Roll Out the…Smaller Guns? -

Roll Out the…Smaller Guns?

Publish date:

Projectors have begun to shrink in the staging market

Staging projectors are big. Everybody knows that, don’t they? I mean, from the time I first got involved in this industry, staging projectors got larger. Anybody

Image placeholder title

remember the Eidophor or GE Talaria? Or Barco’s first big-CRT projectors, like the BarcoData 1001? Anybody remember that Mitsubishi once made a projector with 13-inch CRTs the size of a grand piano? Or, size king of them all, does anybody remember the Hughes/JVC behemoths? We have always taken some kind of perverse pride in the size of our projection equipment. Freud would have a field day with this.

So, what I’m seeing this year is somewhat surprising to me, because I see the size of staging projectors coming down.

It’s happening for lots of reasons — not the least of which is that, in the current economy, meetings are being staged with smaller audiences. One of the trends I have noticed for this spring has been that, although most of our annual events are being held, the guest list is pared down from previous years to control costs. Smaller audiences often mean smaller venues, lower ceilings, and less use of live IMAG — but with quality requirements unchanged from when the meeting was larger due to the type of attendee who is still coming — namely, senior execs — the ones too important to be left off the smaller attendee list.

On top of that, as designs refine, manufacturers are able to get more performance out of much smaller boxes. So, as I look around the industry, what I’m seeing is phenomenal growth in staging in mid-size projectors, with output from 8-12k lumens, in smaller boxes than ever before. This is where lots of the capital expenditures will take place this year, because this is one of the main areas where significant new products with some combination of price break and new features are being introduced.

In the fixed install market, the new kid on the block is WUXGA. WUXGA has been in the wings for several years, and the demand has been growing because this is, of course, the format of most new PCs. So look to most major projector manufacturers to bring out new WUXGA units this year.

What does this mean to us? Well, a couple of things, I think. One is that there will be a lot of new, cost-effective choices in the mid-range projector market for staging, with a lot of capability for the size.

Besides size and price/performance, the maturity of this new generation of machines has given us something that is a wishlist item for rental and staging companies, but a requirement for the fixed installation market — friendliness to control and networking. Increasingly, this new breed of projector has not only network control capability, but niceties like internal web servers for easy laptop control. This also makes them friendly and adaptable to control by thirdparty control systems, media servers, and lighting control consoles. And, because this class of machine is increasingly manufactured through partnerships between projector manufacturers, control is converging somewhat, making control and substitution easier between manufacturers. This means that, as shows “scale,” sometimes on short notice, reprogramming can be minimized if your inventory planning has been good.

A “buyer’s market” in this economy, with a drastic downward turn coming suddenly after a period of relative prosperity, has put us all in a great position for rental inventory acquisition this year, if we’re smart about it. Because the manufacturers had all these models in development while things were “hot,” they’re now coming to market in an intensely competitive time. This year’s InfoComm show will have a lot of interesting new products and models, probably coming to market at lower prices than manufacturers may have originally intended for them. But they won’t be as easy to find as in previous years. They’re smaller.

Joel R. Rollins, CTS ( is a trainer, designer, and author whose career spans all facets of the audio-visual and multimedia industry. Currently a partner in Rollins Performance Systems, Inc., Joel brings the benefit of his experience with a range of noted North American companies, including Riverview Systems Group, Extron, and the ADCOM Presentation Group, to each project.


Image placeholder title

The Year In Review

Looking Backward to Get a Better Sense of What’s Ahead As years go, it’s the beginning of the end. The kind of year it has been in rental and staging has been described (mostly by me) as a 3.5 on the Richter Scale. Not enough to bring down most of the sturdier structures, but plenty enough to shake up th

Image placeholder title

What Happened To the Big Guns?

A lot of the buzz this year has been about the rapid evolution from the bottom of the market: “lampless” projectors, i.e. ones that used a LED light source in place of a mercury lamp. It’s being called “solid state”, as in solid state light engines, with no traditional mercury vapor lamps, and as David Keene wrote in

The Big Gun, and the Small Chip

With the10 year anniversary of the introduction of DLP at hand, there is no better time to take a look at the last decade of projection display, and look at what DLP has brought to the table.

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