Those of you who attended, please take a few minutes to post your thoughts on your experiences at LDI 2010.
I wrote this on the plane ride home:
Well Iím on the way home and I thought I would spend some time giving you my concluding thoughts on LDI 2010 Vegas. Iíve been to LDI 2008 and 2006. Things were significantly different at this show. In previous years there was a large Vari-Lite Booth, A large Strand Booth, A large Color Kinetics Booth, A large Selecon Booth, and a large Phillips Booth. This year there was one large Phillips Booth. This was a fairly significant impact on the show to me. All these brands used to be demoing their entire product lines. This time we only saw a few highlights. It was kind of a downer to me emphasizing the massive nature of the takeover. On one hand there are some really cool innovation potentials for the future within this family. On the other hand Iím not sure if thatís a good thing or not. Hopefully it will turn out for the best, but I canít help feel a little down about this. Plus their booth was just WAY too bright. More than one person I talked to said they just couldnít stand to be in the booth more than a few minutes because it was so much brighter than the rest of the show.
We heard a lot of people talking about how much money they were loosing on the show. One exhibitor is old friends with one of our members. The exhibitor said that only 174 people stopped in and scanned their badges for more information on Friday, the busiest day of the show. DvsDave estimated the booth was in the $50,000-$70,000 price range due to its size and rigging complexity. Thatís not a good sign for our industry and LDI isnít going to survive if things like that continue. I was told by another person that they used to time all their product releases to be at LDI, but these days they no longer care. Some of our members at the show were speculating that it may only last a few more years. Perhaps the LSA/PLASA merger will someday result in a much better PLASA style show in the US.
On a whole the show seemed smaller. Booths were significantly smaller. I remember spending a good deal of time in the Leprechon Booth in 2008. They must have had 12 consoles on display; the L&E booth was at least a triple booth with 20 fixtures or so, both of these companies had significantly smaller booths with half the products on display. Thatís also not a good sign of the health of our industry. Even the larger companies had slightly smaller booths.
By a strange twist of fate, the biggest winner in the show was clearly Solaris. The convention hall was laid out in a long rectangular pattern. According to the show layout map ETC was clearly on the main center aisle. There was a barrier setup that required everyone to walk to the middle of the hall then enter right by ETC. HOWEVER, when you first came in there was a wheelchair ramp down onto the floor allowing you to enter the show from the corner and not the center. I would guess that 90% of the show traffic took this ramp into the hall rather than the intended center aisle. Thus ETC was not the center point of attention that they paid big money to be. Instead the guys from Solaris were the first booth everyone walked by. Then there was the booth itself. Everyone was dressed in green doctor scrubs, with masks, hats, and stethoscopes. They had a dead Mac on a table with a bloody sheet over it, and a laptop screen showing that it had flat lined. They had naughty nurses, a bar tender passing out shots in test tubes, a HILLARIOUS brochure that we were told we will get the PDF for and be able to post, and of course to protect you from the many dangers of purchasing used you are going to need ďprotectionĒÖ so they were providing that as well. The dead Mac was purchased from another used equipment dealer. It arrived DOA, with its insides exposed and wires hanging out. Solaris guarantees your purchase for at least 48 hours. So if it arrives dead you can send it back. It was a very clever booth theme.
On the whole there were less booths that our CB members are going to be interested in. There were lots of smaller booths with things like power connectors, truss, and even regional design and installation companies. I think there were many exhibitors there for the first time. I quickly decided on Friday that the majority of my time would be better spent attending and reporting on conference sessions than it would be spent on the floor. The first couple of sessions I attended were rather disappointing (Art of Programming 2 and Future of Console Design). But the ACN and RDM sessions were wonderful and in many ways made the trip worthwhile. I hope you enjoyed my coverage of sessions. In the coming days I will go through and clean those posts up a bit. So give me a couple days then go back and check those threads. Because of this shift in focus, and because the floor was so busy Friday and Saturday, I left the video shooting to be done Sunday afternoon. Weíll have those videos up soon. I hope you like what I shot. Iíll post comments on those videos once Dave gets them up.
Itís always great to catch up with Friends and LDI really makes that happen. You should have seen the chaos as dvsDave, Derekleffew, Jchenault, Phil Haney, and I raided Kelite and the Apollo booth. Derek worked his way around breaking everything Kelite had to demo. What a laugh we all had. Along the way there was a chance to catch up with Ruinexplorer, WhatRigger?, Lafalot, SteveTerry, and Jfleernoor as well. If you are still lurking here, do yourself a favor and register so you can be part of the family. Itís really amazing the friends you can develop and the benefits that will pay off for you, if you put a little effort into it. I got to sit in with a CB friend doing his job at a major Vegas show (I canít tell you more than that at this point, but stay tuned there may be a behind the scenes story).
I continue to be amazed at how nice many people in the industry are to us at CB. The people at ETC and Apollo especially are so nice. They really believe in CB and have been unbelievably kind. ETC invited us to a very exclusive party, while there I had a chance to talk with Fred Foster and a variety of other industry big shots. Iím just a community college guy from Seattle, but these people are really interested in who we are at CB and what we are doing. Iím convinced that both ETC and Apollo really care about our community and really want to help. While sure the potential sales are important to them thatís not the primary reason they advertise here. They advertise here because they see the value of this place for the next generation of technicians and they want to support our efforts to teach and share the knowledge.
The word is getting out about CB. Over and over we would introduce ourselves and people would say, ďoh yeah I know controlbooth.comĒ. One college student said, ďYouíre my home page!Ē I talked to a guy from Hong Kong, who in somewhat broken English said, ďYes I know this site, I used to ask questions there.Ē How awesome is that? It was really funny how many times Dave would say, ďHi Iím the owner of Control Booth and this is GafftaperĒ, and people would get really excited to meet me because theyíve read my posts. I was a celebrityÖ and again, Iím just a community college guy from Seattle. How cool is it that CB has that large of a voice?
In the end the personal highlight was meeting Novella Smith for a demo of the ETC Selador Pearl. Dave introduced us as from CB and she got so excited. She told a long personal story of how about 4 years ago, she was struggling both financially and personally with Seledor, she was frustrated and felt like no one was understanding her product. Then one day she found some posts on CB talking about what a wonderful product the Selador is. Well that was me. My well documented unhealthy love of Selador actually made it back to the co-creator of the product and encouraged her to keep going
Iím excited about the future technology Iíve seen at LDI be it plasma or LED. Somewhere between the Seachanger Nemo (plasma), the Strong Neeva (LED), and the Prisim RevEAL (LED), is the future of stage lighting. All three offer a fixture that is very energy efficient, changes colors, projects gobos, and has shutters. The future is here. The Nemoís a little over the top for most theater applications, but itís sweet. The Neeva looks like a real ERS in every way, but itís about 1/3-1/2 the power output we need. The RevEAL has the output, image quality, to replace an ERS in your system right now, but itís too big (A little bigger than an S4 Zoom) and too expensive to be a true fit in most of our systems. But the future is here. I donít have any inside info on this, but if Strong can put out the Neeva, ETC has to be very close to releasing the S4 LED. My guess is itís designed and functional and sitting on one of our friendís desks, they are just waiting on brighter LEDís to become available at a reasonable price point. Strong not being a player in the ERS market can take a chance and jump in with an under powered fixture. ETC has to wait to have a true replacement product at a reasonable price or they are going to get all kinds of flack from us users.
It was a good show. Next year will be in Florida, rumor has it the year after that will be in L.A. instead of Vegas. Iím saving my airline miles so that I can go. You should do the same.