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CTUS Sheds New Light On Event Lighting

Lighting finds ways to address new realities as large-scale events return.

You know that cliché light bulb that’s floating over the head of a cartoon character who just got a great idea? Well, sometimes the light is the idea. As big events continue coming back over the coming months, great ideas are going to be in high demand. At CTUS, we’ve been planning for exactly that, and it involves lots of light.

In June at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer, held its annual trade event. CTUS provided booth technology for 18 of the stands at the event, including LED lighting. It was a big project, but the real story began before the first switch in the venue was flicked.

As trade events come back, we’re finding ourselves faced with many of the same challenges that every other industry has to contend with at the moment, most notably supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages,” explains Matt Pearlman, who guides Business Development at CTUS’ Chicago office. “However, we were able to see a good deal of this coming, and we’ve been able to implement a number of strategies and tactics that have kept us and our customers on point and on schedule. It’s how we were able to support that many booths at the ASCO event.”

Ahead Of The Show

One practice that been refined over the last several years is assembling lighting trusses ahead of time, in the CTUS shop facility nearest the event location. That practice is combined with careful technology choices, such as the Tyler Green Truss Plus, which allows lighting fixtures to be pre-rigged before arriving to the event venue, thus eliminating bulky cases and saving truck transport space. In the event a truss cannot be completely pre-rigged with fixtures, a complementary technique CTUS crews use is to print a full-scale paper tape with the type and location of each lighting fixture the truss will eventually hold, along with its cabling types and data connections, and affix it to the truss pipe.

Another product choice that translates into enhanced efficiencies is Prolyte’s  Verto truss system, which CTUS first deployed at the Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, Audi, and Jaguar/Land Rover booths during the 2019 New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center. The Verto truss utilizes an innovative approach assembly, in which a rotating coupler system quickly and easily joins sections. (The name Verto is derived from the Latin ‘”to turn’” or “to turn around,” and that’s exactly how this coupler type works: a flick of the wrist secures the connections.) Using this type of truss has cut assembly time nearly in half, and its light weight has allowed the use of more lighting fixtures while it cut drayage costs by approximately 40 percent.

New Product Development

In fact, CTUS’ expertise with lighting technology has even led to the creation of several new industry products. One of those is the Elation Professional’s Fuze Profile CW.  The Fuze Profile CW is an automated LED framing fixture specifically designed for trade shows and a wide array of other event-AV applications. “Often on tradeshows and expositions, you’d end up using a costly automated lighting fixture and only adjust its shutters, zoom and focus just to illuminate a banner or sign in a booth, and many of the other attributes and features of the fixture aren’t even used,” Pearlman explains. “Before that we’d use ellipsoidals to handle this task but we’d have to send a crew person up on a lift to set the shutters and aim it, which can be time consuming, especially under the time pressures of the day before a show opens, waiting for an aisle to clear so you can move a scissor lift in.” Instead, CTUS’ lighting team worked with Elation Professional’s designers to produce the Fuze Profile CW, which is specifically designed to illuminate objects like signs and banners, and texture key areas with a flat field and accurate framing. It includes features such as framing shutter, zoom, focus, rotating gobo wheel, and two color wheels featuring solid colors and correction filters, but leaves off the costly bells and whistles of a full featured automated fixture. “The Fuze Profile has very specific feature set that increases efficiency at a lower price point” says Pearlman. “It solved an important niche in the market.”

Eyeing the return of large-scale events in a post-pandemic environment that brings with it cost and labor challenges, CTUS is applying its expertise and experience to addressing both the creative and the practical needs of clients at live events. “The important thing to remembers is that it’s not a zero-sum proposition,” Pearlman contends. “We can support the creative ambitions and the economic realities of expo lighting as we enter this next era of event production.