I would have never believed you back in 1988 if you told me I'd still be programming the LDI workshops in 2001. But here we are, ready for the 14th annual LDI trade show and conference and I'm still at it. Frankly, it's a lot of fun, and every year the patchwork of panels and panelists changes like a kaleidoscope of people, projects, and products that make up the entertainment design and technology industry.

The conference program at LDI 2001 encompasses four days of courses under the LDInstitute banner. This “boot camp” is scheduled Monday through Thursday, October 29-November 1 (yes, I promise we'll do something fun on Halloween), followed by three days of round-tables and panel discussions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 2, 3, and 4.

So what's new this year? For one thing, we've got more hands-on console training courses than ever before, ranging from the popular three-day “Basics of Automated Lighting: Systems and Design,” produced in association with ESTA and led by Jim Waits, technical marketing guru for Vari-Lite, to a two-day course on the GrandMA console (taught by Mike Falconer of AC Lighting), and one-day courses taught on the Vari*Lite Virtuoso DX console, the Wholehog II (taught by High End Systems' programming maven Vickie Claiborne), and the Fat Frog from Zero 88 (“frog” an acronym for fixture random output generator), also taught by Mike “frog wrangler” Falconer of AC Lighting.

For those of you interested in sharpening your software skills, we've got a computer with your name on it. All of the LDInstitute software courses are taught one on one, or one student to a computer, in small groups that allow for highly personalized instruction. Back by popular demand is Rich Rose, associate dean at UCLA's school of theatre, film, and television, with a condensed, two-day version of his “Fundamentals of AutoCAD” class. Rose will also teach a two-day 3D design course with Autodesk's 3D Studio VIZ-R3 Studio. (I bet you'll have fun with Rich with this one!)

Still in the software arena, the VectorWorks folks are back (that's actually Frank Brault, hiding behind the name Nemetschek North America) to teach full-day VectorWorks spotlight courses during the LDInstitute, and half-day modules on the weekend. Also on the roster is a two-day WYSIWYG program — one day beginner, the next intermediate/advanced (you can sign up for either or both days), with Ben Sanford and Laura Sellors of Cast Lighting in charge.

In conjunction with NSCA, the LDInsitute is happy to report that professor Ted Uzzle is back with his two-day “Audio Hardware Applications” course for all the audiophiles in the house. Tune in as he teaches everything from signal processing to spec sheets.

In going to almost 100 performances of various sorts each year, I have noticed an inescapable fact of entertainment design and technology: projections are everywhere. So we have a double-barreled projection program as part of the LDInstitute. First is Anne Johnston of Fourth Phase teaching a course on “Large-Format Projection Applications,” using E\T\C Audio-Visuel's state-of-the-art PIGI double-scrolling projectors as seen on the Rolling Stones and U2 tours as well as the Grammys and Academy Awards.

Next comes projection expert Pete Putman of Roam Consulting with his full-day “Introduction to Large-Screen Video Displays,” covering such topics as principles of luminance and chrominance; principles of light, optics and screens; television and computer-imaging systems; digital television and interfacing; LCD, DLP, and LCOS projection displays; plasma and LCD monitors; and setting up a flat-matrix projector or monitor. Manufacturers and designers will present case studies of innovative use of such technology in the performance arena.

If you've ever seen Bruce Springsteen in concert, you've seen lighting by Jeff Ravitz. This year Ravitz puts on his television lighting director's hat to teach a full-day “Television Lighting Master Class,” with a soup-to-nuts look at getting the job done, plus live demonstrations of getting the look you want and a hands-on chance to try it yourself.

To celebrate Walt Disney's 100th birthday (unfortunately Walt will not be there to celebrate it himself, due to problems with his cryogenic tube), LDI has teamed up with the Walt Disney Resort to create a fabulous field trip: “100 Years of Disney Magic.” It's a full day of fun with Mickey and Minnie and all the designers and technicians who have created four new parades and some of the new attractions at Disney.

Also produced in conjunction with ESTA are two electrifying courses: “Jolts and Volts: Electrical Safety,” a must for anyone who needs to know how to work safely with electricity (my guess is that keeping it away from water is in there somewhere) and “Troubleshooting Techniques for the Lighting Industry.” This is an advanced troubleshooting course for working field technicians, led by Frank Stewart of Specialty Tech Services.

And that's just the LDInstitute, folks. I think we've got something for everybody: please register early, as space is limited in some of these courses. If you can't make it to Orlando early, or if you're looking for more hands-on automated lighting training, don't miss Martin University, a hands-on tutorial on Friday or Saturday.

If you like to graze, sign up for a LDI conference badge. This gives you access to a seemingly endless number of roundtable discussions on almost every subject under the sun. Sessions are broken down into four basic “tracks” this year: lighting design and production techniques, professional audio, the art of projection, and architectural lighting. Check out our website at www.ldishow.com for a complete listing of these sessions (or call the Primedia Business Exhibitions office in Denver at (800) 288-8606, or (303) 741-2901 to get a copy of the LDI 2001 brochure).

¿Habla Español? If so, LDI 2001 has an exciting new component. We've rolled the ExpoLatina concept into LDI, and along with it comes a full set of workshops todo en español, covering topics in lighting and audio, as well as a new technology day. It's mucho caliente (and pretty hot too)!

We also have popular favorites such as the new technology breakfasts, a Women in Entertainment Technology breakfast, and the second annual “Lights of the Round Table” session, where you can meet top lighting designers in an informal setting. If you're up for it, we could keep you busy from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon (although I've been forced to stop for a brief lunch break).

In the course of a year, I must speak to hundreds — no, make that thousands — of people to pull all this together. Now it's their turn to speak. I hope you'll take time to listen.