3 Lighting Trends for Events, From LDI in Las Vegas

By Alesandra Dubin October 26, 2010, 10:03 AM EDT

Photo: BizBash

LDI, the lighting industry trade show that alternates between Orlando and Las Vegas each year, returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center from October 22 through 24, with industry programming beginning on October 18. The mood on the show floor was overwhelmingly optimistic, with exhibitors citing what felt like a crush of engaged attendees. You can expect the lighting industry trends seen at LDI to affect events ahead—here's a preview:

1. Lighting as Decor
Lighting fixtures as decor pieces continue to evolve. Many exhibitors displayed products whose primary purpose is to decorate, not illuminate, a space. Galaxia Electronics showed magnetic, programmable LED products—the round versions are known as “UFOs,” the linear shapes as “C-bars"—that can be affixed to metal surfaces for a punchy decor look. The brand is also working on a battery-operated version (which it expects to be available within three to four months) that would allow even easier event applications.

Airstar began outfitting a version of its signature glowing sphere with LEDs about three months ago, producing a colorful look, and meeting a growing demand for event decor. “At this show, lighting as decor is huge. Just like the exhibit and event industry lines are blurring, [the lines between lighting fixtures and decor are] merging,” said Airstar’s national sales manager for special events, Lisa Wessels. “This product opens up business opportunities for us.”

Deco AV is offering a new lounge table, illuminated from within, set with video screens and a built-in DVD player. Other products to look out for are fiber-optic chandeliers, like the remote-controlled Solstice chandelier from UFO, as well as further developments in LED-based dance floors, candles, and other color-changing products.

2. Increasing Energy Efficiency—and Impact
With the growing focus on making events—and life in general—more environmentally friendly, “energy efficiency” has become a catch phrase in event lighting. And sometimes, it's a misnomer: Were those LEDs manufactured in a polluting plant in China, by any chance? Nevertheless, LED products do consume less energy than traditional lamps and often eliminate the need for other hardware (gel filters, dimmers, and the like). But although looks like soft color washes have been achieved through LEDs for years, some effects, like gobo-style projections of logos and patterns in sharp focus, have been difficult to achieve. Look out for that to begin to change.

Martin has a new, energy- and cost-efficient moving light that is bright enough to project gobos, released earlier this year. “The light was designed from a fixture for the architectural market. We kept that same concept and made it brighter with LEDs. It's a low-cost alternative fixture, all using less energy,” said commercial product manager Brad Haynes.

Robert Juliet also has an LED-based fixture for gobo projection, and SeaChanger is making a plasma-based equivalent. Robe showed a moving light that uses plasma and could do gobo projection. Other LED products continue to evolve, allowing big looks at events without sucking significant power out of the grid. At the show, PixZel Effects draped LED curtains on and around a DJ booth for a big impact.

RGB Lights president Jameson Green, said of his company’s own two-year-old LED curtains, “Cost is an issue and that's been keeping it held back a bit, but LEDs are continually coming down in price. and as the economy is coming around it's becoming more affordable. The flexibility, the modularity, the outdoor advertising [applications], all accomplish a dramatic look for events.”

3. Blurring the Line Between Lighting and Projection

With pixel mapping and video running to tubes and fixtures in all shapes and sizes, and video being used as a lighting tool, lighting and projection continue to converge in dramatic looks.

For instance, Pixled exhibited low-power, bright screens comprised of rubber structures that allow multiple panels to fit together for a seamless display. And because tiles can be arranged in concave and convex or curving configurations, the look for events will be striking. The product is in prototype now, and ready to be shipped within a month or so.

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