October 2008 Issue 110
Leo Batchelor rounds up the highlights of this year’s show at Earls Court...
Most criticisms about 2007’s change to the PLASA format — which saw a much calmer show following the relocation of the upstairs exhibition space to Earls Court 2 — were largely silenced this year, with the organisers claiming an 11% growth in attendance and pre-audited visitor numbers of over 13,000.
The comparative success of PLASA08 has been linked to various contributing factors: a greater degree of new products, a discounted registration offer and a dialed-up marketing campaign, as well as an overall optimism within an industry that has created some great shows over the summer — world tours from big hitters like Radiohead, a huge number of outdoor festivals and, of course, the spectacular ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
Full marks are also due to PLASA, which since last year has revamped the show offer considerably, adding helpful touches like wi-fi meeting areas, coffee lounges and a well-received extension of the central bar’s closing time.
The show also benefited from an expanded Industry Skills Zone and programme of seminars. The green issue was yet again given a high profile and PLASA08 saw the launch by the Mayor of London’s Office of the Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change initiative. This was the highest profile of a number of environmental events and issues aired at the show, with focus also given to BS8901 — a sustainable event management standard that’s likely to have a marked influence on the events industry, not least in the run-up to London’ 2012 Olympics.
All those companies who transferred their marketing literature from paper to a digital format can also give themselves a pat on the back.
But it was new technology that remained at the heart of the show, with the release of four major new sound consoles, while a host of new audio installation products reflected the huge growth of the integrated systems market.
TPi has already extolled the virtues of the Midas Pro6, InnovaSon’s Eclipse and (in this issue) Soundcraft’s Si3, but what of DiGiCo’s newest member of the SD Series, the SD8?
This new product has a fixed architecture and employs a smaller Super FPGA than the SD7 but retains the major features and versatility of the well-received DiGiCo D Series, plus all the improvements added to the SD7.
Providing a decent performance to price ratio, allowing DiGiCo to offer an entry-level console, with remote pre-amps, at a price point that has never been possible before. Much more info can be found in our special video of DiGiCo’s PLASA presentation at www.tpimagazine.com/video.
The lighting and video sectors were rewarded by yet more advances in LED and moving light technology, and stage automation continued to be a significant growth area.
Technology trends were in evidence across the show floor and in the Innovations Gallery, where the 2008 Awards for Innovation nominees were showcased.
THE AUDIO VIBE
Commercial audio specialist Ateis UK was at PLASA for the first time this year to launch the UAPg2, its second generation UAP fully-programmable DSP audio matrix. The UAPg2 features an increased sampling rate of 96KHz coupled with a SHARC 32-bit/266MHz DSP processor, which provides users with superior sound quality and range than before.
For Alcons Audio, the show was all about ‘pro-ribbon technology’, the theme of a lecture hosted by Alcons as part of PLASA’s programme of industry seminars. The presentation coincided with the unveiling of the definitive version of the LR7, the latest and smallest member of Alcons’ successful pro-ribbon line-arrays.
A micro pro-ribbon line array, the system features a single 6.5” woofer, next to a 4” pro-ribbon driver, in a 15° vertical projection configuration. A choice of 90° or 120° horizontal projection makes the LR7 ideal for A/V projects, where very compact form factor with perfect line array throw and imaging are required.
While Allen & Heath’s inroads into the live continue with further applications of the iLive Series digital consoles, it was the launch of the Zed R16 mixer at the Sunday night Queens Club party that got everyone talking.
It was also a good opportunity to celebrate the appointment of John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd. (JHS) as the exclusive distributor for Allen & Heath’s PA and Zed Series.
Community showed off two new cabinets: a low frequency speaker and a discreet stage monitor. The dual 8” VLF208 and dual 12” VLF212 are the first in the VLF range — a series of powerful and innovative new low frequency subwoofers. The low-visibility M12 stage monitor includes a high frequency driver mounted to a one-piece asymmetrical horn allowing full-range monitor output close-up or at a distance.
d&b’s complete E-Series was on display, including the E8, E12 and E12-D speakers. This year, d&b are keen to push their excellent series of Sound System Optimisation and Electroacoustics seminars to the fore — see details at www.dbaudio.com/en/support.
New from the audio gurus at Funktion-One is the R1.5, the latest addition to the Resolution Series of loudspeakers. Building on the success of the R1, F1 has created a two-way enclosure with 90° dispersion, super high-fidelity and incredible low frequency output for its small size.
For the first time F1 has combined its unique 5’’ cone loudspeaker with a new 90° axhead-loaded waveguide and substantial 18’’ bass to offer an extremely capable two way enclosure. In common with the Resolution 1, the 5’’ eliminates the need for compression drivers with their inherent harshness and distortion.
JBL’s VerTec passive and powered line array loudspeakers stood out on the Harman Pro stand. The VerTec series has expanded to provide a comprehensive touring package. With the introduction of the VerTec VT4889ADP and the companion VT4880ADP sub, all size categories in the VerTec line are now optionally available with JBL’s DrivePack electronic modules featuring multiple combinations of Crown amplification, dbx digital signal processing and HiQnet remote control and monitoring.
PLASA08 was the place to get your ears around Kling & Freitag’s new K&F Sequenza 10 which boasts FLC technology and purpose-designed 10” drivers with enhanced waveguides and an impressive HF unit.
While eyes turned to Lab.gruppen’s PLM series of Powered Loudspeaker Management systems, news filtered through that Dolby has ceased production of the acclaimed Dolby Lake Processor — leaving Lab.gruppen, which incorporates the technology within the PLM — to take up its future development.
Logic Systems launched the Ethos LA, a long throw array module designed to give existing Ethos users an upgrade path that builds on their existing investment in Ethos VA. The new product will fly above existing VA enclosures and extend the use of the system to over 100m.
Martin Audio showcased its flagship ASX subwoofer, DX1.5 24-bit speaker management system and MA5.2K power amps.
The new UPQ-1P wide coverage loudspeaker received major attention on the Meyer Sound stand, an area that exuded a ‘summer garden party’ theme, complete with Pimm’s and lemonade. A new addition to the famed UltraSeries, the UPQ-1P exhibits high power (136dB peak SPL at 1m), extremely low distortion, and a wide coverage pattern of 80° by 50°.
Peavey launched several brand new products at including some significant additions to the MediaMatrix family. The foremost of these is NControl, a Professional Industrial Network PC server which provides a powerful platform for NION control systems. Peavey was pleased to present an Audinate Dante network interface for NION at PLASA. Production is targeted for the first quarter of 2009.
Renkus-Heinz’s IC Live is a new product line that applies the company’s innovative Iconyx Digitally Steerable Array technology to live event production for the first time. IC Live arrays produce narrow vertical beams of 30°, 25° and 20°, steerable up or down by up to 30° at .01° resolution, with wide 150° horizontal dispersion.
Seven instant-recall presets store beamwidths and aiming angles. Interlocking hardware allows fast set-up of the IC Live array and matching ICL215S 2x15” subwoofer.
Iconyx R is the second generation of Renkus-Heinz’s phenomenally successful Iconyx, the world’s first Digitally Steerable Array loudspeaker specifically designed for full-range speech and music applications. It features purpose-designed coaxial transducers, significantly enhancing vertical directivity at high frequencies, with improved coherence and intelligibility, while maintaining consistent wide horizontal dispersion. It can store up to seven preset configurations in onboard memory, recallable locally or remotely.
A multi-channel DSP-driven digital amplifier controls each driver individually, and interfaces with RHAON (Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network), for real-time control over multiple functions, and CobraNet, AES or analogue inputs.
There was a chance to check out the new SR 450 professional IEM system and the EM 3732, a recent addition to Sennheiser’s flagship 3000 series of wireless microphone systems. The SR 350 IEM G2 is a 19” rack-mount twin transmitter for wireless monitoring applications. Compatible with EK 300 IEM G2 receivers and with a high RF output power, the kit has been designed with high-spec touring productions in mind. Meanwhile, the EM 3732 offers automatic scanning functionality, choice of five frequency ranges, transmitter synchronisation via infra-red interface, and flexible analogue and digital connection options.
Tannoy’s new VQ 60 is a full range, three-cone system designed for high outputs and tight pattern control. With low frequency extension to 90Hz, the VQ 60 can be combined with various subwoofers for extended bandwidth. Controllable parameters include frequency response (both on and off-axis), horizontal distortion and low frequency cut-off. Meanwhile, Tannoy’s insistence on coherent single point source gives the VQ 60 a superior dispersion control when coupled to a Point Source Waveguide.
Used on Radiohead’s latest tour by guitarists Thom Yorke and Ed O’Brien, Trantec’s S5.5 wireless system, can simultaneously operate up to 24 channels in 10 banks within its 35MHz window. Based on Trantec’s S6000 series, the S5 benefits from high quality, true-diversity operation utilising credit card size beltpacks, frequency autoscan, in-built Infra-red data link, single AA battery life of over 10 hours, intuitive LCD displays, and professional metal enclosures for both transmitter and receiver.
The star of the Turbosound stand was its new Flex Array series, which combines elements of line array theory with proven virtual point source technology in one loudspeaker product — find out more in this month’s Ipso Facto feature.
VMB’s Lynx Series LX-F6 is a small-format powered line array module with a folded ribbon high frequency unit. The second model in the Lynx Series, and the smaller brother of the LX-V8, the LX-F6 is a small-format two-way line array element with integrated amplification, digital processing and networking capabilities.
ALL LIT UP
PLASA08 provided the perfect platform for A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd. (formerly known as A.C. Lighting) to reinforce its new name and wide range of industry products and related services. As the worldwide distributor for Chroma-Q, A.C.E.T. launched the brand’s new Color Span — a configurable low profile, ultra bright LED fixture for indoor/outdoor wall wash, cove, effects and feature lighting applications in the architectural and entertainment sectors.
Avolites’ impressive stand featured the full range of lighting consoles which now includes the Titan, its brand new operating system. The new generation of Titan-based consoles offer powerful functions like fixture exchange, clone fixture and multiple timers.
Titan Expert, designed for the Pearl, reproduces Diamond 4 features such as multiple times on cues and memories on preset faders. It also includes a new graphical user interface, Matrix, which can be installed on laptops, optimising time spent at the console for actual lighting design and programming, whilst allowing shows to be prepared on a laptop away from the console.
Andrew Healy, the global marketing manager of Barco’s Events division, was on hand to explain some of the factors and benefits behind his company’s recent acquisition of High End Systems — catch our interview at www.tpimagazine.com/video.
The new Showpix fixture is just one of the products of the High End acquisition. Showpix is both a high-power LED wash light and a programmable fixture that can display graphics. Its 8” diameter head features a circular array of 127 homogenous 3W LEDs, with an output of 24,000 RGB lumens.
These pixels offer unlimited visual possibilities by projecting not just colour washes, but images and other eye-catching effects, transforming the fixture head into a display device. The media frames can also be synchronised to music in real time.
Batmink debuted a range of affordable lasers, from an entry level red/green version to an impressive full RGB laser offering 16.7 million colours.
New to Chauvet’s product range. the Legend 6500 is a 10-14 channel intelligent LED moving yoke wash suited for club, production, stage and architectural applications, with full RGBW mixing capability.
Congratulations were due to Clay Paky, whose Alpha Beam 300 picked up a 2008 PLASA Award for Innovation. An new, upscale version, the Alpha Beam 1500, was also nominated and showcased at the exhibition.
A 1500W concept beam moving light that produces a super-concentrated and super-powerful parallel light beam for use with a very long throw ACL light effect, the Alpha Beam 1500 includes brand new graphic, chromatic and movement features that place it at the head of the market. It produces a much greater brightness than lights of the same power, and achieves projection distances reached only by lights of thousands of watts, but with the energy consumption of a 1500W light bulb. This enables it to be used instead of considerably larger projectors, with enormous savings in energy.
This year’s show featured the unveiling of the milestone 3.1 version of Green Hippo’s Hippotizer software and two new hardware
products: HippoCritter, a budget version of the flagship Hippotizer server, and HippoPortamus, a portable laptop-based version.
The 3.1 software for Hippotizer products improves on existing features of previous software versions and introduces a range of new components.
These include Screen Thief, which allows you to capture the feed from multiple computer screens in high definition and a low latency; Black Level Compensation, which compensates for colour imbalance between multiple projectors; HMap2 and PhatController deliver new ways of communicating with external lighting consoles and visualisers and Sheduler allows triggering of any parameter or even multiple timelines.
LED Screens Ltd’s stand was host to a number of displayLED’s digiLED range, including the digiLED i and d series, as well as the digiPOD and digiLED Mirage M25. The latter is a large-scale video screen solution providing dramatic and dynamic lighting and video effects for backdrops and architectural applications.
Making its debut in the LED market was G-LEC’s Chimera, a modular LED panel offering flexibility of shape without compromising control over individual LEDs. The Chimera system comprises LEDs mounted on printed circuit boards that are designed so that they can be ‘cut to fit’ without cutting the power to the LEDs.
New to Griven’s stand was the Spyke series which comprises single beam moving head projectors that pack 2,000W of Xenon Xstage light and are mounted on a motorized yoke providing full speed rotation of the head over 640° (h) and 210° (v), with 16-bit high resolution pan and tilt evolutions movement.
This year’s PLASA show was the culmination of an excellent year for iPix, who shared stand space with the jolly Amptown Cases posse, the LED lighting specialist’s flight case builders.
Launched on the Lightfactor Sales stand was the new LP RCBO Paradim dimmer, offering all the features and values of the standard Paradims, with an RCBO on each channel for compliance with the new 17th Edition IEE Wiring Regulations (BS7671). There is now also a wall mounted socketed Cee 17 Paradim which can be supplied with MCB, RCBO or Double Pole breakers.
MA Lighting’s stand featured the popular brand’s new flagship console, the grandMA2 full-size, which controls conventional and moving lights, LEDs, video and media. Equipped with the most up-to-date technology, the grandMA2 provides intuitive and fast control over all connected fixtures and channels in different styles. The newly-developed fader wings provide to 60 free assignable executor faders over an unlimited amount of pages.
The grandMA2 full-size can read ‘series 1’ showfiles and is able to run in a special ‘series 1’ mode. That enables full compatibility with ‘series 1’ sessions. All command keys within the new series can be found in the same place for easy operation. The grandMA2 offers a highly flexible and comfortable way of programming, including infinite numbers of presets, cues, pages, sequences and effects.
Martin Professional’s stand was bristling with new products including the new EvenLED, a modular LED system for extremely even field projection; new hazers in the Jem and Magnum lines, and several new products and product updates in Martin’s controller range, as well as an exterior 1200 Image Projector.
The stand out additions from Martin were two 1500W fixtures in the MAC range: the MAC III Profile and the MAC 2000 Wash.
The MAC III Profile is the first product in Martin’s third generation of MAC moving heads, which boast extended colour mixing with a broader colour range plus deeper and more vibrant hues, a fat beam look with great beam definition, up to 75% more output than current 1200W profile fixtures, wide zoom range, new gobos, animation effects, very fast effects and movements and low noise cooling.
Meanwhile, the 1500W MAC 2000 Wash XB kicks out over 60,000 lumens of power to make it 40% brighter than its MAC 2000 Wash brethren.
PixelRange’s brand new PixelMax washes could be seen on the company’s massive Vince Foster-designed LED structure near the central bar space.
The structure featured 16 of the new washes, which are based on 132 high intensity Luxeon K2 LEDs. Offering exceptional colour washing capabilities, the PixelMax Wash complements the current range of PixelRange fixtures such as the PixelLine Micro W and the PixelLine 110. The unit’s impressive colour palette can create pretty pastels or deep saturated hues. Our interview with PixelRange’s Ashley Lewis about the LED structure is at www.tpimagazine.com/video.
PR Lighting reported an excellent response to ts new automated moving lights and LED displays. Its latest XL 1500 projector is a versatile, feature-packed fixture that utilises a powerful 1500W short arc discharge lamp, optimised by the use of a high quality and efficient optical system.
Robe Lighting highlighted its new DigitalSpot 7000 DT, DigitalSpot 3000 DT and RED series (including high spec wash, mix, strobe and flash variants.) The DigitalSpot 7000 DT is based on LCD and LED technology and is a unique combination of digital projector and two RGBW LED modules, offering amazing digital gobo effects and the projection of highly saturated colours — all in a single moving light fixture.
SGM returned to PLASA with the new Giotto Digital 1500, an innovative moving head fixture that projects digital graphic effects with impressive brightness and speed. Whilst retaining the characteristics of a typical moving head, the 1500 is equipped with an innovative all-digital system for the generation of graphic effects, while maintaining fundamental features such as fast movement, brightness, control standard and compact dimensions.
For Tryka l.e.d., the show was all about its new Easy Link system, a time-saving method of creating decorative LED walls and fittings.
Zero88 showcased its new ORB system which combines four universes of control designed to meet the requirements of the latest LED, moving head and video server technology.
STAGING, RIGGING, TRUSSING...
Kinesys bought two new products to the show. The Libra is a Crosby shackle with a load sensing pin. Currently available are 3.25 tonne and 4.5 tonne versions, both with a 5:1 safety factor. A Libra loadcell can either be connected directly to a Kinesys Elevation 1+ giving feedback about the motor being controlled by the Elevation, or daisy-chained together with other Libras and connected to an interface unit positioned on the floor.
The Pulse is a pendant controller designed for use with any Kinesys product. It sits between the basic Rigger hand controller and the full version Vector and K2 software automation packages, working
on a Windows CE platform specifically developed for mobile applications. This include a very simple to use touch-screen interface.
Litec as back this year with some useful arc and double pitch roof systems for temporary events. Using its QX30S truss system, Litec was able to demonstrate how a modular roofed system can be made of standard aluminium components. The only special modules are connections between the curved roofing trusses and the base structure. The solution provides a nifty method of optimising a truss stock, or using the individual components differently when the roofing is dismantled.
Using Litec’s QX/TL, a double pitch roof can be constructed with the Litec Towerlift 3 allowing the whole system to be raised up to 6m above the ground. The versions with spans of up to 10m have high loading performances, which decrease in the case of 12m spans. For better performance with larger spans, it is advisable to use the versions mounted on Litec Varitower 2 lifters.
LTM launched its highly anticipated Lodestar Plus, a pimped version of the original Lodestar featuring many kit modifications that LTM has carried out to existing clients’ systems. These modifications will now come as standard.
ROSCO RAISES LIGHT RELIEF FUNDS
In 2003, Rosco introduced a new colour to its Supergel range to raise funds for the UK charity Light Relief. Gratifyingly, #313 Light Relief Yellow has proved a popular colour and at PLASA, Light Relief trustee and PLASA MD, Matthew Griffiths accepted a cheque for almost $3,700 (£2,100) from Rosco president Mark Engel.
Said Engel: “This is the fourth year we’ve been able to support Light Relief with a cheque at PLASA. Our contribution to date now exceeds $15,000 and has been funded by purchases of #313 Supergel. We envisioned this arrangement as ‘a gift that keeps on giving’ and we’re delighted that it continues to fulfil that promise.”
Developed with the help of Rick Fisher, co-founder (along with the late Tony Gottelier) of the industry charity which supports lighting designers in difficult times. Light Relief Yellow is the vibrant, sunshine colour of the charity’s logo.
PRIZEGIVING AT PLASA08
The 2008 PLASA Awards for Innovation continued the recent trend of recognising a diverse range of technologies. Over 65 products were showcased in a new Innovation Gallery, and judged by an independent panel drawn from across the industry.
Seven Silver Awards were presented by PLASA chairman Rob Lingfield. The Silver winners were:
Goboland — Black Steel Gobo
Neutrik — convertCON
Display LED Screens — digiFLEX
Clay Paky — Alpha Beam 300
JB-lighting Lichtanlagentechnik — VaryLED A7 Zoom
Eilon Engineering — Ron StageMaster
Global Design Solutions — Mobal 19-pin Pro Tester
The first ever Gold Award went to the Royal Shakespeare Company for its RSC LightLock. The Environmental Award — which seeks to recognise a product or company that has taken significant steps to minimise the environmental impact of its activities — was presented to Proteus Display for its new, reflective LCD Proteus display.
Also featured was the second presentation of the prestigious Gottelier Award, named in honour of the late designer Tony Gottelier, and launched in 2007 to recognise significant contributors to product development.
The 2008 award was presented by Sue Gottelier to John Stadius, technical director of Soundtracs/DiGiCo, and the highly regarded designer of mixing consoles for the live, broadcast and recording markets.
The awards ceremony also featured a brief presentation from Live Nation’s CEO, Paul Latham (right), the newly-appointed chair of the National Skills Academy, who encouraged the industry to support this major new project.