The 16th International Exhibition of Equipment and Technology for Discotheques, Dance Halls, and Rental Firms--colloquially known as SIB--was also the last until the year 2000. Asked why they have decided to make SIB International a biannual event, show organizers at the Rimini Trade Fair (where the exhibition is held) responded that manufacturers need more time to prepare products for the world market, and the market, in turn, needs more time to absorb them.
Nonetheless, SIB, held March 29 to April 1, continued to absorb visitors. Attendance totaled 39,888, up 7.5% from last year, though the crisis in the Asian financial markets depressed the total number of overseas guests. Gawkers were disappointed; naked flesh, a staple at most SIBs, was noticeably absent this year.
Trend-spotters, however, detected two major developments in the host country. One was the concerted repositioning by several of the leading Italian lighting manufacturers. Maybe this is a response to the growing number of Far Eastern companies producing entry-level products for the club/disco market, but they weren't saying. What they did say--with Clay Paky and F.A.L. leading the way--was that now is the time to address the high end of the market.
At the annual gala dinner hosted by Clay Paky, company president Pasquale Quadri reported "increased turnover of 11.2% last year, with 85% of it coming from exports." After a brief discourse on Clay Paky's new range of automated-yoke instruments and display lighting, he added, "These are all professional units, which are generally better than anything produced by our competitors." What was significant was Clay Paky's obvious confidence--there was no exhortation to go out and sell, and no target-setting. The message was: Here are products that sell themselves, all one has to do is present them. To underline its commitment, Clay Paky then pledged to exhibit its wares at every lighting expo worldwide over the next year.
Besides this gravitation toward the high end, the show was also noteworthy for the burgeoning number of LCD projectors from moving-mirror technology specialists. These projectors try to combine current video projection technology with the features of a 1,200W HMI more normally found at the heart of a top-of-the-line scanner.
Next year SIB Entertainment, a show designed for the Italian market only, begins its biannual rotation with SIB International. In the meantime, here is a selective report on the activities of some of this year's 650 exhibitors.
A.C. LIGHTING First time anywhere: This UK and US dealer/distributor chose Rimini to premiere the Echelon console from Jands. Something like a mini Wholehog II, its only limitation is that you can't create your own effects on it, but you can vary the parameters of the existing ones. Designed to fill the gap between the full Wholehog II and the Jands Hog, the Echelon is approximately 45% of the cost of the full-featured board.
ACME First time at SIB: A DMX-controllable scanning mirror luminaire, the Inflection uses an HSD 200W source, features a nine-slot gobo wheel and nine colors plus white, and is available as deluxe or budget version. The deluxe is housed in a professional extruded body, the budget is a basic sheet steel assembly. Also shown was the Inflection's dedicated controller, the CX-5 DMX intelligent lighting controller.
ANTARI First time at SIB: Z Series foggers debuted at LDI97 and attracted much attention for their modern external styling in Rimini. Main features are a new heating core with improved thermal control and continuous output, even from the smallest unit in the range (the 750W Z-800), and fogging efficiency. The branded ECO control gives the operator control of all thermal parameters. Also the easy-to-service E series, which has basically the same specification as the F series, with less sophisticated control.
AUDIOLINK/AVOLITES First time at SIB: Audiolink, Avolites' distributor in Italy, showed the Azure console. Avolites announced a massive sale to Expo 98 in Portugal: 18 Pearls, five Diamond IIIs, and 151 modules of ART4000 dimmers (1,500 channels). Avolites will also soon have a new upgrade to the Diamond software available on its website; intended for theatre users primarily, the software improvement will allow the inclusion of time parameters when you build cues and dump them as a stack.
BRITISH OPTICAL Company news: This first-time exhibitor supplies lenses to manufacturers including Altman, Strand, Vari-Lite, and High End. The company also makes specialist cold mirror reflectors, effects mirrors for strobe flowers and the like, and announced it is now making the headlamp for the 1998 Cadillac.
CCS LIGHTCONTROLLERS Company news: Apart from consolidating the company name (it officially changed from Cameleon to CCS at Frankfurt Musikmesse in February) the main advance in this familiar range of control equipment has been their acceptance of DMX input. However, the neatest thing on show was also the smallest--the Blackbox is a playback-only programmable device the size of an RS232 gender changer. The Blackbox comes in two formats, 96 or 512 channels, and with a special internal link card for your PC it's possible to download up to 1,200 cues into the unit.
CLAY PAKY First time at SIB: Under the banner "Stage Revolution," CP is vigorously attacking the automated-yoke sector. At the top of the range, the Stage Color 1200 and Stage Zoom 1200 are wash and spot units, respectively, interchangeable on the same yoke system, making this a very interesting option for major moving light system stock holders. Stage Color has a four-disc, full CYM color-mixing system including full pastel shades plus GTC, a gradual color temperature correction system. Stage Zoom has a variable beam angle of 12 degrees to 24 degrees, and the same CYM system but just two CT filters (3200K and 5600K). All the graphic effects you'd expect are packed within, including static and rotating gobos and rotating prisms, all fully indexable. Additional models include the Stage Color 1000, Stage Color 575, Stage Color 300, and Stage Light 300. Featured products: The Display Line is a range of luminaires designed specifically for use in supporting retailing and other messaging mediums such as trade shows. Under the brand badge VIP (Versatile Image Projector), four basic configurations give access to an enormous range of fittings, from the simplest 35mm slide holder to a sophisticated programmable scanning head.
COEF First time anywhere: For the Italian market two new luminaires and a new control desk. Performance 250 Disco RG is a small-frame 250W moving mirror unit with capacity for eight interchangeable rotating gobos (two dichroic, six metal) and 10 basic colors plus white. DMX-controllable, the Disco also has strobe and blacklight filter. The Color-fresnel 250 uses the same lamp and features wide-angle beam, mechanical dimmer, and a range of 36 colors. Built to go with the two lights, the Simple DMX is a no-frills DMX light controller with 54-channel output and nine programs for 450 scenes, with a programmable timed crossfade facility.
COEMAR In prototype: The Tourlight, a short arc 1,200W MSR-based luminaire. First time anywhere: The CF1200 automated-yoke spot luminaire is now in production. Housed in a carbon fiber body, this short arc 1,200W MSR fixture weighs in at a remarkable 23kg (51lb) yet appears well designed to withstand the rigors of touring. Features include full CYM color-mixing, plus an additional fourth color wheel to give pastels.
DE SISTI First time at SIB: The Mini Hoist, a self-contained beam suspension unit approximately 1m (3.3') in length that can support a 60kg (132lb) load, intended for use in TV studios. Also a new range of electronic flicker-free ballasts for HMI lamps. The company plans to develop a full line of DMX-controlled motorized yoke-mounted fixtures, with full color and mechanical dimmers.
E\T\C AUDIOVISUEL Company news: This was the second time at Rimini for this large-scale xenon projector specialist, which makes the PIGI range.
EUROTECH First time at SIB: A niche lighting manufacturer from France, Eurotech had a new strobe on display. Strobocolors is a DMX-controllable 3kW strobe with variable speed and intensity plus a basic choice of three colors (automated insertion) using either dichroic filters or standard gel. Also on show was the Visio 250, an entry-level scanner. The products are distributed by Omni Systems in the US.
F.A.L. First time anywhere: The Innovation series comprises three projectors tailored for various uses based on a 1,200W HMI lamp. The Graphics EB is fitted with FAL's Modulo scanning mirror and has an internal memory to store digital images that can then be projected, strobed, scanned, and rotated; colors can also be digitally changed or cycled. The EB can be connected directly to a PC and load images in real time, and a TV card can be added to allow use of video source material. The TV EB is a dedicated TV model for projecting standard video material. It will accept PAL, SECAM, and NTSC signal, and has all the image manipulation features of the Graphics EB without the scanning mirror. The Presentation EB has similar specifications to the Graphics model but does not have the scanning mirror, and is aimed at the small conference user. All three projectors have an internal electronic ballast and weigh in at 38kg (84lb). Company news: F.A.L. achieved ISO 9001 certification this year, underlining its commitment to quality standards in product manufacture.
GE LIGHTING First time at SIB: The Powersaver PAR-64 was launched at Frankfurt Musikmesse. This 800W PAR has improved performance, giving what GE claims is the same output as the typical 1,000W version. This means three instruments per standard 2.5kW dimmer, or production power savings. Whatever the configuration, the reduced wattage should also mean longer gel life for lighting designers and electricians. GE has also produced a standard GY9.5-base single-ended 800W lamp offering similar savings in heat and dimmer loading.
GENI ELECTRONICS First time at SIB: The Shiva, a mirror scanner, surprised many at Rimini. >From a company not known for products in this range, the Shiva comes in an extruded aluminum body and features six rotating gobos, nine colors plus white, shutter and strobe, with a remarkably strong and consistent beam from a choice of 200W MSD or 250W MSR lamps. Modular effects mountings make for easy servicing. The Sharma has the same features as the Shiva (minus the mirror head) plus a wash function. The Color Blaster, a low-cost version of its Rainbow effect, offers a high-output 250W MSR, features eight colors plus white, and the rainbow effect.
GENIUS First time anywhere: The Motor Spot is a new addition to the Genius range of "Moving Heads." The Motor Spot is a compact 250W unit with a wider range of colors and gobos. Other products include Mammut, a slightly different mirror scanner--it's really a strobing flower effect but with a pan and tilt mirror mounted on the business end. Small, light, and bright, the added dimension of scanning gives a 150x80-degree field of projection.
GRIVEN First time anywhere: Six brand new lights, covering everything from small clubs to large-scale outdoor events. Models are the Scanvision 3 Studio, a multi-featured scanning mirror; the Colorsweep, an MSR 1,200W-powered moving-yoke wash light with full CYM color-mixing; the Compass, with a standalone lamp and a top-mounted continuously panable mirror with tilt function; Popscan, a feature-laden 250W MSR scanner aimed at the smaller club market; the Outliner, a large-frame architectural luminaire that has a dedicated color changer; and the front-mounting Colorliner, in 2.5kW HMI or 4kW xenon versions, with a choice of 20 colors from a dichroic filter set.
HIGH END SYSTEMS First time at SIB: The Technobeam(TM) automated luminaire and its two mirrorless derivatives, the Technoray(TM) and Technopro(TM). Prototypes of the forthcoming Studio Spot(TM) were also on display; CEO Bob Schacherl was on the stand to say, "Expect all the positional accuracy, output, and performance of the established Studio Color(R)."
IANIRO Company news: The world's best-known maker of Redheads and Blondes, Ianiro has spent the last two years making sure its entire product range conforms to new CE and USITT regulations.
LAMBA First time at SIB: Combining 1,200W HMI and LCD technology, the latest version of the Pixelscan projector is mounted in an automated yoke. The unit has onboard memory, allowing storage of up to 31 graphics images with its own built-in software. Also the latest Win Commander Lite, a slimmed-down package of Win Commander designed for use with a laptop, which by adding an Artistic Licence DMX Dongle gives full 512-channel control in a neat portable package.
LAMPO First time anywhere: One of the Italian manufacturers heading into the LCD projector fray introduced the Leader 2000, which uses an MSR 1,200W source for projecting computer VGA signals and will also project source material from VCRs, cameras, and satellite reception to the same resolution. The Leader has an optional scanning mirror fitting and also offers color and effects, such as computer-generated gobos, or whatever else you can generate on your PC. Also the Mover, a 575 HMI automated-yoke spotlight; the Cromo, a 1,200W HSR centerpiece effect; and the Tip Tap dance platform, basically a transparent, window-topped enclosure with an eight-point centerpiece-type unit beneath it.
LA NOVALIGHT First time anywhere: The Rolling, specifically designed to work on a horizontal mounting, is a large centerpiece-type light with a novel projection dimension. With eight beams from a 1,200W HTI source, the Rolling features pan and tilt mirrors and a four-color changing mechanism.
LASER SYSTEMS EUROPE First time anywhere: The Laser Video Projector, an addition to the growing number of laser units that use water screens as a projection surface. The company supplies the Carnival and Disney cruise lines.
LITE-PUTER First time anywhere: The Junior, a baby version of its CX-5, is a tiny DMX controller that is almost handheld size. An upgrade to the CX-5 controller gives more information for the user on the LCD screen, and memory expansion to 1MB giving 300 scene memories, 50 chase, 50 macros, and 50 learn memories.
LOBO ELECTRONIC First time anywhere: The Lacon 5, the primary new product from this leading laser specialist, had the sexiest controller at the show--a 3D puck offering unbelievable instinctive speed and movement control in six dimensions, enabling complex real-time modifications to projected laser animation and images. Also available through Lobo, but produced by independent lighting developer Audiovisuelle Technik of Berlin, is the Clay Paky scanner tuning kit, a plug-in card for mirror head modification that gives virtual 16-bit control over the company's 8-bit systems.
MA LIGHTING First time at SIB: The GrandMA, designed specifically for control of extended light shows. Due to be available by late summer, the GrandMA has three full-color TFT touch displays with adjustable channels; multiple displays allow group and preset operations, interactive output display, and different ways of cue listing. The DMX input for remote, snapshot, and merge operation together with SMPTE, MIDI, Remote Go, and RS232 offer multiple synchronization facilities.
MAD LIGHTING First time at SIB: The Q Scan, a moving-mirror luminaire based on the older 511 series, features a quieter pan-and-tilt mechanism with increased parameters in both planes and improvements in speed and smoothness of movement. Using an MSR 150W lamp, the Q Scan features 12 gobos plus 11 colors and white, and digital DMX addressing. Also the Opti-color 211A, a fiber-optic color source with four levels of intensity.
MANFROTTO First time anywhere: The 420 is a tripod-mount boom stand with a cleverly designed boom-to-stand clip that allows the boom to convert into a telescopic vertical addition to the main stand. A new lightweight friction head has been added to the 500 series heads for video cameras; the 505 has a variable drag in all planes with full rotation and +/-85 degrees of tilt. Its US distributor, Bogen Photo Corp., had been marketing all Manfrotto equipment under the Bogen name, but in the interest of worldwide consistency and to increase brand awareness will begin using the Manfrotto name this year.
MARTIN professional In prototype: Full release is expected this month for the RoboScan Pro 918, a lightweight, compact scanner based on an MSR575 lamp. Features include a rotating gobo wheel with five positions plus open, a fixed gobo wheel with nine positions plus open, and two motorized color wheels, with nine colors each and four correction filters. Also due this month is the MAC 250, a club-sized version of the MAC 500 automated-yoke spot luminaire. Designed for the wider market, the MAC 250 has one eight-position gobo rotating wheel, one 12-color wheel, and a spinning three-facet prism, plus mechanical dimmer and high-speed strobing. Already known at the Martin assembly plant as the "two-thirds MAC," its source lamp is a 250W MSD. A "two-thirds" version of the MAC 600, the MAC 300, should be out by year-end.
NEO-NEON First time at SIB: This China-based company, the world's largest manufacturer of decorative lighting (with 6,000 employees), debuted at the show with the Happy Flash, a long-life, medium-size club strobe, and the Happy Light and Star Strobe, which extend its range of festoon lighting. Neo-Neon's catalog of lighting and effects runs to almost 200 pages, and the company is making its own fiber-optic technology.
OSRAM SYLVANIA First time at SIB: Osram has 14 new lamps now available in Italy, including an MR-16, the FXL HL; a single-ended 6kW HMI; and a 1,200W double-ender.
PROGRAMMI E SISTEMI LUCE First time at SIB: Specifically designed for the US market, the Omniscan is a small-bodied, high-performance scanner offered with two different lamp sources, 250W MSD or 150W HQI. Both units feature 19 gobos, seven dichroic colors plus white, and a blue (UV simulator) filter; the higher-wattage MSD also has a twin color conversion device. Packaging is small, just 2' long by about 1' square, which does restrict mirror movement to 80 degreesx165 degrees. PSL's Light Fibre, the eight-color 150W HQI and fiber-optic kit, also attracted much interest.
SAGITTER First time anywhere: The Infinity Live, and its counterpart for the TV market, the Silent Studio, are moving-mirror luminaires offering 16-bit mirror movement, full zoom from 16 to 28 degrees, and a choice of 1,200W MSR or HMI sources. The TV version has a modified cooling system that reduces noise output by 80%; most of the residual sound comes from the workings of the mirror and effects wheels. Features include remote focusing, two correction filters (standard fit 3200K and 6000K), two prisms with bidirectional vari-speed rotation, and strobing and mechanical shutter.
SGM First time at SIB: The Giotto Wash 1200, an automated-yoke 1,200W MSR wash luminaire. Features include 16-bit control over movement (pan 540 degrees, tilt 270 degrees), full CYM color-mixing, full linear dimming, an additional dedicated seven-color wheel, and output rated at 22,000lux at 5m (16.5') via 200mm front fresnel lens. Galileo, the "live" version of this unit, features an electronic ballast, reducing the weight of this 1,200W scanner by 10kg (22lb).
SPACE CANNON First time at SIB: Ireos outdoor wash luminaires and searchlights, introduced at LDI97, are available in 4kW and 7kW versions (as well as Mini Ireos 1k and 2k versions). The luminaires' main feature is a DMX-controllable internal dichroic color changer and frost filter. The Paint Color, available in 1kW and 2kW short arc xenon versions, is a dedicated architectural wash luminaire with the same dichroic color-mixing capabilities of the Ireos line.
STEINIGKE First time at SIB: A complete range of scanners under the Futurelight name premiered at Frankfurt Musikmesse. The SC740 and 780 are HMI 575 moving-mirror fixtures with rotating and static gobos and iris control; the 780 version also includes a separate dimmer shutter and effects wheel. Both have a single color wheel giving a choice of 10 dichroic colors plus white. With similar specifications, but lower light output, are the SC370 and SC570, with 200W and 250W MSD sources, respectively. These models lack the rotating gobo wheel. Also shown was a universal DMX controller, the CP-192, for these scanners and any other DMX instrument up to 16 channels.
STRONG First time anywhere: This Spanish lighting manufacturer launched the Maxiscan Controller 256, and is preparing version 2 of the desk's free software. The desk is laid out with 12 dual-purpose faders giving access to 24 direct outputs which can be assigned to any function; as its name suggests there are 256 outputs in total with the first 24 assignable as analog outs if needed. The Maxiscan will control up to 24 scanners and features a standard professional projector library, trackball for movement programming, and MIDI control. Also introduced was the Big Scan, which has many of the same features as its cousin and is for the professional market; a compressed-air confetti cannon with its own built-in compressor; and two effects lights in the 250W range, the Body 250 and the Prof 250.
STUDIO DUE First time anywhere: The City Color, an architectural luminaire different from its competitors in both style and content. Source is an 1,800W HMI (or 2kW halogen, but the HMI has much longer life); the luminaire is housed in a fluted polycarbonate enclosure and is fully weatherized. Color-mixing is dichroic full CYM, and units can be linked and left to auto-change, or DMX-controlled, which allows further control over speed of change and dimming as well as remote on/off and reset. Featured product: Giant, despite its name, is a very small (150W HTI) color and gobo effect light for the club market. It stands apart because it is mounted on an automated yoke giving 370 degrees pan and 270 degrees tilt, and can be formatted with either two color wheels (known as the Giant Color and producing a range of 16 colors) or color wheel and gobo wheel as standard. All DMX-controlled with remote on/off switching possible.
SUPERSTAR LIGHTING First time at SIB: The SL-9757 is a horizontal tube strobe rated at 1,500W. The FZ 920 smoke machine sits midway in its range of six machines; mains-powered, it comes complete with trailing remote control.
TEATRART First time at SIB: A new and very simple to use modular staging system. Using standard decks, the TEAtrart Safety Stage is an expandable matrix of cross struts formatted around simple nylon link pieces. The Safety Stage derives its strength (1000kg/m2 at 60cm height) from continuous transference of load across the whole matrix of struts. Taking just seconds to erect, the firm says this system is ideally suited to use in small clubs and TV studios where quick deployment needs to be balanced with limited storage.
TECLUMEN In prototype: The Vari Color is a flood source (three 300W linear quartz lamps) for use in theatre or TV. The color-changing is silent, with a total 256-color palette. Requires two- or three-channel DMX depending on operating system. First time at SIB: The Robolite, a display lighting device for use in retail and hotel environments. The Robolite is a self-propelled trolley that runs on a standard 12V lighting rope track and carries an onboard MR-16. Designed to carry posters or other 2D advertising media beneath it, the Robolite bulb mount can be tilted up to 30 degrees off axis to illuminate what's beneath it as it automatically tracks up and down the rope path.
VARI-LITE ITALY Company news: Italy's Vari-Lite distributor Limelite took a modest stand to raise awareness in the remoter parts of its domestic lighting industry. Supported heavily by its parent Vari-Lite Europe, in the shape of David March and Jim Douglas, the stand proved most effective, as Douglas reported. "We were surprised by the number of inquiries we had to purchase Vari*Lite systems--it seems the rental-only message still hasn't filtered through everywhere."
VIDEOSEL First time at SIB: Sole agents in Italy for Seleco, Videosel took the opportunity to display the new DLP video projectors from this manufacturer. The SDV 1300 will display VGA, SVGA, XGA, and SXGA with resolution up to 1,280x1,024 pixels. Videosel says this is an extremely bright and clear projector capable of providing a good image on a 500" diagonal screen even in normal light conditions. Videosel is also an agent for EIKI and Sanyo and provides custom control systems for videowalls and screen systems.
Contributing editor Steve Moles, a retired roadie based in Yorkshire, UK, can be reached at email@example.com.