What does this picture mean to you?


For those of you who work in the theatre or production, you probably don't run into software like SAP very often, if ever. We on the manufacturing side of things have a lot of data to manage- sales data, the daily management of stuff coming into the factory so that manufactured stuff goes out of the factory in working condition... There are a few companies out there who make software similar to SAP, but suffice it to say it becomes the hub of all information at a company like ETC.

Why am I telling you this? Mainly because I'm going through SAP training today, and I'm a lighting designer by training and a marketing person by trade. This kind of software makes my eyes bleed (so, I am appreciative of the training, because it makes my forays into software like this easier.) Experiences like these inform my decisions about the lighting software we develop - I would like you to have an easier time using our software than I have using SAP, for example. And this is why I'd like you to look at the icon below:

What does this picture mean to you?

If you are of a certain age, or have a certain history with technology, you might see one thing. If you're not that old, or have less of a history with technology, you probably will see something else. This classic icon, found on software all over the world, means "SAVE". The picture is a "floppy disk". If you have an Express console, you know floppies well. If you have a newer control system from us, you may also have never seen a floppy disk. Ever. This became clear in an earlier session of this training, where younger employees at ETC asked "why does the SAVE icon look like a Honda logo?"


Thanks to Erin Gee, Trisha Traut and Bill Belleveau for the excellent SAP training and for sharing this heartwarming story of the impermanent nature of iconography.


Posted by sclausen | 11 comment(s)

Stuck in Technical Support Mode

Technical Service Manager David North is clearly 100% focused on ETC Support at all times. He is always ready and willing to provide information at a moment's notice to employees and customers alike.  He is always ready to jump in and get his hands dirty in order to get the job done.

His most recent activity was to answer a most daunting question that I had emailed out to the department: "I'm looking for any info on a Smartbar that appeared in my office yesterday???" Thank you, Mike

Mr. North got back to the entire email list right away with an answer: "It has 4 dimmers, receives DMX and plugs into a wall outlet.  Let me know if you need a more in depth technical explanation." - David

Our Quotes Manager Trisha Traut let me know "It's Black" and Field Service engineer Lin Wheeler, all the way from Atlanta, responded that "it's black might be too technical (for me)"

We will all be in a good mood today thanks to the bit of humor David got going. Of course it is important to note that maintaining little bits of humor within a support department is critical. Support departments, ETC or otherwise, sit around all day and deal with whatever comes at them.  The good, the bad and the ugly so we need to be able to smile about them all :-)

Posted by mmeskill | 4 comment(s)

The Salon / Manicure Market Segment.


So let the record reflect that ETC has yet to release a Smartbar 2 designed for the salon / manicure market segment.

ETC Technical Support (Betsy Lynch) took a call from a salon owner wanting to repair the Smartbar II attached to a manicure station. Unfortunately it was not one that ETC made.

 Look closely at the label in the upper left side of the photo. Hard to see but it does say Smartbar II

 When reached for comment ETC Product Manager Tom Littrell responded "It better have RDM.  This market is crying out for RDM.  I get 20-30 calls every day from irate hairdressers who are demanding RDM.  At least I think that's why I'm getting all those calls from hairdressers..."



Posted by mmeskill | 1 comment(s)

Lighting cycs with Selador luminaires

Selador cofounder Rob Gerlach discusses how to light cycs with ETC Selador LED luminaires:

It's difficult to prescribe the best approach for using Selador to light a cyc without knowing parameters like height, distance between the cyc and the fixtures, and available budget. The application note on ETC's website gives some good starting points.

Selador VividTM strip fixtures can easily light cycs that are 40' tall or even taller. They have plenty of brightness, and their saturated color 'pops' more than the light from other fixtures. When the available distance between a tall cyc and the fixtures is relatively small (24" or less), it works best to place Selador units end-to-end in a solid line. For better results, use this formula: For every 10' of vertical height to be illuminated, the fixtures should be spaced 1' away from the cyc. Focus the fixtures so that the center of the beam hits the far half of the cyc; then use silk diffusion (like Rosco 104) oriented with the "grain" parallel to the length of the fixtures to fill in the near-half of the cyc with very uniform light.

If there is more available distance between the Selador luminaires and the cyc, the fixtures can be stacked vertically in groups of twos or threes - each cluster spaced farther apart. For example, one cluster of three 11" fixtures can light 4-6 linear feet of a 30-40' tall cyc when mounted 4-5' away from the cyc. In each group of three, one fixture is focused on the nearest third of the cyc, another on the middle, and another on the far third. Use wide-angle horizontal and vertical lenses on the near-focused fixtures (60-80 degrees), medium spreads on the mid-focus (30-40 degrees), and narrow spreads on the far-focused units (20 degrees or no secondary lenses). Silk diffusion helps to blend the edges of the three sections together. When the cyc is lit this way, brightness is extremely uniform, even when fixtures are hung on only one side of the cyc. Breaking the cyc into three verticals also facilitates beautiful effects (sunsets, rainbows, etc.).

Selador fixtures hold their own against PAR 64s with scrollers if the output is saturated color - particularly in the greens, blues, and purples. For softer colors and white light, tungsten fixtures may be brighter. The new Selador DesireTM series is 20-40% brighter than the Selador ClassicTM line, depending on the color mix of the array, so they are even more capable of competing against tungsten. If the desired output is limited to certain ranges in the red/amber/pink family or cyan/blue/purple family, ETC's Selador FireTM and IceTM fixtures provide even more brightness and can definitely compete against even the most powerful PAR fixtures with gel. Users are universally surprised by how bright Selador fixtures are, even more so with Desire units. Because we're dealing with colored light, it is very difficult to communicate the impact of these units on paper. It is essential that any user considering them as a replacement for tungsten gets an on-site demo to see the Selador line's capabilities firsthand.


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It's a holly jolly holiday at ETC

Santa's workshop isn't the only bustling factory this time of year. ETC offices across the globe are busy filling end-of-the year orders and gearing up for a new year with a lot of new surprises. Even with all that work going on, you'd have a tough time finding a Grinch or a scrooge at ETC.

We started getting into the holiday spirit right after Thanksgiving, when Town Square at the Middleton headquarters was transformed overnight by some hardworking elves. The 1930s New York streetscape was turned into a living snow globe, with candy canes, ornaments, wreaths and garland adorning every inch of the space. Our faux storefronts can compete with any department-store holiday window display. And because we're a company full of engineers and techies, we have an automated, life-sized Santa bobbing up and down in a chimney near the marketing department. Even King Kong, perched atop the Empire State Building, has donned a santa hat (seen here in a grainy photo shot by a local news helicopter). 

Being the arts-minded company we are, we couldn't have the holidays without celebrating the arts - or the art of a good flash mob. Twice we've had impromptu groups come wassailing. A couple weeks ago, members of the Madison Ballet twirled around Town Square, dancing to holiday classics and songs from musicals like Kiss Me Kate. And then last week, the Middleton High School chamber singers filled Town Square with carols for ETC employees needing a bit of a break.

And each office has had their version of a holiday party. The first was the New York office's annual open house, where they showed off our latest and greatest products. Industry professionals, including award-winning Broadway lighting designers, packed the office to mingle with ETC staff and get product demos. True to the moniker "the city that never sleeps," the New York event was supposed to run from 3:00-8:00pm, but the party was still going on at the office until 9:30 and then continued until much later at a local bar.

Our London office teamed up with ABTT (the Association of British Theatre Technicians) to hold a Christmas party at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Close to 250 people dined at the Grand Saloon and recognized the newest fellows and honorary members of ABTT. 

The picturesque Monona Terrace in Madison, WI, played host to the American offices' party. Although Jack Frost tried to ruin the festivities by dumping nine inches of blowing and drifting snow on the city, hundreds of ETC employees and our guests enjoyed a Tuscan-themed evening full of food, games and great company. The backdrop for the event was a handcrafted stage that resembled a Tuscan villa, built by ETC CEO Fred Foster and his wife Susan for the wedding of two ETC employees this summer. The whole event was lit by ETC Selador® and Source Four Revolution® fixtures. Thanks to the blizzard outside, we couldn't take the no-sleeping title from New York. The party was cut short, so guests could leave before the roads got too hazardous to navigate in the snow.

Almost everybody who works for ETC's Holzkirchen office attended the German holiday celebration, with a tasty lunch at the Gasthof Oberbräu restaurant. And ETC Asia combined their holiday merriment with customer service training. ETC VP of Professional Services Sarah Danke brought her companywide training course to Hong Kong, and employees there celebrated acing the class at their holiday luncheon.

From all of us here at ETC, we wish you happy holidays and all the best in 2011!


The best can always get better

ETC has earned a reputation in our industry for offering unmatched customer service. One reason for this is that we're always trying to adapt and improve our service model to make sure we're providing the best support for the people we work with every day.

Last year, ETC kicked off a new, companywide program to help ensure we're still providing the acclaimed support we're known for. The Customer Service Awareness Training Series is an eight-week training program - led by ETC's Vice President of Professional Services Sarah Danke - that focuses on reevaluating and improving how we interact with others. The classes are attended by a mix of employees from different departments, who work together and encourage each other throughout the training. Eventually, every ETC employee across the globe will attend one of the Training Series sessions.

"No matter what job an employee holds, he or she provides some form of customer service, whether to the outside world or to coworkers inside ETC," explains Sarah. "These classes help all of us realize what role we play in our customer-service chain and how to keep our customer-service standards high."

The very last assignment for the Customer Service Awareness Training Series is a team presentation that demonstrates the lessons learned from the course. While those of us who haven't yet taken the class don't fully understand why, it's become commonplace to see our coworkers playing games with jello in Town Square, dressing like game show hosts or reciting Shakespeare. 

The first rule of the Customer Service Awareness Training Series? Don't talk about the Customer Service Awareness Training Series. The content of the classes is a closely guarded secret, so each employee can experience the training in his or her own way. 

Suksa Thao, a team lead in ETC's Fixtures division of the Manufacturing department, participated in the training earlier this year and like all other employees, enjoyed the experience. "I learned that you have to treat everyone inside and outside of ETC as your customers," he said. "I have been using all the tricks from the training in my job. I know that this class will change a little or a lot in everyone who has been through the training, and will definitely have a big impact on customer service at ETC."

The Wizard of Oz and SmartModule 2

ETC Field Service Coordinator David Hilton explains why there's no place like ETC when it comes to dimming:

Most people don’t know that I grew up in Kansas. This means that I refer to Coke as “pop”, I call the Arkansas River the “R-Kansas” River, and I spend a great portion of my day thinking about things like The Wizard of Oz (this movie will henceforth be referred to as WO! in this blog). Given this last strange personal phenomenon, I’ve used WO! as a means to help me make sense of the vast world of entertainment lighting. First off, we are in a very colorful industry, not only in the literal sense referring to gels, dichroics, and LEDs, but also in a verbal sense in terms of the language often used backstage.  Water is incredibly harmful to most things we use, and I have witnessed a few professionals get lost in the poppy fields on their way to Emerald City.

It just so happens that the other day I had one of my WO! moments of clarity when I was using one of our SmartModule 2s. For some reason, when I started setting the levels of some Source Fours I had plugged into it, the Scarecrow’s song “If I Only Had a Brain,” popped into my head. There are many small dimmer packs that plug directly into the wall, but the SmartModule 2 also has a brain, making it dance circles around all of the other dumb scarecrows.

How many parties, bar-mitzvahs, and weddings have we all set up? How many times have you uplit a tree or placed gel on a PAR and shot straight up the side of a tent? These applications aren’t rocket science. Heck, they’re not even basic science. All you want to do is plug them in, dim them to 80%, and walk away. That’s not an option on most of these small dimmer packs. They’re too dumb to do things on their own. All they have is a DMX port and a dipswitch, meaning they have to be told what to do from a console.

Enter the brain on the SmartModule 2. It allows you to set a level and walk away without the use of a console. It has an LCD screen that intelligently displays its levels and starting address so you don’t have to remember how dipswitches work. Heck, the darn thing is so smart you can change dimmer curves, minimum and maximum levels, and even have it run one of twenty built-in effects!

So what else does a brain get you? Well, each dimmer on the SmartModule 2 has its own 10-amp breaker, so there’s no replacing a fuse or tripping one breaker for half of your circuits. There’s even a convenient outlet built in for a console, fog machine, or foot massager. In fact, when you just hold a SmartModule 2 in your hands, you can tell somebody used their brain when they designed it. It’s rugged. It’s quiet. It’s easy to program; easy to troubleshoot problems. The handles feel great, and there are options for attaching a C-clamp or bolting it to the wall. The DMX ports even speak RDM, meaning you can readdress the little guy remotely from Eos, Ion, and Element consoles. It really is the best designed small dimmer pack this side of the rainbow!

So the next time you look for a solution for those gigs that need a small dimmer pack to plug into the wall, I urge you to take a lesson from WO! and look at the SmartModule 2. It’s competitively priced with less-intelligent dimmer packs, but its brain gives you so much more. I guarantee you’ll never want to use another scarecrow again. Just don’t give it to a flying monkey or pour water on it.

Wilkommen in Holzkirchen!

So, earlier in October we held Fokus 2010. We had a great time here in Holzkirchen with about 160 of our dealers and customers from all over the ETC, GmbH region including folks from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Russia (to name a few of the various countries represented.) It was two days full of presentations, product demos and workshops covering all the ETC products and how they can be used. We had Eos, Ion, Element, NT-X, SmartFade, Congo jr and Congo consoles. We had Unison Paradigm and Mosaic control on display. We had a sample of every type of dimmer rack we make including Sensor, Matrix MkII and AlexM. We had Source Four ellipsoidals and PARs. We had Selador including Lustr, Vivid-R and the new Pearl. And we had colleagues from Robe, Coolux, Schnick Schnak Systems and Lighting Innovation with us to help show off how ETC gear can be combined with gear from others to make systems that fit a customer's needs exactly.

(Apologies for the photos being a little fuzzy, I took them all with my iPhone.)

Fred presents the history of ETC

A musical interlude for the crowd at the Eos session


On Monday we had presentations during the day with a keynote address on the history of ETC from Fred Foster, followed by a session on Selador LED technology, then a session on using moving lights in theatre and finally a session on media servers from Coolux. To highlight how we use Selador and Eos in action, those sessions both ended with a short musical performance by a professional harpist/pianist. In the evening we had our own version of Oktoberfest in the Festsaal of the venue - Kultur im Oberbräu here in Holzkirchen. We had music from the "ETC Hotline" band with our own software developer Hans Leiter on keyboards and a special appearance by our own Mark Tobler from Sales to sing a few songs for us. After that, we heard traditional beer hall music from the Valley Brass Band with our own Andreas Weindl on bass drum. The evening's catering was handled by the Pabst Café - one of our usual lunch spots. There was no better way to let our visitors know what it is to be ETC here in Germany! And a good time was had by all.

Mark Tobler sings with the ETC Hotline Band, Hans Leiter on keyboards

The Valley Brass Band enters with style, Andreas Weindl on bass drum


On Tuesday we held smaller workshops around the building with topics such as RDM/ACN, use of Media Servers in theatre, use of Selador LED technology in theatre and television, the differences in our dimmer technologies, use of Congo in theatre and live events and a preview of Congo v6.1 software, and more on the use of moving lights in theatre with the Eos system and a preview of Eos v1.9.5 software. Many questions were asked, many solutions were offered, and in general everyone was pleased with the event.

The Eos crew during the party - Mike Adam, Heiko Steuernagel and Matthias Strobel share board op duties while Philipp Schaeffer (General Manager, GmbH) and Ludwig Krauss (Sales) look on.

From the US contingent: Fred, Jake Dunnum (Marketing) and Greg Thomas (R&D) look on

It's always great to get a chance to talk with our dealers and customers. In Europe one only gets these opportunities so often, and usually at a trade show. To invite everyone "over to our house" for a couple of days made for a far more relaxed atmosphere than you get at a trade show and so you can get into longer conversations with people, do some show file trouble shooting, and get early input on software development all at the same time. What more can a product manager ask for?

One of the things I equate with the "ETC Experience" is feeling part of the family. I have felt this way for almost 17 years since my first time at an ETC training workshop where we learned about Sensor Dimmer Doubling and the Response Network Controller (how many of you remember that one?). This event brought that feeling to our newest markets and welcomed 160 more people into our ever-growing family. We welcome you all!




Posted by sclausen | with no comments

ETC celebrates Halloween

ETC employees got a jump-start on Halloween by showing up to work on Friday, October 29th, in costume. Here are some of our favorites:

 You just might get Cleopatra (Administrative Assistant Krystal Moran) on the phone when you call ETC’s front desk.


 “Have some more sloppy joes! I made them extra sloppy for youse!” Flo, Gertie, Ilene and ‘Deli’ Daphne (aka: Marjorie Olsen, Kao Her, Mary Kading and ‘Deli’ Dave Hesterly) donned their best hairnets and horn-rimmed glasses to give a great Lunch Lady impression to ETC’s Broadway Deli customers.


 “That’s one, one SmartStand! Two, two SmartStands! Wha-ha-ha-ha!” Inventory Specialist Moua Lee channels his inner Count.

 Assembler Tyler Freund answers one of life’s deepest mysteries: where’s Waldo? (Hint: check by the installation racks in the ETC factory.)

 Administrative Assistant Tori Mizerak proves that working in Tech Services is just ‘Child’s Play.’ 

 Acceptance Test Specialist Greg Thomas greets visitors to the Tech Services department with a tail wag.

 Project Manager Rachel Frederick shows off her flower power.

 This is what happened after the credits rolled in the movie Carrie. (Actually, it’s Regional Assistants Erin Flack and Heather Hatley goofing around in Systems.)

 “Just a spoonful of Unison helps the lighting costs go down...” Architectural Basics Project Specialist Alison Daughters makes a great Mary Poppins.

 If the Godfather sprouted wings, he’d be Systems Estimator and Project Manager Ned Keitt-Pride.

  Administrative Assistant Elly Burian says: “I can has cheezburger?”

 Electrical Engineer Kevin McCann celebrates Casual Friday in R&D.

And apparently the 80s are back in style at ETC. It seems a lot of us are missing the days of big hair, big jewelry and big shoulder pads... 

 Customer Service Representative Tina Lippiatt could step in for Meg Ryan in her next film.

 Project Managers Doug Tuttrup and Katie O’Connell put their rubix cubes and Aquanet aside for a picture.

 Systems Engineer Natalia Lupacheva could be an extra on the set of Dynasty.

 Systems Engineer Shawn ‘Gumby’ Blystone is waiting for Devo to make a comeback. 

 The Promotions and Advertising Group in the Marketing department (Web Designer Lincoln Theiler, Communications Writer Allison Suchon, Administrative Assistant Shani Dorner, Senior Graphic Designer Shannon Forcier, Graphic Design Specialist Stephanie Billmeyer, and Promotions and Advertising Manager John Kuehl) pay homage to Working Girl and Miami Vice.

Subscribe to email updates from ETC

You belong to our forums.

You subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

You even read this blog.

But do you subscribe* to email updates from ETC?

Just a few weeks ago, we finally introduced a way for anyone to subscribe directly to a variety of email communications that can update you specifically on new product releases, training opportunities, and software updates for your particular console (or consoles).

And here's the best part: we really don't send a lot of these emails. We send them when we need to --- when there's actually something worth knowing. So go ahead and sign up with no fear of a suddenly-cluttered inbox. All you need is an email address and a MyETC account, which takes about 40 seconds to create if you don't have one already (we timed the trained monkey that updates our website and it only took him 74 seconds).

Hope you'll subscribe, and in the meantime, we'll see you online!

* - We've automatically subscribed some customers who had previously received email communications from ETC - including our now-and-then newsletter, The State of the Art, and software updates for Eos- and Congo-family consoles - so they don't have to take action to receive a service that they already were enjoying. If you're one of those people and you see that you're already opted-in and you're not thrilled by that, please know that you can unsubscribe at any time, and that we did this with best intentions. If you have questions about this, please email me.

Posted by john.kuehl | with no comments

ETC at Music Moscow 2010

For the last several years, ETC has participated in the Music Moscow tradeshow, an exhibition for stage, theater and concert equipment. People from all over the world flock to Moscow to check out everything from guitar picks to speakers, lasers to microphones and LEDs to balalaikas. It’s one of the biggest tradeshows in Russia for lighting equipment, and ETC was well-represented at this year’s show (September 23rd-26th), with three of our official Russian dealers – Doka, Sistema and Imlight – showing our products on their stands. Attendees got hands-on demos of ETC Eos, Element, Congo, Congo jr and SmartFade ML lighting control consoles; Source Four ellipsoidals, PARs and PARNels; and ETC’s Selador Series of LED fixtures.

I was lucky enough to attend the show again this year, and got to see ETC’s Selador LED Series’ newest member, Pearl, take Russia by storm. Doka had a prototype occupying a prominent position on their stand, and it drew in a lot of tradeshow-goers who were amazed by Pearl’s beautiful, pure white light. 

I was also mesmerized by the Comandor Selador motorized yoke. Our dealer, Sistema, developed the yoke to make any Selador fixture automated, and I spent a lot of time on their stand watching the dazzling, dancing Selador colors as the Comandor did its work. (Note: not available in all areas, so don’t flood ETC’s Customer Service department with calls!)

My German colleagues – Armin Kloss, Florian Maier, Hans Klass and Klaus Althoff – who made the trip to Music Moscow during the Oktoberfest celebration back home, got over their homesickness when they saw the pretzels and mini-keg of beer on Sistema’s stand. (I’m sure they’re kicking themselves for not having packed their lederhosen.) And it was the perfect way to celebrate the end of the show day.

Overall, it was a great show with heavy traffic in our dealers’ booths. We had great meetings with some heavy-hitters in Russia’s lighting world, and were really impressed by the great demos that our dealers gave. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Music Moscow.

Oh, and here’s my tip for any of you who might attend Music Moscow in the future. When you walk into the “loud pavilions,” and the tradeshow version of a Walmart greeter hands you a pair of earplugs, take them! I don’t think my ears will ever recover after spending less than two minutes in the stage-speaker hall!                                                                                


ETC Controls Product Manager Sarah Clausen writes from far afield:

"You moved to GERMANY?"

Yes, yes I did. Last March. And at the moment I'm supposed to be writing a blog post on that move. However, we're in the process of getting ready for a big open-house event here in Holzkirchen and that will be far more interesting to write about, I think. So, you all have to wait.

In the meantime, however, I offer the following link to a story on CNN that I read today. It's about Oktoberfest. You know -  beer, pretzels, beer, traditional outfits, beer, singing, beer, dancing on tables, beer... You get the idea. This article is written by one of Munich's famous Eisbach surfers, who happens to be the director of the recent documentary on those surfers called "Keep Surfing." Yes, we have surfers here, just north of the Alps in central Munich. Anyway, read up on Oktoberfest, perhaps while enjoying a nice Hacker-Pschorr or Spaten beverage, and I'll get back to you with photos from Fokus 2010 in a couple of weeks.

Movie director's 10 tips for a perfect Oktoberfest (Links to CNN.com)

Surfing on the Eisbach - Keep Surfing Film site

Bis dann!

Posted by sclausen | with no comments

The Last Day

"On the last day of a tradeshow, people get weary. You begin to look at your coworkers and they all start to look the same. PLASA, Day 4..." - David Lincecum, ETC Marketing Manager

Posted by john.kuehl | with no comments

A Wisconsin-based rigging accident

From the desk of ETC Technical Service Manager David North:

A Wisconsin-based rigging accident

Okay, so now I have your attention.

Last winter, a nearby ski hill [we have no mountains in WI], suffered a frightening accident that rigging-equipment designers, rigging specifiers and rigging operators should all take note of, as it applies directly to what we do every day. Harvey Sweet, senior technical product manager, one of several resident rigging specialists and a key member of the ESTA Standards Committee on Rigging had the following comments on the situation:


The good news is that the accident did not involve theatrical rigging equipment. The bad news is that at least 14 people were injured.

 A ski lift was in use during the Christmas holiday in 2009, when suddenly the lift stopped moving forward and quickly reversed, gaining speed. People on the lift were rapidly dragged downhill and eventually fell off of the lift or were bruised and injured by lift chairs slamming into them as the chairs stacked up at the bottom of the ski lift system.

What happened and why is this important to stage rigging?

The gear box on the lift motor sheared its teeth and could no longer move the load. The load brake that should have stopped the hoist was on the power input side of the motor/gear box and could not control the load because the brake was dependent upon a functional gear box to transmit power to the moving load.

This is a cautionary tale for power hoist rigging for the theater.

When a load is suspended above the stage and the machinery fails, the equipment should be designed to prevent the kind of accident that occurred with this ski lift.


Placing a load brake on the hoist so that it directly controls the motor output side of the machine (and its load) will prevent a failure in the gear box or motor from causing scenery or any other lifted load from falling uncontrolled out of the stage loft. Short form: machines with load brakes on the output shaft of a stage power hoist system are safer than machines that control the load through the motor or gearbox.


There are several lessons to be learned here.

1. The lift had an inadequately designed and maintained load-side brake, independent of the viability of the gearbox. Lesson: Hoist products should have a load brake mounted to the output shaft of the gearbox.

2. The lift was to have had a daily and weekly inspection of safety devices, which that day had only partially been completed and had rarely been performed previously. Also, no training records were available to verify who was trained on what procedures. Lesson: Have established procedures for operating stage machinery, have qualified people following those procedures, and have documentation of training on file.

3. Additional safety equipment had been suggested on a yearly inspection and had not been installed. Lesson: Get yearly inspections and follow the recommendations or shut down the equipment until such time as they can be followed.

Imagine the sinking and horrific feeling that dozens of people had as the machinery they relied upon reversed direction without warning.

Harvey has some other tasty tidbits of advice, standards and policy on rigging that we'll get to in the coming months. Also look over the Prodigy webpages to see how we've taken care of that fear factor. http://www.etcrigging.com/

Be safe,


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Is ETC a "corporate" environment?

It is amazing how much the culture of ETC has changed over time - and how much has stayed the same. When I joined ETC in 1994 the place was a mish-mash of offices, office furniture, copiers - everything had been gathered over the years as the company grew. We had all different types of PCs, cell phones, often based on personal preferences and lax controls around buying.

Of course time makes changes. Now we have standard PCs and phones, unified office equipment - and yes - Dilbertesque cube farms. But personalization still reigns!

Novella Smiths office door, above - and the sign she had made for herself inside the office - below.

Project manager Keith Stephens shuns too much light.

Tibetan Prayer flags and waterfalls decorate the office of Chris Mizerack, software engineer for Eos. I got that peaceful, easy feeling.


Heather Hatley embraces ergonomic furniture - and notice just behind Heather? The cubes have windows in them.

Rachel Frederick and Heather demonstrate the highly functional windows! Sometimes windows present challenges, and the Quotes department has risen to meet them.

Good curtains make for good neighbors as demonstrated in the Quotes department by Curt Nummerdor and Heather Robbins.

Don't ask why the drapes are suspended in mid-air -- it has something to do with separating the boys and the girls. (It's a Quotes department thing.)


Doug Tuttrup and Alison Daughters - good neighbors. Hey Doug - is all that stuff written on the whiteboard about Alison?

Just like in Hawaii - you may run into the occasional chicken.

Doug Tuttrup pays homage to his favorite customer - the Walt Disney company with his Disney styrofoam ball collection decorating his cube top. Even Bobblehead Fred celebrates the mouse.

If you don't like sitting at a desk - you can adjust your Desk to "Bar Height" (Bryan Palmer prefers the bar) or as Jake Dunnum shows below - A "standing desk."

Jake has a lot of height to deal with - and an expansive back to nurture.

Often misunderstood - ever present - Grover flies through the office of Steve Traut. Steve's office is also where old Macs go to retire.


So yes - we have standard PC's, standard furniture, cube farms and purchasing restrictions. We have have become corporate -- at least a little.  We also try to keep things clean. Fred Foster -- beloved CEO --holds twice yearly "white glove inspections" designed to keep down the accumulated trash and clutter -- but he never attacks the individual personalities available at every desk.  He does ask people to keep the windows clean. At least we think it's Fred Foster making those inspections, wearing white gloves . . .


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