ShowTech is the bi-annual "show technology" trade fair that takes place in Berlin. Although the exhibitor roster also includes lighting, lasers, audio, video, and special effects, this is a great show for the stage machinery folks to show their wares. This year, ShowTech was held under sunny skies in Berlin, from May 10-13, 2001. This was the 10th anniversary of the show, which boasted over 350 international exhibitors.

Large German companies such as Waagner Biro, Tele-Stage Associates, Bayerische Bühnenbau, Batik, and Guddland Digital, take huge stands with all kinds of impressive moving trusses. Frank-Rainer Hartung of Chain Master demonstrated the new control box for their truss trolley, as well as their Vario Lift scenic hoist. Eberhard Stages allowed attendees to stand on their Zarga turntable, which moved around their booth, illustrating the Zarga Tandem Drive which is battery-powered and radio controlled.

Yours truly on the Zarga turntable

Stage Technologies from the UK had a small booth, but were able to include their Nomad control console. They have quite a few new projects on the Continent, including the Rotterdam Theatre, which is facing a new law passed in Holland, which requires that all counterweight rigging systems be replaced by 2008. This means all theatres that are up to code will have to have motorized rigging. Will all of Europe follow, we wonder?

Here I am with the boys from Stage Technologies, hard at work with the Nomad.

Large-format projectors were also on display at ShowTech, including France’s E\T\C Audio-Visuel with their state-of-the-art PIGI projectors, and Yves Ruellon of the French-based Hardware Xenon with his projector-in-a-balloon display which confirms the quality of his optics.

Austria’s PANI (photo below) demonstrated their new film scroller, as well as their new smaller projector, the BP2.5 ECO.

Pani also exhibited the artistic work of Casa Magica, the projection design of Friedrich Förster, who is based in Tübingen, Germany, and who will be presenting his work in a session at LDI2001 in November. Even larger scrolling images were displayed by Big Image Systems of Sweden, which produces large backdrops 12 meters high on airbrushed gauze, as well as cotton, muslin, vinyl, or projection surfaces.

On the lighting front, a promising new product was seen at the Transtechik booth. The "Planon light" is a flat box only a few inches thick with small yet very bright xenon-sources. It was designed to be used in film production for on-location shots that do not permit much lighting equipment, such as a scene in a car. It was first used on the film Resident Evil, shot in Germany this year.

One of the most exciting product previews at the show was the Catalyst, the new orbital movement system -- like a periscope -- that mounts to the front of a video projector to allow static images or moving video to be projected anywhere within a 360° by 180° hemisphere of movement. Images can be manipulated limitlessly in real-time from a dedicated control console. Using an extensive library of stock images or custom images, the Catalyst turns video projectors into artistic tools for designers. Developed by Wynne Willson Gottelier and marketed by High End Systems, the Catalyst was on the Lichttechnik stand at ShowTech, and later made its US debut at InfoComm in Las Vegas in June. Pictured below are Adrienne Gurman, international sales manager for Lighting Dimensions and Entertainment Design with Peter Wynne Willson, the mastermind of the Catalyst, Uli Petzold of Lichttechnik, and WWG partner Tony Gottelier.

It was also nice to catch up with old friend Keith Dale (pictured above – he’s the one on the left – with Norman Wright of Group One). He’s now with Elektralite, doing their marketing and working on product design, including the look of the new champagne-colored CP20XT console, which premiered last spring in Frankfurt and was seen again in Berlin. (Elektralite also showed it's all-new CP100xt Effects Engine, which is available as a software upgrad (Operating System v4.0) and is included with all new sales of the console. The effects engine includes various customizable effects, including Blue Chase, Chase Circle, Color Chase, Color 2 Cahse, Fan, Figure of Eight, Gobo Chase, Gobo 2 Chase, Green Chase, Iris Chase, Pan Chase, Rainbow Chase, Random Motion, Red Chase, RGB Chase, Shutter Chase, Tilt Chase, and Zoom Chase). It was also nice to see Marc Gringas of MDG, visiting from Montreal, in support of the German distributor for his atmospheric machines, and as you can see below in the photo of me with Marc, it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Or, as usual, I'm in a fog!

photos by Adrienne Gurman and ELGréaux.