April 18, 2024 8:48 PM
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Lighting the Way for Tradeshow Tech

Show and Design Group’s Vision for the Future

by Kerstan Szczepanski, Writer, Exhibit City News

 

Things have been going well for Las Vegas’ Show and Design Group (SDG)—well enough that the company recently moved into a new facility on West Windmill Lane. Despite the move, SDG still hosted their popular MA Lounge lighting event. Exhibit City News spoke to Director of Business Development Miles Dudgeon about the move, the lounge, and what’s new in lighting in the industry.

While known for lighting, SDG also works in audio, video, and trucking. Dudgeon said, “At SDG we like to talk about how we help make events easier. We happen to be lighting experts, but our success comes from a willingness to help with any part of your event. We know the venues and suppliers in town and can make some great recommendations.”

Moving to a new facility will help SDG service event creators even more. The space is more than double the size of the former facility and easier access.

SDG moved in October. Dudgeon says of the move, “It’s a big jump from 10,000 square feet of warehouse to 25,000. The most impactful change has to be the loading docks; we now have seven docks, at the old shop we had to use a forklift for almost all loading at street level. The speed and reduced effort to load and unload makes us so much more efficient. The new location is a little bit further out, but the travel time to partner warehouses and marshaling yards is nominal.”

The Windmill Lane facility is more than a warehouse, it’s a headquarters and a party spot, where the MA Lounge is located. Acting as an open seminar and exhibit, SDG’s MA Lounge gives industry insiders an opportunity to see the latest in lighting control. The latest was in December 2023.

The latest MA Lounge was in December 2023. “On December 6th we had version 1.7 of our lounge,” says Dudgeon. “It’s a bit of an industry joke to give our events version numbers, referring to the software versions the lighting controllers use. For less than a year into doing this event we couldn’t be happier with the good will it generates and connections we’ve made.”

The connections can be easily made too, as the event is social as well. “MA Lounge is free and open to anyone who wants to attend,” Dudgeon said. “We have a happy hour to start, a presentation for 30-45 minutes, then serve food and allow people to learn and try out new skills on the lighting controllers. The ‘MA’ refers to MA Lighting, who makes our favorite lighting control systems. MA Lighting is distributed in the U.S. by ACT Entertainment. ACT has been an amazing partner; helping find speakers, generously supporting the event through marketing, and sharing costs.”

The MA Lounge is a professionally educational opportunity in lighting. Dudgeon said, “grandMA controllers are used at the highest profile live events around the world, and in extremely high demand. For a lot of the lighting community, they can only get hands on with one on a job site. The relaxed lounge setting, with experts around to make suggestions and solve problems is really something they can’t get anywhere else.”

The education and information exchange gives Dudgeon and SDG great pride. “At our latest lounge we had JJ Contini give a great talk about dealing with live festivals and multiple guest lighting operators, then Daniel Kannenberg, the product manager from MA Lighting in Germany, gave everyone a preview of the new software he is working on,” says Dudgeon. “Eric Abad from ACT also brought some new lights from Aryton, another brand they distribute, so people could get a much closer look. Of course, we also got to show off our new shop.”

The grandMA controllers aren’t all to watch for in tradeshow lighting. When asked, Dudgeon mentions, “There has been continued work on using video game tech to visualize lighting designs that is on the cusp of wider adoption. We’ve been using specialized programs for a while now, but the new options are going to bring even more accessibility to immersive pre-viz.”

Development in materials is also making a difference. Says Dudgeon, “Some of the equipment manufactures are adopting new metal alloys, allowing more intense sources to be used in smaller form factors that are easier to rig. I don’t think we will be using less lights, but we’ll have a broader visual dynamic range in a very similar form factor to equipment we use today. Just like a good TV, the bigger difference between the brights and darks, the more exciting the show can feel.”

Finally, the global push for clean energy has created an added benefit for the events industry. Dudgeon says, “We are seeing realistic portable battery power available for events. Essentially a silent and clean generator that we can use inside. It’s possible to recharge them through solar or other renewables giving your event an instant improvement on its environmental impact.”

Technology is just getting more exciting, and the tradeshow industry is getting more electrifying because of it. Las Vegas’ Show and Design Group isn’t just helping exhibitors tap into that future for great events but is generously showing people in the industry how it’s done.

 

This story originally appeared in the Q1 2024 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 58. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_q1_2024.

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