This year's Live Design Lighting Products of Year represent a lineup of gear that's sure to cause a stir. Nominated and finally selected by our independent panel of designers and programmers from Los Angeles to London, the distinguished products include a luminaire, wireless networking device, control product, and a distribution device. Our judges are equally celebrated, with backgrounds ranging from theatre and concert design and programming, to club and retail environment design, to software development. And so, without further ado, your Lighting Products of the Year…
City Theatrical SHoW DMX™
A nearly unanimous first draft pick category for the judges is the latest in wireless technology from City Theatrical. It already took home a debuting product award at LDI2007, but the judges overwhelmingly chose SHoW DMX now that it's in use, one noting, “I find City Theatrical's product innovative in the multiple ways that it seeks to attain higher levels of data fidelity and create ways to peacefully coexist with other radio signals in the 2.4GHz band — adjustable power output, limited bandwidth mode, and limited burst mode.” Interference with wireless systems is an obvious bone of contention, as another judge notes, “I have seen competitors — while at LDI, no less — interfere with other wireless systems by offering only single output setting/high power systems, which can overpower other systems in the 2.4GHz band. This will grow to be a larger problem as more wireless systems develop within a single or neighboring venues.” As far as reliability, another judge says, “The SHoW DMX wireless system was no different than using wires — first time I could ever say that.”
Pharos Controls LPC X
Pharos Controls introduced LPC X late last summer to rave reviews. A rackmount show control playback unit, this little device controls up to 200 DMX universes, with further scaling over Ethernet. With its DVI and FireWire video outputs, it can play back files direct to video devices in a variety of protocols, including Color Kinetics KiNet, ETC Net2, Pathport, Art-Net, and ACN. One judge describes the unit as “a great scaleable solution for pretty much any architectural setup involving LEDs, moving lights, dimmers, architectural fixtures, or any video/media server setups. It's easy to program, easy to set up, and basically, is designed to operate itself with little maintenance required.” Pharos Controls LPC products are distributed in the US by ETC.
MA Lighting MA 2Port Node
The little node that could, our judges looked to the MA 2Port Node as a winning example of flexibility in distributing DMX. “I love the fact that these nodes are so flexible in their use,” says one judge. “Not only do they integrate seamlessly with the grandMA control system but also, their configuration and customization can be done directly from the grandMA console, as opposed to having to use a separate laptop.” Another judge specifically defends the choice of a node for an award, noting, “It sounds mundane enough, but it really is a convenience for both console operators and system installers. The nodes can also act as mini-consoles in their own right, through the use of a laptop and grandMA onPC software, making them a cost-effective means of either a backup system or for running other lighting elements that don't necessarily require a large console and operator at the helm.” A.C.T Lighting distributes MA Lighting products in the US.
Elation's Impression was a slam-dunk for the judges, who almost unanimously chose the luminaire in their first round of picks. The moving head fixture, powered by 90 K2 Luxeon LEDs, is compact and fast and what one judge describes as having “way more output than I expected and almost as fast as a mirror head.” From its availability in RGB or all-white versions, to its two-second pan and one-second tilt, the luminaire is hailed by another judge as “a fun product for when you need color and movement and don't have much available weight or power — nicely packaged and perhaps, just perhaps, a glimpse of the future.” Another judge notes, “I think the Impression gets it because it finally starts to take LED technology into the fray of being a truly usable replacement. Impression is the wave of the future.”