Over 6,600 industry professionals spent the first three days of June at ShowTech99, Germany's leading entertainment technology trade show, which was held on June 1-3, 1999 at the Messe exhibition center in Berlin. There was a healthy buzz on the show floor, which covered 8,855 sq. m. (10,626 sq. yds.) of space, and where there were more than 300 exhibiting companies. Overall, in terms of both exhibitors (+42%) and attendees (+20%), ShowTech99 was larger than its last edition in 1997 (the show is held every two years; the next one is scheduled for June 2001).
While ShowTech is primarily a regional European show, quite a few international companies were in evidence, such as Selecon from New Zealand, and a variety of companies from France, including E/T/C Audio Visuel, RVE Electronic, Hardware for Xenon, and Robert Juliat. AC Lighting Ltd. and Stage Technologies were among the UK companies exhibiting on their own. Strand Lighting had its mobile truck unit on the show floor to display the company's new range of products, while ETC was represented at the Light Power booth.
Among the products not yet seen in the United States were the dimmers from IES (a Dutch company), which have been installed in the Cottesloe at the Royal National Theatre in London. Hermann Sorger of Lighting Innovation had its version of a motorized yoke for the ETC Source Four ellipsoidal. Hardware for Xenon also previewed a projector-in-a-balloon with one of its large-format images filling the sphere of an illuminated balloon.
A highlight of ShowTech week in Berlin was the preview performance of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, a $24 million musical directed by James Lapine and produced in German by Stella Musicals, with sets by Heidi Ettinger, projections by Jerome Sirlin, lighting by Rick Fisher, and costumes by Sue Blane. A pre-opening party was held on June 2, and hosted by the entertainment technology companies involved in the project, including Light Power (which supplied the lighting equipment, including fixtures by ETC, Vari-Lite, Amptown, and Studio Due, with Rainbow color scrollers and MDG fog machines), Despar (installation and engineering of the lighting systems), Stella Theatre Consultants, Bader stage machinery, and Fulling and Partner scenic controls.
Whether or not the Hunchback opening was planned to take place during ShowTech, this synchronicity meant that a large number of industry notables, especially from the UK, were at the event, including Brian Raven from White Light, Brian Croft from Vari-Lite, and Mark White from The Royal Opera House, as well as Enrico Caironi from Clay Paky.
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is being performed in a brand-new theatre that is one of the focal points on the new Potsdamer Platz, which also features a Hyatt Hotel, Imax theatre, and Mercedes Benz showroom, as well as cafes and boutiques. The reconstruction of this area has happened in the last 10 years, since the wall came down, and represents one of the most stunning transformations of the Berlin landscape.
It's an all new Berlin, symbol of a new Europe, where the technology on display at ShowTech will play an important role in the cultural development of the next century.