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. This year's show, 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 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 for the show 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 number of actual 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 of exhibit space to check 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. LDI, it would seem, is fast becoming the Rainbow Coalition of trade shows.
The show's sponsors are equally diverse. In addition to ED, Intertec's Lighting Dimensions, and Sound & Video Contractor magazines, in partnership with ESTA (the Entertainment Services & Technology Association) sponsor the show. Additional support is provided by Intertec's Millimeter, Mix, Broadcast Engineering, World Broadcast Engineering, Video Systems, Electronic Musician, Shopping Center World, and NSCA.
But make no mistake: LDI is still a lighting show. It may not have the boisterous, 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 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 occur away from the show floor, either offsite or in demo rooms. Those with their own demo rooms included AC Lighting, ETC, JBL, Nexo, PRG, 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 such soldout courses 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.
Three days of LDI 2000 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, to "Patrick Woodroffe on Lighting," to the ubiquitous "eBusiness.com/Internet Strategies." The sound track featured a session by Broadway sound designer Tony Meola (moderated by yours truly), while the architecture track featured, appropriately enough, "Lighting Las Vegas," moderated by Lighting Dimensions 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 staff members) 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.
This year's LDI Awards ceremony wasn't quite as dramatic in 1999; last year's was held in the Orange County Convention Center's theatre in Orlando, which was also 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 winning industry leaders.
The 2000 Wally Russell Award, established in 1992 in memory of industry pioneer Wally Russell, was presented to Stan Miller, chief executive officer and chairman of Rosco Laboratories. Miller acquired Rosco in 1958, and is both a fellow of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and a member of the American Society of Cinematographers. In 1985, he received the USITT Award for Outstanding Service to the American Theatre.
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, Japan 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 Los Angeles Airport; Tom Ruzika took themed lighting designer of the year honors for his work in Seuss Landing at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure; and the entertainment lighting designer of the year award went to Patrick Woodroffe for his work on the Millennium Dome and the Rolling Stones 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 torch burning every year, and this year was no exception. 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 that turns LCS' 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 (distributed in the US by Personal Creations), a fully scalable digital media presentation system blending multiple projection sources into one image.
In the rigging and hardware category, honorable mention went to the Hot-Shot distro panel from George & 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, a hard-edged automated luminaire with a 7-69 zoom range and auto focus using only three optical elements.
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 (one to six employees), Lex Products Corp. (seven-25), and Apollo Design Technology (over 25). Manufacturers' Choice Dealer of the Year honors went to Indianapolis Stage Sales & Rental (one to six employees), Musson (seven-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 multiprism lighting accessory for ellipsoidals that 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 making their debuts on the show floor. This year, for the first time, you can get complete, booth-by-booth coverage of LDI 2000 by clicking on the Entertainment Design website at www.entertainmentdesignmag.com.
Next 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.