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The missing link: lighting and staging industries miss out on the buzz of ISE

Walking through the aisles of ISE, it’s hard to dispute the event organisers’ claim that it is a stunningly visual show. High-quality displays have been the mainstay of the event from the very beginning, and now, with the advent of more large-screen LED walls, projection-driven visualisation systems and ever-larger flat planels, the breadth and variety of visual entertainment is richer than ever.

In the real world, AV integrators combine these technologies with audio and lighting systems – both in fixed installations and, especially, in rental applications for the corporate events business. Few integrators these days would design a motor-show stand without videowalls but, equally, those projects require other technologies in order to ‘work’ and grab the attention of show attendees.

In 2005, ISE announced a partnership with PLASA with the intention of adding another dimension to the show. Sadly (and in contrast to InfoComm International in the States, where the Lighting & Staging Pavilion is well-patronised), nothing much came of it. Anyone visiting ISE this year in the hope of finding automated lighting or staging products to go with their video rigs would leave the show disappointed.

One has to assume that manufacturers of lighting and staging technologies have yet to be persuaded that ISE is ‘their’ kind of show. They seem happy with events such as PLASA, which is centred on entertainment technology.

Yet PLASA attracts relatively few members of the AV industry who add value to their services by offering lighting and staging to their clients – a key component of ISE’s visitor profile. If these ISE attendees were able to see the potential of a fully integrated system encompassing AV, lighting and staging, the benefits of an alliance between ISE and PLASA would be obvious.

This is not merely a manufacturer issue. Many AV customers, be they event organisers, schools, conference centres or corporate clients, require products and services from the lighting and staging community at some level or other. It stands to reason that many of these customers will look for a ‘one-stop shop’ solution. However, in the current climate, it is generally the large lighting and sound companies – which have incorporated limited AV services into their repertoire – that get the call.

It could be the other way around. AV integrators could be broadening their customer base by forging stronger alliances with lighting and staging suppliers, and presenting a complementary package of technologies to end users. But, at the moment, there is no obvious forum in which this diversification might take place.

Is it too much to expect that next year, here in Amsterdam, we will see a proper Lighting & Staging Pavilion alongside the large screens, digital cinema, and home-theatre displays?