International Flavour at the ETNZ Conference
by Jenny Barrett.
In response to requests from membership to bring what’s happening around the rest of the world to New Zealand, ETNZ served up an array of workshops and keynote speakers with a strong international flavour, laced with a smattering of issues of local concern: health and safety and mental well-being topping the agenda. Exhibitors too had grappled with their colleagues across the ditch to ensure that the latest models from manufacturers around the world were diverted to New Zealand before Australia.
The surprise special guest could also claim a few international connections. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage made a guest appearance to celebrate the industry.
150 delegates flew into Wellington’s Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre to take advantage of the impressive line-up of workshops and keynote speakers at Entertainment Technology NZ (ETNZ)’s bi-annual conference.
The first keynote was delivered by Katie Cullen Montgomerie, a Kiwi now resident in Switzerland and Head of Marketing for Verity Studios AG, a leading drone entertainment company.
She provided inspirational insight into the weird and wonderful places that the entertainment technology industry can take you, with footage of eight drones whizzing through the air in a choreographed routine as part of Cirque du Soleil Paramour, and the out-of-this-world eighty-eight micro drones on stage in costume as part of CCTV’s huge Chinese New Year’s celebration.
The other big international draw card was Greg Pittams, Technical Director for Ptarmigan Integration, another ex-pat Kiwi currently based in Hong Kong. Leaning on his experience at Warner Brothers Theme Park in Abu Dhabi (14,000 lighting fixtures in 22 attractions) and other spaces across Asia, Greg discussed creative production in a permanent environment.
Many other slightly more down-to-earth but highly informative workshops followed over two days with Cathy Knowsley’s Health and Safety sessions and Nigel Pizzini’s look at Mental First Aid proving some of the most popular with delegates.
The international theme continued with Eddie Welsh from Jands AU talking about how funding infrastructure in Queensland was supporting the switch from halogen to LED and Scott Harrison, also Jands AU, sharing his experiences in Europe and at Prolight.
Many of the sessions had a lively interactive format with a panel of three ‘experts’ kicking off the discussion on a pertinent topic and the audience contributing to proceedings as much as the speakers, resulting in extremely positive feedback from delegates on how much they were taking away from the event.
Images L-R: Delegates; NZ PM with delegates; Katie Montgomerie, Verity Studios and Linda Dorrington, Skills Active
The Trade Show
Running alongside, the trade show was well supported by delegates and the scene of intense activity prior to and between sessions. Present were stalwarts of the industry the likes of Metro, LS Group, the revamped Jands NZ, as well as the impossible to miss relatively new kids on the block ULA, who owned the entrance to the hall with a dazzling array of product.
Everyone had a first. It was impressive to see the commitment that the companies had made getting new product to New Zealand shores in time for the conference. Almost every stand had something that had not been seen previously in Australasia.
Phil Dexter at Theatrelight NZ proudly showed off a brand new 3D printed protype, the Z1000, a zoom spot 1200w with profile, with the company expecting to shift 4-500 units at a time into Asian theme parks.
The new RackPack-S, forty of which had already gone into Life Church, Auckland was also a winner. The RackPack-S adds permanent power switches to every dimmer of the original popular RackPack I, allowing mains power to be distributed to non-dimmable loads such as DMX controlled luminares, moving lights, smoke machines and motors. With the switches off, the RackPack acts as a normal incandescent dimmer.
Other news from Theatrelight was their new sole agent in Australia – Show Technology. And just around the corner, Show Technology NZ were getting to grips with their new product, the MA3 Lighting Control Console, offering a touch friendly, more intuitive interface than its predecessor.
It is currently in beta so on sale with the MA2 software, with a free software upgrade once available. Nick Reeves, Technology Sales based in Auckland sang ‘the industry standard’s’ praises. Kenderdine, not quite in agreement with Nick’s statement, were keen to show off the new entry level NX Wing, based on the NX 2 Console (a complementary USB control surface to Obsidian Control Systems ONYX platform).
They were also celebrating their very compact LED Moving Head, the GLP impression FR1 and the Moving Head Profile, the S350.
MusicWorks also had a first for the country, the Yamaha Steinberg AXR4, which according to Drew Mollison, their Pro-Audio Specialist, Sound on Sound Magazine had called “possibly the best interface ever”. It sees Rupert Neve Design’s Silk processing incorporated into a relatively affordable Thunderbolt interface (it will be in the region of $3000NZD).
Brodie Noon, MD of MDR Sound and Lighting and Adrian Dittmer, Sales Director raved about the new offering in the Chauvet professional range, the Maverick MK3 Spot with output of over 51,000 source lumens. Another first viewing in Australasia.
Not sure if they fit under the title of newcomer or not following the dissolution of the previous company, Jands NZ were well represented with Phil Sargent, ex-Philips Selecon, now National Account Manager, fronting the stand. Supported by Wellington-based Jason Allott and his strong audio background, the two offer a wealth of knowledge for the sector.
The commitment to the New Zealand market was evident with a whole load of new product on show in New Zealand “before the Aussies even get their hands on it.” This included the Robe iPointe, an IP version of the popular MegaPointe, recently released at Prolight.
The new T1 Fresnel was also impressing Phil with its output – 10,000 lumens; its subtlety offering all variations of colour; and its multifunctionality – both Fresnel and PC lens supplied, “A lot of more exciting possibilities for design nerds.”
Then there were ULA. These guys were working hard on making an impression. Previously operating remotely from Australia, they now have offices and a warehouse on the North Shore, Auckland with a showroom opening in August. They oozed enthusiasm for every product on their trade stand, excitement peaking when talking about Astera Titan and Helios Tubes, possibly due to the number of containers they were shifting. Move over Quasar Science.
Moving on to live technology product, Garth Reynolds, Branch Manager and Sean Rosig, Technical Sales lit up when talking about their lighting consoles – the Chamsys QuickQ, entry level consoles with one, two or four universes with a tablet interface or you can hook up your iPad, launched in 2018.
They were also impressed with their SGM IP light offering with a patented dehumidification system for wet locations. Perfect for New Zealand. And the ACME range, coming with a three-year warranty when purchased through ULA, and the ability to customise, Auckland’s Aotea Building recently purchasing forty LED bar light Dotline360s in white for an upcoming installation.
They had also brought along MDG haze machines, “The best hazers in the world according to Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.” The case they had on the stand, a collaboration between ULA, ACME and MDG was certainly impressive, neatly holding two gas canisters and a DJ Power Fan.
Then finally there were the VuePix LED screens… and then a beer.
Moving away from the audio-visual side of things, HME, the company that designs and automates machinery for the entertainment industry, well known in Australia, less so in New Zealand, was successfully building brand awareness with a video featuring staggering projects around the globe.
John Herber Theatre Supplies, a family business that specialise in flame retardant fabrics, drapes and stage track brought a bit of theatre to proceedings. They now export to Australia through Theatrical Supplies Australia (TSA).
Scenic Solutions, owned and operated by Andrew Hampton and David Gill, two men who will pretty much manufacture anything a theatre or show needs, were there, accompanied by Garrick Rollinson from Stagemark who has been working under Rob Peters (Theatre Systems & Design) for the last ten years, specialising in rigging and flying systems.
Outside the trade hall sat Fiasco, a company based out of Cambridge that is crazy about rack cases. In amongst all their “heavy-duty, long-lasting, space-efficient and totally kick-ass” cases, they had a new slam rack with doors that cleverly slide inside. And in other news, they have now opened up in Los Angeles, including a full service centre.
Lastly, there was Aspiring Safety who design and manufacture full body harnesses for aerial performers and export globally. Although owner Shane Rhodes, considered “everything exciting” on his stand, he is putting a new product through the patent process, so will be back for the next ETNZ Conference with his own “first for Australasia”.