This year we have added a new category to the EDDY Awards, geared toward those products used in projection and staging. Designers and technicians of all stripes would greatly enhance their toolboxes by taking a long look at these five outstanding new products, which range from show control software to projection technology to soft goods. This year's honorees include a subtle but much needed enhancement to digital projection technology; two kinds of software, one to aid the projection designer in manipulating projected images in new and exciting ways and one for controlling many aspects of a show; an innovation in trussing that greatly simplifies touring; and a fabric that allows for safer soft ceilings. The winners were picked by designers, technicians, and end users who strongly felt that these were the leading products that would take their work in new directions. Interestingly enough, all of the judges this year picked the Catalyst system from High End Systems as having had the greatest impact this past year. We were apparently ahead of the curve, having awarded it an EDDY last year in the lighting category.
Show Control Software
Medialon's Manager is a show control software which can control and synchronize digital audio and video, lighting, switchers, image processors, videowalls, special effects, etc., all over a network. Graphical tools and conditional inputs allow you to develop user interface screens which communicate directly with the surrounding world, including automation devices and PLCs. It offers frame-accurate synchronization, even with digital video, DMX acquisition and editing, multitasking, and permanent device position tracking. Its graphical programming and customizable user interface adapts to your needs, rather than adapting to a preformatted program. An IP-based product, Manager is a very cool and effective tool for video projection and show control applications. The hot new product in this category, according to the judges.
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS DLP DARK CHIP ENHANCEMENT
Video projection now accounts for 50% of theatrical projection design and has grown to rival large-format film for theatrical and themed applications. One of the big items on many projection designers' wish lists is true video black. The Dark Chip process is a new development in Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing™ (DLP) projection technology. This enhancement to the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) incorporates a black metal layer over the chip substructure, absorbing scattered light for improved darkness and a significant increase in contrast ratio. Barco, Christie, Digital Projections, and NEC among others are all incorporating this technology into their projectors. The judges found it a subtle but very important development for video projection because you can now get closer to a true video black, a vital component in theatre applications.
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Dataton's Watchout is a multidisplay production and presentation system based on standard computers (PC or Macintosh), network, and display technologies. You can use it with plasmas, monitors, video cubes, or with video projectors for giant, seamless panoramas. Watchout leverages off existing media production tools and accepts essentially all standard media file formats for still images, video, and audio. Projection designers have found new uses for it and it is a valuable tool with new applications. The judges feel that it has had an impact this past year and is a cost-effective tool. Watchout feels familiar with its classic layering, compositing, and timeline metaphor. The program takes it a step further by automatically and seamlessly distributing its functionality across multiple CPUs via a fast network. The result is a virtually instantaneous response without any additional rendering.
TOMCAT SWING WING TRUSS
The Tomcat Swing Wing Truss is one of those clever products the judges called a “head slapper.” From its stackable, self-contained transport position to a sleek, functional rigging position when flown, Swing Wing is the new intelligent prerig that makes a lot of fiscal sense for touring. It is a prerigged 30"×30" truss with heavy-duty casters for mobility; up to three lamp bars can ride inside so the fixtures are prehung, and the 30" dimension allows for larger intelligent luminaires; once flown, the casters and side rails swing and slide up to form a catwalk. It will mate with other heavy-duty, prerigged truss using spigot connections. Similar to Tomcat's Heavy Duty prerig in its 30"×30" form, the main cords are fabricated from 2" OD×3/16" aluminum and the diagonals are fabricated from 1½" OD×1/8" aluminum.
ROSE BRAND 110" SMOKE OUT IFR
Among the many fabrics and products that Rose Brand carries is the stretchable Smoke Out®, a gauzy weave designed for use as an overhead canopy or soft ceiling system that is inherently flame retardant. Made from flame-resistant Trevira polyester, it gives theme park and themed retail designers a clever fabric ceiling solution that is both good looking and safe. The judges responded to this material as a safe and effective answer to many design challenges. In the event of a fire, the special weave has a meltable line that will open up at 158°F (70°C), allowing smoke to escape and water from sprinklers to drop unimpeded. These fuse lines occur every 12" (31cm) along the length of the fabric. Smoke Out meets the requirements of NFPA 701 fire code as well as the M1 and B1 European fire codes.