why should you attend our one hour session?

In case the limerick alone doesn’t convince you, consider that along the humorous and educational tour of Gareth Conner’s largest blunders in automation, you will learn the principles of automation beginning with “How do I make this thing move?” right through basic explanations of torque, horsepower, a winch system, AC vs. DC motors, PLC’s, and ending with a full overview of the architecture of our popular motion control system.

Illustration of 1/4 Horsepower

You’ll find yourself picking up knowledge critical to the implementation of scenic automation in your productions, and also practical tips such as:

•Grounding matters.

•Don’t buy everything that you can build.

•PLC’s are better than knobs, but not as good as you wish they were.

•Limit switches are better than spike tape, but not as good as you wish they were.

We encourage you to peruse the full schedule of events via SETC’s interactive schedule maker which allows you to customize your own schedule and sync it to your phone or calendar. And brace yourself for some powerful networking opportunities as the convention will gather more than 4,000 actors, design and technical professionals, theatre educators, students, university representatives, and commercial exhibitors.

We look forward to seeing you there.  And now, as promised, our automation limerick.

There once was a stagehand named Gareth,

Whose automation received goodly merits.

Attending his session

Does give the impression

To ignore his sage words would be careless.




Creative Conners’ Gear Moves “Spamalot” for 5th Avenue Theatre

We’ve never been more excited about automation at 5th Ave Theatre than when we heard from Automation Carpenter Ken Berg that they are using our control to move the set for their current production of Spamalot.  Many thanks to Ken for all the photos of the show and the automation gear.

A customer of ours since 2007, 5th Avenue is no stranger to automation. Seven years ago, they remodeled their entire system to incorporate Creative Conners gear, and they use automated scenery in most productions.  In Spamalot they are using 14 Stagehand-controlled machines for 7 deck tracks, 2 travelers, 4 flying pieces, and 1 elevator. Did I say elevator? I meant “Grail-a-vator“.  In addition to the production shots below, Ken went all out with the “Grail-a-vator” video, even supplying us with a close up of the pneumatic locking cylinders.  Just keep scrolling down, you will be rewarded.

Spamalot at 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo credit: Ken Berg

Spikemark & Showstopper Backstage at Spamalot. Photo credit: Ken Berg



Iconic Monty Python Imagery, 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo credit: Ken Berg

Spamalot runs through March 2, 2014 at The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave, downtown Seattle.  For more information, or to get tickets go to

As a bonus, if you’ve ever tried to envision automation from the deck dog’s point of view or perhaps attached to a winch line, then your dreams are fulfilled in Ken’s groundbreaking 45 second documentary “Deck Dog II” which takes us into that unexplored world.  Nicely done, Ken.



Sunroof Trapdoor and Elevator at Old Globe Theatre, Opening (Doors) This Thursday

Opening this Thursday is a very well automated “sunroof door” and elevator in The Old Globe Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The production is opening as well, but we get excited about slick sunroof doors and smooth stage lifts.

When technicians from The Old Globe called Friday to clarify a detail in our Spikemark software, Gareth couldn’t resist asking the renowned theatre company what scenic choreography was up their sleeve this time. They very kindly sent this video of their automated stage lift / sunroof door.

The motions of the lift lowering and sunroof doors closing are the results of two of our classic Stagehand’s  and one Stagehand FX . The Stagehands are used to control two electric motors (one for the lift, the other for the sunroof door), and the Stagehand FX controls the pneumatics to lock the lift in place. All three are managed via Spikemark software.

In total The Winter’s Tale  will utilize 7 Stagehand units, and 3 FX units throughout 40 cues. However, this is nothing new for the veteran scene staff, a few members of which are shown below installing the lift structure in the traproom.

As recently as last fall they amassed 97 cues to orchestrate the movement of 18 Stagehand controlled motors and 1 FX to control pneumatic effects in their production of The Last Goodbye.

To say we are excited about the work at The Old Globe Theatre is a clear understatement, in fact it would be hard to exaggerate our enthusiasm. Not only are they currently producing a play with one of the best stage directions in all of the Shakespeare canon, “Exit, pursued by a bear,” but they also are continuing their tradition of expert scenic construction and automation. We are proud to have our gear in the wings.

If you are in the San Diego area we recommend seeing this production, and please let us know how you enjoyed their scenic automation.

Best of luck with opening night of The Winter’s Tale!

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