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Winners of the PLASA Innovation Awards 2016 announced

UK – Sponsored by Velta, the 2016 PLASA Awards for Innovation took place in the Apex Room at the end of an extremely busy Monday at this year’s PLASA Show. Hosted by PLASA’s new managing director Peter Heath and presented by PLASA chairman Ed Pagett, the awards aim to recognise and reward outstanding new product ideas.

The Awards garner a huge amount of respect because they are independently and impartially judged by an invited team of industry experts.

To win an Award for Innovation, a nominated product had to satisfy the chairman of judges that it met the criteria for Innovation by clearly showing that it demonstrates a new style of thinking, improves technical practice, introduces new technology, new materials or new techniques, includes patents or unique intellectual property offers a new commercial advantage or improves safety.

The judges awarded all eight trophies and the winners were:

D3 Technologies for its D3 r14 software
With the opportunity to capture multiple live data streams from automation, motion tracking and more for instant replay, this system provides the visualisation equivalent of a virtual sound-check.

Ten 47 for the Powerline QC
The Judges felt this innovative design provided a long overdue solution to an old problem with high current connectors.

LSC Lighting for its Mantra Lite and Wings
This lighting desk takes an app-styled approach to lighting control making it very accessible to non-lighting professionals and experienced users alike, all in an affordable package. The judges noted that ‘even a sound engineer can use it’.

d&b audiotechnik for its NoizCalc
With open-air events becoming more popular, issues of noise pollution are commonplace. Being able to accurately predict not just the speaker system coverage but also its environmental impact in the wider vicinity is increasingly important. NoizCalc addresses this issue with a comprehensive program that is both accurate and easy to use.

Hall Stage for LivePipe
The Judges found this product a cost-effective, innovative application of technology, coupled with simple installation. It will no doubt be a popular product in many studios, theatres and educational establishments around the country.

Clay Paky for the Scenius Profile
The judges felt simply that this product’s innovation reaches from the lamp and reflector all the way through the optical path.

Artistic Licence for its Art-Net v4
This well-deserved award is made for a technology that continually evolves to support the backbone of production technology, incorporating complementary protocols with full backwards compatibility. One product impressed the judges enough to merit a Gold Award, which recognise products that stand out above the others in the field of nominations.

The Gold Award went to Klang for its KLANG:fabrik device, which was shown by their UK sales partner, HD Pro Audio.

The Judges decided that this was the first time that binaural monitoring has been successfully implemented in a practical and cost-effective solution. It was felt that it will be a popular addition to many shows.

Special mentions also went to two products: the Robert Juliat Dalis 862 Footlight, which the judges felt was a neat progression of company’s Dalis cyc light, and the Chroma-Q ColorForce2, which they said was a notable evolution of the company’s original ColorForce product range.

The final product recognition of the evening was the Award for Sustainability, which recognises products which can claim significant reduction of power usage for its type/application, effective use of renewable energy sources, or significant reduction of environmental impact of product life cycle.

The Award for Sustainability went to GDS for its Fade to Warm ArcLamp. This product has been designed to be environmentally efficient in manufacturing and, more importantly, easily and readily recycled into its individual components.

LSi magazine, the organiser of the Awards, would like to thank the team of judges who gave their time and expertise to assess this year’s product nominations. The team this year comprised: independent electrical safety consultant James Eade (chairman), live sound engineer Jon Burton, acoustic consultant Tapio Ilomaki, lighting and electrical specialist Nick Read of Howard Eaton Lighting, lighting and set designer Ben M Rogers, sound, lighting and video installer Ed Manwaring from EM Communications, Stephanie Baldwin technical project manager at the Royal Albert Hall, Matt Drury, head of lighting at London’s National Theatre theatre consultant Flip Tanner, from Fischer Dachs Theatre Consultants freelance production technician Chris Henry and freelance sound engineer/producer Simon Allen.

The awards presentation culminated with the announcement of the winner of the prestigious Gottelier Award, which was won by Anne Valentino, senior controls product manager at ETC.

Named in memory of Tony Gottelier, the renowned industry innovator and commentator who passed away in 2006, the annual Gottelier Award aims to recognise those product developers who have made significant long-term contributions to the advancement of entertainment, presentation or installation technology, whether in audio, lighting, rigging, staging, or any other related field.

The competition was tough, with this year’s nominees being Chris Cronin, founder of Total Solutions Group (TSG), Artistic Licence founder Wayne Howell, Dr Christian Heil founder of L-Acoustics, Masaaki ‘Mick’ Okabayashi, head of Yamaha’s digital mixing console development team, Yvan Péard, co-founder of Ayrton, The Strand Lighting R&D team, 1960s-1980s, led by Marin Moore and later by David Bertenshaw and winner Anne Valentino.

Anne has spent most of her working life contributing to the creation of lighting control consoles. Starting as a technical director at a Houston performing arts centre, she worked for lighting manufacturer Kliegl before moving on to Strand Lighting. Here she began her work with lighting control products which would define the industry, from later versions of the Strand Light Palette, through ETC’s Obsession and Expression consoles, to Vari-Lite’s iconic Virtuoso and back again to ETC where she developed the Eos, Ion and Gio consoles.

“I was deeply honoured by this. Tony Gottelier was one of my favourite people in the industry and being associated with his name was really touching,” Anne commented. “The thing about product development is that there’s always a forward facing person who gets a lot of the credit.

“I’ve been so lucky with every single project I’ve worked on to have really fantastic colleagues who were collaborators and really helped shaped the products. On Obsession it was Jon Ide, Michael Snyder on Virtuoso at Vari-Lite and on the Eos family of products, Dennis Varin and Matt Halberstadt and our developers Dan Duffy, Chris Mizerak, Alice Kahn, Ray Hill, Andrew Daniel. They’re the people who actually do the work. It’s always a big team of people that make these things happen, so I’m honoured for all of us.”

“Each year we’re impressed by the quality of the entries for the Awards and this year they were truly outstanding,” says Peter. “The judges found it a real challenge to reduce the shortlist to the eight available awards and our congratulations go to the highly deserving winners.

“On a final note, we would like to thank LSi magazine, which will be donating £1,000 from this year’s entry fees to PLASA’s chosen charity, backup, which supports entertainment professionals in need.”

21st September 2016

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