Any Questions? Call us 401.289.2942

Pack Up Your Automation, This Is One for the Road

Home » Archive by category "Showstopper"

Pack Up Your Automation, This Is One for the Road

Behind the scenes of our new road case, The Rhody.

IMG_0114

Royal and the first Rhody

Two years ago we decided that we would offer an ATA style road case to house our Pro Line gear for clients with touring and special event productions. It would be the icing on the cake. Well, more accurately the cake box, but a really nice indestructible box…on wheels.

Then we got busy completing more of that Pro Line: Stagehand Pro (11/2013), Spotline (4/2013), Stagehand Mini^2 (8/2014), and Showstopper 3 Consolette (11/2014). But we came back to designing the road case as time permitted. Our production engineer, Royal, advanced the project in a few bursts spread over an 18 month timeline, culminating  with the official launch of the Rhody this January.

The design began with the decision that the Rhody would house a complete automation system for a 4-axis show (although it has unlimited expandability and customizable components). Actually, for Royal, the designing began with some gummy bears and fresh batteries for his TI-83 Plus. Then he set to work fitting together the puzzle with the following pieces:

  • Showstopper Base
  • Power Distribution
  • Showstopper 3 Consolette
  • Touch Screen Monitor
  • Rack Mounted PC
  • Ethernet Switch
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply
  • 4 Stagehand Pro’s

Royal’s recent machine design hampered him only initially. “Designing the Rhody proved to be a challenge,” says Royal, “since I couldn’t use 3/8″ plate steel or machine it out of a huge block of aluminum. It was after those revelations that I decided to go out on a limb and use this new material called Plywood.”

Embracing his return to an organic building material, Royal drafted up the first iteration, but it proved too large. Something like the size of a queen bed.

too big

First Rhody Design, Too Big

So some rearranging was in order but Royal set to work in Solidworks and eventually configured the system in a more appealing 43″ x 57″ x 28″ size.

Drawing- Roadie - Sheet1
The final design of the Rhody not only includes robust hardware, coated plywood and aluminum construction, a slide out operator desk with touch screen monitor, and 3.5″ locking swivel casters…

PDF- Roadie Overview-crop2
…it also features lids with legs to become backstage work tables. Thanks to our friend Chris Moses for reminding us that, when not actively covering something, lids are infinitely more useful as tables.

rhody legs

Rhody Set Up

Originally Gareth planned to manufacture the Rhody in house, but a chance encounter with an old friend connected him with Case Craft. They build custom cases “for life on the road” and were eager to build our Rhody prototype. On working with Case Craft, Royal commented, “I wish ordering my gluten free meals at restaurants was as easy as ordering the Rhody from Case Craft.”

Our working title for the road case was The Roadie, but it became iresistible to change it to The Rhody given the quirkiness of our home state. We’re happy that somewhere in between the coffee milk and the quahogs there’s room for a small automation manufacturer. It also opened the door for naming our companion road case, the Li’l Rhody, each of which houses another 4 Stagehand Pro’s. Of course you can have as many Rhody’s and Li’l Rhody’s as you like, all run by a single automation operator.

Working towards making Rhode Island the scenic automation capital of the world inspires us to think about lots of new products. “The most exciting things on the not too distant horizon are the Stagehand Servo and Friction Drive,” says Gareth.

Gareth and Royal (and Sprocket) testing out motion control with servo motors.

Gareth and Royal (and Sprocket) testing out motion control with servo motors.

 

OSU’s City of Angels Puts Showstopper 3 Consolette to Work

automation control
Last fall OSU’s Department of Theatre didn’t just receive one of our first Showstopper 3 Consolettes, they put it to rigorous use right away. In their production of the Tony award winning jazz musical City of Angels  they bravely met the demands of 44 scenes in 26 locations with some slick automation. The resident Technical Director, Chris Zinkon, told us he used 6 winches, 2 double acting pneumatic cylinders, 15 wagons, 12 flying units, and a back wall rigged to move up and down as well as tilt left and right. It took roughly 80 cues to accomplish all of the scenic choreography, and it was all controlled with Stagehands, Spikemark software, and the new Showstopper 3 Consolette.

OSU has been a customer of ours since 2007 so we were eager to hear how our brand new Consolette served them on such a formidable scenic production. Chris praised the pusling go button, backlit keys, and jog joystick of the Consolette, summing it up with “Your controls, machinery, and Spikemark interface were instrumental in helping us successfully pull off a massive production.”

We offer many congratulations to Chris and his crew on a great production, and much gratitude for the kind words. We are thrilled that our gear helped to make the show a success.

Chris was also kind enough to send along video clips of the scene changes which we edited into the short video below. A few clips are a bit rough, but you can still appreciate the incredible scenic choreography. We highlighted it with some 1940’s detective jazz music. Enjoy!

This production of City of Angels was a collaboration between the School of Music and the Department of Theatre at Ohio State University, and played at the Thurber Theatre in November 2014. Directed by A. Scott Parry. Scenic Design by Shane Cinal.

share your automation, #makeitmovecci

Let’s face it, automation is cool. It’s okay to brag. We won’t judge. We know you do amazing things with our gear (it’s why we we make it, after all).

So why not share what’s moving on your stage, tag it #makeitmovecci on Instagram and let us send some free swag your way.

For inspiration, enjoy these automation achievements you and your colleagues have sent us. Click on any picture for more info and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Many thanks, keep making it move!

Instagram Postcard Front

 

Backstage-in-NJ-1

Backstage at Rhianna / Eminem “Monster Tour”, 2014

Cookie Monster Backstage at Beauty & the Beast, 2014

Cookie Monster Backstage at Beauty & the Beast, 2014

 

Mule Sheaves at New York Theatre Workshop, 2014

Mule Sheaves at New York Theatre Workshop’s Love and Information, 2014

Circular Platform with Access Panels Open at University of Delaware's Faust Production

Circular Platform with Access Panels Open at University of Delaware’s Faust Production, 2014

 

Construction of Stage Lift for Old Globe's Production of Winter's Tale, 2014

Construction of Stage Lift for The Old Globe Theatre’s Production of Winter’s Tale, 2014

Ohio State Production of "Working"

Ohio State’s Production of Working, 2008

Spamalot-Control-Table

Automation Control Table for 5th Avenue Theatre’s Production of Spamalot, 2014

Village Theatre - Tommy

The Village Theatre’s Tommy, 2007

Ford Show

StageHouse Las Vegas Set for the Ford Show

chinglish-video-cap

Berkley Repertory Theatre’s Production of Chinglish, 2013

 

Sprocket, Our Official Blogger Dog

Okay, this one’s just for fun. It’s Sprocket, keeping an eye on cables and keyboards for us.

 

New Show Control Consolette Has Arrived!

We have officially launched the long anticipated Showstopper 3 Consolette!

Showstopper 3 Consolette

 

At the outset we didn’t know it would take quite so many months, or that it would take quite so many Venti Quad Lattes, but we think it was worth the wait. And worth feeding our caffeine addiction.

The first Consolettes have already arrived for those customers who have been eagerly awaiting the backorder. We’d like to extend a huge thanks for their patience. Among them was a very pleased Chris Zinkon, Resident Technical Director for OSU’s Department of Theatre. We were thrilled to hear of Chris’ positive experience,

The new consolette performed beautifully last night. The pulsing ‘Go’ button and backlit keys were a great addition in the low light backstage conditions. [And] I can’t say enough nice things about the jog joystick. This is a super slick design.”

Grazie, Chris!

WP_20141015_21_30_27_Pro

Showstopper 3 Consolettes, Hot Off the Press

The Consolette is a significant addition to our scenic automation arsenal, and offers many powerful , dare we say enviable, features over the previous emergency stop & show control system:

  • Front of House Portability
  • Motor Jog Joystick & Positioning Wheel
  • Four Line Display including Current Cues, Motor Position and System Faults
  • Optional Hold-to-Run
  • Backlit Keys and Adjustable Illumination
  • Improved Key Location and Size
  • Green and Red Indicator Lights
  • Easier Redundant Computer Transfer
  • Ethernet Connection to Spikemark Software

With just two cables to connect we think you’ll find the new E-stop system even more modular than the old Showstopper. Plus the Consolette is ideal to use with Spikemark on a touch screen computer during the running of a show.

And what about the old Showstopper? Well, it will be phased out. Because the new Showstopper system splits into two components (base and consolette) what was previously one (consolette), the old and new systems are necessarily incompatible. However, older Showstoppers will still work with all Stagehands, as well as Spikemark but will not interoperate with Showstopper 3 Hubs or Remotes. Likewise, the new Showstopper 3 Consolette will not work with older Hubs or Remotes.

Showstopper 3 system diagram

Showstopper 3 system diagram


 
The Showstopper 3 Consolette is part of the four product emergency system & show control lineup comprised also of the Base (a required unit), Hub, and Remote E-stops. It connects to 8 axes of motion via the Base, plus 8 additional axes via each Hub as well as unlimited Remote E-stops. Its inclusion in the Showstopper family completes the foundation of our Pro Line, designed to meet the automation challenges of the most demanding productions. It is available for purchase ($2500) or rental ($50 / week plus one week prep fee). The next shipment could be yours…

Tom, Kody, and Gareth Shipping the First Showstopper 3 Consolettes

The entire Showtopper lineup will be presented at Creative Conners’ LDI Booth #2587. Stop by if you’re attending the show, and of course get in touch anytime via phone or email to ask questions or let us know what you think about the product. We’re always happy to hear from you!

 

Google+ Google+