Ten Promising Products to Watch at LDI 2000

Last year at this time, Y2K hysteria had our entertainment technologists focused on New Years Eve, the various parties of the Millennium, and whether their computers would work on January 1. LDI attendees were being told to place orders or do without! Now that it's clear we've survived since last year's LDI, it's time to focus on what to expect at this year's show in Las Vegas. And in order to give ED readers a jump on the festivities, we've put together a group of 10 promising new products to look out for on the show floor.

Admittedly, this is not a comprehensive list. Many companies prefer to leave attendees in suspense and unveil their new products on the show floor; some manufacturers continue to tweak the product until just before the show opens. But what struck us about the products we did get a peek at was not just the technological advances, but also the sheer diversity. Though LDI has always been thought of as a lighting show, the 10 products below prove once and for all that it's become much more than that.

Trends are sometimes difficult to articulate, but from the products we've seen thus far a redesign of existing products and applications is underway by many manufacturers; this should continue as long as there are advances in components and manufacturing. Also, networking and/or the expansion of linked products continues to grow; a good example of this is ETC and its ETCNet2 protocol suite, as well as WYSILINK, a graphical representation of dimmer errors. Another trend is the continued revisions and upgrades of software designed to both serve more applications and make it easier to use. And finally, DMX continues to be a major part of our industry, with everything from automated luminaires to lasers to fans and hazers having a selectable address as a must-have feature.

Of course, those attending LDI will find the new technology breakfasts a valuable place to hear about all these and other trends, direct from the manufacturers. These breakfasts are scheduled as follows: The breakfast for lighting products has been expanded to two hours and is scheduled for Friday, October 20 in Ballroom B/C. Sound is on cue for Saturday, October 21 in Marco Polo 806/907, and Lasers & EFX is planned for Sunday, October 22, in Marco Polo 703/803 of the Venetian hotel. All locations are adjacent to the Sands Convention Center, in Las Vegas.

But for those who either can't wait until LDI, or can't get up early enough for breakfast, here are our picks:

The Darvella Sharkstooth from Dazian Fabrics is constructed of an inherently fireproof fiber in a three-thread, non-snag construction. The fabric is designed to have superior strength, shade consistency, and be wrinkle- and mildew-resistant. In addition, it is designed for long-term usage and is also suitable for outdoor applications. Website: www.dazian.com.

Often referred to as an "add-on," the Design and Drafting LD Assistant is now being offered in a version to support AutoCAD 2000, and AutoCAD LT. It currently is available for VectorWorks (MiniCad) in both Mac/Windows platforms. The popular AutoBuild feature will be offered for the AutoCAD design program thereby simplifying and speeding lighting plot design. The website is: www.design-drafting.com.

The George & Goldberg Hot Shot Distro Panel will enable three phase hoist motors to operate and be controlled via one 20A, 120VAC circuit. The panel system enables two-chain hoist motors, 11/44-ton, 11/42-ton, or one-ton, three-phase hoists to be operated without the three-phase power. The rugged case has a power outlet and inlet and will accommodate NEMA L1620 and L1420 connectors. The website is: www.ggda.net.

Gerriets International promises silent, smooth, and precise vertical lifting with its P250JR Point Hoists, which are designed for use with scenery and lighting systems (lifting capacity: 551lbs/250kg). Through the dynamic gear motor and a standard variable speed control, working in conjunction with two stainless-steel bands, a precision-engineered system was created specifically for usage within entertainment venues. While variable up and down control is provided via a handheld remote, an optional "bus system" distributed on fiber-optic network cable allows the integration of a 24-bit absolute encoder system. This allows for many hoists to be operated in unison and for precise movement and positioning and interconnection with show control applications. The website is:ushwy1.com/gerriets.

Dubbed Figment DMX, the engineers at Interactive Technologies have created a "handheld DMX moving light console" for any PDA using the Palm OS. It is designed to bridge the gap between a full-featured lighting console and portable handheld DM X test equipment. It also offers many DMX troubleshooting features like instrument libraries, patching, cue lists, keyboard commands, and macros. Eighty channels can be viewed at once and moving light parameters are fully supported. A special interface, the Sidewinder Virtual DMX console, has an opto-isolated DMX port which, via RS-232, connects to the PDA. The website is: www.interactive-online.com.

JBL has proclaimed the EVO as the first intelligent sound reinforcement system and self-tuning, self-powered speakers are part of the system. Amongst the features are self-tuning for room equalization, speaker thermal characteristics, speaker delay and (very significant) feedback control. The EVO mixer station has onboard Lexicon processing, uses AKG UHF wireless microphones, EVOi 324 bi-amplified speakers, and a EVOinet speaker system controller. The entire system is expandable. The website is: www.jblpro.com.

As is implied by its name, Level Control Systems has developed an audio control solution. The Cue Console is a modular control surface that turns the new LCS Matrix3 mixing/processing section into a powerful FOH console for theatrical or concert applications requiring automation. Based on a sectional design, any of the four types of controllers (Faders, MetersPlus, Transporter, and Editor) can be positioned anywhere or arrayed into virtually any imaginable configuration. The website is: www.lcsaudio.com.

Rosco Laboratories has developed the I-Cue Intelligent Mirror as an attachment that fits on the front of ellipsoidals such as the ETC Source Four, the Strand SL series, Selecon luminaires, and the Altman Shakespeare; for providing an easily adjustable "moving light." Totally compatible with color scrollers and gobo rotators, the I-cue can interface with most scroller power supplies currently being used, or draw from its own 24VDC power supply. The I-cue uses a first-surface mirror and weighs about 3lbs and does not preclude the use of gel or gobos. The website is: www.rosco.com.

Befitting the new millennium, Rose Brand is offering a line of Digital Imaging Fabrics. The fabrics are available in large sizes, 32' x 60' for large stages, and Rose Brand now offers digital printing services. The line consists of numerous types of fabrics made from cotton or polyester, and most are fire-rated. Designers can choose from sharkstooth scrim, flagcloth, canvas, or muslin. A designer can choose the fabric based on characteristics of the backdrop, i.e., sheen or matte, opaque vs. translucent, stretchable or not, and level of ink absorbency. Lighting of these fabrics will produce different effects and the number of choices allows for creation of special looks or merely frontlight vs. backlighting. Over 15 types of fabrics are available. The website is: www.rosebrand.com.

As our list draws to a close, it's appropriate to end on a high note. Stage Technologies of London has designed The Pathway, a curved trajectory technology for flying with point hoists. First used on The Witches of Eastwick at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London's West End. The website is: www.stagetech.com.

More information on new products is already being collected and Entertainment Design will provide readers with a thorough booth-by-booth report in January 2001.