Though the grapevine is rife with rumors of groundbreaking new gear heading down the pike in the next couple of years, lighting manufacturers in the past year still managed to introduce a raft of intriguing and useful products, thank you very much. The five tools shown on the next two pages represent this year's crop of lighting products of the year, selected by a group of both young and veteran designers working in theatre, special events, dance, and concerts. We think you'll find them to be an eclectic mix of high-tech and practicality. These winning lighting products, along with honorees in the sound and staging and projection categories, will be honored at the annual EDDY Awards on June 22 in New York.
G-LEC made a splash a couple of years ago with its Classic Frame curtain system, which allows for large-scale LED graphics display. Last year, the company introduced Phantom Frames and LightFrames: both received kudos from lighting designers, but LightFrame got the nod from our lighting judges because of its light weight and easy assembly — it's essentially nothing more than an aluminum frame, plastic tubes, and transparency, after all. Most important, however, is its cost: it's a whole lot cheaper than the other G-LEC products. The LightFrame modules are controlled by DMX-512 and are RDM ready, and feature 2400 mcd RGB pixels and over 16 million colors. “The new LightFrames are beautiful, clean (they do away with the large mullions and conspicuous cable loops), they are much more affordable, and they are capable of being used with nothing more than their own controller triggered via DMX,” says one judge. “They can be configured in a variety of shapes and arrays. We bet you'll see a whole bunch of them popping up in concert touring applications everywhere.”
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ROBERT JULIAT ESPION II
This handy little battery-powered device can perform a variety of functions: it will check your DMX cable, input receiving, output sending, and level capture. Link it to your computer via a USB interface, and it will let you check all parameters plux DMX stream in real time. The unit is supplied with CD-Rom software, allowing numerous applications, including increasing memory capacity or simplified console functions. “This is one cool DMX testing type device,” says one judge. “Tester, checker, small size, battery power, and USB interface to computer display make it a tough counterpart to the venerable MiniDMX'ter.” Says another: “It's small, does a lot, and then can be the biggest/most comprehensive device of this type by plugging it into a USB computer!”
Robert Juliat USA
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SELECON HUI CYC
Ah, the long-neglected cyc. At last, Selecon has taken up the task of re-thinking this essential tool, and the result is their HUI cyc, a favorite with our judges. “The design of the fixture is well thought-through and addresses many of our issues with cyc light strips (such as on-site configuration of rigid, low-profile ground rows, safety glass screens, durable construction, configurable connector panels, and more.),” says one judge. “This is the first unit I've seen worthy of replacing the venerable, decades old Strand Pallas.” One of the key features the judges liked about the HUI cyc was the heat exhaust/control system, which results in a much longer filter life; another high point was its aforementioned use as a ground row, simply by reversing the color cassette and using the screw jack feet for adjustment. “The next generation of the small cyc unit from Selecon embodies all that was unrivaled before, with more advancements and improvements,” says another judge.
Forest Hills, MD
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SUNLITE EASY STAND ALONE (IP VERSION)
Sunlite's handy Ethernet DMX interface, which is also available in a USB version, is “a great idea that lends itself to all kinds of possibilities,” say the judges. This version makes it possible to work either locally or via the Internet. Easy Stand Alone is comprised of the Ethernet DMX interface box, which can control up to 512 channels, eight ports, and includes a real-time clock; software featuring easy view and a scan library; and internet connectivity. “I like the new IP version of Easy Stand Alone because it opens up so many possibilities to use, view, and interact with any DMX system,” says one judge. “Instead of waiting for new products from major manufacturers, third party developers and individuals can create a host of new applications and devices to take advantage of DMX console data available over Ethernet.”
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THE VARI*LITE VL-2500 WASH
This entry spurred the most heated discussion among the judges. Should a product be eligible if it represents implemental improvements rather than groundbreaking new technology? The VARI*LITE VL2500™ is based on the VL2000™, but the judges felt that the improvements to the color mixing and its compact frame made it more than worthy of consideration. In fact, those on the pro-Vari-Lite side liked both the VL2500 and the also recently introduced VL3500, but in the end it was the former by a nose. Like its predecessor, the VL2500 is still small and lightweight, with a 700W short-arc lamp, and a zoom range from 14° to 55°. The new features are the coated glass dimmer wheel and a separate dual-blade strobe system. In addition, the VL2500 Wash luminaire's pan and tilt motors are now more powerful and provide more torque. “Having used the 2500 on many special event projects recently, I am very impressed with the smooth operation and the beautiful color mixing as well its size,” says one judge. “The VL2500 is the overall best in my eye (factoring size and all),” says another.
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