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Caught In the Crossfire - AvNetwork.com

Caught In the Crossfire

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Have any of you noticed that it's Infocomm time again, or is it just me?

Seriously, the deluge of Infocomm advertising that hits my desk every year continues to amaze me. New product announcements, magazines, flyers, email blasts, DVDs, faxes -- all repeated over and over as if sending you one copy couldn't possibly be enough. Now, the ones I really hate are the "targeted" email blasts, which get through my spam filters and are "especially for me" even though they have my name spelled wrong and are sending me multiple copies under multiple spellings.

Alright, already -- I know.

But besides the way they're addressed and blasted out, they all have one thing in common. They all seem to be about the most important product I'm going to see at Infocomm. They're all revolutionary. They're all in a class by themselves. And they're all the key to making a profit in the future.
Glad I know now.

But none of them are the reason I go to Infocomm.

Look, folks, I'm in the business. If a revolutionary new projector is introduced, I won't need to go to Infocomm to see it. The marketing departments of the big manufacturers do a good job of getting the news out. And there are better places to evaluate such products than a 5-minute demo in a crowded tradeshow booth.

No, I go to Infocomm (the tradeshow part, anyway) for the other kind of product - the niche stuff that I might not hear about otherwise that can make life in a Staging company easier. The stuff that's crossing over into our business from other areas, where the manufacturers haven't met the dealers yet. Or the stuff that some enterprising Stager created because he or she couldn't find a product to fill a need, and they're showing it for the first time in some little pipe-and-drape booth in the corner near the snackbar.

Some previous year winners, for me, included such stellar products as the AlumaLok Airwall Hanger, which was one of those products we've all been jury-rigging our way around for years. Or small, approved, convenient power distro systems from companies like Motion Labs. Both these companies have progressed radically since I saw them introduce their first products. And this year, there will no doubt be a number of new companies that will follow their lead with innovative, need-filling products.

And those are the ones I go to the show floor to see.

What am I looking for this year, some of you may ask? Well, my list may be different than yours, but as an example:

Small, portable set construction systems that are easier to use, more portable, and more durable than those that are out there now. There's nothing particularly wrong with the existing ones, except, of course, that they're kludgy and expensive. But I want pipe and drape to go away. The screen manufacturers already have all the technologies to make this for me - they just need to be prodded. But, chances are, it'll come from someplace else. RoseBrand's recent move to framed spandex pieces is a good start. Now make it a system.

Unified cueing systems that don't cost an arm and a leg. Extend Electronics MasterCue 5 was a good start - but expensive and hard to find. It needs to offer a wide variety of wired and wireless remotes, automatic PC and ClearCom integration, and multiple status displays.

Small, dedicated programmable LED lighting console. Now that everyone has LED color lights, even those companies that don't normally emphasize lighting, there needs to be a control console that emphasizes multiple scenes that is so easy to program a video technician can do it. There seems to be a huge gap between small lighting consoles that make you control DMX channels with unmarked faders and a Grand MA or WholeHog type system. Something with a guided touchpanel would be nice. Not too many channels, not too many fixtures, and dead simple so I can send out a few units to color some flats from the ground without my LD. This product probably exists, but nobody has shown it to me yet.

Anyway, that's my list.

See you in the pipe-and-drape area, over near the snackbar.

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