Wybron’s “Backstage Las Vegas” at LDI

From Wybron’s PR department – I will soon be touring the Wybron color scroller factory not far from Denver in a few weeks.  You can be sure I’ll post pictures, as I have been all over the globe with Wybron scrollers and gear.  I’m pretty excited to see their facilities.

Ok, I digress.  The press release!


An in-depth look behind the scenes of some the hottest venues in Sin City brought a crowd to Backstage Las Vegas at LDI 2008.

Nearly 100 industry pros toured several state-of-the-art theatres and a posh nightclub during the three-day event, which gave attendees the chance to quiz the technicians and designers who make the venues shine.

It’s a great opportunity to meet others in the industry and learn from its experts, said Ellen Lampert-Gréaux, head of Backstage Las Vegas and director of LDI.

“They really get to see how different problems are solved in these different theatres,” Lampert-Gréaux said of the event partially sponsored by Wybron.

Backstage Las Vegas kicked off Oct. 20 with a performance of “Jersey Boys” at The Palazzo followed by a question-and-answer session with production staff. Day two gave attendees a look inside theatres at Planet Hollywood, The Palms, and The Palazzo before heading to Luxor for a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, Criss Angel’s “Believe.”

Day three took the group to Cherry Nightclub, a luxurious hotspot located at Red Rock Resort and Casino, and The Venetian theatre housing the Vegas version of “Phantom of the Opera,” where the group caught the show and chatted with the staff afterward.

The Backstage entourage also grabbed a glimpse of a Blue Man Group sound check.

Backstage Las Vegas drew a global audience, with industry pros from Mexico, England, South America, Europe, and beyond.

“Backstage has always appealed to a wide variety of people,” Lampert-Gréaux said.

That even includes a Texas cattleman.

Joe Batson may be president of Coldwater Cattle Company, but he also helps produce and sponsor the nonprofit musical “Texas,” which hits the stage each summer in beautiful Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo.

Batson’s passion for the arts has brought him to LDI every year since 2000. Through Backstage, he’s been able to see inside the operations of some of the biggest productions around – and the steps they’ve taken to stay successful, even in the face of problems.

“They’ve been through it and done it and said, ‘Oh, that’s not going to work; why don’t you try this?'” Batson said.

The biggest part of Backstage, for Batson, is the networking opportunities it offers – getting to meet others in the industry and build relationships that last for years.

Batson sometimes brings some of his production’s donors along with him to Backstage so they can get a better idea of what kind of equipment a good show needs.

“They understand why we ask for the things we do,” Batson said.

LDI has held a Backstage event every year since 1994, Lampert-Gréaux said, and since next year’s trade show heads to Orlando, some tours at Disney and Universal Studios will likely be on tap.

Batson will be there.

“We get so much out of it, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

LDI – Chauvet’s MASSIVE Booth

Chauvet’s booth at LDI was one of my favorites.  They really put the LED line of fixtures at the front of their marketing for the conference, and the folks there were extremely kind and easy to talk to, and I did for a bit of time.  The rendering that the COLORado fixtures has is quite nice, quite bright, and compact.  They also had several of their products on display, and an exciting array of truss panels suspended above everything.

I did not catch the name or product code of the big monster searchlight looking fixture, but if you did, post in the comments!

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LDI – Omnisistem’s Booth

LDI had a TON of moving light manufacturers and reps this year – while I was surprised a little, I wasn’t shocked.  A good quantity of the moving lighting booths that weren’t Clay Paky, Coemar, Vari*Lite, Martin, High End, PRG, etc, were small-ish companies like Ominsistem out of Washington.  They’ve got a very large selection of fixtures and effects (as well as audio, truss, staging, etc), and their booth was hopping the whole weekend.  Give their selection of products a look-see.

LDI – Thomas Truss’s Booth

Today must be “let’s talk about truss” day.

Here’s a shot of James Thomas Engineering‘s LDI booth for 2008.  It’s big, and it’s substantial – but what’s most important is that Thomas Truss is great truss.  You have to check out their Moving Light Supertruss, which is my favorite.

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Weekly WYSIWYG 7: LDI Pics!

I got to chat with Gil Densham this year at LDI, and he walked me through the integration of the Black Box concept, as well as showed me a bunch of new live beam simulation tools that will be present in R23.  Niscon had a booth set up right next door, and they were demoing the actual Black Box setup, in real time.  Amazing.

Check out the pics, and check out the post on Black Box.  Be amazed.

The 2008 LDI Awards

Did you know the LDI Awards were out?  Live Design Online posted them here.

Wally Russell Awards

Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mr. Richard Pilbrow.  I had a chance to wax poetic with Mr. Pilbrow in 2003 at a USITT conference.  He’s as awesome as he appears.

Wally Russell Most Promising Newcomer: Ben Hagen, who is a very nice guy, talented designer, and friend of my old friend Anjeanette Stokes.  Ben got a copy of Vectorworks 2009 Spotlight with Renderworks for this award.

Designers of the Year

Production Designer of the Year: Jeremy Railton

Concert Lighting Designer of the Year: Bryan Hartley
Sponsored by Epic Production Technologies

Theatre Lighting Designer of the Year: Rick Fisher
Sponsored by Strand Lighting

Debuting Product Awards

Sound: DiGiCo SD8 console, for featuring a lot of horsepower in a compact footprint, making it affordable and powerful.

Special Effects: City Theatrical DMX Snow Machine developed in conjunction with White Light.

Rigging/Staging: Steeldeck’s APACK retractable audience tiering system that can be curved.

Projection: Element Labs Helix P1, which offers amazing display-shaping opportunities. It is flexible, durable, and has user-specific pixel pitch.

Honorable Mention (for projection): United Visual Artists for d3—a paradigm shift in control environments for media servers.

Lighting (two winners): Nila, a new lighting solution for the entertainment industry setting an unprecedented environmental standard for low-energy consumption, while delivering unmatched lighting performance and product versatility.

ETC Unison Paradigm system, which fully fuses architectural lighting control advances with entertainment lighting-control technology.

Honorable Mention: Protester 19 Mobal by Global Design Solutions at TMB