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Inventor's Story

When the Royal Shakespeare Company began planning the £112 million ($200million) refurbishment its Head of Lighting, Vince Herbert, saw a unique opportunity to transform the way that theatre lighting rigs were assembled. Here Vince talks about how necessity brought about the invention of the RSC Lightlock.

"I started working on this concept when we were working on the refurbishment of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester several years ago. The idea was to put moving lights onto television pantographs so that we could vary the angle of the lighting within cues and make them much easier to maintain.

"When we started talking about the RSC's auditorium designs for the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Flip Tanner (the Technical Project Co-coordinator) asked me what I really wanted the rig to look like and what we should do with it. I had never forgotten the modular cluster lighting idea, and this was the ideal time to put it into place. It was also driven by health and safety because in the future we won't be climbing up to the lights; the lights will be coming down to us.

"However there is a huge drawback with a small modular single or cluster moving light hang: they swing! I did an experiment in The Courtyard Theatre to test just how much it would swing and it was way more than expected. I realized at this point that I would need to find or design something that would stop the swing. I assumed that this problem must have already been solved, and when I found it hadn't I realized that it was up to me! In the name of research I spent some time on a swing in a park in Stratford-upon-Avon. The idea I had was that if you could start yourself swinging by moving your legs, you could stop yourself by moving your legs in the other direction. I must have looked crazy testing out my theory. However, it worked! An equal and opposite amount of energy: simple physics."

From this point Vince developed the RSC Lightlock device. The prototype was exhibited publicly for the first time at PLASA 08, winning a Gold Award for Innovation and attracting interest from a number of manufacturers as well as designers and end users. The contract to develop, manufacture and sell Lightlock was eventually awarded to Total Solutions Group and U.S. strategic partner Total Structures Inc. on the grounds of experience, geography and not least of all both companies commitment to innovation and safety.

RSC Lightlock
Lightlock inventor Vince Herbert pictured with Patrick Stewart at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon
RSC Lightlock