Gearhouse South Africa opened its doors last month for a tour showcasing some of the state-of-the-art equipment that helps it maintain its lead across Africa in providing technical support for live events.

The open day was a chance for attendees to find out more about what Gearhouse has to offer. The answer, in short, is: more than you can imagine!

Gearhouse, the biggest technical supplier to live events in Africa, has been operating for 20 years and now has 10 companies under the Gearhouse banner. 

Providing a tailor-made client experience

Project managers act as a central point of communication for Gearhouse clients. They become the sole liaison for clients so that they are not passed from person to person, and as a result enjoy a stress-free experience. Gearhouse has project managers all over the country who are allocated to events based on their experience, approach and temperament. The client is assigned the project manager best suited to their specific needs.

Sound, lighting and LED screens to envy

In the audio warehouse, Logistics Manager and tour guide Peter Day gave the lowdown on the journey of sound equipment since the 70s and 80s. “We’ve moved from analogue to digital. It’s like cars… everything has got smaller, but has so much more efficiency and power.” And the latest star of the audio show, used for the recent Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts, is L’Acoustics’ K1 sound system. It’s the first of its kind in South Africa and is, in Peter’s words, “where you want to be in big sound equipment”. 

The Lighting Operations Office is where technicians design lighting plots and create ‘visualisations’ – virtual lighting shows on screen. The idea is that the technician can pre-programme the show, test it out and make changes with a lighting mockup in the Gearhouse warehouses. Then, all that’s left is to implement it on site. Amazingly, some of Gearhouse’s most powerful lights, 5kw searchlights, have a range of 3000ft (about 1000m) and cannot be used without air traffic control’s approval!

The range of LED screens includes a semi-transparent screen, DuoLED, whose shutters can be opened to let in light from behind. This allows an added wow factor at concerts when the screen is used in conjunction with background light effects. The current pièce de resistance in the LED warehouse is the 4mm screen – the only screen of its kind in South Africa. 

An eye on the future in the midi dome

The tour culminated in Gearhouse’s impressive new midi dome, designed by In2Structures as an upmarket alternative to a marquee for smaller events. Visitors were offered some mouthwatering snacks before settling down on Gearhouse Havaseat’s versatile tiered seating to watch a presentation about the Kentse Mpahlwa Gearhouse Academy and an exhilarating AV and light show to round off the day’s events. 

The Academy aims to breathe new life into the events industry, upskilling promising young learners with a view to offering them employment or starting them on their events technician career path elsewhere. Focusing on underprivileged learners, the Academy offers between 38 and 45 places a year.

Classy conferencing solutions

Visitors on the tour got to sample the ingenious audience response system developed by Gearhouse’s youngest company, ICS and hosted in INHOUSE Venue Technical Management (IVTM)’s immaculate conference set up. IVTM is currently in-house at 20 events venues across the country servicing their daily technical needs and has found a growing need for the ICT solutions within venues as well. 

Designed for conferencing, with a stable of products to suit every need, the ICS response systems encourage engagement via keypad, enabling clients to collect data from audiences, gauge their satisfaction levels and identify future trends using customised applications. Another remarkable ICT solution on display was Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – a less intrusive way of tracking conference delegates than by physically scanning them. RFID also facilitates personal touches such as greeting visitors by name (either visually or vocally) as they enter and even guiding them to seminars that might be of specific interest to them. 

A striking landmark on the tour was LEDVision’s 40m2 trailer-mounted mobile screen, which takes only 30 minutes to erect and can be used anywhere. And to top it all off, Gearhouse lived up to its go-the-extra-mile attitude with tuk tuks on hand to transport visitors back to their cars when the show was over.

Story courtesy Gearhouse SA, Photo by Zoom Photography

Mar 19, 2013

The Gearhouse Group of Companies