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August 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 Michael Kelty, ETC Factory Authorized Service Technician!

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 September 5th, 2016
In Observance Of Labor Day

TLS Productions, Inc. will resume normal business hours:
Tuesday September 6th, 2016 9am - 5pm EDT

Save The Date!

Third Annual Open House & New Product Showcase!

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

Training Sessions On 9/20 & 9/21:
grandMA2 - Limited Seats Remain!
ETC Ion - Limited Seats Remain!
Hog 4 - SOLD OUT!

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, Lex Products, The Light Source, Martin-Harman, Robe, Stagemaker, TMB, Total Structures, Universal Truss, Ushio, Zylight, AND MORE!!!

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 moreDid we mention there will be tacos and ice cream?  TACOS AND ICE CREAM!!!

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 grandMA2 (LIMITED SEATS REMAIN), ETC Ion (LIMITED SEATS REMAIN), and Hog 4 (SOLD OUT)!

To learn more and register for grandMA2 training or ETC Ion training - see information below!

We are proud to announce that A.C.T. Lighting will be offering a two-day grandMA2 Light training session on Tuesday & Wednesday 9/20 & 9/21 (9am - 4pm), leading up to our 2016 Open House & New Product Showcase!

The grandMA2 Light has 4,096 parameters, 15 motorized executor faders and two touchscreens available.  All further features and controls are identical to those on the grandMA2 full-size.

The grandMA2 Light is the perfect tool to control all kinds of lighting genres like conventionals, moving lights, LEDs, video and media and supplies an intuitive and fast control of all connected fixtures and channels.  The grandMA2 light can handle an almost infinite number of presets, cues, pages, sequences and effects.  It is ideally suited as a backup device for the grandMA2 full-size.  Furthermore the console is compatible to the grandMA ‘series 1’.

Below is a useful link to learn more about this exciting two-day course!

A.C.T. Lighting grandMA2 Class Topics

The cost for this action packed two-day course = $499 / per student

SPACE IS LIMITED!  To learn more, ask questions, and to register, please contact Carl Kedzierski, Director of Marketing for TLS Productions, Inc. -


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



*** SOLD OUT! ***

High End Systems will be offering a two-day Hog 4 training course on Tuesday & Wednesday 9/20 & 9/21 (9am - 4pm), leading up to our 2016 Open House & New Product Showcase!

The Hog 4 is High End Systems' flagship in their newest range of consoles.  Replacing the much loved Wholehog III, it embraces the latest technology, while retaining the Hog’s familiar control surface.  Users will be able to walk up to the Hog 4 and start programming without having to learn a whole new interface.  The new encoders, jog shuttle wheel, lcd keys, motorized faders and integrated keyboard all serve to enhance this experience, making the Hog 4 completely customizable.

Click here to learn more about Hog 4!

The cost for this two-day course = $499 / per student

AND... The cost for the course includes a Hog USB DMX Widget!

SPACE IS LIMITED!  To learn more, and to register, please contact
Carl Kedzierski, Director of Marketing for TLS Productions, Inc. -


We Won The Midwest!

Hometown Hero Lighting Finalists Announced

Thanks to ALL OF YOU for nominating and voting to make us the BEST IN THE MIDWEST for this year's Hometown Hero Awards! The final round of voting which will decide Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year starts soon, so stay tuned! And congrats to ALL the Hometown Hero nominees and regional winners!

The best part about this is that PLSN readers - the people who actually work with companies such as ours - get to decide who becomes the Parnelli Award recipient for the National Hometown Hero Award!  The final round of voting starts soon and 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!

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

So, what have we been up to since July’s newsletter?  We’re pleased to report that we're nearing completion of the first portion of Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater upgrade.  Improvements include: ETC Ion with network control system along with a new ETC Paradigm house dimming control system, new LED house organ lighting and upper cove lighting, new “period” LED sconce lamps, new on-stage ETC LED fixtures, as well as new LED work lights, to lower operational costs.  Last, but certainly not least, upgrading of the cabling and data distribution infrastructure.  Many thanks to Scott Clarke – MTF Technical Director, Greg Mazure – System Integrator, Stephen Crowley – General Manger, and Russ Collins – Executive Director & CEO.

Also this month, we provided lighting design and production, as well as A/V support for the Lexus and Cadillac spaces at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance

Currently, we are loading in for one of our biggest events of the year, the 2016 Toyota National Dealer Meeting, which takes place in Las Vegas, September 7th-9th at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.  We are also in the pre-production stages for the 2016 Miami International Auto Show, as well as the 2016 State Fair of Texas

What can TLS Productions, Inc. & Design Services do for you?

File > New...

Big things people!

As the summer ends, many of you know that we are getting closer to an announcement day about what will be coming in Vectorworks 2017.  There are articles all over the internet of potential features and upgrades due out with the 2017 version, but none stick out more than the new Virtual Reality elements.  Utilizing their already useful Nomad app, and a HTML4 based Web App, Vectorworks has successfully done what most of us have been wanting out of the software; first-person walk-through and interaction with renderings.

Like I said, big things.

But here's something I wanted to add that hasn't been on any articles about the upcoming software...  Vectorworks has asked me, and other fellow User Group leaders, to demo the feature at our upcoming User Group meetings!  This means you can see this feature first hand before it's released with Vectorworks 2017!  Which I will be demoing at the 3rd Annual - TLS Productions, Inc. Open House and New Product Showcase - September 22nd (details here - and in this newsletter), and at the upcoming Ann Arbor Vectorworks User Group Meeting on September 24th (more details here).

Headsets will be available, but please feel free to bring along your iPhone or Android device, and your Google Cardboard or any other phone compatible VR headset.  I can't wait to show you what this amazing feature can do for not just our industry, but for every Vectorworks user!

Find and Modify...


"In developing my paperwork for my designs at my college, I keep running into spots where the dedicated Reports feature in Vectorworks isn't cutting it for me.  I've always wanted to try out a application like LightWright, but can't justify the price tag.  What features does LightWright have that you feel make it worth the money?"


In short, it's syncing capabilities.  If you use the paperwork that is built into Vectorworks, you still have to export it to Excel to really get to manipulate the formatting and info.  But with LightWright, if you change something in the drawing, it changes in the paperwork, and vice-versa.  Being able to simultaneously format your paperwork, and change data seamlessly between your drawing - is something out of the future for me. 

If you can't justify the price for the latest software, they offer reduced prices for the software for students.  Contact City Theatrical or any other dealer of the software.


"I heard there is a way to make a digital version of Truss Tapes through Vectorworks.  Is this something I can do on my own, or do I need a software like Lightning Tapes?"


Real answer, the Lightning Tapes guys started out right where you are, asking if they can do it on their own.  And if they can do it, so can you.  Now in regards to how you can do it... that's a much more complicated question than I can explain in my column. So if this is something you would really like to pursue, please feel free to email me:


"In Vectorworks 2016, I'm having an issue with Renderworks displaying the beams of light at something that looks somewhat realistic.  The stage is always washed out and the beams aren't visible.  Am I missing something?"


Where Renderworks thrives in giving realistic looks and feels for textures and other objects with the click of a button, light objects are a bit more complicated to get to a spot where they cooperate and look like real fixture output.  (Read more on my blog!)


OpenGL is easily one of the silent superheroes of 3D rendering and visualization in our industry.  It powers most 3D modeling on macOS and iOS, as well as the powerful pre-visualization software - ESP Vision - by Vectorworks.  Today I want to show you how to utilize OpenGL’s various settings to get as close to Renderworks quality, without waiting forever for your project to render... (continued on blog)...

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, 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.
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


Brad Hayes, Doyle Martin, Emily Ann Jugowicz-Miller, and Carl Kedzierski of TLS Productions, Inc. had a great time networking with the industry’s leading healthcare exhibit marketers, medical association meeting and exhibition directors, designers, creative marketing and convention services companies at #HCEAConnect - which took place in Savannah, GA - August 14th through the 17th!  They especially enjoyed participating in the community service activities; volunteers from several organizations, TLS Productions, Inc. included, came together to help Savannah's Greenbriar Children's Center - TLSP is proud to have pitched in and helped such a noble cause.  We're already looking forward to next year's HCEA conference!

To learn more about HCEA, visit:

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

EMU Theatre will open it’s 2016/17 season with a return of The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown.  The show, which includes visually striking projection and lighting designs by TLS Productions, Inc.'s Dustin Miller and Bobby Glowacki respectively, played for two weeks in June, and returns for a single week starting September 9th.   

The Entertainment Design & Technology program at EMU is excited to be mentoring another group of talented student designers who will be adding their creative input to our upcoming production of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.  Recent design meetings suggest that it will be a spectacular show that you won’t want to miss.  The production will feature a projection design by ED&T student Cristine Franzen, who assisted with projection design for last season’s - One Man Two Guvnors.  ED&T students Kayla Deneau and Emily Jannaro will assist with costume design, and Basia Mack will serve as student assistant scenic designer.  All of these students have demonstrated remarkable creative talent and are bringing amazing ideas to the design process. 

Macbeth will play the Quirk Theatre on October 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 7pm and October 23 & 30 at 2pm. High school matinees are offered on October 25 & 26 at 10am.

For tickets and more information for Eastern Michigan University Theatre’s upcoming season, please go to:

We are happy to announce that we are currently accepting applications from students in the ED&T program for the John Briggs Endowed Scholarship in Entertainment Design & Technology, to be awarded on September 12.  Once again, we wish to thank TLS Productions, Inc. for establishing this scholarship to help support students in our ED&T program, and to acknowledge John Briggs for his many years of dedication, hard work, and support for all of us in the entertainment industry.  John helped us through many technical crises and did it with a generous and selfless spirit.

Thank you, John.

John Charles - Eastern Michigan University Theatre
Technical Director


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 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.

From The Desk Of Design Services - August 2016

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

This month has been full of travel for me, and it looks to continue through September.  I truly value the opportunity to get out and meet people and find out what is on their minds and how, as a company, we can best help them with our service offerings.  One thing I have found is that many event and exhibit planners and coordinators have many questions about the necessity of having a lighting designer and are confused as to the differences that might exist between designers who are independent and the role of designers who work for a company.  Here are the top three questions I get on this topic.  I have tried to answer them so that you have the information to decide what lighting designer is going to be best for you and your project.

How big does my project need to be before I need a lighting designer?

I get this question quite a bit, and the real answer here is that this is the wrong question.  The size of the project (number of lights, size of the space) really shouldn’t have any bearing on the decision on whether or not to include a lighting designer on the team.  The reality is that, even on the simplest project, someone is going to be doing the lighting design.  The question you have to ask yourself is, “whom do I want my lighting designer to be?”

The rental company:  If you just hire a rental company, they will do the lighting design for you, but you are most likely going to get an inexperienced member of the lighting staff who is not going to give your project much of their time or attention.  Typically the attention to detail will be less than you deserve and you will get just what you ask for, not necessarily what you need.

A service company:  If you hire a company (like ours) that is more of a “service” company (vs. a rental company) then you are at the very least going to get an experienced lighting designer involved in the layout of the lighting.  For a relatively small premium, you can get full design services at a much more affordable rate than an independent designer would charge.  Another possible advantage of using an in-house designer is that many times on smaller projects this designer will also double as your “lighting guy” on site, saving you money on crew costs.

An independent designer:  Hiring an independent lighting designer gives you a person on your team that is solely focused on nothing but the lighting look for the project.  He is not worried about rental inventory or what may (or may not) be available equipment wise.  Typically not your best option for smaller events or exhibits simply because of the additional dollars it is going to cost you.  I should add that the argument independent designers make about not being concerned with any company’s rental inventory is a valid one; it can also cost you considerably more money.  Lighting is subjective, and there might be less costly equipment options available that would do the job just as well, and when using an independent designer - there isn’t anyone to point this out for you.

What are the impacts of my lighting designer choice on budget and results?

Believe me; everyone understands that you have a finite amount of money to spend and that you want to be sure that you are getting your money’s worth from your lighting budget.  A good lighting designer is going to leverage the money you have to spend so that he is getting the most “bang for the buck” out of the lighting budget.  As I have been both an independent designer and a designer for a service company, I will give you my view of the pros and cons of each option.

The service company designer:  Using the “in-house” designers at your production services vendor typically means that less of your budget is going to go to the actual design process, and more of it is going to go to the gear.  You are going to get a comparable level of service and experience to that of an independent designer (or design firm) at a more affordable price.  Our design approach (at TLSP) is to allow our designers to do the design using whatever equipment they think is the best for the project they are working on – just like an independent designer would.  They then work with our project managers, estimators, and inventory control folks to make sure that the project gets the best compromise between price and function.  It might be fun to have the brand new, super bright Robe fixture for your custom patterns, but realistically, the older VL3500’s will do the job and save you some money.  It is about checks and balances.  Granted, our designers have to know when to compromise and when to stand their ground, but I am of the opinion that the added layers of control are a good thing.  Rest assured, none of our designers will allow their designs to be compromised for profit margin – my people will always fight for the integrity of the design, and our management will back them (assuming their arguments are performance based and not ego based).

The independent designer:  An independent designer is usually going to do a design that is completely uninfluenced by anyone’s gear inventory.  They are going to specify the equipment they believe is the best for your show.  Although on the surface, this seems like the best possible way to approach a design, that is not always the case.  Most lighting vendors will bid a show from an outside designer as specified – assuming the gear can be found.  Lighting designers (myself included) have a tendency to specify the biggest, newest, brightest, coolest lights on the market, which translates to the most expensive options for the lighting vendor and your budget.  An older model or a different brand might be just as effective, but you lose the ability for this kind of check and balance on the design when you use an independent designer.  When using an independent designer, it is incumbent on you to make sure they are not inflating your budget so they can post the show to Facebook.  You know, so the other designers can see how cool they are.  There are any number of designers and design firms where this is not going to be an issue, but you do have to know who you are dealing with.
My team is already huge; do I really need another team member?


Really, just yes.  No matter how great your event designer, exhibit designer, environmental designer, production designer or scenic designer or AV guy is, I would always recommend having a lighting designer on the team.  It might not be as important in the conceptual phases to have a lighting designer on staff (although I always recommend including both a lighting and a rigging specialist as early as possible on any project).  When you get down to the planning, programming, and execution of the design, there is no replacement for having a person on the team whose entire focus (pun intended) is solely on the details of how the light and shadows interact at your event.
  • Note:  Lighting design, at its base, is about how light and shadow interact.  Hence, it is not about what you choose to light; it is about what you choose not to light. 
I hope this helps or at least gets you thinking about your options.  Sure, my reason for presenting this information is so that you will give me a call and we can talk about how TLS Productions, Inc. can make your event or exhibit - indeed, make your life - better.  If you do not want to use us, and you think I am full of it (completely possible, by the way), that is fine.  However, if you are not going to talk to me about lighting your project, talk to someone.  The impact of good lighting design (and attention to detail) on your project just can’t be overstated.  So, if you don’t use us, use somebody!  Your project –no matter the size or budget - is important enough to make sure someone who cares about the lighting is working with you to make it the best that it can be.

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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