"At first glance, the LDI show this year was not very impressive. Attendance was down for both exhibitors as well as attendees. I suppose in the age of technology, most information and specifications can be found on the internet (not to mention countless demo videos). However, I’m old school. I want information first hand – to experience things in person. After all, any piece of gear can seem quite impressive in a controlled demo room and even more amazing in a video that is specifically trying to showcase and sell that equipment. In this age of technology, we must not forget that there is no electronic replacement for the tangible. Seeing the newest fixtures, comparing the output of the latest atmospherics, and programming the newest consoles in person provides a wonderful experience to know what new toys are worth the hype and which old reliable workhorses are worth standing by.
Most vendors were showcasing LED fixtures, as had been the trend for quite a few years now. However, I do mean almost everyone. Even some of the smaller companies presented some extremely impressive LED fixtures. As the technology advances, we are seeing better optics, more advanced color mixing, smoother fades, friendlier color temperatures for flesh tones, longer battery life on wireless fixtures, and several flicker free models for studio and television. That being said, are LEDs ready to take over completely? Not by a long shot. Although the technology is improving, it is still cost prohibitive in most permanent applications. That being said, the amount of competition that has crept up over the last few years will no doubt help push the manufacturers to focus on fine tuning their products to meet and exceed the expectations of old school theatre folks, such as myself. What I found more interesting was the various applications LEDs are being used for beyond entertainment, such as streetlights as well as healing. http://www.healthcare.philips.com/pwc_hc/us_en/about/Events/RSNA/pdfs/Healthcare_Lighting_Solutions_Brochure.pdf
Of course, as lighting people, we are drawn to gadgets. It’s always fun to see what I can control from my phone – foggers, hazers, playbacks, cue stacks, and architectural systems. On top of just being cool, these apps and networks create powerful tools. Need a remote focus unit? Need to launch a cue stack or playback a specific look for a display? With the right control system in place, you can do it all from your phone – even drive your console. Pretty slick.
I encourage everyone, no matter what your industry, to get out there and get your hands on the tools of your trade. Information is abundant, but a product description, spec sheet, or demo video online will never be able to take the place of hands on experience. As a professional, you know what challenges you face and problems you need to solve, whatever your niche may be. Get out there, get your mitts on it, experience it, learn from it, and grow."
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