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June 2016

TLS Productions, Inc. News & Announcements


Empowering Creativity, And Making It Reality - our mission at TLS Productions, Inc.  We do this by offering a turnkey operation, we provide consultation and all the necessities to design, rig and light exhibits, productions and permanent installations of any size, including state of the art audio and video elements. We offer equipment rentals and sales encompassing most international brands and both electronic and mechanical repairs are done in house.  TLS Productions, Inc. also provides theatrical draperies for rental and sale and can fabricate drapery to meet your specific needs.  If it's lighting, rigging, staging, audio or video related, there are no limits to the products and services that we can provide.

Did you know that TLS Productions, Inc. is an Electronic Theatre Controls Factory Authorized Service Center with ETC Factory Authorized Field Service Providers on staff?  Our ETC Field Service Providers handle a variety of functions – advising contractors on proper methods for installing various products, providing phone tech support, providing onsite tech support when problems arise, updating operating software and doing new system commissioning along with owner training.  And when needed, we can provide loaner equipment or acquire equipment direct from the factory, we can also facilitate factory repairs as needed.  Keep your ETC equipment operating at peak performance, and contact us today!

TLS Productions, Inc. is also a Columbus McKinnon Authorized Service Center and can provide CM Hoist Service & Certification.  Our mission, along with Columbus McKinnon's mission on this topic, is to improve the quality of hoist service and repair; contact us today to learn more about CM Hoist Service & Certification!


TLS Productions, Inc. Will Be Closed Monday July 4th, 2016
In Observance Of Independence Day

We will resume normal business hours, Tuesday July 5th, 2016 9am - 5pm EDT

Time Is Running Out!  Nominate Us!

PLSN / Parnelli Awards Hometown Hero Lighting Company - Midwest

This is the first step toward helping us become Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year!

Each year, PLSN honors regional lighting production companies with the Hometown Heroes awards. These awards honor the best regional lighting production company in six regions across North America: the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest (that's us), Northwest, Southwest and Canada.

Nominations are due by July 1st, and regional finalists will be named shortly thereafter.  Voting on the regional finalists will then take place, with regional winners determined by July 31st.  The winners for each region automatically become the finalists for the 2016 Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year Award, which will be presented at the Parnelli Awards Dinner scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Nominate us by clicking here!

The best part about this is that PLSN readers - the people who actually work with companies such as ours - get to decide who's really the best.  You don't need to be a PLSN subscriber to nominate us, but once the official voting begins, you'll need your PLSN subscriber number to cast your vote!  So, if you're not already a PLSN subscriber - SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

Thanks from all of us at TLS Productions, Inc. for your support!
Save The Date!

Third Annual Open House & New Product Showcase!

Thursday September 22nd, 2016!  11am - 7pm!

TLS Productions, Inc. is proud to announce our Third Annual Open House & New Product Showcase, Thursday September 22nd, 2016 from 11am to 7pm - at our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Join us for a great day of lighting, rigging, A/V, and special effects product demonstrations from some of the biggest names in the industry, such as A.C.T. Lighting, ADJ, Apollo, Avolites, City Theatrical, Elation, EMU ED&T, ETC, GLP, High End Systems, Leprecon, The Light Source, Martin-Harman, QSC, Robe, Stagemaker, Total Structures, Universal Truss, Ushio, and Zylight !!!

Mark your calendar for what is sure to be a spectacular event, free of charge!  Meet our staff!  Tour our facilities!  Enjoy complimentary food and beverages, prizes, entertainment, and much, much more!

We're also excited to announce that we'll be offering several training courses on Tuesday & Wednesday - 9/20 & 9/21!  Cutting edge, hands on sessions for ETC Ion, grandMA2, AND MORE!

To learn more and register for ETC Ion training, see information below.  And stay tuned during the weeks and months ahead for further details and to register for grandMA2 training!

ETC is offering Ion training leading up to our 2016 Open House & New Product Showcase!  ETC’s Ion lighting control system provides simple and approachable programming and control for conventional systems as well as fully integrated lighting rigs.  Join us at TLS Productions, Inc. in Ann Arbor, MI to learn more about the features and functions of this amazing control system. 

The ETC Education Center is providing the following exciting learning opportunities for lighting professionals to learn more about the Ion console:
Level 1: Essentials              Sept. 20, 2016                     9:00am - 4:00pm
Level 2: Enhanced Skills         Sept. 21, 2016 9:00am - 4:00pm
You can register for one of these sessions or both, depending on your needs and experience level.  To learn more about what each session offers, download the course descriptions here!

The cost for each session: $99.00 / per day


TLS Productions, Inc. - Setting The Stage To Tell Your Story

So, what have we been up to since May's newsletter?  We are proud to have worked for Tangram, Creators of Intelligent Brand Experiences, in association with Elite Multimedia & PixelFLEX - bringing to life the Nickelodeon space at the 2016 Licensing Expo at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

TLS Productions, Inc. provided lighting, rigging, and TV monitors, while working closely with LED video providers, Elite Multimedia & PixelFLEX, to ensure a polished look amongst all elements of the space.  Our very own Robert Glowacki crafted yet another top notch lighting design for this unique exhibit, proving once again that TLS Productions, Inc. & Design Services are capable of great things - no matter what the project.  We are ecstatic with the results of our first venture with Tangram, and look forward to working with them in the future!  Last, but not least, many thanks to TLSP's Cameo Stancliff & Doyle Martin, your dedication to this project is beyond appreciated!

Check out some images below!



File > New...

Hello everyone!

My name is Dustin, and I am the Lighting & Audio Technician at TLSP.

I recently founded the Ann Arbor, Michigan chapter of the Vectorworks User Group program, and we here at TLSP want to go beyond the meetings and connect with those of you who may not be able to attend our meetings, or are just interested in learning about how we do what we do with Vectorworks and other associated applications and processes.

This column will be a “Three Parter”, that is to say, it will include three sections:

File > New... (this is what you’re reading currently)

Here I’ll give you guys a general update on my use of the software, as well as updates on others that I work with or that I'm in contact with.

Find and Modify...

This will be the Q&A section.  As I continue with this column, I ask that you please send me any and all questions and comments on the software, as well as any and all general drafting and drawing conundrums that you may be experiencing.


Here I will give my two cents on subjects like Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Organization Techniques and Workflow Management.  Just little things that improve my experience as a Vectorworks user that I hope will help all of you.

Find and Modify...


When I rotate a lighting instrument, the label legend rotates as well, but the text stays horizontal.  Is there a quick way to fix this?


The short answer is yes.

The long answer is:

Navigate to File > Document Settings > Document Preferences...

Under the Display tab, uncheck the box next to Adjust flipped text.

This will allow the text to rotate about the same axis as the label legend and lighting instrument.

**Please note that this fix is universal in the document, if there is other flipped or rotated text, it will flip and rotate as such.**


My organization is nervous to use the cloud when it comes to sharing drawings.  They want to use the Project Sharing service through Vectorworks, but are nervous of people “using the same file at the same time, and losing changes if someone edits the same things.”  Is there any truth to these fears?  Could you explain the Project Sharing in a bit more detail, so I can relay the info back to my organization?


So, some of my answers are a bit more long winded than others, so to allow for elaboration on certain subjects, I created an external blog for such things.

Feel free to jump over to my blog by clicking here to see this answer!



I don’t know about you, but when I’m working on a drawing and I get to a great spot, and think about hitting print for my show floor plots, that’s when the client has decided to change the VL3500s to Mac Vipers, and the S4 MFL Pars you chose for a specific scenery piece, are now way too close to it because the piece needed to be moved to make room for the newly announced special guests entrance.

When this happens, it’s easy to think that you have to grab the Instrument Insertion Tool, or to hand select every fixture and change the symbol type and Object Info Palette fields to match the new fixtures.

But alas, Vectorworks has a solution, and it’s a good one.

Check out a tutorial on my blog by clicking here.

Save and Commit...

Please feel free to jump onto the Contact page on my blog and send over your questions for next month's column, as well as comments on this month's column and any and all follows ups on my tutorials and answers.

Design & Conquer My Friends,


Vectorworks User Groups are an important part of the Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. community.  They provide a forum in which Vectorworks users can learn about the software, share knowledge, experiences and advice, ask questions, and network with their peers.  The User Group will meet on a regular basis, a minimum of four times per year, once per quarter. 

The first meeting is scheduled for July 9th, 2016 at TLS Productions, Inc.'s headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI.  Click here for further information!
Join today!  Membership is FREE and provides:
  • Vectorworks software tips, tricks, and techniques
  • Networking opportunities with local designers
  • Support from Nemetschek Vectorworks
  • 10% discounts off Vectorworks software
Please enter your email at the link below to signup for updates and information:
Ann Arbor Vectorworks User Group

Once you're all signed up, fill out the form at the link below to give us a bit more information about how you use Vectorworks, and what you want to gain from the Ann Arbor Vectorworks User Group.

Membership Confirmation Form


We're looking forward to networking with the industry’s leading healthcare exhibit marketers, medical association meeting and exhibition directors, designers, creative marketing and convention services companies at ‪#HCEAConnect !!!

To learn more, visit

Last year at this time, in celebration of John Briggs' retirement from TLS Productions, Inc., TLSP partnered with Eastern Michigan University to create the John Briggs Endowed Scholarship for EMU's Entertainment & Design Technology program.  This scholarship creates a legacy at Eastern Michigan University by honoring John Briggs for his devoted service to the entertainment industry and the field of theatre technology. 

This scholarship honors the passion, dedication, and commitment to the field of theatrical technology by Eastern Michigan University Alumnus - John Briggs.  Over the years, John Briggs and TLS Productions, Inc. have generously given their time and equipment to assure EMU Theatre productions are of the highest quality, while using the most cutting-edge technology.  EMU students appreciate the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technology that prepares them for their professional careers in technical theatre.  The scholarship will be awarded annually to an Eastern Michigan University student majoring in Entertainment Design & Technology.

To donate to this scholarship in John's honor, you may do so by downloading the scholarship brochure, available here - or by calling the Eastern Michigan University Foundation at 734-484-1322 - and of course, you can contact us for further information on the scholarship and learn how to donate.

TLS Productions, Inc. & Entertainment Design and Technology at Eastern Michigan University
Contributed by John Charles, Technical Director, Eastern Michigan University Theatre

Jeromy Hopgood, Associate Professor of Entertainment Design & Technology at EMU, returns to the prestigious Michigan Shakespeare Festival this summer to serve as Scenic Designer and Technical Director for his seventh season.  He’ll be taking with him a number of current and former ED&T students to serve as staff and assistants for the festival.
Aaron Delnay, is master carpenter / stage hand and also doing quite a bit of scenic painting.  Sera Shearer, is serving as carpenter / stage hand.  ED&T graduate David Koltunchik - was a carpenter during the build period and has since moved on to his own freelance design gigs, and finally, Scott Tobin, is MSF’s master electrician for the 2016 season.  All of these ED&T students play multiple roles during the build and are stage hands / board operators during the run, so they are getting lots of great experience this summer working for an Equity LOA / LORT theatre festival.

Look for more information about the Michigan Shakespeare Festival at:

From The Desk Of Design Services - June 2016

Contributed by Doyle Martin, VP of Show Services | Director of Design Services

I want to spend a little time this month reaching out to everyone who works with production services vendors to make their events, shows and booths happen.  Those of us in the production services business understand that many times we are pretty far removed from the creative teams and decision makers for these projects.  We also know that we are - many times - brought into the process only at the point when someone realizes that, "Oh, yeah, we need to figure out how much this is going to cost!"  With that in mind, here are some things you could do which would really help us to help you get the highest quality and most cost-effective results you can when dealing with your production services company. 
Bring us into the project as soon as you can
  • Production folks, in general, pride themselves on being experts in their fields.  Use this expertise to your advantage by adding your production services company into your creative team early in the creative process.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard things like, “I didn’t know you could do that,” or “I didn’t even know that was an option” when dealing with creative directors and visual or environmental designers on show sites.  We know the technologies that we provide and we know how to apply them and what they can (and can’t) do.  The sooner you can bring that expertise to bear on your project, the better off you are going to be. 
Be as clear as you can about your expectations
  • If you have renderings or write-ups from your creative or sales team, share them with your vendor so that they have a clear idea of what both you and your client have in your head.  Short of this, ask to have a conference call not only with your account rep, but make sure he or she invites the various department experts to talk through what you have sold the client and what is needed to make that vision happen.  If we know what you have actually sold to your client (told them what they are going to see), we can do a much better job of making sure that everyone gets the results that they are expecting. 
Answer the questions we ask you about what you are doing
  • We are going to ask you all kinds of questions about your project.  Some of them may seem silly to you or might seem as though they don’t actually have anything to do with what we are providing for you.  But I assure you, we are asking because these things matter!
  • As an example, on a recent RFQ for a video wall solution for a trade show booth one of my sales team was trying to drill down with the client to make sure they were getting what they wanted.  Questions like, “what type of content are you going to run,” and, “how long do you have for set up,” among others were asked.  Instead of this gentleman answering the questions as best he could, he made this comment, “I just want a video wall!  I thought you people did this for a living?!  Why so many questions?” 
  • It is because we “do this for a living” and understand all the variables and what it takes to give you the best possible outcome that we ask so many questions.  So please, bear with us and answer as best you can.  Keep in mind that, “I don’t know,” is a perfectly acceptable answer.  Also, remember that we are asking for your benefit, not ours.  If we didn’t care, we would just give you what you ask for, take your money, then charge you more to fix it when you figure out you really didn’t know what you needed. 
Read what we give you and ASK QUESTIONS if you don’t understand
  • In almost every situation, your account representative is going to give you a very detailed proposal for your project.  It is going to list the gear provided, the scope of the work to be performed, the anticipated schedule to do the work, pricing, and all kinds of other information you can use to your advantage to make sure the production company understands and is going to meet (hopefully exceed) your expectations.  If you take the time to read through this material instead of just looking at the bottom line number, you can avoid all kinds of issues that will cost you money on-site.  Compare schedules, talk to your account rep about what you need to happen and how you see things going, and in general, make sure what they are proposing is everything you need it to be.  
Finally (and selfishly), we like our weekends too
  • So, this happens to us all the time.  I get a call at 3pm on a Friday afternoon from someone who must have numbers Monday morning so that they can get numbers to their client by Monday afternoon. I know that sometimes this simply can’t be avoided.  I also get that this works for the person calling, because they were able to get the RFQ out by the end of the day on Friday so they have their weekend free and can come in fresh Monday and put it all together.  However, I would ask you (as a client) to think about what you’ve done to me (your vendor) in this situation.  
  • I am now in a position where my team (regardless of any weekend plans anyone might have had) is going to have to work through the weekend to generate numbers so that you can have them Monday morning.  Beyond that, we have to deal with trying to price out any logistical issues or sub-vendor issues over the weekend where it can be hard (if not impossible) to contact and get numbers from the other companies and / or service providers that need to be involved. 
  • The offshoot of this is that you are not going to get the best numbers you can and you are certainly not endearing yourself to any vendors involved in this type of action – especially when done time and time again.  I know that sometimes this scenario simply can’t be avoided, but I would ask you to think about how you feel when your clients – or your boss – drops weekend work on you at the last minute on a Friday afternoon.  If you can adjust your schedule to avoid this scenario, it will help everyone do a better job for you.
I can’t speak for every company in the production services industry, nor would I try to do so.  However, over the last three decades, I have seen a lot of scenarios play out, and if you, as a client or end user, are aware of some of the things that can make the job harder, maybe you will try to avoid some of these problem areas.  In the end, I can tell you that more than anything else, we want to deliver to you the absolute best experience we can so that your project is everything you want it to be.  The more we can work as a team to accomplish this, the better off we all will be.  
In closing, have a great Independence Day!

Doyle Martin
VP of Show Services | Director of Design Services

Be sure to contact our Sales and Rentals Team for great deals from the industry's leading manufacturers.  And check out more great deals on our sale and rental items, as well as great prices on used equipment for sale from our rental stock, at the links below:

TLS Productions, Inc. Sales NEW

TLS Productions, Inc. Sales USED

TLS Productions, Inc. RENTAL

To find out what TLS Productions, Inc. & Design Services can do for you, contact us at any of the options below - and watch for more BIG news and BIG announcements from us during the weeks and months ahead! 

TLS Productions, Inc.
78 Jackson Plaza
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

(855) 515-TLSP (8577) Toll Free
(810) 220-TLSP (8577) Office
(810) 229-8292  Fax

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TLS Productions, Inc.
78 Jackson Plaza
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103

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