This year's crop of forward-thinking Projection Products of the Year prove that visualists are constantly looking for new ways to control their destiny, as they seek solutions that offer the most flexibility, from the convergence of lighting desks, media servers, and DMX control of video processors to the latest in LED display technology and pre-visualization software for media and lighting. It's an exciting time in the projection world, as the quest for the sharper image — and how to best manipulate it — takes us into uncharted waters where continual technological breakthroughs are setting new benchmarks. A panel of top-name programmers and designers has selected four products — including an innovative lighting desk — from the panoply of technology encountered over the past year, paying serious attention to those products that are paving the way for the future.
Control Freak Systems' objective is to develop customized software and hardware control solutions for concert and production venues. With the Encore DMX system, the company gives designers the ability to control the performance environment exactly as they envisage. One of the judges likes it so much because, he says, “Finally, the ability to control the entire video processor via DMX, as opposed to just what goes into it. With the Encore Bridge, you can utilize any popular DMX console to program the video processor routing and PIP outputs in a fraction of the time that it takes to do it via the traditional Encore interface.” And another comments: “The Encore DMX bridge represents a really advanced show control answer via the DMX environment in a very sensible way when you have a lot of devices across a lot of departments, triggering a lot of things at the same time.”
MiTrix is a lightweight, bright, and highly transparent LED display module based on Barco's O-Lite platform and intended for indoor use with a 24mm pixel pitch and 3,000 nits brightness. It features all-metal construction — which provides efficient cooling of the LEDs — as well as the ruggedness and strength required for the demanding rental and staging applications. As one judge notes, “MiTrix is the roadworthy variation on the low-res theme — well-constructed, easily assembled, built to last, and bright.” And another judge adds: “One of the coolest things about this product is its ability to disappear…when used in a large scale application, it appears to be an almost transparent video surface!”
d3 from UnitedVisualArtists is a 3D visual show production suite that can be used to visualize content in realtime and with pixel-accurate representation. The same hardware and software system is used to play back the content to creative video, LED, and lighting devices. Using a single system reduces playback complexity since one unit can sequence and drive everything. “The d3 represents the paradigm for where media servers are going to go,” says one judge. “You just grab a piece of video and drag it onto the 3D set and manipulate it how you want. It has very robust playback capability as well, and the timeline is the most advanced on the market. End of story.” Another judge comments: “Extremely flexible and infinitely customizable — it has been used to create stunningly beautiful realistic and abstract imagery.” d3 is available through XL Video.
The MagicQ MQ100 Pro console from ChamSys not only interfaces to many existing media servers but also features a built-in media engine that allows fast pixel mapping to get large LED arrays up and running quickly and painlessly. Its maximum flexibility allows for live playback and easy programming of media servers, all while using a control syntax that is already familiar to many designers. In the opinion of the judges: “This seems to be the first control surface that integrates the vast majority of popular media servers, as opposed to aligning itself with one particular brand. What a refreshing concept!” And as another judge points out: “This is a new approach to consoles — the first one designed from the ground up to treat lighting and video equally. From the way its interface has been built to give you as much access to video devices as lighting devices, to the depth to which it organizes that information, it is a really powerful tool for a designer.” The MQ100 Pro is available for rental or for sale through PRG.