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November 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 ETC 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 Michael Kelty, ETC Factory Authorized Service Technician!

STAGEMAKER hoists are designed to handle stage and theatrical equipment and enable the safe and accurate positioning of lighting systems, speakers, and various scenic elements.  The features and options of STAGEMAKER hoists make them a great choice for a demanding customer.  Their low weight make them ideal for touring events.  Their compact size permits them to fit inside truss structures.  Their quietness makes them ideal for operation during performances, even in theaters.  Stagemaker’s CE mark and CSA c/us certification ensures the quality process.

TLS Productions, Inc., accepting the STAGEMAKER Regional Sales Excellence Award at LDI 2016 

TLS Productions, Inc. is a dealer and Factory Authorized Service and Certification Center for STAGEMAKER hoists, with one of the largest rental inventories in the Midwest.  We invite you to learn more about STAGEMAKER products for your next production, so contact us today! 

TLS Productions, Inc. is also a Columbus McKinnon Authorized Service Center and can provide CM Hoist Service & Certification, in addition to CM hoist sales and rentals.  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, or to inquire about CM hoists for your next production!

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

So, what have we been up to since October's newsletter?  We've recently completed our work and are loading out of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, we had another successful year at the 2016 Central Florida International Auto Show and the 2016 SEMA Show, and preparations are underway for the San Diego International Auto Show, CES 2017, and the 2017 North American International Show!

Check out some images from the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show below! 


December Deals!  Don't Miss Out!
We're running daily deals during the month of December!  So mark your calendar!  For more information, contact us via e-mail or give us a call at 855-515-TLSP (8577)

TLS Productions, Inc. Holiday Hours

TLS Productions, Inc. will be CLOSED end of day Thursday 12/22 and REOPEN Tuesday 12/27 in observance of the Christmas holiday.

TLS Productions, Inc. will be CLOSED end of day Thursday 12/29 and REOPEN Tuesday January 3, 2017 in observance of the New Year holiday.


The Design Layer November Update

File > New...

Hello everyone!
First of all, I want to wish you all Happy Holidays!  As I go through this holiday season, I am reminded that things aren’t always easy for us in the entertainment industry.  We work on weekends, holidays, and every other time that people outside our industry consider “days off.”  Being someone who works from a laptop, I work anywhere and everywhere if it means getting the job done on time.  I love and hate my hours in this industry, if only because I can literally work where and when I need. 

Being that it’s the holiday season, I thought it would be appropriate to focus this month’s entry on quick turn-around projects.  We all have those jobs that “need to be done yesterday,” so let’s see if we can speed up that process (no time-machine required.)
Jump over to and check it out!

Find and Modify...


"I am asked to convert my Vectorworks projects to DWGs on a regular basis.  It has been relatively painless, but I have to ask if you’ve had any problems with this process?"

Vectorworks, especially in the 2017 release, has made this process nearly error free.  The problems that exist in most scenarios is line weight errors and scaling errors.  When you know you may have to export to DWG with a Vectorworks file, insure that all your classes have a defined line weight, and not a relative weight based on manual entry.

In the individual classes’ settings window, there is a checkbox that reads “Use at Creation.”  Make sure this is checked before you start drawing and you should be good on line weights.  In regards to scaling issues, make sure your drawing is in a real-world scale and not a custom scale.  AutoCAD and other applications that use DWG are particular on imported drawing scale.  Set your scale in the Layers settings window.  Happy Exporting!!

"On a fairly regular basis I am stuck searching for changes on a project so I can adjust my engineering.  A few lights moved, or were removed, or entire sections of truss adjusted.  Is there a fast way to compare drawings for changes, or am I stuck just putting both drawings up next to each other and skimming each truss?"

Based on your last statement, I’m going to assume you don’t use Vectorworks’ Project Sharing service.  Within this service, which is included in Vectorworks 2017 as a free feature, you can track changes made by individuals.  This allows you to track, change by change, what happened to the project.  This also will allow you to communicate with the person making changes to “adjust with foresight” and make sure they physically move the fixture that needs to move, instead of just copying & pasting, or simply adding a new fixture.  It’s an amazing feature and I would highly recommend it for anyone who has to make adjustments like yourself on a regular basis.


This entry’s tutorial is a quick one, but a useful one.  Many fellow draftsman, engineers and designers, run into a very specific problem when working with third-party companion applications like LightWright, grandMA export plugin, Excel/Numbers, etc.  Where does the Address info go?  Address Field?  Dimmer Field?  Universe & Address Field?  All Three?

We’ll run through proper techniques to make sure your projects are as seamless between these applications as possible.  Jump over to  for the full tutorial!

Save and Commit...

Please feel free to jump on to the contact page on my blog and send over your questions for next month's column, 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 NEXT Ann Arbor Vectorworks User Group Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 10th!  Click here for more 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


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

The Entertainment Design & Technology program at EMU is in the process of introducing exciting new virtual reality technology into our design courses and production program.  Working in collaboration with Jeremy Gibson Bond, Professor of Practice teaching game design and development at Michigan State University, we have been using VR gaming software to provide full 3D walkthroughs of our cad set design models.  Directors are able to walk through and view the scenic environment from the stage as well as the auditorium and suggest modifications before the build has begun, saving time for the production team.  This will also be an amazing teaching tool that will allow design students and their instructors to fully experience student designs, even when they are never actually realized!
ED&T professor Jeromy Hopgood has been working on a new version of his QLab instructional text for the newly released QLab 4.  The new release of QLab is a game changer, by allowing designers and technicians to control sound, projections, show control, and now lighting.  Without a doubt, the biggest new feature in QLab 4 is the new Light cue.  QLab can now control your lights directly, using the Art-Net protocol.  Whether you're a seasoned lighting professional or completely new to lights, this new addition makes designing your lights simple, powerful, and fun.  In addition to advances in sound and projection control and a new network integration, QLab 4 promises to continue in its history of being an industry standard for the entertainment industry.
We’ll be serving up some Christmas spirits in December.  Be sure not to miss our production of Christmas Carol’d, written by Joseph Zettelmaier.  There are plenty of spooky spirits and lots of laughs, as well as beautiful props designed by ED&T student Sera Shearer (you may remember Sera’s amazing piano design for The Piano Lesson last season), projections designed by Jeromy Hopgood, assisted by student Malik Mathis, and costumes designed by Melanie Schuessler Bond, Professor of Costume Design, assisted by student Alexis Tesner.

Christmas Carol’d opens December 2 and runs through December 11.  For tickets and information go to and click on Arts & Theatre.

TLS Productions, Inc. has 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 is 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.


From The Desk Of Design Services - November 2016

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

II'm having a great time this week cueing and programming a Christmas show for a Ft. Worth area church.  As I spend my days (and evenings) trying to make everything just right for the show this thought keeps running through my head, "It'll be the best I can make it in the time I have to program."  When it comes to your production, this is always true.  It doesn't matter that you have hundreds of the newest, coolest lights in your rig, if you only give the programmer an hour to cue and program the show, you are in for a disappointing experience.  It's the "unnoticed" details, and exact timing that make a light show great, and these are the first things to go when one is under time constraints.
There was a time - not that long ago - when there were not a lot of choices on how to handle the issue of programming time.  I spent countless hours over the years doing marathon programming - overnights, 36 hour days - in an effort to be prepared for shows and events.  It was only after the lights were loaded in and working that there was an opportunity to see how the lighting rig was going to respond and to get a real grasp on what the plot looked like in the real world.  If it happened to be a big-budget show, there might have been a couple of programming days built into the rehearsal schedule or (I never got to do this) the rig might be built in a warehouse somewhere to allow some programming time before setting up on site.
Although this can still be a challenge on many shows, technology has begun to come to our rescue in the form of lighting visualization software.  If you don't know what this is, you should check it out!  In a nutshell, this is software that allows you to build your lighting rig, stage and scenic in a virtual world and then use a lighting console (or PC console software) to drive the virtual lighting so that you can pre-program your show.  This technology is amazingly accurate, and although some on site "tweaking" will still be necessary, it drastically reduces the on-site programming time thus allowing you to deploy a fully programmed and very detailed show in a very short time.
Now, don't get too excited, odds are you are still going to need to pay your programmer for the hours (days) they spend doing the virtual programming and the software isn't free, so you're also looking at some charge for the software and the related computer systems.  However, when you calculate the cost of renting your lighting system for additional days or working your programmer to death (and the overtime you will have to pay), it's a cost-effective way to get a detailed lighting show, even if you have severe time constraints for your event.
With all of that in mind, did you know that TLS Productions, Inc. can now offer our client base a virtual programming suite?!?  We have invested in the software and hardware to seamlessly integrate your lighting, staging and scenic plot into a virtual programming environment.  This system will allow your programmer to not only program a detailed show in a comfortable environment (with the rig projected on a wall-sized large screen and a real control console for programming) complete with fridge, microwave, and your very own runner.  The suite is located in our Ann Arbor headquarters, so not only can you (or your programmer) spend your days working hard, you have all the restaurants and nightlife that Ann Arbor has to offer for some re-energizing time off.
I would be amiss if I didn't also let you know that our virtualizer suite will also allow us to provide photo-realistic renderings and fly-throughs of an event set up (complete with accurate lighting) and can be a sales and marketing tool as well as an onsite programming timesaver.  Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in finding out more about this new, cutting-edge offering from TLSP.  I'd love to talk with you about the possibilities that it opens up for your events.
Let me close this months post by saying that I hope each and every one of you who has taken the time to read this had a most happy Thanksgiving holiday full of family, friends, and good food - and hopefully some time was taken to remember all the folks (military, production, and others) that couldn’t be at home with their family and friends.  They might not have been with us, but they should always be in our hearts and minds!

Doyle Martin - TLS Productions, Inc.
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 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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