The Little Things in Life

by Nook Schoenfeld
in Editor's Note
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN

Last month I crossed the pond in search of the latest toys in the lighting, video and staging world, as I do every April at the Prolight + Sound show in Germany. I saw some new products, but what I noticed most were a lot of companies rehashing old fixtures with newer ones that featured a new function or different light source. Lots of clever ideas to modify existing technology. But none of that jumped out as fresh and innovative, other than a couple items.

‡‡         Creativity at the Fringe

After a day visiting all the big players, I set my sights on all the smaller booths, where people like Mark Miller, Gary Fails, and Sean Dane always have time to shake your hand and show you what’s new in their world.

I meet new people who don’t even talk. They look you in the eye, nod their head towards some piece of gear, and I’m lured in, as if by a hawker at a circus tent show.

Such was the case when I came across a small table and a wall of clamps, tools and gadgets being shown by Doughty Engineering.

Have you ever spent years doing a certain job and thinking, “There’s gotta be a better way?”

I always thought that way about removing clamps from the top of moving lights, just to shut the flight case lid. These new clamps have a little button you press and they fold right over into the light. Buy a bunch of these, and never take those clamps off for the rest of that fixture’s life.

I got a lesson on test gear over at the City Theatrical booth. This device called the DMXcat can plug into any intelligent light fixture and be controlled via an app on your phone. It took my friend less than a minute to connect a light to his phone, and we were testing it. It’s the size of a finger. Any tech on a lift could use this thing. It can work through RDM or DMX.

Over at the Swisson booth, they always have a new gadget or nifty device I can’t live without. They showed me their Sine Wave Dimmer module. You could mount it in a rack, or you could mount it in any set. But what I like is that it’s portable. If you’re on a film set and need to get a dimmer and light to a new location quickly to be able to dim that fixture precisely until the DP says stop, this is it. It can handle a 3K load.

It’s hard to get in a word with Big Sean over at RC4 Wireless. People line up to pick his brain all day about their miniature devices. They released the RC5 EASS (Extended Area Super Secure), their latest update to their series of long-range wireless DMX systems just last month. Designed for tough places outside of the usual theaters, these devices use a patent-pending three-pronged approach to deliver maximum range: Lower RF frequency, higher power and optimized data rates.

‡‡         Other Innovators

The one booth that had the coolest lighting device to show everyone was constantly slammed. The Robe booth. Not just because of the European showing of the new Spiider and Spikie fixtures, but with the unveiling of their new RoboSpot system and accessories that can turn any BMFL product into a manually controlled spotlight. A smart box with faders and programmable function buttons sits between two steering handles on a fixture. Another option is a handheld ground controller that can talk to a light (with an attached camera) in a rig and follow the person. I was looking at some very impressive prototypes and, by next fall, this gear will certainly be everywhere.

My new favorite strobe award goes to GLP with their new JDC1. It feels like a cross between an old-style strobe and the newer Flare-type models. It contains a center line of white LEDs behind a single tube element, emulating the old xenon bulb and producing an incredible clear, bright white output. And it combines that with a surrounding full face of RGB LED power, utilizing 1,440 LEDs. These LEDs break down into separate quadrants you can chase. Finally, someone has put an automated tilt on a small strobe fixture. All of this is what I have been waiting for.

For Nook Schoenfeld's introduction to the May issue of PLSN, go to http://plsn.me/2017-05-ednote.