I’m very pleased to announce that our XMove theatre automation software has won an award – the ABTT Engineering Product of the Year. Thanks to the team who made it happen, especially Charlotte Lockyer & Hayden Gurney for their help and ideas trying out the software, Mark Lazarides for his expert help on the PLC integration and of course Ewart Richardson for the design of the control desk.
This has been quite a journey over the last year from the depths of pandemic to launching the product at the ABTT show this week. Especial thanks to my wife Wendy Newman – I couldn’t have got here without her unfailing support.
I love this image from Charlotte Ager, so I’ve used it as the backdrop for XM Automation’s ABTT stand. Something a little different – and a gentle reminder of why we’re here, to support the show. It’s taken from a collaborative animation Charlotte produced in response to a night at the Royal Opera House. You can watch the full animation here – https://charlotteager.co.uk/la-traviata, it’s a wonderful evocation of the thrill of the live performance, do take a few minutes to enjoy.
Do come and see us on stand E59 – and the launch of XMove – our new automation system for the live entertainment industry, at the sign of the Opera Singer.
We’re really excited to be launching XMove at the ABTT show next week. Our first opportunity to show off the work over the last year, and get feedback on our new automation platform. We’ll be on stand E59, come along and take a look at the new platform and automation desk.
Fun day with Ewart, Mark Lazarides and the team sorting out the XMove interface to Ewart’s Whirly Reeler, ready for his ABTT stand in just under 2 weeks. The Whirly Reeler is an amazing piece of engineering – see all about it here –
We’re going to have a little competition at the ABTT show – a Magnum of champagne for the best, and briefest explanation of how the whirly reeler works. Come along to stand D36 to see the machine in action and try for the magnum of champagne, and do visit XM Automation on stand E59 for the launch of our new XMove Automation UI.
I found this photo from the archive (well bottom desk drawer) – the first theatre automation desk I worked on – installed at the Baribican Theatre in 1981 (the 2nd automation system installed in the UK). My first job in theatre was maintaining this beast (3.5m long, 1.2m High and 1m deep – all full of electronics). Custom built from TTL logic, and positioning systems from a Chieftain tank. Could run up to 12 bars (from 24 patched in), with 2 programmable target positions, and 2 presets. . Note the use of colour (Red, yellow, green and blue) for the playbacks – it’s been a feature of desks Ive been involved in designing ever since. Looking forward to launching the new XDesk at ABTT in 2 weeks time, somewhat smaller than this one – but still with those colour playbacks (though in a different order). Do come along and see the latest iteration of theatre automation.
I’m really excited to announce the release of XMove, a new user interface (UI) for programming the movement of automated theatre systems. The software has been developed specifically for use in the live entertainment creative environment where speed, accuracy and flexibility are imperative. Available via a per-axis license, the XMove interface offers a host of powerful, easy to programme features.
The software interface, which is simple to install and quick to learn, can be easily retro-fitted to existing infrastructure or configured to work with new hardware available from theatre-specialist suppliers or from non-theatrical industrial manufacturers such as Siemens, Control Techniques and Beckhoff.
The availability of XMove software on a license basis overcomes the high capital investment costs traditionally associated with the purchase or refurbishment of automated equipment. Created in Apple’s latest coding language – SwiftUI, the user interface provides a powerful and robust platform.
XM Automation has recognised that ease of programming is key to the operation of automation systems and this specialist software application has a powerful graphical interface providing an intuitive tool for simple and complex programming of moves. Multi-target moves, locked groups, multiple user profiles, shows and venues are supported as are more specialist requirements including ‘Rigging & Referencing’ for scenery which is key in repertory theatres.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I love this article from ABTT Sightline (1979), written by the great Dick Brett on the original Olivier Power Flying System. I remember Ray Cross, chief LX at the Oxford Playhouse sharing this with me, whilst I was still a student. The first ‘computerised’ power flying system in the UK, 160 hoists controlled by 35 drives through a telephone exchange style automatic patch panel all running on a PDP11 with a 1MByte hard disk (or process peripherals disk as it was referred to). So many of the modern concepts (playbacks, deads, timed and synchronised cues) exist in this pioneering system. An amazing feat of engineering at the time, and the start of a journey to automation in the theatre.
With thanks to Robin Townley and the ABTT Archives for sharing.
Great to sponsor the ABTT Restart Party along with Charcoal Blue Consultants, David Staples, and of course TAIT. Wonderful to help enable the theatre industry to meet up ‘in person’ for the first time in a long while, and to catch up with friends old and new. Held on the roof terrace of the Institute of Electrical Technology (IET), with stunning views over the Thames providing the backdrop to some excellent conversation.
Working from home is all very well, but it’s great to start back in a real office again. Thanks to Piers and Jeremy for letting me share a little of their stunning space in King’s Cross. Wonder Works has a real buzz about it. Really enjoying the experience, do call in and say hello if you are in the area.
Very pleased to have played a small part in bringing my friend Ewart Richardsons latest invention to life. The whirly reeler is a new microphone winch, with a very clever mechanism that means there’s no slip ring mechanism needed of the electrical feed. Watch the video on Ewart’s site, I’ve watched it several times – and still can’t quite explain how it works, genius!