THERE WAS A LOT OF INDUSTRY buzz about InfoComm this year. A show primarily intended for audiovisual buyers and sellers, InfoComm is suddenly of interest to entertainment designers, as projection has become an almost ubiquitous production element. And if anything, InfoComm has its fair share of new projection technology (see Bob & Colleen Bonniol's InfoComm vacation report).

InfoComm's organizers, the International Communications Industries Association, Inc.® (ICIA®) announced that InfoComm 05, held June 4-10 in Las Vegas, was their largest show to date, marking a 15% increase in attendance over 2004. This year the show attracted 26,322 professionals from more than 80 countries. Last year, 22,894 attended from 75 countries.

“InfoComm continues to be the one tradeshow where most professional AV service providers make their important buying decisions for the year,” said Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., ICIA executive director. “We are also seeing a strong increase in the number of AV and IT managers who attend. Buyers of information communications technologies see InfoComm as their best opportunity to network with product and service providers, as well as to enhance their skills through our robust educational program.”

While 70% of the attendees work in the audiovisual sector for education, business and, government, the size of InfoComm05 reflects growth in the use of information communication, presentation and AV technologies in other areas. These include sports, entertainment, and hospitality, as well as the retail and sales sector, which emerged as an important vertical market at InfoComm for the first time.

The show floor side of things was also larger, with a record number of 725 exhibitors, representing a 12% increase over the previous record of 647 in 2004. At least 170 of the exhibitors were new this year, including a group of entertainment technology companies that were showcased in the lighting and staging pavilion at the back of the hall.

In new product offerings, Nemetschek North America, having just announced the appointment of Sean Flaherty as new chief executive officer, was showing off the second edition of RenderWorks Recipe Book, with updates for VectorWorks 11 and 11.5. It is now available on CD or as a printed volume, with more than 50% new content. (www.nemetschek.net/training/guides.html)

Element Labs sported the new Versa PIXEL, a product that made its first appearance in custom form product for O2 at Cebit. Now, it is a standard product offering. With 100% compatibility with existing Versa control systems, true video control and 30-bit color at 30fps, Element Labs offers a variety of stock pixel sizes and shapes, from 5mm point source to large format diffuse pixels. (www.elementlabs.com)

In addition to its impressive OLite LED panels, Barco hosted a packed house for a press conference, highlighting all product offerings, including new features for Encore Video Processing System. New features include: Events Manager and StagePRO, which provide integrated device and show control features; ability to drive Barco LED walls with low transport delay when coupled with the LEDPro Video Processor; DVE color effects and “strobe” processing; programmable color correction for digital sources; operation with data-doubled background sources such as Watchout; new graphical user interface for configuration and preset storage/recall; expanded support for digital routers. (www.events.barco.com)

Lighthouse Technologies impressed attendees with the PopVision Display, a portable, self-contained pop-up high brightness LED video screen aimed at the rental market. Designed for entertainment, event, and marketing venues where mobility is a priority, it can be used in outdoor applications and seen in direct sunlight with the proper weatherproof housing. The company plans to extend this family of products to address other rental and staging and mobile digital signage applications. The screens are available in 56" and 80" diagonal screen formats. Additional features include: 140° horizontal viewing angle; 4.4 trillion color capability; 50/60-frame-per-second frame rate; display input for RGB HV, SDI, RGB, YUV, YC, composite, PAL/NTSC, VGA overlay (HDTV and HDSDI optional); lifetime 50,000 hours to half brightness. (www.lighthouse-tech.com)

In addition to showing off Hog® iPC, the High End Systems booth exhibited the EDDY award winning DL2, as well as new software for Wholehog® 3. Version 1.3.8 provides many new features and enhancements, including ESP Vision connectivity, Levels view, Follow current or Follow Next cue-contents abilities, and an on-board Fixture Builder utility. It also includes increased functionality in data processing and network usage and enables a direct connection to ESP Vision via Ethernet for real-time lighting fixture output visualization. Existing Wholehog 3 users should contact ESP Vision (www.esp-vision.com) to purchase a license. Users can download the software and read detailed release information at www.flyingpig.com.

InfoComm also has an active industry training program with the InfoComm Academy and ICIA's three-day Institute for Professional Development. Videoconferencing, technology trends, interactive classrooms, AV/IT convergence, flat panel display technologies, and streaming media were among the most popular topics.

InfoComm 2006 will take place June 3-9, 2006 in Orlando, FL. While InfoComm cannot equal The Entertainment Technology Show-LDI in terms of sheer volume of cutting-edge entertainment technology and education, it's certainly the place to see what's new in the projection world, a world that entertainment is embracing in a big way. (www.infocommshow.org)