It is time for LDI again, and once more attendees will be charged with the task of trying to decide how to spend their time at a show whose scope keeps getting broader every year. This year the number of projection and audio manufacturers as well as seminars focused on projection, show control and audio have increased. As usual, there is a limited amount of time to get to all of the booths, even though many of us still try to run that marathon. To help make your lives a little easier, below is a list of some of the products I think are worth a long look at during this year's show, being held November 21-23 in Orlando. I have gone through a mound of new product announcements and received hands-on demonstrations on new gear at the factories or at PLASA, and I think these represent some of the most interesting new products and developments. As always, please feel free to let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree. We are all entitled to our opinions, some more so than others.
Here we go, in no particular order other than grouping in logical product categories.
Electronic Theatre Controls will unveil to the US audience the Source Four Revolution, an automated ellipsoidal luminaire designed for use in the theatre. It is designed with performance, modularity, and quietness as its main features. It uses a 750W HPLX lamp, which is designed with a very nice quick-change mount at the rear of the unit and is very bright. It comes with an on-board dimmer that accepts worldwide voltage, so the output will be the same here as in the UK, as in Asia, etc. It comes with a color scroller with up to 24 plastic colors. It has two module bays with four modules available: a shutter module; a static gobo wheel module; a rotating gobo module; and an iris module. The gobo module comes with three positions and clear that holds M-size metal or glass patterns as well as glass dichroic colors.
While not known for producing luminaires, Wybron does know color and color mixing. This year the company merges the two worlds by introducing the Nexera Wash and Ellipsoidal color mixing luminaries, clever fixtures that use an interesting set of dichroic CMY plates to mix color in the beam. To maintain a cool beam, a dichroic reflector is used to absorb most of the infrared. The unit is convection cooled for quiet operation; it uses a 575W tungsten lamp that produces over 8,000 lumens; It uses three DMX channels and uses Wybron Coloram II power supplies and cables; and is priced to compete with other color changing methods.
Mole-Richardson, long known for quality film fixtures, branches into new territory with the introduction of a new line of fluorescent fixtures, the Molescent Biax Series. Created from a blend of lightweight polypropylene and aluminum, the Molescent houses high output, 55W biax lamps with integrated, dimmable, high-output flicker free ballasts. There are several modelsand two mounting options. All models are dimmable and offer multiple circuits with optional DMX control or PowerLine dimming. Accessories include Barndoor, ParaHex reflective louver, and Filter Frame.
Selecon brings cool to a whole new arena with the introduction of the Pacific Followspot, which offers the cool beam and all the other operational advantages of the Pacific's heat management technology plus: a choice of light sources to meet the throw requirements of most venues including: 575W, 750W, and 1,000W tungsten halogen, and 575W MSR. Other features include: adjustable iris; braced yoke and platen spigot; an adjustagle yoke balance point; no fans, other than that required for the MSR power supply; slide out iris; top panel slide access to lens; and removable lamp module and wiring.
MiPIX (Modular Intelligent Pixel) is Barco's brand new LED pixel block product, which measures only 1.59"H × 1.59"W × 1.38"D. Its small size and shape allow for it to be used to create intelligent lighting effects on large-scale backdrops of any form, shape, or size, while also offering the possibility of full video content on 3D logos or other free-form shapes. The MiPIX pixel block, which weighs a mere 1.2oz (34g), has a resolution of 20mm, and is sold as part of a system comprising 128 pixel blocks and a control unit. Each pixel block consists of four SMD LEDs, and due to the SMD LED technology, a MiPIX display accommodates viewing angles of up to 145 degrees.
Element Labs, Nils Thorjussen's new company, introduces Versa™ TILE, a glowing LED light tile controlled by video. The edge-lit LED tiles with RGB color-mixing, creates a broad spectrum of rich, saturated colors, and easily produces previously inaccessible colors-various flesh tones, browns, and grays. The incredible color range, made possible by the use of sophisticated video wall technology, has amazed lighting designers who have seen it. The tiles, placed together in arrays of any size or shape, create different moods and effects. The system is extremely versatile and is suitable for use on applications ranging from architectural installations to concert events. In contrast to traditional video walls, Versa TILE has an ultra-wide viewing angle and no visible LED clusters. In addition, it is much thinner and less expensive than video walls.
New from High End Systems is the Catalyst DL1™, a digital video engine that bridges the worlds of automated lighting and video projection, that includes both lighting and video communications protocols. High End is positioning the DL1 as the lighting industry's first commercially available digital moving light and it has a lot of applications in entertainment technology. Catalyst DL1 houses a digital engine in a ruggedized package that has the look and feel of a moving light and the versatility of a moving projector.
High End Systems continues with the ColorMerge, which is aimed more for the theatre market, as it is a color-changing product with no fixture movement. The unit is a dichroic color mixing system that fits any standard-sized ETC Source Four ellipsoidal fixture, at a cost comparable to a color-mixing scroller. Positioned as an alternative to gel scrollers, ColorMerge uses dichroic glass as its color media.
Color Kinetics keeps up the pace of new development with the introduction of iColor® Tile FX, the first generation of systems based on its cool Chromasic™ technology. Chromasic integrates digital LED control and communication technology in a single silicon chip, powering a highly controllable point of light that can generate 64 billion color combinations and form the basis for complex designs. iColor Tile FX creates a canvas in the form of a tile-like system. Each 2' by 2' panel conceals 144 individually addressable, tri-color nodes (432 LEDs total) that are powered by Chromasic, enabling fine-grained control to create images with light.
City Theatrical launches Lightwright 4™, the newest version of John McKernon's paperwork software tool. The recent improvements promise to make everyone's life easier. Lightwright gives designers and electricians sophisticated tools for tackling the enormously complicated job of compiling and maintaining lighting paperwork. New features include: up to 30,000 worksheet rows; up to 6,000 purposes, 6,000 positions, 6,000 colors, etc.; 62 universes of DMX; Work notes database includes work note, status, and category; integrated focus chart database including notes, sketches, and photos; worksheet changes flagged automatically; and a new student version.
Osram Photo-Optic introduces the patent pending HPR™ 575/115 high performance tungsten halogen lamp for theatrical, concert, and architectural applications. The HPR 575/115 lamp has been engineered for maximum light collection efficiency in parabolic and ellipsoidal fixtures. The specially positioned internal reflector reduces the lumens lost through the rear of the lamp, while increasing the forward lumens in PAR and ellipsoidal fixtures. The result is a sharper, more intense beam pattern and significantly higher light output. A secondary benefit of the reflector is reduced lamp seal temperature due to the effective deflection of infrared heat. Increased light output means fewer fixtures required and reduced energy consumption.
With the Rip-Tie CableCarrier you can carry an extra cable or two on your tool belt and be prepared for any cable problems. The Rip-Tie CableCarrier attaches to a belt loop or tool belt with one of three choices of attachment hardware: 2-1/16" (5.2cm) nylon swivel hook; 3-1/8" (8cm) aluminum carabiner; or 2-3/16" triangular aluminum carabiner. It uses the best quality hook and loop material and will last for 10,000 refastenings. The Rip-Tie pull-tab makes opening the CableCarrier a simple one-handed operation. The CableCarrier is available in 14 different colors and two sizes (one-inch wide by six or nine inches in length,) with carabiners available in matte silver and matte black.
GAM will unveil the Six-Slide-Tray, an accessory for its SX4(c), which snaps onto your ETC Source 4 ellipsoidal and converts it into a scenic projector capable of creating many special effects. The Six-Slide Tray allows you to remote control any six M-size patterns, glass or metal. It can be DMX controlled and also has built-in programs for automatic pattern changes ideal for display applications where a console may not be available. Using the built in programs you can select speed, direction, and lapsed time of pattern changes that will automatically sequence when power is turned on. The Six-Slide Tray uses the same power supply as the GAM Indexing TwinSpin and is compatible with the Wybron Forerunner power supply.
SetWear's new Easy-Fit 2 gloves will quickly become a favorite tool for everyone. These gloves have a two-way stretch spandex lined top with .5mm synthetic leather for added hand protection with increased fingertip sensitivity for detailed work. Featuring new Lycra panels between the fingers to increase mobility, comfort, and sensitivity. These gloves feature neoprene knuckle padding that provides increased flexibility and protection along with foam gel padded palms to help reduce impacts and vibrations. This glove has a pull cord on the wrist to assist in easy entry and for hanging gloves after each use.
CITC introduces the Little Blizzard® with DMX onboard. One of the quietest snow machine in the world just got better. The unit now features higher output, farther flying flakes, and quieter operation due to new “chem-milled” technology. Includes all that the Little Blizzard is famous for. Remote included.
Le Maitre has a number of new products to take a look at, including pyrotechnic hardware, the Speedfogger Active smoke machine featuring LeMaitre's very cool Rapid Change Technology, which enables you to fix your fog machine with a Leatherman.
DigiCo, first-time attendees to LDI, will be showing the brand-new D5T Digital Theatre Mixing System, the new, theatre specific system based on the award-winning D5 Live platform. With a 72 buss DSP engine, a 32 × 32 matrix, 41 fader surface and up to 128 channels with full dynamics processing or 96 channels with onboard effects, the DiGiCo D5T combines a wealth of facilities in a compact, 1484mm W × 868mm D (58.43in W × 34.17in D) worksurface that potentially will give back hundreds of seats a year to large productions.
Clear-Com's new CellCom, a revolutionary new concept in wireless intercom, still in the prototype stage, combines license-free digital transmission with an intelligent base station that interconnects with wired communications, going beyond the typical wireless party-line or even two-channel capability, with one-to-one and group conversations initiated from a beltpack.
Jands will be showing the Vista control console. Known for innovative consoles, Jands has gone in a completely new direction with this one. It is fundamentally different from current consoles, including a new approach to the user interface making it easy to use; with the introduction of a timeline, it gives you the complete picture and control of all lighting events. The Vista uses a pen-based system to draw directly on a screen. The combination of the pen and the new visual interface allows you to build your designs visually. You can plan your action over a moving timeline, much like computer-based audio and video editing tools. The Vista applies this concept to lighting, providing a new approach to design and performance.
MA Lighting has quite a few new products including the grandMA micro console for the size-challenged and the Network Signal Processor. The grandMA micro offers 1,024 individual parameters for control of conventional dimmers, moving lights from the built-in library, or self-created fixtures of any kind. The micro includes all its components in a very compact desktop housing with everything built in; no external power supplies, processor units, or monitors are required. It is based on a reliable industrial comput
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Avolites has a number of new products, including the new E-DMX radio DMX system. E-DMX is a PCMCIA card adapter that receives DMX data across an 802.11 wireless network, completely removing the need for DMX data cables. It will process one single universe of DMX. The deployment of E-DMX is totally user definable — one per light, one per pipe or truss, or just one to overcome the front of house data leap. E-DMX is compact enough to be housed within a moving fixture, removing the necessity for any data cable. Once an 802.11 network is set up, E-DMX will automatically locate its data.
Artistic Licence will show its Colour-Tramp, a lighting control system specifically designed to handle the complexity of 2D and 3D color changing arrays. It combines the concept of lighting control with a graphic editor. The lighting array is entered using a sophisticated graphic user interface. Show programming is then performed using color palettes and visual editing tools. Colour-Tramp is a PC based system that merges the concept of lighting control with a graphic paint package. An off-line version of the software is available free of charge.
IES BV from the Netherlands will be introducing the latest series of developments of its award-winning Matrix sinewave dimming system. They have been pushing the development of sinewave dimming, and you will be hearing (or not hearing as the case may be) a lot about how quiet sinewave dimming is at LDI. The Matrix system's popularity it is due not just to its ability to offer sinewave technology, but thyristor, and triac dimmers may be hot-plugged where the silent, low-harmonics features of sinewave are not specifically demanded.
Martin Professional jumps into the high-end control console market with the release of Maxxyz Version 1.0: Already specified for a number of touring, TV, and special event applications, as well as club installations, Maxxyz version 1.0 is ready for release. Maxxyz includes a string of original features and intuitive design. It has changed since the last time you saw it as well as having gone through a pretty thorough Beta testing cycle with programmers, board operators, and lighting designers. Maxxyz is only now being released as V1.0; prior models were beta units.
Strand will be showing off its SLD Sinewave dimmer. Features include: true Sinewave output for quiet lamps and accurate control; Solid State Transformer (SST) dimmer modules can dim a wide range of loads including incandescent, inductive, and capacitive devices from a fraction of a watt to full capacity; built-in micro-controller based short circuit and overload protection; SLD status reporting and advanced waveform compensation is standard; and the SST dimmer produces less than 1% harmonic distortion.
Turning from lighting control to show control, Medialon will be demonstrating its newest software, Manager V3, designedto reflect the needs of the North American show control market. V3 is a brand new version of Manager, based on the input of leading theatrical, staging, and theme park professionals. It is available in Lite, Stage, and Pro versions. New features include real-time control of any cue, countdown windows, data recording, and visual containers for pop-up control panels. The LDI conference session on “Projection and Show Control” will include several projects illustrating Medialon technology.
TRUSSING AND STAGING
Total Fabrication will show its new T2 System, an advanced demountable structural system with integral protection for personnel against falls from a height. T2 is designed for typical truss applications; it offers safer methods of climbing and working at height; and it can sustain the loads arising during an arrested fall and facilitates safe rescue. Key components of the system include: modular truss, energy absorbing lanyard with twin mobile anchor points, t-clamp, rigging hardware, and accessories.
Stage Technologies' new Visual Creator software is a motion design tool that can be fully integrated with the company's Nomad or Acrobat control systems and allows three types of movement (paths, maps, and profiles) to be plotted. A path through 2D or 3D space can be created while passing through a number of known points. A map defines, through the use of software, the position relationship between a number of axes. And, using profiles the position of an axis can be plotted against time.
Vortek™, from Hoffend, is a theatrical rigging system that automates and manages the raising and lowering of scenery, electrical pipes and curtains in a safe and efficient manner. The heart of Vortek is the patented, fully mechanical, continuously applied backup brake. Vortek's VAC is a fully automated control system featuring automated cueing and grouping for precise synchronization. Vortek is easy to install, simple to run and cost-effective for either new construction projects or replacement of existing systems.
Columbus McKinnon® Entertainment Division has a number of new products. They recently introduced the CM Hurricane, the world's first hand chain hoist designed for “inverted and regular” use. It is available in capacities of 1/2-, 1-, and 2-ton. Also new is the Lodestar Direct Control Hoists, which range in capacities from 1/4 to 2 ton; with lifting speeds up to 64 feet per minute. Other new products include two additions to the ProStar line: 500lbs and 1000lbs models; and the ShowPro Theatrical Electric Chain Hoists and Control System. ShowPro Hoists range in capacity from 1/2 ton to 2 ton; with lifting speeds up to 16 feet per minute.