The Lighting Dimension. By Josh Weisberg -

The Lighting Dimension. By Josh Weisberg

Publish date:

The weather was just gorgeous during LDI (Lighting Dimensions International) in Orlando last month. Lots of bright sunshine, the occasional cool breeze and the low humidity made the outdoor activity at this trade show particularly welcome.

No, I’m not thinking about drinks around the pool at the Peabody, although that is certainly rewarding, instead I’m thinking about the sound stages assembled in the parking lot adjacent to the show floor.

Leaving the confines of the convention center’s frigid conditioned air to sit in a parking lot listening to concert level sound systems was an attractive and instructive diversion. While the quality of the live bands had a hard time competing with the canned playback from Cream’s Royal Albert Hall performance that was used by one of the manufacturers, the systems were well exercised and showed quite well. Coverage was excellent, levels were abundant, distortion unnoticeable. Now, if the speaker designers could figure out how to accomplish the same effectiveness with half the cabinets, we’d really be happy.

Oh, but this was a lighting show, so I suppose we should return indoors and look at some lighting gear. There was plenty to look at, but for a vidiot like me, it was sometimes difficult to perceive the different features of the products. Forcing one of my lighting staffers to join me in my wanderings did not enhance my efforts. He being of the cynical personality type, seemed happier pointing out the failings of the different offerings rather than exulting over the latest technology.

He had a couple of valid points however. One point was that while there were many more products on display this year, many of them were variations on a theme, rather than a triumph of innovation. For example, there were many, many types of moving fixtures available from a far larger group of manufacturers than ever before, but there did not seem to be much in the way of differentiation in terms of their feature sets. While increased competition in this area may produce innovation and price pressure, it does not provide much immediate benefit for the rental and staging community.

In the LED lighting arena, this dynamic was even more prevalent as the number of “me too” products was extraordinary. Tubes, lamps, tiles, blocks, spheres, you name it, they’re all filled with light emitting diodes. One can only hope that the preponderance of these products means that costs will drop as usage increases. With costs at current levels, LED, even low-resolution, is still a pricey item for many rental customers.

Even the media server landscape has become dotted with many alternatives and they were all in evidence at LDI. While it has become difficult to tell the differences between competing products, overall, the offerings have become ever more powerful, user friendly and reliable. It’s great to be able to choose between multiple products that offer image manipulation, edge-blending, warping and 3-D effects for the cost of a Betacam VTR.

There were a couple of products that stood out as unusual or innovative. One was based on good old incandescent lamp technology but with an advanced spin--DMX addressability. Linking the lamp sockets provides the ability to easily create all types of nostalgic zipper-type signs such as one might find on a 40-year-old movie theater marquee. Made by Whitelight out of the U.K., the Digital Festoon system generated a lot of interest and rightly so.

Creating perhaps an even bigger buzz was the Image Mesh system made by Komaden of Japan. A low-resolution LED system that looks somewhat like plastic fence material, it stood apart from the others due to its brightness, lightness and transparency. With pixel spacing at 25mm, video content and animated text where well defined and turned off it looks less like a video display than anything else out there.

Finally, we liked Vari-lite’s new VL-500, the successor to the very popular VL-5 fixtures from a couple of years ago. With a 120v lamp, optional on-board DMX controller and dimming, the VL-500 combines the great light qualities of the VL-5 with the state-of-the-art movement of current Vari-lite fixtures.

However, no matter how smooth the color changes, no matter how bright the light source, no matter how quickly the pan pans and the tilt tilts, it doesn’t beat the Florida sunshine in November. Therefore, I shall be heading back outdoors for some by-the-pool networking.


Image placeholder title

Revisting the 3rd Dimension

Part 2: Current technologies at use in the rental & staging world   Welcome back to our second tour through a third dimension. When last we met, we were discussing the idea of 3D imaging systems vs. the idea of 3D effect systems, and what each of them were used for. Bear this in mind for the rest of the arti

Whos the Producer Here, Anyway? By Joel Rollins

In the days when we did presentations from physical media, such as slides, film, or videotape, we spent a lot of time helping clients or producers "fix" media onsite. We re-trayed slides that were in incorrect sequence or orientation (anybody remember getting a tray of slides trayed for "ceiling mount"?). While turning the slides right-side-up, we glass mounted them. We spliced broken 16mm film. We used markers to fix poorly duplicated overhead transparencies. We even used cuts-only systems to edit videotape onsite when it turned out that some portion had been produced with a mistake. We often were there until two or three in the morning. When the personal computer and digital formats were on the horizon, I couldn't wait until they changed our business and made it so we didn't have to be there until three A.M. any more.

The More Things Change... By David Keene

After all the hand-wringing about the demise of the cross-rental business in recent years, a dynamic that made this a unique and vibrant industry with its own unique set of rules, it seems "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

The Flavors of High Definition. By Les Goldberg

As high-definition video becomes more mainstream, understanding the "flavors" of high definition is crucial to finding the right fit for each show. It's often difficult to cut through the jargon and identify, which format is appropriate for your show. Here's a breakdown of what's out there, starting at the top.