Eric Loader


Eric Loader rejoins the American DJ family as Elation’s Director of Sales.

Eric Loader

By John Landers

Eric Loader is back. After more than a decade with Martin Professional, he’s rejoined the American DJ Group. As the new director of the firm’s Elation Professional ( and Acclaim Lighting ( divisions, Loader has returned to the company that helped launch his career 20 years ago. “It’s kind of a homecoming,” he says.

But instead of settling in and arranging his office furniture, he’s on the move with the Elation 2006 Training Product Road Show. “We’re doing a lot of traveling,” says Loader via cell phone while driving to his next stop. “I was in Dallas all last week. We had the training in Miami the week before that. It’s been busy, but being busy is good.”

As an industry veteran, Loader knows how important it is to stay connected to the customers. “I’ve been in the business 20 years,” he states. “I started as a DJ when I was 16. I had a couple of systems, and put myself through college DJ-ing. That’s when I started doing club installs and production.”

It’s that kind of practical, hands-on experience that got Loader his first national position with American DJ, but it’s his understanding of the nightclub market that brought him back to his roots. To better understand Elation’s past, present and future, we caught up with Loader and asked him about his new job.

So, why did you leave Martin Professional? I left Martin because of the opportunity presented to me to play a key role in the continued growth of the American DJ group of companies, especially Elation and Acclaim, which I could not pass up.

Elation Professional has been building intelligent lighting controllers and fixtures for a while, but there’s more to the brand than that. Can you give us some background about the company? Elation is a company that serves two functions. We are a distributor of different brand name products like Alkalite, which is our LED line, and we also have Antari foggers. We distribute a few lines that we feel fit our product portfolio. We are also a manufacturer of automated lighting and control systems, including the Elation Show Designer series. When you talk about automated lighting, that includes the Vision Series, the Design Series, and the Power Series. We manufacture all of those products ourselves, so we serve two roles in the market. We primarily focus on the Americas, but we have partners in Europe and Asia that distribute our products worldwide. We want to make Elation a global brand. That’s part of the reason why I’m here.

The Elation name does seem to be gaining awareness in the nightclub industry. We’ve done a great job, especially the last two years, of getting more market share and getting the name out there. Our goal is always to give the highest quality for the value. It’s a phrase that’s used a lot, but that’s our goal.

The company’s LEDs are all the rage in West Covina, Calif.’s Spice Club.

Let’s talk about some specific products. What can you tell us about Elation’s controllers? The Show Designer One has been out on the market eight years ago, and the Show Designer Two has been out for a few years now. We’re getting ready to launch our Show Designer Three, which will be ideal for live applications or where you want more hands-on control of your lighting system. It’ll have three DMX universes – thus Show Designer Three – and it’ll have more playback faders, master group faders, and group buttons. So if you’re doing live applications . . .

. . . you won’t need six hands to react to what’s happening on stage. Nice. What about computer-based control applications? We also distribute Compuware software, which is coming out with version 2006. That’ll be launched in two months as well. Computer software is very powerful, and you can hook up a touch screen to the system for more hands-on input. It depends on the application. If you just have a DJ in the booth and you need him to trigger some lights now and then, the Compuware’s perfect. It also has a powerful new feature, pixel mapping, which is great for LED fixtures. You can actually drag video clips into the software and do pseudo low-res video effects with your LED system.

Speaking of LEDs, the Elation Octopod 80 was nominated for the Best LED Product Club World Award last year. How is Elation continuing to take advantage of that particular lighting technology? We’re adding to the Octopod Series this year, and we’ve got the Octostrip coming out in a month or two. It’s a strip of LEDs designed for cove lighting, uplighting or downlighting walls. Of course, you can use it as a visual element as well. With the OctoStrip, I think people will really begin to see the different types of applications where you can use LEDs.

I can’t get over the concept of “long-throw LED lighting.” Luxeon is getting ready to launch their new K2 series, which will also be a one-watt, but it’s got double the efficiency. So we’re starting to R&D with those K2 LEDs. I think a lot of fixture manufacturers will be using that new lamp.

Besides the increasing popularity of LEDs in architectural applications, how else do you expect to see the technology used in nightclubs? Lighting and video are getting closer and closer together. We also have a low-res video wall that we sell through Acclaim, and that’s called X-Curtain. The X-Curtain can actually be mounted outside, so if you wanted to do a pseudo video display outside of your club, you can do it with that.

What’s new with Elation’s non-LED products? The hottest thing we’ve got out right now is the Design Spot 250. It’s a spot and a wash fixture in one housing. It has a variable frost that can create a soft effect for washing a stage, as well as a hard spot effect. It’s the only fixture on the market in the 250W range that has an iris, variable frost, rotating gobos, fixed gobos, colors, and a prism. We really put a lot effects into one package.

This summer, we’re getting ready to launch our Power Spot 700, which will be our brightest fixture. It’s for larger clubs, and it’ll certainly be popular in the production market, but it’s still a compact fixture. It’s not huge, and it has a lot of features. There will also be more products coming later this year in the Design series.

I notice that Elation has a fresh scanner, the Vision Scan 250. Is it designed for different applications than the Vision Scan 575, or can they be used together? They can definitely complement each other. It’s all about how you layer your lighting system. Obviously, the Vision Scan 575 has more output, so you can mount it higher. The rule of thumb on a 250-watt fixture is a throw of 20 feet and under, while 575’s are 50 feet and under.

So the new scanner is better for smaller rooms or lower ceilings. And the Vision Scan 250 pulls less power. It’s got a 3,000-hour lamp, which is great, versus the Vision Scan 575, which has a 750-hour lamp. You get some other advantages out of the Vision Scan 250. That lamp still has very high color temperature, so it’ll still look very bright, but it pulls less power.

The Spice Club install is bright in scope.

Will scanners eventually be replaced by moving head fixtures in nightclubs? Moving mirrors can move much faster than moving heads. For a high-energy dancefloor, you can do a lot of cool things with a moving mirror that you can’t get with a moving head. Moving heads have become more popular, but you still can’t replace the speed and reliability of a moving mirror. You’re moving less mass, so it’s going to be inherently more reliable.

We’re seeing more live performances in clubland lately, and it’s nice to see intelligent color changers augmenting or even replacing traditional PAR cans. Elation’s Stage Color combines a classic PAR appearance with full, DMX-controlled color mixing, and it’s very, very bright.

Elation introduced an “extra special” special effect product this year. What can you tell us about the Streamer, which you’ve licensed from Kaos Lighting? We’ve been working on it for a while with them, trying to put together the right package at the right price. It’s definitely unique. It uses LED technologies to drive fiber optics, and it’s designed for the more intimate clubs. You need to have a pretty dark area to display it in, but the amount of effects you can get out of it is tremendous. From the static look, to when the night gets going in the club or lounge, you can do a lot of things. Also, while it is DMX, we have a special remote for it. Some people might want to use it in its own dedicated area, where you want to have control of it. If you rent out a VIP room, you can even give the patrons some control over the lighting.

Besides all of Elation’s new and improved products, this Road Show program sounds interesting. We’re only halfway into it right now. We go to Chicago next week. I’m a big proponent of educating our customers on how to use the products, how to maintain them, and how to service them. Just like your car, you’ve got to maintain it properly.

It’s amazing what you can do with a little compressed air once in a while. Getting market feedback is really important to us, too, understanding how our products are being used, what’s important to the end-user, whether it’s a club owner, a production company, or a mobile DJ, what’s important to them in terms of features and benefits, and what they’re looking for in a product.

Where’s Elation going from here? Our goal is to become a leader supplier in the club market. We’ve had a lot of success in the club industry already, but we’re looking to increase our brand awareness and prove that we’re dedicated to providing the right products for this industry. Our other goal is to be a complete supplier for our customers, so whether it’s conventional lighting, LED lighting, fog machines, clamps, cables, power distribution, we want to be a one-stop shop for our dealers and our customers. If you’re a club owner, and you’re dealing with 10 different vendors on the manufacturing side, it can become a little challenging to get serviced properly. We offer club owners a great return on their investment, with products and a company they can count on. While Elation is a fairly new brand in the lighting world, the company has been around for eight years, and the American DJ Group has been around for 25-plus years.


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Copyright 2006 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2006 TESTA Communications