Continued from May 2009 CTI Newsletter

Showlight 2009 Show Report

In my humble opinion, Showlight is simply the best show of its type in the world.  It isn't a trade show, and it isn't an academic conference, but it does combine lighting users from around the world in a unique way that reinforces the reasons all of us are in the lighting profession.  

Showlight is held only once every four years and alternates between the United Kingdom and Europe.  In 2005 it was held in Munich.  This year it was held in the lovely city of Glasgow, Scotland.   

The long days are filled with activities every minute and attendees spend the entire day and evening with each other, listening to seminars, having lunch, visiting lighting factories and theatres, and attending dinners.  Its a wonderful way to get to know other lighting users from around the world, as well as to meet many of the very top names in lighting, whether speakers or attendees, and also to meet the next generation of lighting stars since there is a group of invited students at the show who serve as interns, all of whom were incredibly talented. 

Some of the speakers included:

  • Jim Tetlow spoke on lighting the U.S. Presidential debates.
  • Paul Collison spoke on lighting the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony.
  • Iain Ruxton described lighting Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque (nearly indescribable in its scope and certainly the largest installation that anyone had seen).
  • Paul Pyant spoke about lighting Lord of the Rings.
  • Bill Klages spoke of his long and spectacular career.  Bill is a great speaker with loads of stories and we could have listened to him all day. 
  • Tanya Burns described lighting in the world of industrial shows.
  • Joe Breslin and his team (in kilts and hard hats) told how they designed and installed the new BBC Scotland studios, where the Showtech conference was held.
  • Bernie Davis told of his experiences lighting the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium.
  • Roberto Schaefer described his experience as the director of photography on Quantum of Solace and his innovative use of LED lighting for films.
  • Angus Farquar gave a fascinating talk on lighting the Storr Project on the Isle of Skye.  This was literally lighting a mountain using battery operated LEDs, under the worst conditions imaginable.
  • Hugh Davies-Webb gave a seminar on media servers.
  • Mark Kenyon told of lighting the U.K. hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing.
  • Lighting legend John Watt gave a seminar on the very latest in saline dimmers.
  • Andi Watson spoke of his leading edge lighting for Radiohead.
  • Simon Smith told of the many architectural lighting installations in the city of Glasgow.
  • Ruth Rossington described industry efforts to build and certify skills.
  • Rob Halliday told of lighting the 26 universe LED cyc on Mary Poppins.
  • Alex Wardle gave a seminar on his quest to perfect the electronic flicker candle for period architecture.
  • Simon Hall gave a technical seminar on optical hazard regulation for lighting.
  • Trent Kim spoke of experimental notation for lighting design.
  • Ken Billington gave the closing speech.

All of the seminars were fun, interesting, and informative, but my favorites were:

  • Jim Bornhost told of how he and a few others at Showco changed the course of modern lighting by inventing what became the Vari-Lite.  This was the first time I had heard the story in its entirety from its creator, and so much of what we see in lighting today is owed to Jim and his team who in their quest to create a color changing PAR can said, "If we add two more motors, it moves."
  • Dorian Kelley gave a seminar entitled "The Poetics of Light."   Dorian's seminar reminded all of us that our industry is about the artists who use light to create emotion on stage, and that all of us manufacturers, distributors, and electricians are here to serve the artists who actually do the lighting.  Dorian's seminar was incredibly emotional and was a thrill for everyone to hear.  I hope he repeats it again so more can hear it.   It truly represented the spirit of Showlight. 

Here are some faces and scenes from the show:

Getting ready to watch a seminar at Showlight 2009 are Stan Miller, Josh Alemeny and Michael Hall, all of Rosco; LD Bill Klages; Alan Luxford of Strand Lighting; Michael Goldberg of Selecon; Peter Marshall and Tony Lukeman of PRG.  

The speakers on the final day of Showlight included moderator Rick Fisher,  Vari-Lite inventor Jim Bornhorst, Quantum of Solace director of photography Roberto Schaefer, and legendary TV LD Bill Klages

The new BBC Glasgow studios on the banks of the River Clyde

BBC Glasgow
The Clyde Auditorium at the  Scottish Exhibition and Convention Center Bryan Raven of White Light
The always interesting John Watt gave an informative seminar on the latest in salt water dimming techniques.  LD Paul Davies and inventor Jim Bornhorst.  
Mark Jonathan and speaker Paul Pyant who discussed his Lord of the Rings lighting Mats Karlsson and Alan Luxford
Site visits included the Philips lighting factory (above), concert halls, museums, and the ever popular distilleries. On stage of the concert hall at Glasgow City Hall.
Peter Willis of Howard Eaton Lighting Ltd. put the RDM plugfest together.  Showlight's chairman, Ian Dow, did a wonderful job in organizing and leading the activities. 
City Theatrical's SHoW DMX was part of the RDM demonstration.  The Showlight committee takes a bow.
Yes, there were always bagpipers and kilts around. The recital hall of Glasgow City Hall
Lighting panel on "green" issues in entertainment included  moderator Mhora Samuel, Iain Davidson, Andrew Dixon, Nick Moran, Ruth Rossington, and Roberto Schaefer.  Alexander Fockichev of Doka Media
ESTA's Technical Standards Manager Karl Ruling Tony Lukeman of PRG
 Jacob Boehm and Michael Rooney, lighting students from Stanford University,  Lighting consultant Michael Scott
Rising lighting star James Valpy of the Central School of Speech and Drama Trent Kim gave a seminar on experimental notation in stage lighting