Lately I've had a feeling of time passing. I think it's because I just went to the wedding of my college roommate's daughter. She's 24, which should be impossible, since I only admit to 35. Clearly, somebody is lying. All right, I was a child prodigy — that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Another sign that the clock is ticking: I'm writing this as I prepare to go to PLASA, even though, as you read this, I've returned and am, in fact, planning to go to LDI. (When you work in magazines, it's a chore just to remember which tense you're supposed to be in.) Anyway, I've been reviewing press releases announcing the new products at PLASA and I'm struck by how the industry has suddenly been seized by two very different ideas. They are:
LEDs. I know I went on about them after I returned from Lightfair, but here the developments are even more exciting. We're going to see several new and very interesting uses of LED technology released to the market in the next several months. This isn't rampant cloning, as I've complained about recently; technicians are coming up with real innovations that will make LEDs an increasingly viable option for lighting designers. And just in time: I recently saw the brilliant new musical Hairspray, which, in Kenneth Posner's lighting design, features a truly innovative use of LED technology. (You'll hear more about this next month.) About six months ago, Posner told me that LEDs were the next frontier in the theatre; I smiled and thought to myself, he's nuts. Last year at this time LEDs were an interesting architectural lighting idea; now the sky's the limit. P.S. They're energy-efficient, too.
Video. Last year at PLASA, when High End Systems launched the Catalyst, it looked to me like the Edsel of lighting units. Even with the expertise of technical genius Tony Gottelier behind it, I figured it was this year's fad, doomed to an early grave. Tony, I owe you a drink: Catalyst took off like a shot, making a spectacular formal debut at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, and getting rapidly embraced in the concert world (see Sharon Stancavage's article on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). From what I hear, there's plenty of competition in the offing (sorry, Tony), as other companies grapple with what Michael Eddy has described as “a new paradigm in lighting and visual effects.” (Even the Icon M, the Garbo of lighting products, emerged from seclusion this summer and made an appearance on the Korn tour.) To my mind, the idea behind Catalyst is even bigger than the product itself, and it will require more exploration by other minds. Let the games begin.
That's the fun of trade shows (that and the cocktails). You never know when the future is going to happen to you. Here's hoping we're smart enough to notice.