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May 14, 2019

Sub-Saharan Africa: The Ups and Downs of Staging and Rigging

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Event Africa speaks to some of Gearhouse’s top guys to find out what’s happening in rigging and what exciting exhibitions and events they’ve staged. 

Gearhouse has had an exciting year and has worked with an impressive selection of clients. From the BIRCS Summit at Sandton Convention Centre to a Castle Light activation at the Ticket Pro Dome, and musical acts like Katie Perry and UB40, by all accounts, 2018 has been busy. 

Johann Moolman, Rigging Operations Manager

Most exciting projects in 2018: The Castle Light activation had a snow flake which was made from A type trussing that had to be flown above the stage. This was lit with LED Strips and had a lot of moving lights on it. The weight and placement of this in the venue posed some challenges. The second challenge was the moving LED screen. This was the largest screen ever built in this venue and in itself had six moving elements in it. Here we utilised both an Ibex and Kenises systems to break the six screens in half and fly them up and down as needed.

The bi yearly EXPO AAD was hosted in 2018 at Waterkloof and again saw Gearhouse as the only rigging supplier. This was a very large undertaking as the expo ran in all eight hangers of a large air base. With very detailed pre-planning between Karen Knibbs at Expo Solutions and ourselves, this expo was a huge success. We had rigged in excess of 150 points on all the various stands to ensure all stands were rigged safely.

Global Citizen as a show was out of this world with just the sheer amount of gear and staging size required. What made it more of a challenge was in between this show’s rehearsals we had Guns and Roses and a National Day of Prayer on the same stage. Rigging gear included most of our current stock and motors flown in from the Netherlands as we also had to rig audio off 4 x 30m tall super towers from Stage Co. We had a compliment of 20 riggers working in day and night shifts. 

On equipment used in rigging: Currently we hold a few variations of the CM Electronic Chain Hoist in stock amounting to in excess of 300 units - it is a reliable, proven brand. We believe that well-looked-after equipment is a must.  These have to be certified and serviced annually with intermitted visual inspections taking place prior to every show.

On health and safety at shows: All riggers have a valid working at height and medical certificate before being allowed on a show to work accompanied with their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment – hard hat, safety steel toe shoes, harness). These are just the legal requirements, but we also ensure the team on site have received the adequate training and have amounted ample on-site experience before taking on a high profile rigging job or working at extreme heights. All the riggers also need long term Access Machine Licenses to be able to operate these machines on site.

Stuart Andrews, Operations Manager, Johannesburg

On opportunities in the industry: The expansion into LED screens , media and the integration of technology are the main areas of development. So, for example having a common network set up to provide a fibre backbone to run all audio, video and lighting systems on an event.

On current trends: There is a move to integrate the corporate sponsorship of events into ownership of events, this ties in with multi-media branding and links to social media, so one sees a use of technology and mobile devices to bring the event attendee closer to the event and to the sponsors, essentially allowing the sponsors direct access to the consumers.

New Products Gearhouse is offering: We have Varilite VLZ lights and the L’Acoustics K2 and AVID S6L consoles.

Richard Baker, Director at LED Vision

On proper safety on installations: As the leading LED supplier we have noticed an influx of led screen products that are designed for the installation marked being used in the rental market. These products are much cheaper to manufacture and therefore buy and rent out in rental applications. Often there are no rigging components and home made plans are hatched to erect these screens at temporary events.

This has led to an alarming number of screens falling over or having to be “fixed” on site only after other industry professionals have had to point out the mechanical short comings of the screen build.

Most times the end client is unaware of this or the additional costs required to safely erect temporary screens. The certainly most times are not aware of the cost differences between a product designed for the rental application versus a permanently installed product.

Added to this these installation type products do not have as sophisticated screen processing systems as their rental counterparts. This leads to image quality issues where the image production is not suited to the event environment and most times the screens are too bright for the conditions they are used in. 

Conversely LEDV only operates products specifically designed for the environment they are being used in and specified individually for each event by qualified engineers to meet international best practices and recognised industry names.


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