Notes From a Projection Designer

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LED LED LED, everywhere you look it's the season of LED. It's in fixtures, it's in tubes, it's in Par Cans, it's on mesh, it's in movers, it hangs from strings, it's under the water. My favorite new product is the Image Mesh from Komaden. Looks lightweight, you can see through it and you can put it underwater. How neat is that?


Daktronics is here making a showing of the same product that we are using for the upcoming Broadway musical Ring of Fire. They had an early picture from the first production of it we did in Buffalo. I need to send them a new picture if they are going to show it around the country!


AVStumpfl has their Wings Platinum software on display. This is something that I‘ve been looking forward to seeing in action. Being an avid user of WATCHOUT, this is a product that really gives Dataton a run for its money. A lot of very nice features that I'll be sure to talk to the boys from Sweden about.


It was so great to be on a panel discussion with James Thurber. His PANI creations are truly inspiring. The collaboration with glass painting artist Dora Berkes was fantastic. Sure made me want to go dust off my 2k PANI and make some film. Add to that heartbreak that PRG didn't bring their PIGIs this year. They've gone all digital with the MBOX Extreme. I will check it out later today now that I have some more time.


It's so impressive to see the support industries around lighting; the automated truss system is amazing, and the technologies for lifts are so varied. I especially love the Spiralift from Gala systems. It appeals to my sense of aesthetic slickness.


Of course there are projectors all over the place, but they are projecting on fog, on water, into the corners....Olympus had a neat product that used a camera system to automatically correct keystone and distortion using multiple projectors into a corner. The fog screen and water screens were rather underwhelming.


I would love for the O2 people to show up at LDI with their particulate projection system. It isn't holography, but it's neat to see an image just there in the air.


Of course, this is still very much a lighting show. ETC had their hot new console, CONGO on display. It's not my forte, but it seems like it could be a good alternative to the GrandMA as console to program Media Servers on. I'll have to ask Hilary Knox.


ETC also cleaned up their lensing for clearer pattern projection, it made my soul feel good to see them address that. They also had a barrel for 95 degree source four. SO COOL. It's a brave new world for a dance boom, corporate breakout room, or low grid theater. They also had a 14deg which I assume would be more manageable than the large 10deg units I‘ve seen on shows.


Another lighting product I thought was great was the Seachanger by Ocean Optics. Here's a dichroic color filter lens system that plugs into what seems essentially to be a Source Four body. No gel changes ever, no fans so it's silent. And in their demo room they actually had an optical scanner. Take your gel swatch, stick in front of the scanner and the software would match the color from the filter. How cool is that! Apparently they can't match ALL the colors, but it seemed close to me. There is of course a loss of intensity, but if you put on one of the new ETC "high output" lenses you might have one heck of a conventional.


I checked out the folks running the Animation Master software, I can't tell if it's a good tool for media creators or an expensive toy. At $199 for a show copy I was tempted to pick it up, until the vendor explained that it was buggy on the Macintosh. Maybe next year.....


Visited the lads at Green Hippo, I do like Nigel and James very much, I enjoyed their product on Lennon and I'm looking forward to seeing whatever new features they have added over the summer.


Another product that I have to check out is Pandora‘s Box, a new media server from Coolux media systems. I haven‘t spent any time with that either, but the buzz about it at the Rose Brand party on Friday night was good.


All kinds of cool USB to DMX to whatever widgets, I think I will need one of those at some point.


What else? Hey, I won an AWARD! I don't think I‘ve won anything since the eighth grade! What an amazing recognition from the good folks at LDI. It's such a wonderful community and being solely a projection designer I sometimes feel a bit like the black sheep. So amazing to be recognized with such incredible designers like Richard Pilbrow and Buford Jones. I was truly shaken.


--Mike Clark

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