It was clear walking through the entrance to Plasa 2018 that it was set to be its most exciting show since it’s move to London Olympia 3 years ago. Murmurs of hotly anticipated equipment reverberated through the crowd, several eager enthusiasts walking a step faster, desperate to be the first to get to some of the stands.
Plasa has faced fierce trade show competition in the past and suffered a bit of a decline in numbers in recent years due to a lack of variety in the Audio sector, but with an newly appointed MD, with a strong knowledge of the pro-audio market, Plasa 2018 was set to make a strong comeback.
I sat down with my colleague, James Hudaly, Account Manager at Azule to get his view on the highs and lows of the show.
Hey James! Let’s talk about Plasa 2018. How did you find the atmosphere this year?
I visited just on the Monday & Tuesday this year and you could definitely see the increase in numbers of, not only visitors, but also exhibitors and seminars. Although I didn’t attend on Sunday, I did hear that, in opposition to the other days, it was much quieter and actually quite disappointing. It raises the question whether the show still needs to operate on a Sunday?
There was a clear buzz of excitement about new equipment set to launch and in an industry that operates 24/7, it was a great opportunity to have some time to catch up with customers and suppliers alike.
The Audio and Lighting market can be cliquey but there is a cohesion and respect amongst peers that you don’t see in other environments. It was great to see people from so many backgrounds coming together for the mutual appreciation and interest of technology in entertainment.
That’s great to hear. What were some of the products you saw that had the most buzz around them?
In Lighting, ROBE officially announced their hugely anticipated ‘Super Spikie’, a sleek and versatile moving light that dazzled visitors with its resonant colour, powerful zoom and rotating gobos for generating new aerial effects. The ROBE booth was clearly one of the top destinations of the show with visitors crowding and lining up to get a view of their new products.
We also saw an impressive display of Ayrton products from Ambersphere including the new BORA S which boasts a new LED module.
Looking at Audio, L-Acoustics brought to the table their impressive L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound Technology. Benefitting audiences, sound engineers and production teams, the L-ISA localises the sounds from each performer on stage, allowing an enhanced listening experience never seen before.
There was also a lot of discussion around D&B’s new KSL system which sounds very interesting and we are looking forward to seeing this in 2019.
Azule are very excited to be working with our customers to help them finance all the incredible new range of equipment.
Sounds like some exceptional kit is coming to the market. Did you see much innovation this year?
Absolutely. Technology is advancing at an astronomical rate and so many products that are being launched really show the innovative companies and individuals behind them. There were lots of exciting and deserving awards given out at the Monday evening ‘Plasa Awards for Innovation’ show. To name a couple, Avolites picked up an award for their synergy platform, where lighting and video integrate seamlessly and PRG also picked up an award for their Spaceframe, a novel frame that will revolutionise the industry’s standard way of LED screen rigging.
A lot of exciting stuff happening then. So from everything you saw, what impressed you the most?
There was a jaw-dropping display from ROBE that had everyone in absolute awe. Inspired by the ever-growing popularity of action-genre treasure-hunting games and movies, and in-time with the release of the newest Tomb-Raider game, ROBE put on nothing short of a production, really highlighting the creativity and vision of the company and their products. Dancers navigated through intricate designs of Jungles, caves and volcanoes in search of treasure (ultimately revealed to be their new SuperSpikies). The audience was 100% engaged and ROBE did an excellent job of drawing in their visitors.
That sounds incredible! Delving in to a couple of more ‘controversial’ topics, with subjects on equality in the workplace and gender stereotyping at the centre of many stories, did you notice any shifts/rises in the number of women at the show?
The industry in general has always been male-dominant and I wouldn’t say there was necessarily a notable rise in the number of women but there are, and have been for a long time, so many incredible women working in the industry and I’ve definitely noticed more awards going to women for exceptional work in, for example, sound engineering. Anyone who shows talent and innovation in any industry should be celebrated.
Interesting thoughts on that subject. How about even more controversially and something on the daily agenda, Brexit. Is there worry about the impact of Brexit on the industry?
There are genuine fears and concerns around Brexit for our industry and it can be difficult to say if they will come to fruition. The big problem is the uncertainty and it doesn’t seem like it will be relieved any time soon. I think one of the biggest issues we may face is a more complicated travel schedules, with potentially more costs and administration involved. Freelancers and small businesses may be particularly affected by this and, depending on what those costs might be, may decide travelling to Europe is no longer a viable option. In saying that, demand for concerts and live events around Europe is higher than ever, so perhaps the benefits will still outweigh the negatives?
Interviewed and written by Nastasia Bishop, Marketing Manager at Azule Limited