Tear the Tents Down, Clean the Cages

It’s the last day of the show, and TGIF. It really has been a great show, setting records for attendance, and I think the attendees really got their money’s worth this year. There was lots of new technology and ideas, and most new products that were introduced seem to be shipping, which means people can go home and get right to work implementing them.

So I sit here, back at the keyboard, trying to sum it all up. So here, in no particular order, are my impressions of InfoComm ’17.

First, the show itself: InfoComm ’17 was, from everything I saw, an exceptionally well-run show. Both the manufacturers and the attendees seemed to think so, at least the ones (probably in the hundreds) that I talked to. I really appreciated the increased attention to the Staging and Live Events Pavilion, and I am really glad to see the increased participation of the I.A.T.S.E. In the rigging and safety demonstrations. For far too long, many of our members (and thus our association) held an almost adversarial relationship with the dominant live events union, and it is great to see us working together as we (in my humble opinion) always should have. On top of that, I thought the lighting, staging and audio areas of the floor were well organized, with less confusion and less conflicting audio than in years past. Part of this, no doubt, is the increased use of the separate audio demonstration suites off the show floor.

I have only one negative comment about the show, and it is strictly a personal one. The fact that some companies in our industry still employee scantily-clad women from outside the business to try to draw people to their booths is moronic. The biggest comment I heard was that they must have to do it to compensate for their products or services. It embarrasses me that our industry still lets this happen. I have the great honor of being here with rAVe and working with one of the most talented and hard-working groups of young people I have ever met, and many of them are young women. The “Mad Men” mentality of this should have been over YEARS ago. Grow up.

Then, there was product. Oh, boy, was there product. As Gary mentioned in one of our podcasts, this year we received more new product announcements than we have for any previous InfoComm show. And there were whole new categories of product shown, including Samsung’s stunning QLED products, LG’s continuing developments in their (IMHO) even more beautiful OLED line, and more high-resolution laser engine projection systems than you could shake a proverbial stick at. Even better (for me) were all the manufacturers showing product for the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality portions of the market. I have been shouting about the coming of VR for years, and have been afraid that the AV industry would miss the boat and cede this market to the IT and Consumer Electronics portion of the business. I’m glad to see we in the pro end of the industry seem to be catching on.

There were way too many new products to point out all the ones I really liked, but I do know that in 45 minutes, when our final wrap up podcast begins, Gary Kayye is going to demand that I pick one. And so I have. It’s not one of the biggest or most expensive products, just one that I know will be particularly useful to me. So this isn’t a rAVe award, just my pick for the show.

The Tascam DR-701D is a four-channel audio recorder and mixer, designed for use with DSLR cameras and higher-end camcorders with the stupid “power mic” input. It has four XLRs input, and both records and outputs a mixed signal to the camera’s single audio input. I have used it’s predecessor, the DR-60D, for a couple of years now, and it has seriously “fixed” the audio issues I have had with this type of camera. The new DR-701D adds two more XLR inputs, HDMI sync and finally a ruggedized magnesium case. One of these will definitely wind up in my audio kit very soon.

The other thing that really excited me at the show was the “Tech Crew” program from Australia, a program for getting kids excited about the technical end of our business at a young age – and making the detailed and demanding process of learning the technical end of our business FUN. My hat is off to these guys, and I hope you will look at their video here on our web page.

Anyway, it has been a great show, and I am about to get on the road with my bag of literature, t-shirts, and fidget spinners. Thanks to all of you in the industry who combined to make another great InfoComm show. I’ll see you soon.