Crowd Control

Crowd Control

As an image, the theater marquee has long represented one’s making it to the big-time. Countless movies, still photographs, and songs celebrate the glitz and glamour of seeing a name “in lights.” These twinkling icons of success can still be found glowing above the entrance to historic theaters in downtown neighborhoods, and the more nostalgic among us hope they never disappear.

Even if actual marquees are fading out in favor of more modern means of signage, their spectacle remains a powerful symbol of achievement. That notion was even more firmly embedded in my mind one recent weekend at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Sitting high up in a theater balcony with hundreds of eager movie-goers bundled up for the annual winter festival, we watched as coats and hats started to come off when the seats filled up. This prompted a friend to make an interesting comment. “It is definitely warm up here. It’s us. The average human produces as much heat as a 100-watt light bulb,” he pointed out. “We’re sitting in the middle of a giant theater marquee.”

Looking out at the animated crowd of people excited to see an advance screening of a new film, I saw countless faces beaming with expectation and glee as they compared notes about what they’d seen and planned to see next. It did, indeed, look exactly like a sparkling gathering of lights promising a great show “TONIGHT.”

Some cursory research reveals that we as humans emit somewhere around 95 watts of energy as infrared light, while a 100-watt incandescent light bulb produces about the same amount of infrared energy and only five watts of visible light. So in the infrared spectrum, we’re glowing with as much energy as a light bulb. It follows that when we gather to see a concert, play, or film, we are pooling our energy to give notice to a special event. Just like a marquee.

Perhaps this is why there is a particular energy present at any gathering of people, including business meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Picture an aerial infrared image of a bustling conference like the NSCA Business and Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by SCN, February 25-27 in West Palm Gardens, FL. If you look closely, the collective dots of light might spell “Excitement” and “Progress.” After all, when we get together as a group and exchange ideas, we generate energy, the cumulative effect of which may provide a flash of inspiration.

Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.