Sky's The Limit -

Sky's The Limit

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The NY Times Travel Show at the New York City's Javvits Center recently was witness to a new kind of AV product that's beginning to gain popularity among tradeshow booth technicians. Innovative Markets, a marketing company out of Batesville, IN, has been selling Skyview, a different kind of branding device, to many rental and creative production companies for over a year now.

The South Africa Tourism board was invited to two comsumer shows this year, one of them being in NY, and were looking for a bit of a WOW factor to stand out. They went to MC2 to find something that would stand out, as Anna Marie Rokicki, MC2 account executive explained, "They wanted to leave an impression in people's minds that visited or saw their booth and provide a lasting memory about South Africa upon recalling their time at the shows. South African Tourism turned to their exhibit house, MC2 to come up with the design. MC2, who are specialists in extending clients' brands into experiences, chose to present the Skyview to South African Tourism as the WOW factor in their booth design. I had seen the Skyview at another tradeshow in Chicago and was impressed at the uniqueness of the unit. I firmly believed this would be the eye-catching item that would help South African Tourism break new ground. When I showed images of the Skyview to Debbie Parker, trade relations manager for South African Tourism, Debbie's reaction was, 'Looks amazing, but looks very expensive.' That's when MC2 definitely decided to pursue using the Skyview, after considering other unusual experiential methods."

The Skyview is actually fairly inexpensive however, based on its construction. Jason Kuisel, president and CEO of Innovative Markets expanded, "It's a basic rear projection system, kind of a projection booth or shadow box. The balloon itself acts as a blocker of all ambient light and creates a darkroom for the projector to operate in. We're able to use small or lightweight projectors that can float with helium, but still powerful enough work in the shadowbox effect. It enables us to do direct sunlight use of projection media outdoors, which not many people can do."

For this specific system, Hitachi's CPX5 was used, as Kuisel noted. "We used Hitachi and about 3/4 of our units use them. It's a great little 2500 lumen projector, and it's only a couple pounds. The flip of that is that the other half is the branding on the screen side. We're able to wrap them in soccer ball skin or whatever the client wants. We can do custom shapes or cut vinyl on the side for large scale branding. Every event has a sponsor so that's a great place for them to put their logo."

The Skyview is a different kind of product in that it's a marketing product and a staging product, as Kuisel said. "Basically, the product is used at trade shows, sporting events, and other event marketing like rock shows. We're getting into more long-term marketing where it might be like a month or two installation. We've gotten away from the helium where we fill them with gas and float them at events, but with the long term ones we just fill them with air and hang them. It's like hanging digital signage. It's an AV product in that it's a projector and a screen, but it's also marketing product in that it's got the branding on the sides."

Kuisel caught wind of the product several years ago in Asia, as he noted. "I was working in Asia and worked for the company that developed Skyview. They were a zeppelin company before and then they came up with this technology. So eventually I came back to the US and started distribution here. We really started here in 2006, and now we're in Canada and the Caribbean as well. Skyview comes in multiple sizes. They start at 4.9 feet and can go up to 17 feet in diameter. So as the unit gets bigger so does the screen size, which is usually 60 to 180 feet. We've also got a three screen option with 1 to 3 screens."

Overall, the Skyview was a success at the Travel show, as Rokicki explained, "South African Tourism was extremely happy with the reaction that audiences had when they saw the Skyview soccer ball hanging in their booth. It definitely provided a memorable icon in people's minds about South Africa and the 2010 World Cup taking place in South Africa. The reaction from show management at both shows was that South Africa's overall presentation was definitely the talk of each show."

Kuisel has found success in the staging market with the Skyview. "We've got rental companies that are out there using our product every day. We are looking for rental and stagers to pick up the product because we're just a marketing company and we believe that this product is a fresh look for the industry."

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@cap:The NY Times Travel Show at the New York City's Javvits Center featured a Skyview installation at the South African Tourism booth.
@cap:An interactive Skyview with virtual actor was installed at another tradeshow, showing the versatility of the product.
@cap:Skyview at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions' Your Day booth in Orlando FL.