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Share your concluding thoughts on LDI 2010.

Discussion in 'LDI 2010' started by gafftaper, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Seattle, Washington
    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 I’m on the way home and I thought I would spend some time giving you my concluding thoughts on LDI 2010 Vegas. I’ve 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 I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Hopefully it will turn out for the best, but I can’t 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 couldn’t 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. That’s not a good sign for our industry and LDI isn’t 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. That’s 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 “protection”… 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. We’ll have those videos up soon. I hope you like what I shot. I’ll post comments on those videos once Dave gets them up.

    It’s 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. It’s 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 can’t 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. I’m just a community college guy from Seattle, but these people are really interested in who we are at CB and what we are doing. I’m 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 that’s 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, “oh yeah I know”. One college student said, “You’re my home page!” I talked to a guy from Hong Kong, who in somewhat broken English said, “Yes I know this site, I used to ask questions there.” How awesome is that? It was really funny how many times Dave would say, “Hi I’m the owner of Control Booth and this is Gafftaper”, and people would get really excited to meet me because they’ve read my posts. I was a celebrity… and again, I’m 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

    I’m excited about the future technology I’ve 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 Nemo’s a little over the top for most theater applications, but it’s sweet. The Neeva looks like a real ERS in every way, but it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t 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 it’s designed and functional and sitting on one of our friend’s desks, they are just waiting on brighter LED’s 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. I’m saving my airline miles so that I can go. You should do the same.
  2. JohnHuntington

    JohnHuntington Active Member

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    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks for the detailed post!

  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Las Vegas
    I have definitely been seeing a trend in downsizing of LDI over the years. Partly it is because of the economy (but this trend started before the housing market crash) and partly it is because of the merger of some of the manufacturers, although in some ways, I think it is due to who is making the purchasing decisions. In years past, I would see a much more diverse crowd of attendees. Now I don't know if there are just more specialized trade shows that preclude the need for non-theater people to avoid LDI or what, but it seemed to me that the attendance was mainly those in the theatrical industry. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does make for a much smaller market for the manufacturers to sell to. Certain manufacturers were quite busy while others had very few people stopping by. If the manufacturer didn't have something cool and new, I didn't bother to stop in unless it was to see one of my friends.

    Another observation that I have is that while some of the major players' booths (man, what happened to Morpheus?) seemed to have diminished in size over the years, many of the lower end manufacturers seem to be doing very well. Also, the Chinese manufacturers didn't try to hide where they were from this year as they boldy displayed "China" over their booths. I also have been noticing that the very small companies have all but abandoned LDI as they probably have little to no return on their investment any more.

    With the plethora of other shows that come to Vegas, I most likely won't make the investment in LDI when it goes to LA (and only once have I bothered to go to Orlando). Many of the manufacturers also invest in some of the smaller shows like the Rental and Staging Road Show (put out by Rental and Staging Magazine) that can target more buyers who can't make the big shows and are now being more finicky about which large show they go to (Barco only had a 10x10 booth at InfoComm in 2009 in Orlando and didn't even exhibit any equipment). Finally with the ESTA/PLASA merger, though they aren't planning a major US show anytime soon, I think that the demise of LDI is not far off. I have actually heard more pessimistic forecast that some imagine that LA may end up being the last straw.
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Saratoga Springs, NY
    I just don't think that LDI really has a need anymore. With sites like this one, manufactures can talk directly with the users, show what they have on video, and all that fun stuff. When you spend 100,000+ on a booth that a few thousand see and an even fewer number actually buy something, what is the point? Spend that money on more advertising in other ways. I think we will see the death of LDI and more regional shows at companies offices. I have been to a few of those and I think those are very successful. You see what they have/whats new, get to talk directly to the people who made it, and then can talk to the guy who is going to sell it to you.

    There is value in the conference sessions and what happens in the bars at night, but the show floor is not the end all be all of the show. Unfortunately, it is the show floor that brings in the people and pays the bills. If the show floor goes, the conference will go too.

    As an outside observer, there was much less buzz on LDI this year. The only thing I heard about LDI on CB was from the very few people that went. LightNetwork had little to no talk of LDI. With budgets tightening, fewer companies can afford to send people and the thought of a freelancer paying their own way is totally out the window.

    Besides seeing people, I really have no real desire to go to LDI. I can talk directly to manufactures and other people on what is going on. I get regular demos of new gear from BMI just up the road. Otherwise, I see new stuff coming through the various venues I work at. I can talk to the people using it and hear the pros/cons of that gear. After all, every piece of gear looks great on the show floor.

    I actually do think USITT still has a place though. That conference is more about the how then the what. More emphasis is put on the sessions and on the design/technical production side of things. The money that people spend at LDI on booths simply is not there.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  5. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Fort Wayne IN, USA
    Yes, thank you Gafftaper for the thoughtful overview!

    While many booths did seem to shrink a bit from pre-economic crash years, we ran again with a 30' x 40' booth space due to the increased product lines Apollo now offers. With the closet situated in the center of the booth, we were able to project no less than 13 fixtures for hands-on demonstrating. (Well, that was BEFORE Derek visited and re-arranged a few items!)

    While the total number of attendees is indeed dowlower than 2007 levels, the number of international dealers and N. American project managers we have the pleasure to see at the show has risen. Perhaps the quantity of badges has dropped, but the quality of the visitors has remained quite high- causing us to consider LDI an important point of contact with the pulse of the market place.

    I had a great time at my 12th LDI and am very proud to have spent quality time with friends from the industry- especially from right here at the ControlBooth!
    dvsDave and (deleted member) like this.

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