LDI2003: The Convergence Begins


Convergence — the integration of lighting, sound, staging and projection — is a concept that has been batting around this industry since they were all first used together on one stage. Yet the explosion of video projection and its potential seen by both lighting and set designers could be a sign that we are least taking the first few cautious steps in that direction. In what may eventually come to be seen as a case of perfect timing, North America's largest lighting trade show, Lighting Dimensions International, changed its name this year to The Entertainment Technology Show-Lighting Dimensions International. This year's event, held November 21-23 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, showed perhaps the widest range of entertainment technology ever seen on one show floor in the US.

People came to see it all, too. Attendance, at over 10,000, was up, many attendees were in a buying mood, a sign that we are perhaps, at last, out of the recession that has staggered the industry over the last three years.

Projection was everywhere, and in many formats. Companies like Barco, G-LEC, and XL Video featured eye-grabbing LED screens. High End Systems had its 17-minute show (surely the longest in LDI history) that put its Catalyst and DL1 products through their paces. Fourth Phase, the company that set off the digital trend with the much-talked about, never-released iconM, showed M-Box, a kind of Son of iconM, which has been turned into a digital video media system. You can read a full report on all the hottest projection products on display in Bob and Colleen Bonniol's On Projection column, page 32.

There was a strong component of new staging gear too, from Hoffend's promising new Vortek rigging system to Wenger's Rock ‘N Roll costume rack. And sound was also well represented, mostly at Tour Link, the concert staging offshoot located in the parking lot outside the convention center, but also inside. Between the two locations, three of this year's five ED Sound Products were on display.

But of course, ETS-LDI remains, for now, predominantly a lighting show. On that front, LEDs were once again out in full force. Interestingly, many of the new lights are devoted to the theatre market. These include ETC's Revolution, the company's first automated unit; the ColorCommand, a stationary color-mixing unit from High End, and the Nexera, another color-mixing unit, in this case from Wybron.

What follows is our usual highly selective list of new gear that caught our eye. You can find a more comprehensive roundup of debuting products as well as the full list of honorees at the LDI Awards, on the ED website at www.entertainmentdesignmag.com. Try as we might to be comprehensive, something inevitably escapes our notice. If you had a new product that debuted on the floor and was not included on this list, let us know. And mark your calendar for the next show: October 22-24, 2004 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas.


Featured products at ACT Lighting included Artistic Licence' Colour-Tramp, a lighting control system designed for complex, two- and three-dimensional lighting arrays. It combines the concept of lighting control with a graphic editor. The lighting array is entered using a graphic user interface; Colour-Tramp's editing tools allow selection and coloring of geometric shapes of lamps. Further editing controls provide the ability to shift, wipe, move, rotate, and more. Show programming is then performed using color palettes and visual editing tools.

AC Lighting Ltd. featured Jands' new Vista control console. It is fundamentally different from most current consoles, especially with its new approach to the user interface and the introduction of a timeline, which gives you the complete picture and control of all lighting events. Along with a generic fixture module that is becoming more of a standard in intelligent lighting consoles, the Vista uses a pen-based system-program on a touchscreen.

Apollo Design showed its new Smart Move gobo rotator. In addition to bi-directional rotation, the unit offers various individual movements without the need for a controller. Effects are built-in and pre-programmed; all you do is use the onboard rotary switches and speed-control dial for setting the desired effect and speed. It includes 18 built-in effects.

Avolites showed the Graphics Tablet, a new interface for programming or running moving lights. Button pushes are eliminated forever with this new production, which has a simple, drag-and-drop philosophy, enables the movement of any number of lights as one, and which allows precise color mixing in seconds.

Birket Engineering showed the new Strobe-Brik EZ, an inexpensive standalone unit designed for applications where the individual strobe control offered by DMX is not desired. The unit features standard 120VAC operation and four relay-input or hardwire selectable shows.

At City Theatrical, Lightwright 4 wins again with a Product of the Year - Lighting Tools and Software Award. John McKernon's ubiquitous program again makes LDs lives a lot easier and is available for PCs and Mac OSX. A special announcement of note was the partnership with Color Kinetics to supply accessories for Color Kinetics product line. The already extensive accessory line was on display and will be distributed through both companies.

Clay Paky, showing under the aegis of distributor Group One, unveiled the Alpha Wash, a washlight with features that include an optical unit with high luminous efficiency and a zoom that allows for a beam angle ranging from 4Þ to 80Þ. CP Color MH is a professional moving-head color changer, designed for use in theatre, television studios, live performances and exhibitions.

Design and Drafting showed its LD Assistant PL03 w/FX, an AutoCAD-Plug-in optimized for theatrical and entertainment lighting design. Features include atmospheric lighting and lens effects, volume light (smoke in the beam) and lens effects (glow, ring, noise, secondary, star and streak).

Diversitronics featured the new Mighty Lite 1000, a small, lightweight DMX strobe. It is a high-peak capacitor discharge strobe with a 250,000-beam candlepower flash output. The unit features input and thru connectors for both power and control allowing daisy chaining up to 32 strobes on one 15A circuit.

Doug Fleenor Design featured the Hog Chopper, a box to fill the gap left by the demise of the Wholehog II Overdrive units, as well as the Preset 10 Architectural, a DMX wall station with 10 buttons that can hold 10 presets with fade times, all in a single gang backbox.

Electronic Theatre Controls had the US unveiling of its new Source Four Revolution, an automated ellipsoidal luminaire, for use in the theatre. It is designed with performance, modularity, and quietness as its main features. The designers sacrificed speed for quietness, which, in a demo room, proved very quiet indeed. It uses a 750W QXL lamp, which comes with a very nice quick-change mount at the rear of the unit. It features an onboard dimmer that accepts worldwide voltage, so there is one filament design for the world. The Revolution comes with a color scroller sporting up to 24 plastic colors. It has two module bays and, currently, there are four modules available: a shutter module; a static gobo wheel module; a rotating gobo module; and an iris module.

Entertainment Technology made a splash with its new Bak Pak Individual IGBT Intelligent Dimmer. This compact, lightweight single dimmer weighs just 2lbs. It can be mounted to the yoke of a fixture or just about anywhere else that you need a dimmer and operates silently. The module is available in 750W and 1,200W versions.

Future Light introduced the Edge Light, an LED strip light product for the edge of stages to keep people from falling off the edge of the stage. It is designed so that only the performer can see the light and not the audience.

G-LEC Europe GmbH from Germany showed its very cool G-LEC Curtain, which integrates pictures, animated graphics, and video, all of which can be controlled from an ordinary DMX console. The Curtain won an honorable mention in the projection category of the Debuting Product/Promising Prototype of the Year award.

High End Systems showed the ColorCommand and ColorMerge, two products aimed more for the theatre market, as they are color-changing products with no fixture movement. ColorMerge is a dichroic color mixing system that fits any standard-sized ETC Source Four ellipsoidal fixture, at a cost comparable to a color-mixing scroller, and uses dichroic glass as its color media. ColorCommand is a color-changing PAR/wash light that uses a patented, color-mixing system that incorporates automated changing of color and beam angle at a cost comparable to a PAR and scroller.

IES BV was at the show for the first time, showing the latest series of developments of its award-winning Matrix sine wave dimming system. The company has led the charge of sinewave dimming; other manufacturers are just now jumping on this bandwagon.

Interactive Technologies introduced its new CueLink wireless Ethernet device designed for lighting and show control applications. CueLink works in a range of up to five miles. CueTouch is a fully customizable universal LCD touch panel accessory for ethernet based lighting control systems that allows users to design pages of on screen buttons, sliders, and switches — all in a compact package.

Lycian showed several new followspots, including the compact Midget II Quartz and Midget II Arc units, and the Modular M2 followspot system. The Midge IIs sport a 575W halogen and a 350W metal arc lamp and are designed for clubs, schools, small theatres, and houses of worship. The M2 is a collection of modules that, depending on the configuration, when assembled will yield spotlights capable of wide-angle short-throw to narrow long-beam throw units.

MA Lighting International had the grandMA micro console for the size-challenged and the Network Signal Processor (NSP) for the grandMA console range. The grandMA NSP allows for an integrated network solution by bridging the differences between the current multiple de facto standards; with an Ethernet network, it brings more transparency into the signal flow and utilizes standard industry components for an increased level of reliability.

At Martin Professional, all eyes were on the Maxxyz Version 1.0: Maxxyz professional lighting console. The Maxxyz won the LDI award for Product of the Year — Lighting/Entertainment. Another product, the Jem ZR 24/7 Hazer, winner of the Product of the Year — Scenic, Staging, and Effects award, is a high-precision, continuously operating DMX haze generator capable of delivering an optically translucent canvas of light-enhancing haze for long periods. It features a 900W heater with three positions of temperature control; continuous operating ability; and uses water based fluid to produce varying levels of atmospherics.

OpitiLED introduced The CHIP Linear Optical array, a new LED linear light that is designed for theatrical and entertainment venues; it is built with Light Prescription Innovators' patented optical technologies, which make it possible for the delivery of extremely focused beams of lights, save about 85% more energy than conventional bulbs, are safe to touch, and use near flammable materials.

Osram introduced the QXL 750/77 Quick eXchange Lamp, which is designed to be used in the new ETC Source Four Revolution moving-head spotlights; the patent-pending HPR 575/115 high-performance tungsten halogen lamp, with an internal reflector that increases the efficiency in PAR and ellipsoidal reflectors.

Philips premiered the ST 250 HR discharge lamp; rated at 250W, it incorporates Philips' ceramic technology, C3, to achieve comparable light output to a 1,000W halogen lamp using only 25% of the power consumption compared with halogen. In addition, Philips continued to vigorously market its Broadway halogen lamps; new in this line are the Broadway MSR SA double-ended lamps, available in 400W, 700W, 900W, and 1,200W versions.

Robert Juliat USA was highlighting the new Manon followspot among its other luminaires. The Manon is a 1,200W MSR cold-strike fixture. Features include double condenser optical system, 100% closing iris and mechanical dimmer, A-size moveable pattern holder, and a six-way push/pull color changer system. The unit can either be stand mounted or has a single point mount to attach to railings.

Rosco's brand-new X-Effects 3D projector, named a Promising Prototype in the Effects category at the LDI Awards, provides large-scale 3D effects utilizing a 200W enhanced metal arc source, which allows for an output of 5K lumens, and a 2000-hour lamp life. The effect itself is created by rotating two “B” size glass gobos off center of the optical path. This results in a projection that does not appear to have a visible direction or pattern. Also launched was the PSU 400W, a rack-mount universal power supply, an auto-sensing power supply that can supply a constant 400W to a variety of accessories including scrollers, gobo rotators, and accessories.

Selecon highlighted its new Pacific Followspot, with many of the same features that made the Pacific line of ellipsoidals a hit with its heat management technologies and superb imaging.

Strand Lighting had several new products, including an improved design for the SLD Dimmer Rack with more wiring space and new modules, including a working demonstration version of its new sinewave dimmer module. More innovations included: its new USB key drive with built-in designer remote software. With it, designers can plug the new drive into the USB port on a PC or Mac notebook with a wired or wireless Ethernet connection and access displays and controls on any Strand 300 or 500 series console.

Strong featured the Canto follow-spots, which feature a choice of three discharge and two tungsten halogen models. You can choose from 575W, 700W, and 1,200W MSD or MSR sources for throws of 33'-165' Also, on display was its new Sky Tracker in prototype form, the uses an 850W HMI source, runs off an 110V power feed and only requires two people to set it up.

Ushio America introduced its Heat-Shield pinch technology, which helps extend lamp life in hotter fixtures. Ushio has also developed the QXL (Quick Exchange Lamp) Halogen lamp in conjunction with ETC's new Source Four Revolution automated ellipsoidal. The 750W, 77V QXL features a patented base that allows the user to quickly change the lamp without opening the fixture, eliminating any issues with lamp alignment and optical settings.

Vari-Lite featured the new VL-3000Q, which offers a 50% audible reduction in noise output for both the spot and wash versions of this 1,200W luminaire. The fixtures are designed for theatre, television, houses of worship, or any application where quieter fixtures are crucial. The Vari-Lite engineers achieved a 10dBA noise reduction by slowing down the seven fans and redesigning several key elements to handle the increased heat load on internal components. The Series 3000Q fixtures move and operate the same as the original Series 3000 units, the tradeoff is strictly thermal.

Wybron introduced the Nexera wash and ellipsoidal color mixing luminaires. The Nexera is a clever fixture that uses an interesting set of dichroic plates to mix color in the beam. The unit is convection-cooled for quiet operation; it uses a 575W tungsten lamp, three DMX channels and a Wybron Coloram II power supply and cables, and is priced to compete with other color-changing methods.


American Harlequin was showing off their Woodspring Basketweave Sprung Floor, which starts with a triple layer of wooden bearers laid at right angles to one another onto shock-absorbent elastomer pads, then covered with marine grade plywood and topped with a Harlequin vinyl dance surface or finished hardwood.

Atomic Design specializes in dimensional soft goods, and has recently opened the rental portion of its business, offering a full service art department including drafting and rendering. Atomic also does custom design and sales.

AutoStage offered an excellent demonstration of the ActOne Scenic Automation System. This rental system is designed to simplify scenic motor control applications.

Amidst the snow, fog and flames, CITC showed some of its new flame effect units as well as its ever-popular snow generation systems. A highlight of the line is the Little Blizzard SP DMX.

Coffing Hoists featured its new UJC-1 Concert Hoist, designed for a variety of lifting duties, including lighting, sound, and scenery. It is available with a variety of capacities of rated loads including 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 lbs. (500, 1,000, and 2,000kg); and lifting speeds of 8, 16, and 32' per minute (2, 4.1, and 8.2 m/min).

Dazian introduced Trapeze Plus, a new inherently flame retardant stretch fabric of 90% Avora®Plus polyester/10% Lycra® that it developed in conjunction with Kosa. This fabric will stretch from 30-50% and is machine washable, maintaining its FR properties without retreatment.

Gala, a Division of Paco Corporation showed Gala Venue, a product that allows a space to customize its seat setup and usable floor space. Using an automation system that folds the seats under platforms to create a flat floor.

Gerriets International focused on its projection surfaces for front, RP, and even dual-purpose screens. Also shown was its Hi-Gloss Portable Dance Floor.

Named the ETS-LDI Product of the Year in the Rigging and Hardware category, Hoffend & Sons' Vortek is a complete, ceiling-to-floor rigging system for theatres that eliminates the need for counterweights. Significant features include a secondary holding brake that is variable-load and constantly applied, as well as a bold touchscreen user interface with intuitive features. The complete system, in all its speed and load-capacity configurations, has been designed for high-volume manufacturing and ease of installation.

JR Clancy showed the prototype of its new PowerLine line of winches, which operates via push-button control, eliminating the need to load counterweights. The PowerLine is flexible-it goes from speeds up to 180fpm and capacities up to 2,000lbs, and its controls range from manual push buttons to consoles with extensive cue and playback functions.

Le Maitre showed the LSG high Power unit, which has 50% power than its rivals and comes with a DMX interface; the company says it is the best-selling low smoke generator on the market. The Silent Storm DMX snow machine debuted; it has full DMX control over all options.

Medialon unveiled V3 of its Manager show control software, based on the input of theatrical, staging and theme park professionals. It is available in Lite, Stage and Pro versions. New features include realtime control of any cue, countdown windows, data recording, and visual containers for pop-up control panels.

Rose Brand showed the new Show-LED star drops, which consists of LEDs with sockets attached to the back of the drop by Velcro washers for easy replacement, and a DMX compatible eight-channel controller that supports 256 LEDs and offers 10 preset patterns. Also on hand was Chromatte, a keying solution from Reflecmedia in the UK composed of a lightweight curtain with over 70,000 glass beads per square inch and an LED LiteRing mounted on the lens of a camera projecting a bandwidth of blue or green directional light.

Theatre Effects introduced its new Power Tiny fogger, a 400W handheld, battery-operated unit that is great for small fogging applications. At the other end of the spectrum is the new Orka, the largest off-the-shelf fogger for more fog than you can shake a stick in.

Wenger unveiled a wide range of new products, including its new flipFORM® rehearsal platforms that can be arranged in a variety of configurations, from stairs to standing platforms, and the Rack ‘N Roll costume rack, which features top and bottom shelves made of welded steel grill construction, a basket that folds flat when not in use, and wheels that rolls easily even when fully loaded.


Clear-Com showed its new CellCom system, still in prototype, which combines license-free digital transmission with an intelligent base station that interconnects with wired communications, going beyond the typical wireless party-line, or even two-channel capability, with one-to-one and group conversations initiated from a beltpack.

EV (Electro-Voice) introduced the new Plasma powered loudspeaker system. The 15-inch two-way powered 80-degree × 55-degree Plasma P1 and single 18-inch powered subwoofer are designed for theatre, A/V, and professional sound reinforcement. The P1 integrates EV transducers with class H amplification and signal processing. The Plasma P2 is a compact subwoofers featuring a class H two-channel amplifier that requires no fans plus signal processing.

Midas unveiled its new Heritage 4000 console, which has all the features of the popular Heritage 30000 series but boasts 40 auxiliary sends. The first 24 are designed to be flexible mixes, so each pair can be configured as either two audio subgroups, or as stereo mix for in-ears, or as two mono sends. The other eight pairs are dedicated stereo mixes, each with level and pan.

Rane showed a new family of products that are DSP based but with front panel analog controls. Among them is the MM 42 monitor processor for in-ears, which uses a single stereo mix or two independent mono mixes using shelf/cut filters, three-band compression, five-band parametric EQ, and three-band peak limiter.

Systems Wireless showed the new HME PRO850 wireless intercom system, which happens to be one of this year's ED Sound Products of the Year. You can read all about it on page 23.

Speak of the devil, Yamaha touted its new DM3000, another of this year's ED Sound Products of the Year, which can also be seen on page 22.


Advanced Devices unveiled its new line of stainless and thermoplastic covers for its CL Series cam type panel mounts. These weatherproof covers feature a stainless steel pin and spring, stainless steel stand-off, and provide multiple mounting options.

Cole Wire & Cable introduced a 200ÞC silicone rubber tape called Versi-wrap. This easy-to-use tape has no sticky adhesive but rather is self-adhering and self-fusing. It is available in a variety of colors and has a temperature range of 60ÞC to 200ÞC.

Fall Safe showed its new Black Vest Harness fall protection unit, ideal for rigging, staging, and lighting. It features large pockets with velcro closures, as well as two adjustable buckle leg straps, a zipper front closure, and a chest buckle.

Lex Products showed the E-String, which not only won the ETS-LDI Product of the Year Award for Widget, but also the ESTA Widget of the Year Product Award. The E-String is a flexible cable with six outlets distributed along its length. Each outlet has an LED indicator showing the power is present.

The Light Source featured the Swivel Claw, a double Cheseborough-style clamp, which can hold the weight while you lock down the unit. Also shown was the Mega Track Hanger, which allows you to adapt a pipe hanging position to a Unistrut mounting system.

Neutrik showed new versions of its EtherCon® series of connectors, which offer both male cable carriers and assembled female receptacles. The cable end offers a die-cast shell as a carrier for pre-assembled RJ-45 plugs. Female chassis connectors come with a secure latching system. Color coding is available on both.

Setwear showed the new EasyFit 2 gloves, which feature breathable mesh for increased ventilation, smooth surface thumb, and index finger to improve handling of objects; reinforced thumb and fingertips that increase protection and reduce wear; and soft, flexible, durable and breathable synthetic leather palm.

Union Connector was displaying its SafeCam system; a patented cutoff system for safety and can expand into other systems and can retrofit into older systems. It is designed to render exposed cam outlets harmless. It senses when plugs are inserted into a cam outlet and disconnects the power from the outlets until all the cams are inserted.