Professional Lighting & Production - Summer 2022 - Page 24

points is we made it controllable from a grand- MA light board , and we created lighting fixtures , and lighting people were like , “ That is so cool !” It ’ s a different type of fixture , but they can sync it into their shows , and that ’ s the power .
What PixMob is focused on is making a product that is hyper reactive . So , you can go 20-beats-per-second and we ’ re on beat , right ? It ’ s not like we ’ re going to just generally light up with red and blue light or whatever . To me , that is just ambient light . But we are an amplifier , and we sync up with the show . So , the lighting people , when we work on tours , they love it because they then get an immense canvas to work with .
PL & P : What were the first tours using the products , and how were they being used ? And have you seen the way they were being incorporated into lighting designs and tours change over time ?
Dalphond : I mean , our first big tour was with Taylor Swift in 2015 . She had the vision to put light into each fan ’ s hands . It was very bold at that time . I mean , it was a different concept than what Coldplay had done before , because PixMob was RGB and controllable and she was very bold in that — I ’ m still impressed .
What has happened is , as we evolve , as we ’ ve done a tour , then next time we want to work with an artist , we invent another technology . It ’ s the same PixMob environment but , for example , we toured with Taylor Swift in 2015 and then again in 2018 . For the 2018 tour , we invented the PixMob moving head because we wanted to push ourselves , and we wanted to reinvent how it looks . So , we kind of keep doing it .
PL & P : When it comes to something like the creation of the PixMob moving head , is that your own R & D and design team coming up with that idea ? Or are you talking to , say , Taylor Swift ’ s LD and asking , “ What would you like ? What would be cool ?”
Dalphond : It comes from our ideas , and then we validate it with them , being like , “ Are we crazy or is this interesting ?” Sometimes they ’ re like , “ That might not work , but this is really cool ,” like the moving head really worked out . Then , like everybody , we got hit by COVID , so we took an innovation break . We actually did a lot of innovation for contact tracing and we built a business around that . So , now we ’ re back into a massive innovation push , so exciting things are coming .
PL & P : More recently , PixMob has entered the permanent install market , like what you did in the San Jose Sharks ’ arena with the light that ’ s attached to each seat ’ s armrest …
Dalphond : I would say it ’ s not one or the other , I think it ’ s just that we expand into that … It came from sports teams and them being like , “ Man , I love your stuff but I can only afford to do it a few games a year . Do you have a way to do it every game ?” It was as simple as that and we just listen to our client . Especially the teams that own their building are like , “ Can we do this ?” and we ’ re like , “ I don ’ t know , we ’ ll figure it out .”
The Sharks , they were courageous . I showed them a 3D-printed prototype and they were like , “ Alright , we ’ ve worked with you guys for three years , we trust you , and let ’ s innovate together ,” so , we built it . We like the challenge because now every Sharks game has PixMob and sometimes I go to sleep in my room and I ’ m like , “ Cool , there ’ s a PixMob show right now in San Jose .” It ’ s kind of fun to think of .
PL & P : Are you seeing tours or events , or particular LDs , that are pushing the envelope in how they use LED wearables ? Anything that ’ s indicating where this is going on the design front ?
Dalphond : What comes to mind is we have more and more lighting people who don ’ t just see it as icing on the cake , but that build it into the show . They think , “ How do I bring my audience into the show ?” I think that makes the big difference . I think the users , who are the lighting designers , are the difference , because you could have your show that you ’ ve done , and then add some PixMob as background , or you build it into the design and the concept of the show right away . That makes the difference . And then we try to give all the tools we can for them to do that .
One big thing that we ’ ve done is we built our own previs so that designers can invent the show in advance . Until 2017 , we didn ’ t have that . It was me trying to being like , “ Imagine pixels lighting up !” and they were like , “ You ’ re crazy .” But now they see it and are like , “ Okay , we could do that and then we could do that and we can do this placement …” That ’ s the beauty is we unleashed the artist ; it ’ s amazing .
PL & P : It ’ s not flattery to say that obviously PixMob is the leading company doing this right now , and there ’ s not many others out there . Xylobands is probably your biggest competitor . Are you keeping an eye on what any other companies are doing and do you feel challenged by them ?
Dalphond : I guess we have two aspects of our business . One is providing LED wearables , and then we have our innovation pipeline . So , it ’ s healthy that there ’ s competition , because then it proves that we ’ re not crazy in our own [ way ] inventing something . We keep an eye on that . And again , a lot of people resell stuff , so we must keep an eye on it , because then they have a very different approach and it ’ s harder to do what we do . I like to say that we make everything complicated by having our own manufacturing and design ecosystem , we do our own shipping operation — like , we are so obsessed with doing a quality show .
So , I guess it ’ s how do you compare that with a generic resale commodity ? We keep an eye on it , because it ’ s the market and we have to keep our eyes wide open to what the market is ready to go after .
PL & P : Lastly , what ’ s been the biggest hurdle along the way ?
Dalphond : The biggest hurdle has obviously been COVID , which was a giant slap in the face for us . But let ’ s say apart from that , it ’ s that to succeed , you need to aim for total quality and absolute innovation , and yet , keep in mind the price . So , it ’ s like we want to invent the craziest stuff , and we have to also be realistic about what the market can tolerate .
I think that ’ s a bit vague . So , I would say that the hurdle is we choose innovation and that is a strategic choice , and that we need to stick with it and not be dragged into a reselling war out there . You have to believe in your
24 | Summer 2022