Stepping into the spotlight

One of Europe's pre-eminent annual professional lighting and audio industry events, PLASA07 returns to London next month with a host of showfloor innovations and new product releases aimed at enhancing the exhibition's growing profile in international markets including the Middle East.
Stepping into the spotlight
By Administrator
Tue 07 Aug 2007 12:00 AM

Organised by the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, this year's PLASA exhibition is set to be the biggest instalment in the event's history, and promises to showcase a range of new product releases from some of the pro audio and lighting sector's biggest players.

PLASA07, which will be staged at London's Earls Court Exhibition Centre from September 9 to 12, will also boast a raft of new features and inclusions designed to expand the appeal of the event to markets beyond Europe.

The most radical development at this year's event is a new show floor layout, which sees PLASA07 transformed into a two-hall, single-level show, leveraging the additional space provided by the recently expanded Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

The layout also provides for the inclusion of a host of new features at the exhibition, including meeting and product presentation areas, a wireless internet zone, VIP hospitality suite and a dedicated media centre.

Organisers are also planning an expanded ESTA Pavilion, hands-on workshop areas, and a new PLASA Theatre which will host a series of masterclasses, presented by a host of European experts specialising in entertainment technology.

The Innovation Gallery, which will showcase many of the new products being launched at the show, will this year transform into a stand-alone area linking the two main halls of the exhibition centre. In a unique development, visitors to PLASA07 will also be provided with the opportunity to witness first-hand live pilot assessments being staged for the National Rigging Certificate - a new PLASA-endorsed scheme for rigging professionals, which seeks to provide a recognised framework for measuring skills in this dynamic industry sector.

"We've spent a lot of time talking to exhibitors and visitors in planning the first show under PLASA Events' management," explains PLASA director of events Nicola Rowland. "We're seizing this opportunity to move the show forward and confirm its status as the ultimate entertainment technology business [event]."

PLASA executive director Ruth Rossington claims the show's expanded focus is also leading to increased interest from delegates based in international markets.

"It's largely because of this emphasis on ‘new ideas' that visitors are prepared to travel across the world to see PLASA," she says. "More than a quarter of all delegates visiting the show are from international markets - the majority from Europe - but there are increasing numbers attending from the US, as well as from the Middle East and Asia."

Rossington claims the event is also essential for those who want to understand how the various entertainment technology markets interact and how the nature of the business is evolving.

"The entire industry is founded on a complex series of relationships and for companies coming to terms with this, PLASA is where it hits home," she says.

Technology showcase

LED lighting is expected to steal the limelight at PLASA07, with a range of new products based on the technology scheduled for release at the event.

"LED technology has been central in reshaping the events production and architectural lighting industries," claims Rossington. "Low in power consumption, weight and heat output, yet bright and versatile, LED technology is allowing designers and project managers to apply colour-changing light sources to a multitude of applications."

Rossington claims LEDs are also having a major influence on the digital AV production sector. She claims the development of powerful media servers is enabling designers to develop unique light sources and large-scale image displays based on the technology.

In the pro audio domain, PLASA07 delegates will be provided with an insight into the latest developments in installed speaker design. Digital technology is transforming the sector and is influencing the development of systems that are increasingly sophisticated, less cumbersome, and cheaper to manufacture.

Rossington claims digital technology is also revolutionising the audio control market. "Mixing console technology is now delivering major new developments in both analogue and digital formats, with modern desks addressing the rising demand both for stereo channels and an increased range of effects - from reverb and delay to dynamic functions such as compression and limiting," she says. "New developments in software application technology is allowing complex systems to be co-ordinated and timed using just a laptop and a wireless link."

Another system exploiting increased processing power is motion-control technology, which is capable of re-arranging and animating a stage or exhibition set through the computer-coordinated movement of dozens of high precision motors, from which are hung set elements including video screens and lighting.

As reported in last month's issue of S&S, PLASA organisers have also made significant changes to this year's Awards for Innovation programme.

The Gottelier Award - named in memory of Tony Gottelier, a leading lighting designer, innovator and industry commentator who passed away last year - will recognise the contribution made to product innovation by an individual or team, not just in the sphere of lighting but across all product sectors.

Industry professionals are invited to cast their vote online from a shortlist of candidates at www.plasashow.com/awards before Friday, August 17.

The prize itself will be presented as part of the wider PLASA awards ceremony staged during the show.

S&S subscribers are eligible for a show entry discount by pre-registering online at www.plasashow.com. The website contains a raft of information about this year's event, including conference and seminar schedules, exhibitor profiles and travel and accommodation listings.

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