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PLASA Show 2018 Review – Busiest and most vibrant show in recent history

PLASA Show 2018 Review – Busiest and most vibrant show in recent history

UK – The busiest and most vibrant PLASA Show since its move to Olympia saw a 4% increase in visitors with a palpable atmosphere that was reminiscent of its former Earls Court days. The three-day show from 16-18 September welcomed a stream of exhibitors and attendees from around the world primed to explore the leading edge of live entertainment technology.

Not only were visitors eyeing up newly launched products and taking advantage of the world-class education programme, networking and trade were high on the agenda. Sixty-three per cent of visitors were final decision makers or specifiers, and a quarter of visitors were business owners, managers and directors, confirming PLASA Show as an epicentre for business opportunity.

Jonathan Walters, UK sales and purchasing director from A.C Entertainment Technologies commented: “This third year back in West London has really confirmed PLASA’s decision to relocate to Olympia, each show here has worked consistently well but this year has been one of the best shows of its history. Sunday was busy for us, but Monday surpassed all expectation. There have been many discussions over the past four years that trade shows do not generate hard sales success: Monday’s result proved that is a misnomer.”

Leisuretec’s marketing manager Charlie Hendon added: “The atmosphere’s been lively and exciting with plenty of opportunities to establish new business relationships and socialise with existing clients.”

Platinum sponsor Robe dazzled visitors with the reveal of a fully submersive stand, featuring a viewing balcony where visitors checked out the latest lighting with the help of a dynamic dance troupe, rain, fire and a 'Godhead' cave. “We decided to create a Lost World trilogy,” explained design duo Nathan Wan and Andy Webb. “We drew inspiration from Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones and the Goonies, creating an epic fire VS water battle. We always go big and this year saw a 22-metre wide curtain of rain!”
Audio exhibitors were out in force having increased by 23% at last year’s show. This figure grew by a further 17% this year demonstrating a continued bond with the live sound sector.

L-Acoustics made its return to PLASA Show after several years, armed with their innovative L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology. In fact, immersive audio featured across the show floor with the highly regarded Soundscape technology from d&b audiotechnik demonstrating its state-of-the-art object-based mixing and room emulation, and Outboard with its evolutionary spatial reinforcement and immersive platform.

First time exhibitor Holoplot made an impact with an impressive win in the Innovation Awards for its ORION loudspeaker system. The Germany-based team also hosted two seminar sessions exploring the application of wave field synthesis for 3D sound and challenging environments. Roman Sick, Holoplot CEO commented: “The show offered the opportunity to demonstrate our product in a more intimate way, be it at our booth or at one of the seminars we conducted. The overall high quality of the visitors was convincing and we believe it was a successful event.”

Yamaha and NEXO tempted visitors their way with a Japanese garden theme complete with blossom trees and a rain feature. Chris Irvine, Yamaha’s product manager explained: “Rather than bringing loads of gear we built an aesthetically pleasing stand and chose a few key products: the legacy PM5D digital mixing console which is out of production, and the modern, cutting edge PM7. This has allowed us to engage with visitors regarding which products they have used over the years.”

The audio demo rooms were busy throughout the show demonstrating the upper limits of products from KV2 Audio, OHM, Aura Audio, Shermann and RCF. Additionally, the show floor was teeming with the latest loudspeakers, line arrays and subwoofers from brands such as Bose, Adam Hall, Adamson and Peavey.

The SSE stand was a hive of activity offering the latest in audio including the dLive S5000 from Allen & Heath, the Venue|S6L from Avid and the SD5 from DiGiCo. Drawing much attention was the custom range of microphones created by Sennheiser and Rebel drawing inspiration from popular Star Wars characters. SSE sales director Alex Penn commented: “We’re enjoying a good amount of footfall meeting with lots of engineers and freelancers who are visiting off the back of a busy working weekend.”

Chauvet cultivated a party atmosphere on its eye-catching stand with full LED backdrop. Not only was the company presenting the PLASA Award nominated Maverick Storm 1 and COLORado Solo Batten, the 2018 show marked an important mile stone as Michael Brooksbank, European general manager explained: “We’re celebrating our 30th year at PLASA Show and are having a great time – it’s always a great event.”

Other lighting products on show were the Prolights Panorama IP WBX LED, the Chimp range from Infinity, Astera’s Titan Tube, Elation’s Smarty Hybrid lighting fixture, the Synergy 5 Profile from DTS and the modular KNV LED system from GLP. Simon Barrett from GLP commented: “We’ve enjoyed a busy stand and seen a diverse range of visitors. It really is the UK show.”

Debuting at PLASA Show for the first time were Epson with its powerful PLASA Award nominated EB-L1755U projector. Sales manager Sharon Head remarked: “I’ve been delighted by our first time at PLASA Show, it has exceeded expectations. Footfall came quick and fast and we’ve met interesting new potential partners.”

Over 2,200 people took advantage of the varied programme of panels, workshops and talks, led by industry experts from all sectors. The all new Rigging, Production & Structures Theatre was a popular destination throughout the show, with design engineer Scotty Stewart’s talk on simple rigging calculations drawing a huge crowd of aspiring and professional riggers.

The queue was out of the door for Creating a Mix with legendary sound engineer Simon Hodge which walked attendees through a live mix with both informative and entertaining results. The SoundGirls debuted at PLASA Show and were welcomed by a full house, keen to learn about the latest immersive sound systems and live mixing apps.

Visitors were dazzled in Giudizio Universale – Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel, presented by Ric Lipson of Stufish and lighting designer Rob Halliday. Not only were attendees taken on a visual journey through the making of the show, they were treated to a demonstration of a tungsten Svoboda light by ADB. On the following day, the Royal Shakespeare Company revealed its ambitious production of The Tempest which utilised cutting edge immersive effects, including a motion capture suit worn by the lead character which allowed for an ethereal avatar to appear on stage.

The PLASA Awards for Innovation, which recognise pioneering product designs, saw a staggering 47 entries which were judged by a carefully selected group of industry professionals. The judges awarded all eight trophies and one Gold Award. The winners were: the ProPlex IQ Tester by TMB called “a data tool-kit that every technician should have”, EdgeMax by Bose for its ability to “flood the room with sound”, the Relevé Spot by ETC commended for its “fast calibration and resetting and modular nature of the electronics”, SPOTME by Robert Juliat for its “followspot tracking”, the matisse dmx by Artistic Licence for being a “well-thought out product that fills a gap in the market”, Synergy by Avolites for opening “creative opportunities for visual effects”, SPACEFRAME by PRG which could “revolutionise rigging and customary practices” and ORION by HOLOPLOT for its “clarity and precision”. The Gold Award was presented to Astera’s Titan Tube. The judges were very impressed with the “feature-rich units that will find an application in all sectors of the industry, including film, TV, events and theatre.”

As always, there was a strong element of philanthropy with Backup – the Technical Entertainment Charity – benefiting from £2,000 from the PLASA Awards for Innovation entries and a £10,000 donation from the iconic Lightpower Collection photography exhibition which inspired visitors throughout the show.

A gruelling 100-mile charity-bike ride from Chippenham to the show in London, led by PLASA managing director Peter Heath and nine colleagues from across the industry has so far raised £1,600 with donations still rolling in.

Next year’s show will take place at London Olympia from 15-17 September 2019.

26th September 2018

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