Another year has gone by and fall is in the air, which can only mean it's time for another LDI — the 15th, to be exact. LDI is the entertainment technology show where many manufacturers launch new products for the world to see, particularly those — naturally — in the lighting industry. This year promises to be no different: several companies have made conceptual leaps and will be showing off new products that push the technological envelope, while many others will be building on strong product lines that have been introduced in the past few years. All of which will make for an exhausting, fast-paced three days in which you will have to beat a fast path around the show floor discovering all that awaits. In order to ease the wear and tear on your feet a bit, the following are a handful of products that have piqued my interest. I'll definitely be on line to check them out, and you should be too.
Vari-Lite surprised everyone at last year's LDI with the VL1000™. The company is upping the stakes again this year by entering the highly contested 1,200W automated luminaire scrum. Vari-Lite will introduce the Series 3000™, a new line of 1,200W luminaires. The line includes the VL3000™ spot and the VL3000™ wash. (Along the way, they have renamed the 2402 the VL2000 Wash; the 2202 is now the VL2000 Spot.) The other players in the 1,200W luminaire range are adding new features in an attempt to stay at the top of this hotly contested heap. Coemar will have the CF7 Wash, while Martin will counter with the MAC 2000 Performance and the MAC 2000 Wash, with its unique automated barndoors. Clay Paky's Stage Profile Plus SV is quietly gaining on the competition, especially for designers who are sensitive to the noise automated luminaires make.
On the conventional front, the one fixture that must be seen to be believed is the ADB Axis ellipsoidal spotlight with shutters, each in its own plane, which can be rotated 360° each! As one designer (and ex-electrician) put it, “No longer will those at the top of the ladder be told, ‘Let's move on, if that's the best you can do.’” And it can be automated as well. You should also check out the new ETC MultiPAR, which answers the question, “When will ETC have a striplight fixture?” Based around the design of the Source Four PAR, the MultiPAR comes in a number of form factors.
As we've all been told, LEDs are going to save our lives — or at least make us all look cool. James Thomas Engineering has jumped onto the LED bandwagon with the Pixelpar range of fixtures, of which the PixelPAR660™ is the first fixture in its new range of solid-state lighting fixtures using high brightness LEDs. The Pixelline is a unique striplight version that can have anywhere from three to 54 channels of DMX control for tighter color control. Another LED contender is Bright Lighting and its tubes of color called Color Stream. Acolyte Systems introduces a series of LED products designed for backstage uses. The TagLyte is a small LED fixture that comes with Velcro pad, making it easy to position and aim its 60-°spread beam. This light will stay lit for over 100 hours of continuous one-time use. The SmartLyte, which has 180° throw of light and hangs from a lanyard, is a lot lighter than a small regular flashlight — not such a pain in your neck.
It should be interesting to see all of the variations on LED luminaires at LDI. If the PLASA show was any indicator, the floodgates are about to burst wide open with small, bright, low-wattage LEDs. (By the way, Northern Europe seems to have the most development of LED and DMX products. Who knew?)
Martin Professional's new Maxxyz console has placed them in the already perilous waters filled with more established automated lighting consoles. The Maxxyz has quietly appeared on the scene and is starting to win the hearts and minds of programmers. It joins a Flying Pig Wholehog III, which is now shipping, with software that now appears very solid; the MA Lighting's grandMa, with version 4.0 software upgrade; and at least two new consoles from Avolites — the Pearl 2004, based upon the very popular Pearl 2000, and the Diamond 4, the console that Diamond 3 aficionados have been asking for. Your choice of console says a lot about you as a programmer and as a designer, and the range of choices just got broader. On the radically new, sophisticated console front is the ETC Emphasis line, which is promising a new paradigm in control, with one stop for the designer, electrician, and board operator. This has it all inside — paperwork, light plot, and to-do list for troubleshooting.
You will be awash in DMX products, especially those that deal with DMX over ethernet and remote device management (RDM) Artistic Licence launches a number of new products, including the Power-Hub 4, a four-port ethernet hub that supplies low-voltage power via the data connection. This allows ethernet devices to receive both data and power over the Cat5 cable. The product is designed to support the forthcoming Power over Ethernet standard. Doug Fleenor Designs introduces the BiDi8, an eight-port, fully isolated bidirectional DMX hub. It will support bidirectional data from any manufacturer using pins two and three of a traditional DMX link. Fleenor's RDM Addresser is a handheld device used to get and set address parameters on RDM-enabled devices. Interactive Technologies is rolling out the Cue Touch, an LCD touch-panel accessory for ethernet-based lighting control systems that can be customized by the user to best suit individual applications. Use it to recall preset lighting looks, manage partitions, send macros to consoles, and reconfigure ethernet nodes.
ETC introduces the SmartPack™, a portable and low-cost dimmer pack. This 19", two-space rackmount unit houses either six 2,400W or twelve 1,200W channels of dimming. On the complete other end of the spectrum is Entertainment Technology's Intelligent Raceway, where you can now get IGBT dimmers in a raceway configuration up to 100'; it also has a dual outlet for each dimmer that can have any load up to 20A. So, you can load each outlet or one outlet to 2kW. If too much load is plugged into one side, the dimmer shuts off and alerts you to an overload. You then pull the load and the dimmer goes back to work.
Strong is very close to shipping the new Gladiator IV Followspot. With a 4.5kW xenon lamp, the Gladiator IV is designed for throws of 500-700'. It comes complete with a dichroic color boom (you didn't think you could stick gel in this bad boy, did you?) as well as having the ability to put a color scroller at the front of the unit.
For years, LDI has been growing beyond its traditional lighting roots — it's now being called the entertainment technology show — and as usual there will be plenty of non-lighting gear worth checking out. On the burgeoning video projection front, Barco Events is introducing a couple of new products, including the Events Controller, a new way to integrate show control, including audio, video, and lighting in addition to the projection that will be useful for AV and industrial production houses.
Design and Drafting is highlighting LD Assistant Ac v02, a 2D and 3D program with its seamless integration with AutoCAD as well as the i-drop® technology developed by Autodesk. I-drop is Autodesk's framework for publishing design objects within standard web pages. You can simply drag the i-drop object from the web page and drop it into the desktop application for inclusion in the evolving specification. Previously, a designer would have to redraw (or download and insert) a manufacturer's product in the drawing. With i-drop, it is a simple drag-drop operation. Stardraw.com is showing off its StardrawAV.NET, which offers CAD software online and allows you to subscribe and log on to an Internet connection and lay out an equipment rack. The company is pitching this as a service for manufacturers, so when you finish the riser, you send it in for a quote or ordering.
There are a number of special effects products being launched at the show. Birket Engineering's new Strobe-Brik multiflash light controller is an efficient solution to your multistrobe requirements. Strobe-Brik packs the electronics for 8, 16, or 32 strobe lights into one slim package that drives remote strobe bulbs. The multichannel controller saves space, speeds installation, and simplifies maintenance. Protective circuits guard the controller from power spikes and miswired cables. Le Maitre introduces the Show Fogger Pro, a mid-range water-based fog machine in a lightweight and rugged chassis. This machine features Le Maitre's new Rapid Change Technology (RCT), which now allows you to quickly and easily make a capillary tube change on the fly. This design overcomes a fog machine's biggest service issue — a plugged heating block. All you need is 15 minutes, a crescent wrench, a Leatherman, and a compact, lightweight RCT tube replacement kit (included free with the Show Fogger Pro), and your fog machine is as good as new.
Columbus McKinnon is introducing the ProCommander™, a computer-controlled, variable speed hoist motor controller. It works with an encoder in the hoist for positioning better than 1mm resolution. It features control of up to 127 hoists, variable-speed positioning, speeds selectable in 1Hz increments, Windows-based GUI software, and multiple emergency stops, and it has a modular design for 19" racks.
And lastly, there will be some new audio products to keep an eye out for, fresh from their AES debuts. Telex® and Electro-Voice® are launching the RE-1 UHF Wireless System, including the new CDR-1000, full rack-width dual receiver with integrated internal power supply. The CDR-1000, which includes all the Electro-Voice RE-1 half-rack receiver innovations, such as Advanced ClearScan™, Auto Channel Select, Sound Check Screen, and 950-channel frequency agility, combined with features specially designed for the rigorous demands of the professional touring market and large theatre productions. Allen & Heath Ltd. is introducing the Xone:V6, an audiophile rotary club mixer, which is an echo of the earliest days of pro audio. Channels five and six each have a stereo valve (tube) preamplifier — ideal for mellowing harsh digital music sources. Using high quality parts, like Penny & Giles conductive plastic rotary controls, a front panel itself is machined from a 6mm-thick block of solid aluminum, bakelite control knobs with turned alloy fascias, chromed toggle switches, and bezel illuminated cue switches, along with a unique throwback design that results in a mixer that gives great recordings the space and freedom to express their full warmth and clarity.
That's what I have on my to-do list, but no doubt there will also be plenty of surprises. See you on the show floor.