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Top Ten Reasons to Find Us at USITT This Week

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Top Ten Reasons to Find Us at USITT This Week


Here’s why you should hightail it on over to  USITT’s Conference and Stage Expo in Fort Worth and see our automation team.

10. Get SWAG.

9. Learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about PID Loops Wednesday at 1pm.  Don’t worry, they will start with explaining the acronym and work right up to applying this knowledge to unmanned space flight (or for lack of time maybe just to your automated scenery).  Click here for the full schedule and location.


Stagehand Pro

8. See our usually reserved and hidden-in-the-wings Stagehand Pro handle the glare of the spotlight on Friday 4:40pm on USITT’s Innovation Stage.


7. See Ryan’s new haircut. And ask him about his addiction to Samoas®, a.k.a Caramel Delites®.


6. Ride on the 3′ mini-spinner powered by the Revolver.

5. Cozy up to words like speed reducer, horsepower, torque, output gearing, drum size, unmanned space flight and more at the Basic Machine Design Session Thursday 2:45pm.  Click right here for the full schedule and location.


4. Find out if these three popular desserts are Vegan: Thin Mints®, Swedish Fish®, Oreos®. (Hint: Ask Royal, it’s a topic near and dear to his heart. Kind of like the Samoas® are to Ryan.)

3. Lose yourself in the acreage of our biggest booth space to date, complete with four machines to monkey around with, and take the quiz to find out which machine you are.

2. Experience wireless automation control from a tablet. Then ask if you can try to beat their score on Three’s.

And the top reason to visit our brilliant Creative Conners team at Booth 1229 in USITT’s 2014 Stage Expo and Conference at the dazzling Fort Worth Convention Center is…

1. MORE SWAG! After all, we brought it just for you.


Deck Chief Clicks the Shutter for “Love and Information” Rapid Scene Change

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"Love & Information" (Note: Back wall is closed during performances.)

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Mule Sheaves Offer 4:1 Advantage, Reduce Machine Travel.

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“That’s a big motor for a 3′ Turntable!” and Other Revelations at SETC 2014

If you walked by our booth last week at the SETC Convention in Mobile AL and wondered why we had such a big motor for a meager 3′ turntable, we’re glad you asked us about it.  Surely our explanation made it all clear: The size-of-my-breakfast-table mini-spinner is merely a scaled model for demos, but the full sized Revolver machine is designed to rotate a real-life-no-doll-scale-move-the-whole-set turntable.

Unscrewing Revolver Crate

Perhaps you were one of the people who took advantage of having a ride on our mini-spinner, which made for a fun break if you were tired of carrying around swag and trading business cards.  And we hope you enjoyed our swag, candy and travel mugs.

Newest Swag: Insulated Travel Mug

Actually we know you enjoyed the travel mugs. Royal and Gareth could hardly keep up with demand for our newest swag, and it made us happy to know that SETC attendees enjoy a hot beverage as much as we do.

Among the attendees who stopped by the booth to chat and pick up a mug were many high schools interested in automation.  That’s no surprise considering Les Miserables is the most successful musical ever produced in schools.  According to there are over “2,500 productions of the Les Miserables School’s Edition scheduled or being performed by over 125,000 school children in the UK, US and Australia.” I believe “les miserables” can be loosely translated as “theatrical show using a turntable.”  Loosely.  Kind of an idiom, you know.

By the way, a 2 week rental for an entire Revolver Kit costs just $1,100, plus shipping.

Overall the convention was a great time. We’d like to thank Esthere Strom, SETC Events Chair, for arranging our booth and our automation talk.  And hats off to the entire SETC team.  They did a great job integrating the Educational Expo, Commercial Exhibitors, and Job Fair into one seamless event.  Most notable were those charming Southern Belles roaming freely throughout the convention.

Southern Belle

In this day and age of online shopping and text based communications (both of which we enjoy as much as you do!) events like this remind us of the pleasure of a personal chat with like minded theatrical professionals.  And we’re ready to do it again in Fort Worth with the same mission: Give away more travel mugs and candy.

Come see us at Booth#1229 on March 26 -29 at USITT’s Stage Expo.  Our booth space will be 4 times the size of our SETC booth allowing us to showcase four machines, two full Spikemark demo stations, plus room for the queue of people waiting to ride the mini-spinner.  Can we take you for a spin?

Creative Conners at SETC 2014


Quiet on the Set! Pushsticks and Tek-12 Pair for Low Noise on Geffen Stage

Even scenery in small spaces can be adeptly automated, and it is particularly essential in those spaces to have quiet gear.  Noting our recommended use of Tek-12 rope in the last blogpost, Matthew Carleton, TD at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, shared their experience achieving quiet automation using the rope along with one of our Pushstick winches for their current production of Slowgirl.  The show, with sets designed by Takeshi Kata, is previewing now in Geffen’s 149 seat Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater.  Slowgirl opens March 12, and continues with an extended run through April 27.

Video credit to Tom Watson,  ATD at The Geffen Playhouse:

And while I have your attention, might I suggest you admire other slick automation Geffen has treated it’s patrons to over the years using the Creative Conners system:

Make it Move…Quietly. Next Day Service Call to Solve Automation Problems

“Creative Conners, this is Royal speaking.  How can I help you?”  That was Wednesday morning at our Rhode Island workshop.  Fast forward 24 hours and we find Royal crossing the Hudson on I-95 headed for Delaware with a 5hp motor, shiny red gantry crane, crates of tools & parts, and a directive to help The Resident Ensemble Players (REP) smooth out the kinks in their automated set for Faust.

Loaded Up in Rhode Island

In just one day our Product Engineer went from a phone call about a bigger motor, to next day on-site motor delivery and 2-days of hired technical support.  By the end of the second day, not only was a 2hp motor swapped out for a 5hp older sibling, but also a solution to a seemingly insurmountable noise problem was found, as well as a thorough re-cueing of the show to achieve more accurate positioning.

We wouldn’t do this kind of last minute hustle for just anybody. Well, okay, the truth is we do this whenever possible, but we are particularly happy to help out our oldest customer. The REP at the University of Delaware placed the very first order with us back in 2005.  Still getting good use out of the original Stagehands and Pushsticks (cue applause), the REP production staff installed the gear to automate two wedge shaped wagons around a circular center stage platform for their upcoming show, Faust.

Faust Set at REP

A clever set design, yes, but the devil is in the details, and in this case Mephistopheles showed himself in the form of friction and noise.  At load-in Keith & John, Technical Director and Asst. Technical Director, discovered their smaller 2hp motor was not up to the task, and wisely initiated the distress call to us with a rush order of the 5hp motor, but soon added a request for in person assistance trouble shooting potential Stagehand problems as well as an overview of the entire rig.

Panels Open to Access Pushsticks in the Pit

Upon arrival, and after a successful motor transplant for the Pushstick, Dr. Royal determined the Stagehands were fine, but the rig of the wagons had a distinct devil to exorcise: noisy bearings which had been over stabilized to the point of creating too many friction points.  Keith and John had been on the right track to replace their wire rope with something that would generate less friction, but unfortunately the product they picked wasn’t as smooth as it needed to be.

New Tek-12 Rope Descends to the Pushsticks in the Pit

Royal recommended switching to a high strength, low stretch, urethane coated Tek-12 rope in addition to reducing the number of the bearings the rope contacted.  This combination successfully cast out enough evil friction spirits that the 5hp motor could easily overcome the remainder.

Saturday morning, while watching the automation operator, CJ, go through the cues in Spikemark to test the new quieter and less stressed motion, Royal observed that the cueing could be reworked to become both simpler and more accurate.  Never touching the keyboard himself, Royal guided the operator through re-cueing the show from the ground up.  He advised the best practice for setting up the show in Spikemark, where to call zero position, and clarified the details of position scale. The operator, experienced in Spikemark, absorbed the advice quickly and had a new show file ready to run that same morning.

A scene from heaven. Faust at REP.

So while God may not be entirely pleased with actions of Mr. Faust, the good people at REP can take comfort knowing the only devils in this production are embodied by actors, and not in their stage mechanics.


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