UK - Organised by LSi magazine, the 2017 PLASA Awards for Innovation took place at the end of a very busy Monday at this year’s PLASA Show. Hosted by PLASA’s managing director Peter Heath, the awards aim to recognise and reward outstanding new product ideas. 
The Awards garner a huge amount of respect because they are independently and impartially judged by an invited team of industry experts.
To win an Award for Innovation and Sustainability, a nominated product had to satisfy the chairman of judges that it met the criteria for Innovation by clearly showing that it demonstrates a new style of thinking; improves technical practice; introduces new technology, new materials or new techniques; includes patents or unique intellectual property; offers a new commercial advantage, or improves safety.
“This year we saw an incredible 40 products nominated, rather fittingly for our 40th year,” says Peter. “The judges can give up to eight Awards of equal standing - plus they have the option to make one or more of these a ‘GOLD’ Award - to recognise products they believe stand out above the others. They also have the option to present the PLASA Award for Sustainability, for products which offer a significant reduction of power usage; or make effective use of renewable energy sources; or which offer a significant reduction in environmental impact of its product lifecycle.”
The judges awarded all eight trophies and the winners were:
City Theatrical for the DMXcat
The judges said: "A compact multifunction DMX analyser that will be a useful addition to many technicians' toolboxes."
Claypaky for the K-EYE K20 HCR
"An LEDwash light at delivers a new approach to accurate colour rendering starting at chip level rather than manipulating existing sources."
Drop for the Hyperlay
"The Judges felt this was a time-saving app to enable riggers to transpose rigs to different venues and recalculate loads at the touch of a button."
Eaton - Zero 88 for the RigSync
"The RigSync opens up lighting creativity opportunities for non-technical people in an entry-level environment."
Elation for the Artiste Dali
"This is the first time the Judges have seen a diffracted laser in an LED spot luminaire making for a very versatile product." 
Elation for the Proteus Hybrid
"This innovative approach to cooling has enabled the Proteus Hybrid to be the first IP rated hybrid moving discharge luminaire."
Shure for the Axient Digital
"The most compact, discrete and ergonomic transmitter married with a very smart RF system makes the Axient an obvious choice of microphone system." 
Stage Smarts for the Smart PDU
"A well-engineered mains distribution unit that harbours many safety features for the modern show."
Special commendations also went to two products: James Simpson’s Holo Machine which shows true innovation with technology, allowing directors and designers to collaborate in a mixed-reality environment; and Doughty for its SpaceSaver Omega, a simple time and space-saving solution that will be welcomed by many rental companies.
LSi magazine would like to thank the team of judges who gave their time and expertise to assess this year’s product nominations. The team this year comprised: James Eade (chairman), a long-time contributor to LSi magazine and an independent electrical safety consultant; Simon Allen, a freelance sound engineer/producer and pro audio professional with over a decade of experience; Ed Manwaring of EM Communications, an experienced sound, lighting and video installer; Stephanie Baldwin, technical project manager at the Royal Albert Hall; Mick Jones, leading live events project manager and account manager at Creative Technology; David Bishop, well-established television and event lighting designer & programmer; Joe Mapson, technical production manager, Charcoalblue; Paul Fielder, deputy lighting systems manager, Royal Opera House; Matt Prentice, lighting designer and production electrician; Tim Mascall, international theatre lighting designer; and Ryan Penny, Senior consultant at Vanguardia Consulting.
The awards presentation culminated with the announcement of the winner of the prestigious Gottelier Award, which was won by Wayne Howell, founder of Artistic Licence.
“We continue to be impressed by the quality of the entries for the Awards and, as always, they were outstanding,” says Peter. “The judges found it a real challenge to reduce the shortlist to the eight available awards and our congratulations go to the highly deserving winners. On a final note, we would like to thank LSi magazine for donating £1,500 from this year’s entry fees to PLASA’s chosen charity, Backup, which supports entertainment professionals in need.”
(Jim Evans)

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