I demoed the new High End Systems Wholehog 4 consoles with an old friend, who has been a die-hard Hog user since the 2. The new software is smart, the multitouch screens are gorgeous, there’s some really great jog/shuttle style encoders for working with media and it just plain feels like a professional machine. As my friend kept pointing out with new duplicated buttons, and dedicated instead of shift or hog modified buttons, his hands would stay closer to where they were already. Hearing him talk it’s obvious the layout of the console is going to speed up his work. Of all the enhancements and new features on the new Hogs, it’s the new but familiar button layout that impressed me the most.

Fibre-optic cable is great for audio, video, and lighting networks that we use, but it can be fragile, and a real pain to repair. The Rock and Roll Tactical Proplex Fibre at TMB is most pliable fibre I’ve ever seen, and its tough. The four cores have a Kevlar jacket, then a spun galvanized steel layer, then the outer jacket. Crush- and cut-resistant, this is cable you show can depend on. The whole line of Proplex devices for audio, video, and lighting networks is worth close look. The gear is robust, and road ready.

On the show floor I bumped into an old friend who designs lights here in Vegas. Hearing his excitement over the gear he just saw at the Clay Paky booth, convinced me I needed to go check it out. The Sharpy wash is fast and bright living up the name Sharpy. The A.LEDA line of products stole the show. The K series fixtures have wicked fast yokes, zoom out to 70 degrees, and are a solid LED flood moving head. The really killer feature is the pixel control over LEDs. The individual light engines are bright enough that when you animate the pixels, the beam shaping is visible in the air. An awesome effect, and I can’t wait to see what designers do with it.

Sometimes it’s the little things…. Darklight’s range of Precision lighting devices is easy to miss, they’re so small: a 3“ x 1” gobo projector, little tiny wash lights, and a host of other tiny useful DMX controlled lights. Darklight’s marketing uses the catch phrase “Bye Bye Birdie.” They might be right, anywhere you might have placed a PAR birdie before, you can realistically use one of these great little lights. And they won’t destroy the budget either.

If you need it bright, and want it LED, AAdyn has some products you need to check out. They have an interesting new prototype LED space light. It’s split up into four powered groups. Just unplug a group to reduce output by 25%. The space light prototype also works great as a sky-pan. This has the potential to turn into a real workhorse on soundstages.

Did you know Philips Color Kinetics will custom load a Color Blaze TRX with your choice of colors? If you have the time to give CK four to six weeks to build them, you can get them in any mix of colors you need. One “normal” configuration they offer is called the Studio Blaze TRX. 11,000 lumens out of a 2’ batten is especially impressive.

There seems to be two camps of LED profiles: 1) It has to be the same size as what we’re all used to, and we’ll make it as bright as we can, or 2) It has to be as bright as what we are used to, and the we’re okay with making a big unit. Philips Selecon adds a third. The PL4 is a little bit bigger than what we are used to and almost as bright. Using existing and well liked Selecon optics, the PL4 profile can be configured in all the expected profile beam spreads. Using four of the same light engines in the other Selecon and Vari-Lite LED units, the PL4 is bright enough to be useful in medium and large theaters. Of course, it's always tough to evaluate a unit like this one’s brightness on the show floor, but I’m excited to get one in a theatre to see it what it can do.
The PL4s start shipping in December.

A 5-50 degree, 43,000 lumen mover? Yes please. The Philips Vari-Lite VL3015LT is an impressive beast. The zoom range must be seen to understand just how versatile this unit is. Loaded up with an expected assortment of color systems, gobo, prisms, and frost, VL has also rethought some exterior elements like the handles. A close second to the zoom for my favorite feature is reflector tuning. Included with the unit is an additional reflector to give the field a more pronounced peak. The flat field reflector can be swapped out and easily replaced with the peak field reflector. A really nice extra is that the unused reflector can live in a compartment under one of the front covers. The 3015 and the 3515 also get this snazzy new feature. VL has thoughtfully provided an area on the exterior of the power supply to easily mark which way the reflector is tuned.

The Cognito from Pathway Connectivity is deceptively powerful. Pathway has developed a command lineless console, geared toward schools, events, and other places where a mid-sized console might be used by people who aren’t console experts. I’m not sure I’ve seen another lighting desk this small with that many connectors on the back. Two DMX outs, a DMX in, networking, MIDI, several USB plugs, and a contact closure interface are included. Once you get used to running the board, you stop caring that it's different from the way other consoles do things. Getting used to the board only takes a few minutes. The Cognito console does a great job abstracting DMX values to something that makes sense. For example, pan and tilt channels become degrees, based on the actual capabilities of your units. These abstracted values get saved with cues, so if you swap fixtures, the console will figure out the right DMX value to put the new fixture in the same place.

Pathway also offers the Nito iPad app to use as a remote for the console. Underneath its simple user friendly interface, the Cognito shows some of the heritage of the core software its built on. There is no reasonable limit to individual playbacks, and if you really want to get deep into the power there, you can connect a computer to use the Lua scripting language directly interfacing with the core software. The Cognito is more expensive than other consoles of similar physical size, but when judged on features, it's a great deal. There’s a ton of great stuff hiding in that little console.

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