30 April 2018
Sound Moves and Light Sourcing at UK Entertainment Technology Event
With event technology looking to harness the latest digital innovations, the PLASA Show saw a vast array of flexible lighting installations on offer, while sound systems shifted up several gears in terms of portability and audibility.
Lighting exhibitors dominated the expo floor at PLASA, London's leading trade event for the entertainment technology industry. Perhaps the most eye-catching came courtesy of Robe, with the event sponsor literally taking centre stage with its vast installation.
The Czech company was primarily looking to showcase the recently launched MegaPointe multi-functional moving light. Confident that the rig would set a new standard for moving-light technology, Marketing Manager Pavel Nemec said: "The MegaPointe is like nothing else on the market. Its mega-bright, with lots of creative features."
In order to demonstrate the MegaPointe's theatrical capabilities, the company put on a live show – featuring dancer Jake Stephens in a mirrored robot costume – on an hourly basis.
The company was also looking to promote its retro-styled PATT range of spot-lighting equipment. The entry level model is the LED-driven PATT 2017, which offers either colourful light clusters or an adaptable tungsten white-light. By contrast, the pixelPATT is a hexagon-shaped spot with an array of seven 30W RGBW LED multi-chips. Completing the family, the onePATT is a singular version offering the kind of high light output said to be ideal for large-scale matrix applications.
Also offering a distinctive demonstration of its capabilities was Japan's Ushio Lighting, with its xenon follow spotlight catching the attention of many as it arced across the expo's high ceiling. According to company representative Yin Zheng Zhe, although Ushio was presenting its Xebex TAKUMI-2000A follow spot for the first time in the UK, it had previously been available under a different branding through a local distributor.
Testifying to the system's existing popularity, he said: "This xenon follow spot is the market leader in Japan and is used at nearly all of its big entertainment events. We also offer the smaller Sai-300 mode, which is best suited to short- to medium-throw spotlighting.
Meanwhile, the Chauvet Professional stand was positively ablaze with light, as Leslie Ghekiere, the Florida-based company's European Marketing Co-ordinator, ably demonstrated the Maverick MK2 Profile. With almost 15,000 lux at five metres and a zoom angle of 14 to 36 degrees, it has been optimised for use at larger venues.
Outlining its niche within the company's wider range, Ghekiere said: "This is the first profile light in the Maverick series. It features a 440-watt LED light with a moving yoke fixture, a facility that will make it hugely popular in the big-event market."
Sharing the stand was ChamSys, another affiliate of the Chauvet group, which was in London to highlight its range of MagicQ Stadium consoles. According to the company, these are designed to operate at the highest level of show control, enabling lighting designers to mix media and output all 'universes'.
The centre of the hall, however, was dominated by UK-based A.C. Entertainment Technologies, a one-stop reseller of professional grade entertainment industry equipment. This year, its proprietary AC-ET Zone was showcasing many of the 20 brands it currently handles.
Singling out one bit of kit as a personal favourite, Steve Warren, Director of Business Development, championed the qualities of Chromo-Q's Color Force II, saying: "Whatever you're looking for, strong saturated colours or delicate pastels, its powerful output and pixel control gives you endless options.
"In addition, its Cyclorama up-lighters are game-changers and are already in use at many of the world's most high-profile outdoor events, including the Glastonbury Festival."
Warren also took time to big-up the Quartz, part of London-based Avolites' Titan range of mobile mixing consoles, saying: "Even though this is Avolites' most compact console, it still delivers 16 universes."
Another company featured within the AC-ET Zone was Shure, an Illinois-based audio-technology specialist. On hand to provide his views on the much-discussed reallocation of the 700MHz radio frequency band to the mobile-phone sector was Tuomo Tolonen, Pro Audio Group Manager of the company's UK subsidiary.
Discussing the implications of the change, he said: "While the frequency is currently used by the sports and entertainment industries, it is set to be auctioned off for 4G use, a development that will raise billions for the UK government.
"With the switchover scheduled for May 2020, there are major implications for the live-events industry and for digital wireless technology in general. In particular, it will have a major impact on the use of wireless microphone technology, a system that is now the first choice for live events."
For its part, ETC, a Wisconsin-based event-lighting specialist, was using the show both to launch its latest products and to showcase its most recent acquisition. In the latter case, Texas-based High End Systems became part of the ETC group early last year, bringing with it the SolaFrame theatre-lighting system, an innovation the company was keen to promote.
It was also focused on introducing another new piece of kit, the Prodigy P2 Hoist, to a wider audience, with Mark Vassallo, Vice-president of Sales, saying: "We are expecting a lot of interest in the Prodigy P2, as it can go where other riggings can't. It can also be installed without adding lateral loads to a building, an innovation that creates a whole range of new opportunities for automated rigging."
Moving from light to sound, Johan Gunsing, International Sales Manager for the Adam Hall Group, a German event-technology manufacturer, was in London to promote LD Systems' range of vertical column speakers. Highlighting their particular application, he said: "These portable PA systems are very popular with performers at small gigs. We've put a lot of research into the sound quality, as well as their unusual look. They retail at between US$670-2,935 depending on the exact specification."
Alongside the expected entertainment industry staples – lighting equipment, control desks and stage equipment – were a number of stands offering items of a more outré nature. Perhaps the most memorable of these could be found on the Kino-Mo stall.
The London-based company was pitching its proprietary Hypervsn hologram system at the event and was keen to showcase its wide range of applications. From the outset, the company has attracted considerable attention, with Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand, and Mark Cuban, co-owner of the AXS TV cable network, among its early backers.
Introducing the system, Vadim Titov, Kino-Mo's Asia Region Partner, said: "After five years in development, the system has finally gone live and we already have 20 international distribution agreements in place.
"Essentially, there's huge interest in the many ways that the Hypervsn system can be used – it can work with animation, still images or video and it can be used in a surprisingly wide range of environments. A number of big brands, including Disney and McDonald's, are already making regular use of it."
PLASA took place at Olympia, London and featured more than 200 exhibitors, as well as 100 keynote / workshop speakers. In total, it attracted 7,000 visitors.
David Wilkinson, Special Correspondent, London