The TPi crew report on some of the major highlights
of September’s technofest at Earls Court...
The economic downturn has rendered it a difficult year for trade show events, with several shows worldwide announcing cancellations and many long-term exhibitors pulling out or reducing their stand space.
However, the overall buzzword of London’s entertainment technology trade show, PLASA09, was ‘quality’, with most exhibitors responding positively to the show.
PLASA Events’ show director Nicola Rowland said: “It was great to see that R&D in the industry continues despite the economic climate and it was reflected in both the number of product launches and the quality of products entered in the PLASA Awards for Innovation.”
The show reportedly drew 11,518 visitors (subject to ABC audit), with 28% coming from 99 countries worldwide, whilst entries for the PLASA Awards for Innovation were at the same level as last year.
But the event at Earls Court did not escape the ripples of the recession; its effects were apparent in the draping off of an empty section in Hall 2 and the increased floor space throughout. Litestructures was surprised to discover one side of its stand was shielded by the draping.
Other major players in the industry that have undergone mergers or acquisitions, or formed new partnerships, saw this as an opportunity to share stand space in order to reduce costs.
A distinct lack of aisle signage did not go unnoticed by the press, for whom a successful show partly relies upon quick and effective stand hopping. We can only hope this will be improved next year.
Prior to the show, Pro-Lighting’s GM assistant Mónika Domínguez announced that no staff member of the company would attend PLASA based on two reasons: “There are key suppliers who will not be exhibiting this year at PLASA and saving on expenses will help overcome the poor results the market has yielded in the first semester of the year.”
She later added: “There are various ways of showing a product taking into account the target market/customer. But I really think trade shows can cater for not only direct sales’ needs, but also technicians’ inquiries. It is also an interesting way of keeping an eye on what the market demands.”
Value for money has obviously been a key driver in whether companies invest in exhibiting at trade shows this year. Andy Graves, director of sales & marketing for Pulsar, commented: “We still need a platform to show ourselves, but the days of mega stands are gone. It’s more about balance these days.”
Goboland UK director, Vicky Fairall said: “There may have been fewer visitors this year but the quality of the enquiries was high and were of great value to the company. The new Credit Crunch custom gobo went down extremely well — people just love it since it has brought custom gobos within the budget constraints of our customers in these financially challenging times.”
Joe Bull, managing director of JoeCo, a new exhibitor to the show, and Award for Innovation winner for the company’s Blackbox Recorder BBR21 for live performance, said: “The PLASA show was phenomenal — far better than I could have hoped for. And I think that was due in large part to the Awards for Innovation, not because we were a winner, but because we were a part of it and had our product on display in the Innovation Gallery.”
His view was seconded by another new exhibitor, Phil Ion of Core Lighting: “We had a great experience; being at our first show as a new business we didn’t know what to expect, but the quality of the leads and the depth of the discussions we had with potential customers was fantastic. Even better, our Awards entry generated a lot of interest in the products. We will certainly be attending next year.”
New initiatives at PLASA09 included the presence of government agencies with the Supply2.gov.uk Lounge attracting a lot of attention, and advice on procurement and funding opportunities in the public sector being snapped up by visitors.
The show’s strongest ever Education & Learning Programme totalled 36 sessions with an array of sessions including Industry Masterclasses from former Gottelier Award recipients Tony Andrews of Funktion-One and John Stadius of DiGiCo, seminars, product presentations, industry debates and intensive product training.
LIGHTING & VISUALS
When Avolites launched the new ART 2000 PowerCube at PLASA, MD Steve Warren boldly stated: “This will be our biggest selling product ever. We’ve already received an order for 50 and sold another 300 at the show.”
This new range is the next step in ultra portable dimmer, mains & data distribution systems, which is synonymous with the Avolites ART dimmer range.
Based on the proven technology of the ART 2000 touring range, the ART PowerCube features 12 dimmer circuits, six combined dimmer and fixed mains circuits, six dedicated fixed mains and two 16A utility circuits, all contained in a compact flight case that can be lifted by one person and securely stacked.
Barco presented a new lighting product, the DL.3F, which is a fixed installation version of High End Systems’ popular and well-established DL.3 digital light. As the newest edition to Barco’s line of digital lighting products, the DL.3F features the same integrated media server and output capabilities as the DL.3, yet with reduced input/output capabilities.
Compulite introduced two new consoles at the exhibition, the Vector Violet and Vector Ultra Violet, which were created in response to requests from LDs and venues for a compact lightweight portable console that would not compromise power and creativity for size.
By popular request UK lighting control manufacturer Cooper Controls — represented by LightProcessor — has responded to client demands for an RJ45 output version of its ever popular DMX Buffer data distribution device. The RJ45 Buffer is an RJ 45/DMX serial data distributor. DMX in and through can now be via 5-pin or 3-pin XLR or RJ45 — if this option is chosen at the time of order.
D.T.S. introduced over 15 new products in five distinct ranges: moving head projectors, LED bars, underwater LED projectors, LED projectors, and matrix LED systems. The XR300 Beam is a new compact moving head with an extremely high light power, projecting a parallel and very concentrated beam.
With its new optical unit, the XR300 Beam generates 125,000 Lux at 5m, using only a 300W lamp, giving an exceptional balance between performance and power consumption.
The XR300 Beam features a breakthrough in moving-head technology, dubbed Free Axis Rotation (‘FAR’). The FAR system allows limitless pan and tilt rotation: the XR300 Beam head rotates freely on its axes, horizontally or vertically, without interruption, in either direction, never having to reverse motion.
Also in this range the XR3000 Spot CMY is one of the most powerful moving heads in the 1200W range and the XR2000 Beam is a new compact moving head with an extremely high light power, projecting a parallel and very concentrated beam.
FOS 100 Dynamic is a new compact self-contained LED bar designed for colouring large surfaces with a uniform projection, either indoor and outdoor (IP65 protection rating), and also to create eye-catching visual effects.
Spotlight was proud to introduce the new MidiLED, a compact 80W in RGBW spot with zoom from 12° to 50°.
GLP enjoyed one of its most successful trade shows ever at this year’s PLASA. By the time the team broke down the stand after four days’ heavy trading they had sold more than 300 units of their newly launched Impression 120RZ (Zoom).
Along with the Impression 120RZ, two other new products were showcased; the Volkslicht, which is a compact Rebel LED moving head priced at budget driven shows which don’t want compromise, and the Meisterstuck, which is designed to meet lighting designers’ quest for quiet LED based optics without compromising on colour or beam quality, and with a zoom range from 7° to 28°.
Martin Professional displayed its first LED moving heads, new LED video solutions, and new LED luminaires for indoor and outdoor use.
It also showcased a full Maxxyz Modules concept, the company’s unique modular lighting control solution that is creating a buzz among lighting designers and installers. The mix and match modularity of the system ensures precise adaptation to any situation from a simple lighting solution to the most complex touring lighting system.
PR Lighting launched XPar 348, an IP66 rated outdoor LED par can, in a compact modular design. By combining 48 x 3W LEDs in an RGBW colour mixing system the XPar 348 is perfect for indoor/outdoor applications. Also on show was the XL Beam 300 moving head and XLED 590 LED moving head wash light.
The Robert Juliat Horus Cyclight was a big success, especially amongst British customers. This 650/ 1000/ 1250W tungsten Cyclight was reintroduced at ProLight+Sound earlier this year as a result of customer demand having been remodelled and updated to make it even more efficient and easy to use.
Green Hippo arrived at PLASA with UberPan, a unique multi-server screen management component that allows multiple Hippotizers to work together and create single virtual control canvas. Connect to as many display devices as you have server outputs, and output to as many different sizes and configurations as you like.
Once configured, the ‘herd’ of Hippotizers are seen as one single server allowing easy realtime manipulation from ZooKeeper control software.
TMB Architectural displayed a comprehensive range of architectural solutions, including: CueServer by Interactive Technologies; curveLED transparent flexible video display curtains; Deja Cue lighting playback and integration processor; Digital Festoon DFS colour changing LED display systems; Falcon Xenon fixtures by Alpha One; Tempest all-weather fixture and projection enclosures.
TMB also showed an array of popular products for the entertainment professional, including: Core Lighting wireless fixtures for the temporary events market; DMX Data Lynx four-universe DMX console switcher and backup; Gefen video conversion and distribution devices; Hippotizer media servers; Kinesys Libra loadcell and Elevation motor control; ProPlex and ProCable professional cables and assemblies; ProPower CE power distribution; SandBox multi-protocol hardware; Toplight with Space Bag for deeply projected loft lighting; and W-DMX Generation III wireless DMX featuring the new Ugly Box wireless signal tester.
Wireless Solution Sweden AB once again used PLASA to showcase new W-DMX products, as well as hosting an educational seminar to educate the public on the benefits and advances in Wireless DMX technology.
One of the most exciting products on display was the UglyBox Performance Kit, which includes the new W-DMX UglyBox and Co-Existence Dongle with a wide selection of antennae to provide feedback on all aspects of wireless signal, never before available to lighting technicians.
PixelRange launched SkyLine, a family of extremely durable outdoor architectural LED floodlights. Capable of high projection, even washes and focused feature lighting, each luminaire can feature one or two robust, stylish housings with a highly flexible variety of LED and circuit formats. Other new products include the new PixelPar Festival, an outdoor IP65 rated version of the industry standard PixelPar.
Global Design Solutions showcased a number of innovative new products, including LiteWare battery wireless luminaries and MainsSystem, a 230V version of the award-winning BluesSystem. LiteWare is a stand-alone, wirelessly controllable light source with up to 24-hours operational run-time. This cable-less fitting allows quick, simple deployment and set-up.
Clay Paky brought to lighting designers the most powerful spot and wash luminaires available with the new Alpha 1500 Series. This range includes five top level luminaires, each one designed, with no compromise, to the requirements of specific applications. The Alpha Profile 1500 is the most powerful moving head spotlight featuring a framing system that allows the most accurate and versatile beam shape control (patented), making this luminaire suitable to the most demanding lighting sets.
The new Alpha 700 range of fixtures includes the Spot HPE, Wash and Beam versions. Packed in a compact housing, these lights have much higher performances than their power category would suggest in terms of brightness, variety and precision of effects, and versatility of use.
This range includes the Alpha Spot HPE 700, which combines spectacular effects, ease of daily use, simple operation and environmental sustainability.
RCF, dB Technologies and SGM Technology for Lighting exhibited for the first time together as the RCF Group, following the Group’s announcement in April of the acquisition of the leading Italian lighting company, SGM.
RCF presented new additions to the highly acclaimed TT+ Touring and Theatre Series, dBTechnologies unveiled the Opera Digital and DVX systems, as well as latest additions to the already successful FlexSys and DVA ranges, and SGM showcased the Palco 5 Full Color, which uses Rebel LED, the Stilo IP65 and the new Giotto Spot 700.
As well as marking the manufacture of the 500th SD8 digital mixing system (see sidebar), DiGiCo announced the launch of a new, smaller footprint console designed to suit the industry’s changing needs. It has been inspired by the SD8 and is smaller in size, but with no reduction in functionality or number of inputs and outputs. At under 1m in width, this diminutive powerhouse is known as the SD8-24.
The SD8-24 has the fixed architecture of the SD8, employing the same smaller Super FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), a technology that has been around for almost as long as DSP.
The console benefits from all the features currently available on the SD8, as well as some additional ones courtesy of the newly developed OverDrive software.
VMB was pleased to announce the availability of Rainbow, its electro-acoustical prediction software for the company’s speaker systems, boasting horizontal as well as vertical modelling.
Windows-based, Rainbow allows simulation of complete systems, such as a main large format array complemented by a smaller delayed array and front-fills. Thus, its library of loudspeaker systems includes, not only the company’s self-powered line array modules with built-in inclinometer (LX-V8 and LX-F6 with accordion-folded ribbon HF driver), but also models from its Phase or ADP lines.
However, Rainbow was designed principally with the two line arrays in mind — VMB has introduced two line array systems in the past three years, the Lynx V8 and the Lynx F6. Both line arrays are active systems with Class D amplification, both incorporate DSPs, but it is the Spanish company’s claim to have created the world’s first loudspeaker with a built-in inclinometer that it is most proud of.
Clear-Com Communication Systems, a Vitec Group brand, brought its latest innovations in digital wireless intercom technology.
On tap at the show was the newly released FreeSpeak Version 2.0 and Tempest2400, two groundbreaking wireless offerings aimed at ensuring that when it comes to communications for live performance and other mission-critical productions, users never have to compromise on intercom audio quality, reliability and accessibility.
Part of the Loud Technologies group, EAW exhibited its NTL720 line array loudspeaker system and the new MicroSub stage subwoofer.
During two special free seminars, Renkus-Heinz offered a free opportunity to explore how Iconyx Digital Beam Steering loudspeakers, along with RHAON digital networking, are transforming acoustically difficult spaces around the world into highly useable, profitable, successful spaces.
Products from the Axys Scope and Source ranges were on demonstration by Duran Audio. Axys G2 Loudspeakers have been designed with the theatre, places of worship, corporate and live music industries in mind. The full range models have active three-way designs, which boast in a very smooth extended high frequency response.
Yamaha has taken its successful Installation Series of loudspeakers a stage further by introducing two complementary products, the IMX644 rackmount digital mixer and the IPA8200 eight channel power amplifier. Designed to dovetail seamlessly with all models of Installation Series speaker, the introduction of the IMX644 and IPA8200 means that the Installation Series now offers a complete sound reinforcement system, ensuring no compromise on sound quality and flexibility by having to incorporate third party products.
Elation Professional debuted many products, including the Design Wash LED 60, Palm Co-Pilot, Design Spot 1200C, Event MH W System and Event Brick System, Design Wash LED Pro and EVLED 1024SMD video screen.
The Palm Co-Pilot means anyone can now control all their lighting fixtures with a touch of their fingertips, thanks to the new touch-sensitive controller.
The Design Spot 1200C is a hybrid spot/wash intelligent CMY moving head fixture that’s compact in size, but big on the features. Elation Professional has added two new wireless fixtures to its Event Series of battery-powered DMX-compatible RGB LED portable lights: the Event MH W System and Event Brick System, a moving head and brick colour wash respectively.
On the Harman International stand, products from AKG, BSS, Crown and dbx were showcased. AKG introduced the Architectural Microphone Series (AMS), which is based acoustically on the classic AKG Blue Line Series and is representing itself to be the latest must-have in microphones.
The brand also presented the full modular, highly flexible CS5 Conference System, the DMM 4/2/2 automatic mic mixer, which is a processor controlled digital automatic mixing algorithm with four balanced universal (mic/line) inputs and two stereo aux inputs.
In addition, the new versatile C 414 microphone series and the Perception Live series microphones were introduced. Perception 120 USB is the very first USB-equipped mic from AKG, offering studio-quality sound performance without requiring any installation or drivers.
BSS Audio introduced the Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) card to its acclaimed Soundweb London family of digital signal processors. The company also added a cost-effective break-out box to its Soundweb London digital signal processors. The new BLU-BOB output expander compliments the seven other members of the Soundweb London family and represents an inexpensive solution to increasing the number of outputs in a Harman HiQnet networked system.
Crown unveiled several new products. The new PIP-USP4, the fourth generation DSP-based PIP (programmable input processor) module for CTs Series two-channel amplifiers. The USP4 is a Harman HiQnet series component and connects to the audio control/monitor network using 100MB Ethernet hardware.
There’s a new update to its Macro-Tech i series of amplifiers, featuring increased power and new dual port capability. The newest addition to the DSi series, the DSI 6000 is designed to provide further support for the JBL line of cinema loudspeakers.
dbx Professional Products, a Salt Lake City-based manufacturer of professional signal processing products, showcased the new SC 64 (System Core) and SC 32 Digital Matrix Processors. These flagship processors feature intuitive Wizard-driven system configuration using Harman HiQnet System Architect, for unprecedented DSP power and routing flexibility, making it the ideal foundation for even the most demanding systems.
Also new is the DriveRack PA+, a complete loudspeaker management system that provides state-of-the-art audio signal processing and an intuitive user interface.
Red Square Audio showcased InnovaSon’s latest digital control surface, the Eclipse, and Paul Nicholson waxed lyrical about the “synergies to be gained“ through pairing the console with Tannoy’s current high-end pro audio line of loudspeakers.
Klark Teknik announced several major developments with regard to the AES50 protocol.
The UK manufacturer, which owns the intellectual property of the SuperMAC and HyperMAC core designs, has signed agreements with specialist third party developer companies AuviTran and ZP Engineering to make SuperMAC and HyperMAC technology available to the audio industry on a royalty-free basis.
This will be in the form of Software Development Kits (SDKs) for use with Xilinx Spartan-3E and -3S series field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).
The Midas Heritage 3000 celebrated 10 years as one of the live sound industry’s most popular touring consoles.
Launched in 1999, the H3000 quickly assumed pole position on tour riders and at festivals and live events across the world. It has become a favourite of engineers for its familiarity of use and sonic quality, characteristics that have passed into the next generation of Midas digital products the XL8 and Pro6.
The new JM-1P arrayable loudspeaker system was the main focus for Meyer Sound. The self-powered JM-1P arrayable loudspeaker system provides precise horizontal control in a seamless, tight-packed array, while exhibiting an impressive power output of 138dB max peak SPL at 1m.
Also shown on the stand was the new UP-4XP ultracompact loudspeaker, which is powered by a remote 48V power supply and ideally suited for installations as well as portable applications.
PLASA was the worldwide launch for SANE’s (Synchronous Audio Network plus Ethernet) new digital audio networking protocol. Using ring network topology, SANE claims to offer the first fully-synchronous CAT5 network solution for streaming uninterrupted media in real time.
This new low cost and high efficiency system, based on the sophisticated and well-proven Optocore technology, has evolved from the German company’s flexible new AD/DA X6R and V3R converters launched earlier this year; these offer split AES-EBU ports, sample rate conversion up to 192kHz, and five different card options.
As the exclusive UK distributor and prime reseller of a number of major brands, Orbital Sound showcased loudspeaker systems from d&b audiotechnik, digital wireless intercom systems from HME, and digital wireless microphone systems from Zaxcom.
Making their PLASA debut were the installation-specific Ti-Series
loudspeaker systems from d&b, featuring the same multi-purpose flexibility as the company’s T-Series, with mounting hardware to suit fixed-install applications.
Outline showcased the ultimate version of DVS 8 SP and DVS 10 SP, as well as the new subwoofers DVS 115 SW-I and DVS 118 SW-I fitted by the revolutionary DSP platform i-MODE thus representing the company’s new development in the DSP.
Artistic Licence creative director, Wayne Howell’s seminar on Artistic Licence Art-Net: The Benefits in Large Scale Installations & Applications, saw standing room only, with candidates being turned away at the door.
Four new products were launched at the show — Art-Play, Art-Relay, Sign-Control and Two-Play — in a well attended press launch and cocktail party on the Sunday evening. Two-Play is a two-universe, multiple record and playback Art-Net controller providing the perfect control solution for small to medium size installations.
Polar Audio exhibited a number of new products, including the new digital intercom range from ASL, which marks a breakthrough in providing efficient, reliable communications for demanding live production and event management applications.
Other newcomers were the new Australian Monitor Revolution Series DSP, the Pro16 and Pro64 Series digital snakes from Aviom, the beyerdynamic Opus 600 system and additions to the Revoluto conference system range, the Biamp RED-1 Remote Ethernet Device, Dynacord DSA Series Multi-Channel Amplifiers, the latest version of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Live and RHAON software, and XTA’s two breakout boxes for the Dante audio protocol — NXBoB8 and NXBoB16.
MOTION CONTROL & MORE
ShowTex theatre and event textile experts presented a gallery of new industry solutions, including a product launch of the Mesh Fabric Profile, which is the ideal solution for attaching no-sew netting to ceiling truss.
Goboland reported a positive response to its Credit Crunch custom gobos, which are an economical, uncoated alternative to the award-winning Goboland Black Steel gobos.
Le Maitre was promoting its new G Force range of smoke machines, which has been created around ground-breaking Genesis Easy Change Block System, incorporating Le Maitre’s unique Genesis block design. It enables the machine’s fluid pipe to be changed without returning the unit for service.
The G Force 1 machine produces a powerful and continuous output. The G Force 2 has the new pulse/phase pumping system giving an ultra quite, smoother delivery of vast amounts of smoke.
Le Maitre also introduced the Chameleon flame machine and Arctic Snow Machine.
Le Mark demonstrated its Kraken Tape, which it claims now out performs its rivals by being the only self-fusing silicone tape offered to the entertainment industry that meets EN 60454-2:2007 and EN 60243-1 standards.
Worldwide leader in the manufacture of aluminium rigging structures, Litec, unveiled the new high-performing RF40 truss, the relevant update of EXE-Lodestar chain hoist, winner of the PLASA07 and ShowTech07 Awards for Innovation, and the most widespread standard QX30S truss.
RF40 is a new line of trusses characterised by linear and elegant constructional geometries.