News and Thoughts: LDI, Wireless Mics, Barco, Interspace Industries

The LDI Show appeared to be a big hit with the attendees. Even with the absence of High End Systems and Martin Professional from the show floor - LDI feels very relevant. I think the biggest impact of the two market leaders not participating was to elevate the status of competitors Robe and Coemar. The strength of LED technology in both display and luminaries has really livened things up. Across the board LED displays, media servers, and lighting consoles were very prevalent, but the core of this show is low-tech. Confetti cannons, hazers, and rigging hardware seemed to outnumber actual lighting instruments, dimmers, and consoles. There were quite a few AV Staging companies in attendance including a lot of individuals I haven't seen recently at InfoComm.

I listened to a recent webinar given by industry expert Bennett Liles on wireless microphones and the impending sale of the unlicensed UHF frequencies we all use. The short story is that on Feb 19, 2009 the remaining UHF channels will be taken over by commercial wireless companies and all of the wireless mics that use Ch 63 thru 69 will become useless in most major markets. Big names like Shure, Grand Ole Opry, PAMA, and PRG are lobbying Congress to make them aware of how this will affect the entertainment industry. Unfortunately bigger names like Microsoft, Google, and Dell want to sell products that take advantage of that space and will gladly pay billions of dollars for the privilege. There are alternative wireless technologies and work-arounds - none of which are immediately appealing. Mr. Liles' best advice for now is to sit tight and let the parties sort things out. My advice is that if you have older inventory or models that you do not use as often - sell them soon. The prices are only going to plummet when everyone's inventory becomes obsolete. Start looking into the alternatives and be ready to acquire new technology quickly in late 2008. To learn more, visit Shure's website:

Analog Way's approach with the Axion control console seems to be centered on making their products very rental-friendly. In particular, you can stock several individual boxes that rent well on their own, but combine to handle much larger tasks. Not a new concept, but one that is rarely if ever, done well. AW seems to have accomplished it while keeping these products easy to use.

Eiki is affirming their commitment to the R&S market with new products utilizing inorganic LCD including a 15,000 lumen projector (LC XTS). The new LCD panels have a much longer life and higher contrast ratios without adding noticeable cost. Another cool product is the LC X80, which comes with an air filter on an automatic scroll wheel. This dramatically cuts down on how often you need to change the filter - a bonus in hotel operations where most maintenance involves sending the unit back to the shop.

Interspace Industries - great back story: A veteran Show Engineer, Dave Humphrys wanted a better cueing solution and now he produces several real cool stager products. You probably know of the MasterCue V5 system. (I first became aware of this product when it showed up as a must-have item on an RFP). The hard part used to be getting them shipped from the UK. Now their products are available shipped from a new US office. Solid products with passionately loyal users.


I promised you a cool, inexpensive product and here it is: Cliphanger They sell these to hang your cell phone off your belt clip (now that's an attractive look), but when the salesman demonstrated using one on a remote control I was hooked (sorry). The materials are almost indestructible -- even by AV standards. The adhesive is one of those space-age 3M products that is as strong as steel, but can be removed cleanly and easily. If you currently use Velcro to attach remotes to the backs of your flat panels -- I think this is a much better alternative.


The Dec 5th LA Roadshow is just around the corner. I hear that they have added some cool door prizes for folks who pre-register. My good friend Joel Rollins will be presenting InfoComm education courses at this event and I will give a keynote plus two Staging Business seminars. We are expecting a great turnout. While at LDI in Orlando I spoke to a number of regional AV companies who are sending employees to the show. This would also be a great place for freelancers to network. Pack your business cards! Learn more about the Roadshow and register at:

Press Releases:

There are always a lot of press releases to keep up with each month, but few are worth the effort it took to read them. Here are a couple of items that I feel might be important. First, Barco has debuted a digital moving light. This has been three years in development and uses DLP technology. They had the good sense to first earn some entertainment creds with their LED products before stretching into lighting. A select group of LDI attendees attended a creative demo.

If you enjoyed following the Caribiner rollup in the 1990's, then pay attention to Staging Connections (ticker ASX:STG). They have already taken over Australia and have begun to dominate Southeast Asia. Now they are moving into the United Kingdom with the purchase of a well-known lighting company. Just this week they also announced nine acquisitions in the exhibits industry in Australia and the UK.

I am fascinated by people who don't see the connection between entertainment and AV. The similarities are endless and it is only a matter of time before manufacturers find a way to connect them. AMX is taking the first steps by simplifying the user experience in several kinds of live event fixed installations. Imagine the possibilities this opens up.