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David Keene on Technology Trends: Big, Small, & Epic

As we head into the 4th quarter of 2017, we’ve seen a year of much-more-than-usual technology evolution in the staging world. It’s impossible to rank all the tech trends in terms of importance–they’re all important: much more direct view LED, a boom in Laser Phosphor projectors, ultra-short throw projection for staging, LED lighting (that is affordable), DANTE in more places (for audio), more video production tools, and more.

On the business side–business is coming from unexpected places at a rapid pace at the last possible moment. Some end user clients are moving meetings/events in-house and virtual. Will more venues will become self-sufficient, lock-down, contracted, and unfriendly to outside AV? It’s a worrisome trend–but in the meantime the big shows keep coming.

We’ll be looking at a variety of those issues in the next, year-end issue of Rental & Staging, as we assess key trends in this booming industry. In this issue, Les Goldberg looks at the evolving role of the show technician, and explains that while a technician in the past could fit into a more generic category of video, audio, and lighting, and today we see that roles have shifted to technical specialties such as video projectionist, LED tech, FOH A1, and Spyder/E2 graphics operator. Of course, a lot of the evolution–and changing expectations for what a good technician can do–is in fact the direct result of the feverish pace of the tech trends we’re all seeing. New tech tools mean new expectations for technicians. But it’s important to consider that it’s not only about learning new tech skills. As Goldberg emphasizes, “the technician of today can know everything about technology but if they provide a poor customer experience and make a bad impression on the client, all that technical knowledge becomes meaningless–these skills are even more important today, as shows have become more complex and involve a greater degree of teamwork, planning, rehearsing, and overall client interaction.”

Speaking of new technology platforms and new imaging palettes: we just had to share with our readers the spectacular (epic?) projection mapping gig for no less a client than HBO’s Game of Thrones, and with no less a screen to project onto than the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. Projection mapping guru Bart Kresa summed up the importance of the building: “The Disney Hall is one of my favorite buildings in the world, so when this project came along from HBO, I was very excited to do it.”

When you combine one of the most visually stunning buildings in the U.S., with the projection mapping by Kresa, and Worldstage, well, the results were there for all to see. And, for fun, we also include a sidebar to that Game of Thrones projection mapping article: Game of Thrones fans were given another outlet for their favorite show when the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” played a 24-date arena tour across North America. The tour featured the show’s composer, Ramin Djawadi, conducting a 35-piece orchestra and choirs performing highlights from the score. The 360º stage was rich in visuals and dynamic movement; d3 media servers tracked automation and drove the display of video content from six seasons of HBO’s epic fantasy series.

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