What is automation

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What is Automation?

Definition of stage automation: the use of electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic power to move stage machinery, stage elements, performer flyers or scenery, which would have been traditionally operated by stagehands and flymen.

Automation, a modern engineering solution, is controlled via a system of sophisticated hardware and software that is programmed to perform specific tasks. The advantages of stage automation far outweigh any disadvantages.

Stage automation may be referred to as theatre automation, stage engineering, theatre engineering, live performance automation, entertainment automation, technical theatre, whole house automation, stage effects or a whole variety of other generic terminologies that have sprung up organically in the entertainment industry.

Power flying and performer flying are also commonly used to describe two widespread types of theatre automation, involving the movement of stage elements or performers respectively.


The market in entertainment automation is expanding exponentially as stakeholders realize the enduring benefits of automating performances or venues.

The main advantages of stage automation are:

  • Gives a competitive edge to entertainment venues accommodating a high volume of touring productions.
  • Improved precision, timing and complexity of stage effects
  • Enhanced reliability
  • Accurate repeatability
  • Motorized rigging means faster changeovers, load ins and load outs
  • Easier maintenance of stage elements such as flying bars or lighting bridges
  • No counterweight cradles means increased useable stage area and wall space
  • No counterweight cradles means reduced risk to staff from loading and unloading operations
  • Achieves stage effects that are impossible using manual methods
  • Integrated stage safety and additional safety features such as emergency stops, light curtains and safe edges
  • Leading theatre automation systems follow guidelines such as EN61508, conform to a quality management system such as ISO9001:2008 and are subjected to rigorous testing
  • Systems can be easily supplemented with theatre rental equipment
  • Creative automated effects generate excellent performance publicity, public interest and ticket sales
  • Staff development