It’s Arbor Day! Have you scheduled your annual rigging inspection?

USITT Rigging Day of SafetyTheatrical rigging can be found in nearly every theater, from small systems supporting drapery tracks in cafeteria auditoriums to counterweight systems suspending hundreds of pounds of equipment in high school, college and professional theaters.

The general industry recommendation is to have your rigging system inspected annually by a qualified inspector – someone who is familiar with the full gamut of rigging systems and can evaluate whether or not a particular system or component is safe.

Ben has been working with, designing, and inspecting rigging systems for over 15 years and is familiar with the most recent developments in the industry. Through our sister company, Pittsburgh Hoist & Sandbag, we offer annual rigging inspections at competitive rates, and since Pittsburgh Hoist and BPI do not offer repair services, you can be assured that Ben’s reports are unbiased: we offer inspections for the sake of making your systems safer, not to find more work for ourselves. If your system is in need of repair, we can also recommend several rigging contractors throughout the region who can offer competitive bids based on his inspection report, allowing you to get the best price available for the necessary repairs.

Pittsburgh Hoist’s inspections start with a pre-inspection visit to ensure that safe access is available to every part of your rigging system. Call or e-mail to set up your pre-inspection today, on USITT’s Day of Rigging Safety, and we’ll give you a $500 discount on your inspection and report!

Image via USITT

Weekly Roundup: 4/25/16

Ben’s been working on all sorts of things this week, including customizing a Horatio for a new art installation in the Cultural District, finishing up that DMX-to-IR converter, and updating the touch-sensitive basketball backboard we built with John Murray Productions for Chevron STEAM Zone’s Vertical Leap exhibit a few years ago. He’s also testing out a new outdoor version of Horatio – by hanging it out the window at the shop. Life is never boring here at BPI!

Weekly Roundup: 4/18/16

Now that we’ve told the world about Horatio, we spent the last week getting everything ready for the first few units to ship. Ben’s been busy building the Bridge Devices in the shop, while I’ve been preparing a little surprise for our first customers.

Ben also spent some time working on a custom DMX-to-IR converter for a client (to cue infrared-controlled LED candles via DMX), and the littlest member of our team has been working on writing (and coloring) her numbers. She’ll be in the shop building Horatios in no time!

Also, in case you missed it, we got some great Horatio press from Stage Directions, and a mention in this Live Design article about the Winter Palace on Fifth!

Weekly Roundup: 4/11/16

It’s been an exciting week here at BPI!  Ben finished up development on the Horatio, and it launched last Friday.  You can check out the article about it here, and visit the Horatio website for more info!

While we were working to get Horatio launched, Ben also took a little trip to Market Square in the snow and ice to do some Mix N’ Match repairs, and I’ve been working industriously on a little surprise for our first Horatio customers. Check out the photos below to see what we’ve been up to!

Horatio Monitoring System – Available Now!

Y'all Need Horatio

“Hardware eventually fails, software eventually works.” — Michael Hartung

A reality that we all face is that the hardware that controls our lighting systems will eventually fail. Systems with an operator are easiest to maintain; when something fails, the operator sees it and works to resolve it before the next show. Unattended systems, like architectural lighting systems, don’t have someone watching the show every cycle, and failures can accumulate until someone notices and reports them.

With the launch of our Horatio Monitoring System, there is now a streamlined solution for monitoring unattended installations. Horatio connects to a lighting network and actively monitors the system to ensure that everything is working properly. Monitoring data is collected in the cloud in real-time and notifications are pushed via text or email when errors are detected.

Saks Winter Palace

Our first Horatio installation, and the impetus for its development, was the Winter Palace on Fifth holiday display at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Chris Werner Design, American Christmas, and Saks Fifth Avenue developed an ambitious facade display consisting of 176 universes of ArtNet driving thousands of light fixtures, with a cadre of Mac Minis as back-end media servers.

Horatio monitored all of this: pinging Minleon NDBs to make sure they were still online, watching CITP discovery packets to track the status of the media servers, collecting syslog data from the various embedded systems and network switches, logging OSC messages from QLab3, and safely providing a backup storage solution for the MA Lighting GrandMA2 console. The event ran from 4:30pm-midnight for five weeks, and on several occasions Horatio was able to notify the team of potentially show-stopping errors that occurred during the day, giving technicians plenty of time to reset things before the display went live again that evening.

“Horatio’s logging functions provided an incredibly powerful forensic tool which allowed for remarkably accurate and fast troubleshooting of the system by members of the design team scattered throughout the country. Horatio’s persistent monitoring and error reporting allows our team to boast “zero down-time”: each and every scheduled performance ran on-time.” — Chris Werner

Petersen Automotive Museum

Horatio’s second installation was at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The complete renovation of the Museum features a multi-layered lighting control system with an ETC Mosaic at the head. During the programming of the system, Horatio’s remote syslog feature with filtering and searching capabilities allowed Chris Werner Design to rapidly troubleshoot programming issues in the interactions between the ETC Mosaic, MediaLon Show Controller, and the rest of the show control systems. Now that the museum is open, Horatio continues to monitor the network infrastructure, lighting controller, Ethernet-DMX gateways, and remote power supplies, alerting technicians of any problems and failures in the system.

“Horatio’s frequent communication with the connected hardware allowed for the very thorough assessment of network functionality, identifying and eliminating hiccups prior to the facility’s grand opening. Currently, Horatio tracks all triggered events within the museum’s lighting system, allowing for easy verification of show playback throughout the various ‘signature’ galleries and up-to-the-minute status monitoring of all components. We have been given such a powerful diagnostic tool and remote monitoring device! It’s a Swiss Army knife for lighting systems requiring any level of remote support.” — Chris Werner

Customized installations

We’ve also worked with Clear Story Creative to integrate Horatio units into two of their recent projects, both of which required not only lighting system monitoring, but also a customized interface to improve the end-user experience.

The first of these was the bridge lighting at The Waterfront in Homestead, PA. This is a rooftop and grade mounted lighting system designed and installed by Clear Story. The lighting system consists of four different lighting positions linked by Lumenradio CRMX units, as well as in-grade fixtures with integrated radios, with the back end controlled by a Pharos TPC.

Connecting to the internet from its integral GSM link, the Horatio on this system monitors the Lumenradio network and fixture health on the RDM-enabled fixtures, logs syslog and OSC messages, and integrates an IP camera for live camera views. Additionally, we created a custom mini site with Clear Story’s branding that gives the Waterfront staff the ability to easily adjust the bridge lighting through preset recall. No special VPN software or configuration is required; the client simply logs into a custom page on the Horatio website.

The second project with Clear Story was St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, PA. Clear Story is providing a lighting system, controlled by an Interactive Technologies CueServer, to illuminate the Maxo Vanka murals covering the inside of this historic church. In addition to typical monitoring, their Horatio has been customized as a UDP-to-Serial bridge, allowing the CueServer to send simple UDP messages to trigger control of the Middle Atlantic UPS as a sequencer for the audio system.

Find Out More

After these successful beta installations, we are launching Horatio this week, with units available on a 4-6 week lead. For more information, visit the Horatio website, or email Ben at hello@benpeoples.com.

Photo Credits:
Horatio:  Ken Lager Photography
Saks:  Robert Figueira
Petersen:  Kevin McCauley

Weekly Roundup: 4/4/16

Ben’s hard at work on final Horatio development (launching this Friday – stay tuned for more details!), plus squeezing in some custom circuit board design for a new client. He also took some field trips last week to tweak a couple of Horatio’s beta installations – can you name those Pittsburgh landmarks?