“The Voice.” “Dancing with the Stars.” Beyoncé. Live productions, no matter the medium, have one thing in common: All eyes are drawn to the performer. But, what audience members don’t see is their favorite shows wouldn’t happen without companies like PRG creating illuminating technology behind the scenes—technology that is so innovative, it actually deserves to be center-stage all on its own.
Production Resource Group LLC (PRG), a global provider of entertainment and event tech, has been awarded a 2018 Engineering Emmy Award for its GroundControl™ Followspot System—a patented product created right here in Dallas.
PRG has 70 offices scattered across the world, but North Texas houses the headquarters of the Technology Development Group. It was at PRG Labs that the Followspot System was crafted, which allows an operator to remotely control the luminaire (an electric light unit) from up to 2,000 feet away. The first utility patent was issued in March 2017 as part of a multiyear development effort by the Dallas-based R&D team.
Much like the megastars it spotlights, the GroundControl™ system has seen significant recognition since hitting the market.
The winners of the 70th Annual Engineering Emmy Awards were announced by the Television Academy last week, honoring those that have made notable developments in broadcast technology. The Academy stated that the PRG GroundControl™ Followspot System, one of five Emmy recipients, has become “an essential lighting asset for the wide variety of studio and remote locations used by awards, reality, and concert programs.”
In layman’s terms, followspots light up specific performers on-stage, and PRG’s system allows designers to put them in previously impractical locations. The GroundControl™ system consists of customized PRG luminaires and a built-in camera, and is actually pretty self-explanatory. The operator stays on the ground, so the ‘footprint’ of the luminaire is significantly smaller than a traditional followspot, allowing for the wider variety of placement positions. This provides safety benefits, reduced trucking space, and saved operator time, and also removes the previous need to take away seats to accommodate followspots.
The ‘wide variety’ of programs described by the Academy is an understatement—chances are, you’ve probably seen the GroundControl™ system at work.
In addition to “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars,” PRG’s tech has been used on TV shows such as the Grammys and MTV Awards, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” Major corporations such as Adobe, Microsoft, and SAP have integrated the system into their events and exhibits, and designer Tom Ford used it for a fashion show. PRG has even been on tour, shining down on numerous musical superstars including Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Drake, Elton John, U2, and Metallica.
Chairman and CEO of PRG Jere Harris (who founded the company in 1982) called the GroundControl™ system “life-changing” in a statement, saying that the product was a revolutionary in a category that has seen little change in the past 30 years.
About Dallas-based PRG Labs
PRG describes itself as “committed to product innovation” with its more than 170 issued patents and over 70 trademarks. PRG Labs opened in Dallas in 2004 as an R&D technical support facility full of engineers, technicians, and product experts. The company says the facility excels at “combining market expertise, state of the art equipment, and in-house engineering and manufacturing to provide creative solutions for clients.”
PRG Labs has developed automated lighting solutions like the Bad Boy® spot luminaires, the Best Boy® spot and wash luminaires, and the V676 and V476 lighting consoles. But, the 2016 creation of the GroundControl™ system has been one of the most innovative and award-winning products in decades.
The 70th Annual Engineering Emmy Awards will be hosted by “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangsness on Oct. 24 at the JW Marriott Hotel at L.A. Live. To learn more about the ceremony or view a full list of winners, explore the official website here.
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