LDI2000 COMES UP A WINNER IN LAS VEGAS Just as Las Vegas continues to expand its reach - Paris, Venice, and Arabia being the latest additions to that city's global theme-athon - so too does Lighting Dimensions International broaden the idea of a lighting convention. Last year's LDI, held October 20-22 at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Vegas, was one of the most diverse ever, as both exhibitors and attendees continue to expand beyond the core lighting market. Over 40 audio exhibitors - the most ever for the show - plus several new companies from the video projection market, and an ever-expanding array of balloon, drape, and other soft goods manufacturers, shared the convention floor space with the usual assortment of lighting manufacturers and distributors.

The final number reflected this growth, as 13,004 people registered for the 13th edition of the show, up from 12,446 last year. For the first time, however, Intertec Exhibitions also released the number of verified attendees - that is, those who registered and actually showed up. This year there were 10,359 verified attendees. According to Paul Stratton, group show director of Intertec Exhibitions, the show's producer, this change reflects a growing trend in the trade show industry.

"The reason we're publishing both numbers this year is that there's a move in this industry where people are requiring a more accurate accounting and auditing of numbers," he explains. "The 13,000 is the number we've traditionally published, which is still a valuable number for exhibitors, since they often ask for a post-show list of everyone who registered. But we also want to start using the verified to show that this was the actual number of people who walked the show floor. I think it's something we're going to be doing for all of our shows."

Those verified attendees walked the 138,800 sq. ft. (12,492 sq. m) of exhibit space to check out the wares of a total of 422 exhibitors filling 1,338 booths on the floor, 81 of those exhibitors being new this year. Compare that to last year's show in Orlando: 12,446 attendees, 406 exhibitors, in a total of 1,297 booth spaces. Of the over 10,000 actual attendees, there were representatives from all 50 states, and from countries as far-flung as China, Saudi Arabia, Tahiti, and Iceland. The show is sponsored by Intertec/Primedia's Lighting Dimensions, Entertainment Design, and Sound & Video Contractor magazines, in partnership with ESTA (the Entertainment Services & Technology Association); additional support is provided by Intertec's Millimeter, Mix, Broadcast Engineering, World Broadcast Engineering, Video Systems, Electronic Musician, and Shopping Center World magazines, and the NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association).

But make no mistake: LDI is still a lighting show. It may not have the loud, flashy light shows of years past - anybody remember the "loud room," full of swirling fog, pounding disco, and endless low-end moving light configurations? - but that is due more to the maturity of the market than anything else. Exhibitors and attendees have realized that it's hard to do business when you can't hear the other person speak, and neither one of you can breathe, so manufacturers and exhibitors have toned it down, for the most part, both aurally and visually. Most of the really intense demonstrations occurred away from the show floor, either off-site or in demo rooms. Those with demo rooms included A.C. Lighting, ETC, JBL, Nexo, Production Resource Group, and Rosco.

This year's LDI actually began a few days before the show floor opened with the third annual LDInstitute, held October 16-19. Participants attended sold-out workshops such as "Fundamentals of AutoCAD Design," led by Rich Rose, associate dean of UCLA's School of Theatre, Film, and Television, "Show Control: Problem-Solving for Theatre and Permanent Attractions," led by mavens John Huntington and George Kindler, and "Creative Use of Automated Rigging," led by Bob Watson of Protech. ESTA produced three sessions: "Basics of Automated Lighting: Systems and Design," "Basics of Power Distribution," and "Electronic Field Service: Solving Tech Problems in the Real World."

Three days of LDI2000 tutorials and workshops in "Lighting Design and Production Techniques," "Sound in Entertainment," and "Light in Architecture" ran concurrently with the show and featured a wide range of expert speakers. Sessions in the lighting track included everything from "Clouds and Mists: The State of Atmospheric Effects," moderated by ESTA technical standards manager Karl Ruling, "Patrick Woodroffe on Lighting," and the now-ubiquitous "eBusiness.com/Internet Strategies." The sound track featured a session by Broadway sound designer Tony Meola, while the architecture track featured, appropriately enough, "Lighting Las Vegas," moderated by LD editor Robert Cashill and featuring LDs Chip Israel, John Levy, and Marsha Stern.

The lights of the Strip played a prominent role in Backstage Las Vegas, held October 22-25. A total of 76 participants (including four staffmembers) took in performances of Cirque du Soleil's "O," with a panel discussion that included LD Luc Lafortune and the lighting crew. Additional stops included visits with De La Guarda and the Blue Man Group, and tours of the WB Stage 16 restaurant at the Venetian, the Paris resort and casino, and the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay (whose house lighting person is Bryan Barancik, a former LDI intern and assistant technical director for the LDI workshops).

Special thanks for the success of Backstage Las Vegas go out to Chris Nelson at Paris, Chuck Walters at Mandalay Bay, Jeannette Farmer and Jeff Herd at Cirque du Soleil, Marc Janowitz at Blue Man Group, and Steve Paladie at De La Guarda. The paying participants keep coming back for more: At least two-thirds of them have been to more than one Backstage event in the past, chaperoned by Ellen Lampert-Greaux.

This year's LDI Awards ceremony wasn't quite as dramatic as 1999; last year's was held in the Orange County Convention Center's theatre in Orlando, which was housing the musical version of Ben-Hur at the time. There was no Roman Forum set for this year's ceremony, but it was held a day earlier, on Saturday evening, which gave attendees all day Sunday to check out the winning products, and to congratulate the honored industry leaders.

The 2000 Wally Russell Award, established in 1992 in memory of industry pioneer Wally Russell, was presented to Stan Miller, CEO and chairman of Rosco Laboratories. Miller acquired Rosco in 1958, and is both a fellow of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and a member of the American Society of Cinematographers. He has also served on the Theatre, Television, and Film Lighting Committee of the Illuminating Engineering Society and was elected to the Society of Television Lighting Directors in Canada and the UK. Miller received the Board of Directors Award of the American Society of Lighting Directors, and delivered the keynote at the 25th anniversary convention of the USITT. In 1985, he received the USITT Award for Outstanding Service to the American Theatre. And in the luncheon honoring him at LDI on Sunday, October 22, he hosted one of the funniest slide shows ever.

Other individuals receiving LDI Awards this year included the aforementioned Meola, who was honored as sound designer of the year for his work on the Broadway, London, and Osaka productions of The Lion King, as well his work on The Wild Party and Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway. Architectural lighting designer of the year was Dawn Hollingsworth, for her work on the Gateway Enhancement Project at Los Angeles International Airport (see "The LAX files,", November 2000 LD); Tom Ruzika took themed lighting designer of the year honors for Seuss Landing at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure; and the entertainment lighting designer of the year award went to Patrick Woodroffe, for the Millennium Dome and his achievements in concert touring (read more about his design for Sarah Brightman's La Luna tour).

Because the entertainment technology industry is so highly visual, exhibitors tend to go all out on their booth designs, and this year proved no exception. Best small booth honorable mention went to Shoptick.com, for its 50s throwback to the days before modems, and to Alumifax for its use of rain, fog, projection, and mist. Small booth winner went to Barbizon for its blend of materials to create an eye-catching beacon of light and truss. In the large booth category, honorable mention went to Tracoman for its clever use of space designed to showcase its product lines, and to Tomcat for its perpetual motion machine above the heads of showgoers. Large booth winner went to Vari-Lite for its subtle yet colorful environment, blending product presentation with building blocks of ice and swirling light under a tent, designed by John Featherstone of Lightswitch.

Despite a steady drop in full-fledged light shows, a few companies keep the flame burning every year. In the laser presentation category the winner was OmniSistem for its kinetic, small-scale, but intense presentation, designed by Jim Hardaway and programmed by Chris Sifton of Oracle Laser. Best traditional light show went to American DJ for the rhythmic presentation if its varied product lines, designed and programmed by Ron Ramirez and Isaac Young. Honorable mention went to Clay Paky for the show in the Group One demo room.

A wide variety of products won this year's awards. In the audio category, honorable mention went to Wireworks for its Wirelux line of microphone cables, while the award went to the Level Control Systems CueConsole, a modular control surface which turns LCS's Matrix 3 mixing/processing engine into a powerful front-of-house console for theatrical applications.

Best lighting software award went to Pathway Connectivity (formerly Gray Interfaces) for the Pathport, a flexible, low-cost answer to the need to distribute DMX over ethernet. Scenic effect honors went to Watchout by Dataton, a fully scalable digital media presentation system blending multiple projection sources into one image. Watchout is distributed in the US by Personal Creations.

In the rigging and hardware category, honorable mention went to the Hot-Shot distro panel from George and Goldberg, while the award went to the Chain Track from Blackout/Triple E, a suspension track offering tight radius turns and parallel stacking.

The lighting product of the year award in architecture was presented to Martin Professional for the Exterior 300, a color-changing washlight with an IP rating of 65 that features a standalone time clock and photo sensor. And the lighting product of the year in entertainment went to Coemar for the CF7 HE, a hard-edged automated luminaire with a 7-69 zoom range and auto focus using only three optical elements.

ESTA presents ESTA also presented its annual Dealers' and Manufacturers' Choice Awards at the ceremony. The Dealer's Choice Customer Service Awards went to Doug Fleenor Design (1-6 employees), Lex Products Corp. (7-25), and Apollo Design Technology (over 25). Manufacturers' Choice Dealer of the Year honors went to Indianapolis Stage Sales & Rental (1-6 employees), Musson (7-25), and Stage Equipment & Lighting Inc. (over 25). As for Dealer's Choice Product Awards, the winner in the expendable widget category was City Theatrical's Image Multiplexer, a multi-prism lighting accessory for ellipsoidals which drops into the colorframe slot and multiplies the image six times. Winner in the equipment category was the Figment DMX by Interactive Technologies, a new class of handheld DMX moving light consoles with DMX troubleshooting features that's based on the Palm operating system.

Of course, there were hundreds of other new and noteworthy products which made their debuts on the show floor. This year, for the first time, you can get complete, booth-by-booth coverage of LDI2000 by clicking on the LD website at www.lightingdimensions.com.

This year's show will be back in Orlando, slightly earlier than usual, on November 2-4, at the Orange County Convention Center. Mark your calendars. For more information, call the LDI Hotline at 800-288-8606, or 303-741-2901, or log onto www.ldishow.com.

LDI2000 wasn't the only place where awards for illumination were won last October. Laser display professionals from around the world were honored for artistic and technical achievement during the annual conference of the International Laser Display Association (ILDA), held in Stuttgart, Germany. Companies from Germany, Australia, Italy, and the US were recognized for creativity and excellence in 11 artistic categories that represented how laser displays are used to celebrate special events, promote products, and entertain audiences.

Winners included LOBO Electronic's Millennium celebration at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate (pictured), Laser Rental's role in Houston's citywide Sky Power extravaganza, and Laservision Macro-Media's playful Millennium Bugs animation show in Australia. ILDA's Fenning Awards for Technical Achievement produced a first-place tie: The top honor was shared between AVI Imagineering with Lasers' Omnistar laser projection system and Pangolin Laser System's QM2000 Laser Display Processor Board.

Omnistar is an inflatable sphere up to 30' (9m) in diameter that floats above crowds and incorporates AVI's patented 360 laser projector. Full-color laser graphics are projected on the inside of the balloon's surface, offering a projection system that can be easily and safely rigged in a wide variety of venues. Pangolin's new QM 2000 processor board allows for recording or playback of laser shows, combining high speed with small size and meeting all major industry standards. The third place award for technical achievement went to Laservision Macro-Media for the development of Dot.Monkey software that converts and optimizes almost any image file for laser projection.

The approximately 100 ILDA delegates attending the October 6-8 conference selected a new president for their organization: Tony Zmorenski of Walt Disney World Co. First elected to the ILDA Board of Directors in 1997, Zmorenski is Walt Disney World's senior safety administrator and laser safety officer. He replaces Chris Ward of Lightspeed Design Group, who served as ILDA's president for the last four years. Members also elected Robert Belfatto, vice president of Neos Technologies, to the board of directors. Other board members include Steven Heminover of Aura Technologies and Craig Nelson of Logic Systems Inc./Laser Fascinations. Page Howard was reelected as secretary.

A complete listing of ILDA 2000 award winners can be found on ILDA's website at: www.laserist.org/Laserist/Stuttgart_awards_list.html. Highlights include:

- LOBO Electronic of Aalen, Germany, which received a total of nine artistic awards, including three first-place awards for ISP (ILDA Standard Projector) Beam Module, Beam/Atmospherics, and Indoor Show.

- AVI Imagineering of Orlando was honored with six awards, including first place in the ISP Cell Animation and the ISP Graphic and Beam Module categories.

- Laser Fantasy International of Bellevue, WA, took home four awards, including first place in the ISP Graphic Module and Abstract categories.

With more than 125 corporate and nonprofit members from 25 nations, ILDA is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the use of laser displays in art, entertainment, and education. More information can be found at the organization's website, www.laserist.org.