I have been fortune enough to be involved in many product development jobs. I say involved because it is always a team effort because even a relatively basic product is a substantial project. It’s a lot more than creating and engineering the product, it is also sourcing parts, building tools for efficient production, documentation, testing, certification and much more!
Here is a selection of products that I have defined and led the development of:
Martin P3 LED video system
When I first got involved with LED video displays I was surprised to learn how limited the creative facilities were. Setup of an LED video screen was close to rocket science for a beginner. Coming from a lighting background, this seemed very strange, especially as LED screens at the time cost a fortune.
Later, when I was hired by Martin Professional to lead the technology side of their video business, I saw the opportunity to change this, to define a new standard, a technology that was user friendly, robust and with much increased creative possibilities.
The result, engineered by the great people at Carallon in the UK, was the P3-100 System Controller. It was very well received; won some prestigious awards and became the foundation of the entire Martin video portfolio.
The second generation of video screens from Martin (the first being the LC-series) and the first one to run natively on the P3 platform.
The EC series was, as far as I know, the first ever LED display to eliminate cables between the individual tiles. It was probably the first creative video display to use true 3x3 matrix color calibration.
Other key features included setup without loose parts and tools, very low noise and very high mechanical accuracy.
Revolution Display X15
LED display floors are available from several manufacturers but they are regular just displays with a cover from thick transparent plastic or glass. This means lots of reflections (drives the lighting guys crazy) as well as being potentially very slippery for the performers.
The X15 does it very different – the floor surface is made from wood! That’s right - it functions and feels like a normal stage floor.
How? The LEDs are below the wood surface and the light is transported to the surface using light guides. The result is not only a great, non-reflective floor but also a display with incredibly high contrast and extremely wide viewing angles.
Check out Alicia Keys performing on the X15 at the 2013 NBA All Stars Event. There is great shot of the X15 in action at 2:10 – 2:15.
One of the first touring video pixel strips, introduced in 2006 on the Bon Jovi “Have A Nice Day Tour” and George Michael “25 live” tour in 2007. Despite being Barco’s first shot at a pixel strip (and having room for improvement) it sold in great quantities and is still in daily use on shows all over the world.
One of the most spectacular applications was at SuperBowl 2011 when the The Who performed on a circular stage made up from MiStrips.
A highly transparent display module that debuted on Kenny Chesney’s “Poets and Pirates” tour in 2008. It was the first ruggedized “mesh” type LED product on the market (now there are hundreds…). It was the right product at the right time and sales exceeded even our wildest expectations.
One of the more innovative uses of this small tile was the sphere constructed for Depeche Mode’s "Tour of the Universe" in 2010. And, yes, the screen behind it is also a very large Mitrix LED wall!
Introduced in 2001, the PowerPAR 575 was one of the first affordable “daylight PAR” fixtures on the market. Before its introduction, the choice was limited to very expensive film type HMI lights. The PowerPAR 575 quickly became the standard fixture for big car show. Robust and lightweight, it featured the innovative auto-restrike feature that speeded up the process of getting a switched off fixture up and running again.
A “digital light” – in essence a digital video projector cloned with an automated light. Without doubt the most complex and most frustrating product I have been involved in developing and my reason for starting with Barco. The project stretched over 4 years - mainly due to the laws of physics and certain external stakeholders not quite cooperating as expected.