China conflict hits Indian production cos
Indian event businesses under pressure to boycott China are facing increased production costs for non-Chinese-made equipment.
Organisers of entertainment, corporate and other live events currently have a choice between buying event kit (sound, lighting, stages, trussing, etc.) at a higher cost from the US or Europe or continuing to purchase from a country widely regarded as public enemy no 1.
A third option – manufacturing these products in India – would require government support for the industry in the form of subsidies, says Modern Stage Service’s Pratik Wadhwa.
An influential, celebrity backed social-media campaign, launched in May, urges Indians to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the India–China border.
The most vicious fighting, in mid-June, saw an estimated 20 Indian and 43 Chinese soldiers lose their lives in melee combat in disputed areas of Kashmir; both sides, meanwhile, accuse each other of firing shots in a skirmish at the line of actual control (LAC) between the Indian territory of Ladakh and Chinese-occupied Tibet yesterday (7 September).
“Matching price with China will be difficult at present … but it is achievable in the long run”
India blames China for the incursions, and has even gone so far as to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps including TikTok and WeChat and Tencent-published Fortnite rival PUBG. The Chinese state-run Global Times accuses a nationalistic Indian media of inflaming tensions, warning that the press “must be reined in” if India wishes to avoid further conflict with Beijing.
Speaking to EventFAQs, Wadhwa, CEO of the New Delhi-based pro-AV distributor, explains: “95% of lighting and trussing, and all LED walls and LED TVs, are imported from China, [as is] cheaper audio equipment.
“The alternative to this is that either India needs to manufacture equipment or international companies have to start assembly lines in India. The Indian government will have to support this industry by giving subsidies.”
Santana Davis, the managing director of Bangalore’s J Davis Prosound & Lighting, adds: “My assumption is that a certain level of impact will surely be there on import of this equipment or materials from China if the current scenario between India and China doesn’t improve.
Davis notes that equipment imported from Western countries is “top-class”, but compared to a quality Chinese brand is “at least two or three times higher” in price.
Indians are urged to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the border
Both Wadhwa and Shivam Singh of pro-AV company Shivam Videos say they plan to start manufacturing audiovisual equipment domestically.
“We have got back into manufacturing lights in India,” explains Wadhwa. “Matching price with China will be difficult at present, because they produce for the world, but it is achievable in the long run.”
“We have already planned […] to import parts from Taiwan, Japan or Korea and assemble them in India,” adds Singh. “Later, we are also planning to start manufacturing in India.
“We want to support our nation and be self-sufficient. We are ready to support ‘Make in India’. But for that we would need the government’s support as well, as setting up a manufacturing unit is not easy.”
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ISE departs from Amsterdam with 2020 event
ISE 2020 completed its 15-year stay at RAI Amsterdam on Friday 14 February 2020. The special ¡Hola Barcelona! event held on the final day brought down the curtain on ISE’s residence at Amsterdam’s leading exhibition centre.
Politicians and executives saluted the RAI venue and the city of Amsterdam while looking ahead to the future with the show’s move to the Fira de Barcelona next year.
Against a backdrop of the international health crisis and a storm sweeping across Europe, across its four days ISE 2020 delivered a vibrant exhibition floor and a compelling programme of content that included conferences, keynotes and training.
Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events, comments: “This year’s show demonstrated to us just how determined our attendees were to come to ISE. Many of our exhibitors exceeded their targets for customer engagement and lead generation. The show has delivered on all fronts: as the global industry’s biggest annual forum, as a launchpad for new solutions, as a place to do business and as a source of professional development and education.”
Thought leadership and expert opinion were to be found across many channels at ISE 2020, ensuring that delegates had an abundance of opportunities to ‘Learn. Discover. Be Inspired’.
In the Opening Address, former Disney executive Duncan Wardle gave an engaging and thought-provoking demonstration of how to ‘unleash the creativity within all of us’ – while 14 conferences in two venues addressed business strategies and technology trends across the broadest range of vertical markets ever served by an ISE professional development programme. This well-received line-up included the launch of the Control Rooms Summit, and the creation of the Smart Workplace Track as an offshoot of the Smart Building Conference.
On the Main Stage, jointly organised by ISE, AVIXA, CEDIA and AV Magazine, expert speakers offered thought leadership on a wide range of topics. Attracting a diverse and talented workforce within the AV industry was the focus of a number of these sessions. AVIXA’s Diversity Council Forum featured a keynote speech from BBC Creative diversity director June Sarpong, and in a session organised jointly with WAVE (Women in AV), the AVIXA Women’s Council was addressed by the Hon. Àngels Chacón, minister for business and knowledge in the Catalonian government.
“This year’s show demonstrated to us just how determined our attendees were to come to ISE”
The largest AV Career Day saw over 170 students and faculty from 12 different universities across five countries take part, and AVIXA reported excellent take-up for its FlashTrack sessions, which offered 20-minute presentations on key topics across user experience, design, AV-IT and emerging trends.
Dave Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, says: “Having now had a few days to reflect on our last ISE in Amsterdam, I am struck by the sheer determination and enthusiasm our AV industry friends and colleagues showed last week. In the face of significant challenges, thousands of people still made the trip to the show, attended conferences and took part in the networking events, awards and parties, and engagement across the show floor was meaningful and important.
“For our part, the AVIXA Conferences, Flash Tracks and Main Stage programme were all very well attended. This year we were gratified to have grown our participation in the AV Career Day. We also launched our new and exciting Digital Art Challenge – a year-long contest to celebrate those artists and creative teams helping to change the way people experience the world.
“And of course, we held the inspiring ¡Hola Barcelona! event on Friday – a chance to thank our great hosts for the last 14 years, the team at the RAI and the city of Amsterdam. We very much look forward now to ISE 2021 in Barcelona.”
CEDIA reported its most successful professional development programme to date, with an increase in uptake of over 50% on last year.
“ISE 2020 has been our best-ever show,” says Tabatha O’Connor, CEO of CEDIA. “Our Professional Development programme proved to be the most popular yet, with registrations at an all-time high. As part of that programme, we ran our first dedicated conference for architects and interior designers, which was a phenomenal success. The CEDIA programme for the ISE Main Stage was well supported, as were the CEDIA Talks hosted on our booth.
“ISE 2020 has been our best-ever show”
“We were also delighted to be part of AV Career Day, welcoming a CEDIA party from Liverpool University. We signed up a record number of new members and enjoyed a great evening with our community at the CEDIA Party, held in the spectacular surroundings of the Johan Cruijff Arena, home of AFC Ajax. CEDIA thanks the city of Amsterdam, and the RAI, for its hospitality over many years, and for an exceptional finale in 2020.”
Outside the RAI, a spectacular projection mapping installation on the upper floors of the complex’s Elicium building – created by ISE and the RAI in conjunction with seven technology partners – presented an unmissable demonstration of AV technologies for ISE attendees and for local passers-by.
In preparation for ISE 2021 in Barcelona, over 80 Spanish professionals from a broad cross-section of vertical markets were invited to ISE 2020 as part of the event’s Special Interest Group programme. Supported by ACCIO, ICEX and Grupo Eventoplus, they took part in a special programme of tours, presentations and networking functions,
culminating in the ¡Hola Barcelona! event.
During ISE 2020, over 950 exhibitors booked their stands for ISE 2021, with 61,968 square metres of stand space sold by the close of the show. This equates to 82% of the available ISE 2021 show floor, and approximately 115% of this year’s exhibition floor space. Reflecting the increasing number of vertical markets that ISE serves, additional Technology Zones for next year include live events and lighting, broadcast and VR/AR/XR.
The content programme at ISE 2021 will be augmented by three new strands produced by TNW (The Next Web), focusing on technology and its impact on society: Growth Quarters, Startup City Summit and The Assembly. This co-operation between ISE and TNW was announced on the first day of ISE 2020.
ISE 2021 will take place at the Gran Via, Fira de Barcelona, on 2–5 February 2021.
ISE MD Mike Blackman on the show’s widening appeal
Following our two-part feature focusing on trends in live events technology, IQ caught up with Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) managing director Mike Blackman for a preview of this year’s edition of the world’s biggest pro-AV show, which takes place at the RAI Amsterdam this week (11–14 February).
ISE has enjoyed year-on-year growth since it began. Will ISE 2020 be the biggest and best yet?
Unquestionably. At the last ISE, we had over 81,000 visitors – and we expect more in 2020. In 2019, we had 56,100 sqm of net exhibit space, and that will increase in 2020 by over 800 sqm.
Two important changes for this year are that the Hall 5 extension has been made larger and permanent, while Hall 14 will be the home of a new Innovation Zone – a specially designed area for companies that are new to ISE to showcase their technology. The ISE Main Stage theatre will relocate to Hall 14, and will offer a full programme of free-to-attend thought leadership and best practice sessions from ISE, AVIXA, CEDIA and AV Magazine.
Following the success of our spectacular projection mapping on the nhow Hotel during ISE 2019, there will be another exciting projection showcase on another part of the RAI complex. And we have a dynamic and thought-provoking Opening Address lined up with former Disney executive Duncan Wardle.
What’s new in the way of conferences and professional development?
All the conferences held at ISE 2019 will be back in 2020 – covering smart buildings, XR, digital signage, digital cinema, hospitality, visitor attractions, stadiums and pro audio, plus AVIXA’s two What’s Next… conferences, focusing on enterprise and higher education. In addition, we have a couple of new ones – the Control Rooms Summit and the CEDIA Design & Build Conference. Like in 2019, many of the conferences will be held at the Hotel Okura, near the RAI, which proved very popular with our attendees.
As well as its conferences, AVIXA is running 20-minute FlashTrack sessions on its stand. CEDIA has a four-day programme of training sessions, beginning on the Monday with a workshop on cybersecurity, as well as hosting free CEDIA Talks on its stand.
What are the challenges presented by the event having become so large?
One of the biggest is ensuring that visitors can easily locate what they’re looking for – and relevant exhibitors can easily be found. One of the ways we’ve addressed that is with the creation of six Technology Zones – for audio and live events, digital signage and DooH, education, residential, smart buildings and unified communication. The Technology Zones mean that visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology and product trends that are most relevant to their interests.
The ISE app has proved a big hit with visitors, and its wayfinding features are a key part of that.
“Increasingly, the show has become a destination for end-users”
How has the average ISE visitor profile changed over the years?
Back when we first started, our audience almost exclusively comprised systems integrators and other AV channel professionals. Increasingly, though, the show has become a destination for end users; our exhibitors want to engage directly with them, as well as meeting their existing and prospective channel partners. Today, ISE has become as much of a ‘must attend’ event for end-users as it is for the channel.
How have you made ISE more attractive to end users?
We’ve added substantially to our conference programme over the years, because end-users have told us they get enormous value not just from the opportunity to talk directly to manufacturers and to find out about the products and technologies that will shape their companies’ AV strategy – but also to network and to learn from industry experts and their peers.
Our Special Interest Group programme is designed to bring attendees from specific key vertical market sectors to ISE, helping end-user technology buyers to meet technology vendors and solution partners. They’re the result of formal agreements between ISE and a variety of associations, media partners, companies and consultants, and they’re tailored to meet the information needs of the visiting executives with planned stand visits, presentations, networking events and dinners.
You mentioned sessions by AVIXA and CEDIA. What is their role with ISE?
ISE is owned by AVIXA and CEDIA, two trade associations with a focus on professional development – so education and training have always been an important part of the show. Another priority for both associations is reaching out beyond the industry, to other stakeholders within AV projects. Establishing and awarding professional qualifications plays an important part in establishing the expertise of the industry as a whole, as well as demonstrating the competency of the individuals who work in it.
AVIXA and CEDIA are hugely instrumental in helping deliver the outstanding visitor and exhibitor experience that ISE has become, setting the tone and themes for the event and helping us continue to develop and create ever-more engaging content for our channel and various vertical market end-users alike. Between them, the two associations provide a wealth of market intelligence, guidance and education initiatives, as well as many entertaining and thought-provoking opportunities for development.
“Visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology most relevant to their interests”
What trends in technology should visitors to ISE 2020 look for?
I think we’ll start to see AI permeate a number of AV applications. It’s already being used in digital signage, but many see opportunities for it in other customer-centric applications, such as hospitality. AI is also being used to improve the quality of meetings and collaboration.
ISE 2020 will, I think, provide evidence of the rise of LED-based screens. They have advantages over LCD – and prices are dropping rapidly. It will also be interesting to see the progress that OLED technology has made. Visitors should look out too for new generations of application-specific projectors.
On audio: object-based sound will be heard everywhere.
With the move to Barcelona in 2021, ISE 2020 will be the last one at the RAI. How do you feel about that?
The RAI has been a great venue for us for over a decade now, so of course, there’s some sadness: I’ll leave with many fond memories of our time there. It’s served us very well, and has been part of our rapid growth to become the world’s largest professional audiovisual event. The downside is that we’ve become too big for a convention centre even of the RAI’s size and facilities.
However, I’m also excited. The Fira is a fantastic facility and a much larger space, located in a very attractive destination. The move isn’t simply about growing the numbers: it’s about delivering a better-quality experience to our exhibitors and visitors.
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Live events: the way we use tech is changing
In the first part of this feature, we talked about how millennials are driving change in the live events industry and the effect this has on technology that AV professionals are choosing. In this second part, we’ll look into the ways in which live events technology is changing ahead of ISE 2020, taking place at the RAI Amsterdam on 11–14 February.
With our daily exposure to the wonders of modern technology, it’s getting harder for companies to make a lasting impression with live events. The audiovisual industry is at the forefront of this challenge – integrating new technologies and concepts alongside creativity and originality to achieve engaging events. We talk to the AV industry about how it can help respond to the challenge.
“Capturing the magic of a live event and creating high quality content from it has always been a huge value-add, but one that, given its resource-intensive nature, is often out of reach for event organisers,” declares Barbara Rosseel, strategic marketing lead, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “New technologies will change this. From capture to streaming, digital annotation and AI-powered visual overlays, there are innovations that will make taking the live-action from stage to screen smoother, more straightforward and slicker than ever before.”
While there is no substitute for creativity, imagination and flair in live events, the essential tools for the job are screens, projectors, servers and audio systems. It is, however, as Stumpfl points out, the ideas rather than the technology that should be to the fore.
“It is absolutely true that a live event setup does not have to be technology focused per se, and creating technology overkill should be avoided,” he says. “But the way in which modern audiences enjoy visual media and encounter more and more animated content in their daily lives does create certain expectations at times. Versatile AV solutions can be a key part in addressing and meeting those expectations.”
It’s also important to bear in mind the role of video and audio: to what extent is it the attraction, and to what extent does it support or complement the attraction?
“ISE is perfect for reaching a wide variety of potential customers right at the beginning of the new year”
Industry giants have big plans for unveiling new solutions at ISE 2020.
“The details are still under wraps,” smiles Vertommen, “but what I can share is that we will soon be launching a ground-breaking new laser projector. The product is, we believe, the next step in projection with 50,000 lumens of brightness and will be the most powerful projector we offer. It really is an industry first and without doubt will be one of the highlights at the ISE exhibition. It’s the first time the projector will be demonstrated.”
And, not to be outdone, Barco also says it has some surprises up its sleeve for the show.
“Barco has a complete and dedicated portfolio for live events with our UDM and UDX projection families and our Event Master image processing range,” says the company’s director of product management, IP, Wouter Bonte. “This year, visitors can look forward to exploring our new UDM 20K 4K laser projector for the first time in Europe – and we will have some exciting new presentation switching solutions for live events.”
“Nearly all the major AV technology manufacturers have understood that ISE is perfect for reaching a wide variety of potential customers right at the beginning of the new year,” says Stumpfl. “The variety of cutting-edge products and innovations on display at ISE means visiting this show will both inform and inspire live events professionals.”
For readers looking to find out more about what ISE has to offer, visit https://www.iseurope.org/who-should-come-to-ise/live-events/.
Live events: raised expectations
Much has been written about so-called ‘millennials’ – the generation born between around 1981 and 1996 – and not all of it complimentary.
The reason for the interest in them? Perhaps the most discussed aspect of their behaviours is their preference for experiences over possessions. They like to travel, to eat out – more so than any other generation.
“Today, customer expectations are higher than ever,” believes Thomas Vertommen, European product manager for projectors at Panasonic Visual System Solutions. “We are all used to using technology in our daily lives – so when we attend an event, particularly a big music or stadium event for example, visitors expect something more advanced. There is an expectation that they will be amazed by what they hear, see and interact with.”
“And,” he adds, “the latest AV innovations can make this happen.”
He has an ally in AV Stumpfl’s CEO, Fabian Stumpfl. “It’s an exciting time for professionals working in the live events industry,” he says, “particularly as there are so many ways in which artistic visions can come to life, supported by a growing number of innovative audiovisual technology approaches.”
“It’s an exciting time for professionals working in the live events industry”
Social media is also growing in importance in the sector, with few live events today not taking advantage of the opportunity to reach a much wider audience than those who are physically present.
“Event organisers are looking for that ‘moment’ – experiences that visitors will want to share that will bring more followers, more shares, more engagement and so on,” notes Hanne Page, who is segment marketing manager, events, at Barco.
Creating unique fan experiences
“For today’s sports venue owners, living up to the immense expectations of fans is a challenge,” Mike Garrido, senior product manager, Christie, believes. “This is especially so in today’s digitally connected, technology fluent world. Although the sports themselves always will be the reason fans attend, there is a growing demand for stadium owners to enhance the non-game aspects of live sporting events to create truly unique and enriching fan experiences.”
Here, there’s no substitute for not only knowing what the technology will do today – but what it will enable in the future. To gain that kind of insight takes a special kind of show – and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) is that special kind of show.
“Event organisers are looking for that ‘moment’ – experiences that visitors will want to share”
Taking place at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam on 11–14 February 2020, ISE has established itself as the world’s largest professional audiovisual show. With over 1,300 exhibitors and over 80,000 attendees each year, it represents the full gamut of everything the AV industry has to offer.
Recognising the importance of the live events industry, ISE now features a Technology Zone specifically dedicated to relevant products and solutions, as well the attractionsTECH conference produced with industry resource blooloop. The half-day conference takes place on 14 February at the nearby Hotel Okura and aims to explore the business and technology strategies of live events and attractions.
“The unparallelled scale of ISE means the reveal of new technologies that will transform the live events market is almost certain,” notes Rosseel.
And, as a bonus: ISE 2020 will again feature a demonstration of state-of-the-art projection mapping, beaming images onto the exterior of the Amsterdam RAI exhibition centre each evening of the show.