Wow, what an LDI. Sometimes I approach the "off Vegas" year with less enthusiasm, but ALWAYS I come away amazed at the substantive experiences, meetings, and contacts. Perhaps away from the sturm and drang (glitter and clang) of Vegas, people's brains can settle down enough to really drill down and talk about interesting stuff...
1st impression of "new things"... The two things that got me really excited were the new ChamSys MagicQ Console, and the new D3 media mapping and visualizing software from United Visual Artists.
The MagicQ console is the first widely available console I've seen (PRG has stepped up and bought substantial numbers), that treats the video programming requirements on an equal footing with lighting. Functionalities like importation of video clips right into the console palettes, plus advanced, intuitive, and very customizable 'personalities' for dealing with almost all the major servers make it a delight to program. The console's ability to operate according to several familiar syntax structures (including Hog, MA, Celco, and others) makes it instantly approachable to many programmers and operators. In addition to my own experimenting, I saw Matt Mills (LD for 3 Doors Down), and Steve Fallon (LD for Skynrd and Programmer for Trace Atkins) glowing with glee as they demo'd the units. I'll be getting training very soon.
The D3 software from United Visual Artists is a really different animal. Is it a... Media Server ? Yes. Is it a previz system ? Yes. Is it a pixel mapper ? Mmm Hmm. Is it unlike any other example of these individual things ? Oh yeah ! D3 was developed by UVA in their effort to create a fantastic, interactive, intuitive control interface for their own installations, as well as for other designers like Willie WIlliams on U2's recent Vertigo Tour. The result is an amazing, simple, yet vastly powerful 3 dimensional control environment that lets you visualize display and lighting locations, map media across surfaces, program lighting moves... All while navigating an interface that isn't delineated by seconds and frames, but instead within the musical paradigm of notes, measures, and bars. I think there will be a select bunch of designers who grock the power of this directly and will be using it to accomplish unprecedentedly COOL design. XL Video will be repping this software for the time being here in North America.
The Master Class sessions were phenomenal. Getting to really dig into the insights of Willie Williams regarding U2 and George Michael; hearing Caryl Glaab's exlanations of the creative processes of Blue Man Group; SEEING Blue Man Group. Josh Weisberg's super informative system design lecture; The BLOW AWAY case study of Bradley University's The Adding Machine leading into the "future is Now" session with Josh Fleitell demonstrating pixel mapping with his iPhone, and video 'conducting' with a WiiMote... The participants literally wouldn't allow the sessions to end, pushing the load out crew back by more than an hour and a half to soak up more MAD knowledge.
Always I get as much out of those sessions as I give.
SO once again Ellen has talked us into doing it all again next year. See you in Vegas...