If you want to do more than just hope for the best you'll need to start holding your clients to a higher standard. Your contract should specify the electrical needs of the system you're bringing as well as the physical footprint you'll need to set up everything properly. If the client fails to provide adequate performance conditions as specified in the contract, it's up to you if you want to "wing it" with the system as spec'd or downsize on the fly. The occasional bands I work with hate me for it, but I hold them to power management plans. I strongly suggest that if you're looking to take a step up in your performance you figure out a power plan too. That way you'll be getting the most from your circuits while also having a high degree of confidence you won't pop a breaker...until the catering staff plugs in a coffee urn...
I know you don't say you have a budget, but what's at least a ballpark figure? You can spend anywhere from $35 to $2000+/fixture! Short of ebay options, you start getting some nice choices around the $150-300/fixture price point. The more you spend the better quality you get, dimming curves get better, frequency gets higher, etc. One other thing to consider is fan noise. A lot of the cheap lights have noticeable fan noise. If you're just playing rock gigs that probably wouldn't matter, but if you get into things like weddings and corporate work, noise like that can be a problem.
Justin, have you tested any of your ADJ Dotz Pars in this application? .... Then again, depends on your controller and what you want out of them.
Disclaimer: I'm more of a lighting enthusiast than professional.
I suggest looking at the Blizzard "HotBox" fixture in the RGBA or the RGBW variety. Pretty good luminous intensity, various dimmer curves to try. Small and fairly lightweight, they are also good for up-lighting. Cost is on the lower end of the price range for decent lights mentioned above.
I've tried various LED options, including the Hotbox 5 which was the worst in my opinion (too narrow beam, extremely bright so had to be dimmed considerably). I have a bunch of cheaper lights for the backline but for front spots I've simply done no better than a $30 Par 38 can with a Rose gel, screwed to the flypoints on my JBL speakers. Mine have 70 watt screw-in flood bulbs, and they're plenty bright in small stage environments. I would guess about a 30 degree beam.
I get this, and would love to do it. But generally the places we play can get bands that have no standards for power or sound or whatever if we refused to play. I realize this opens up another can of worms and we could easily derail this thread about this topic. Short story is I live in a very rural area so venues close to me are few and far between, I cant be that picky unless I want to drive a lot farther.
If I am having to buy a bunch of fixtures then I would prefer to be in the <$300 per fixture. But if an $800 fixture works wonders and a pair would fit my needs I would consider that as well. Thats why I didnt say a budget.
There are a few stages that we play on that are pretty wide. I think I would be getting into 2-3 per side with this option and that is sucking too much power.
Yeah, that'll definitely open up a can of worms and derail this thread (so I won't go there), but this right here I think is the biggest driving factor for your purchase. Seeing as the other bands in your area have no standards for this type of thing and that the venues themselves won't step up, will this investment even offer any kind of payoff? Is it that your clients are asking and willing to pay for an enhanced lightshow, or is this just something you want to venture into because you like it? And that's fine if it is! I just think answering those questions to yourself will help to define both the needs and budget for what you're looking to buy.
Unless the fixtures in question are very niche in application, I tend to buy in less variety but larger quantities. I'd much rather have a dozen smaller units rather than two larger units, assuming either option will get the job done. You get much more flexibility with a higher quantity of units plus it'll allow you to have one or two working spares without breaking the bank. Your call though, and in this case you might have to compromise between the two - say for instance buying 4 ADJ COB Cannon Washes. To illustrate a previous point I made, should you choose to go that route, 4 of those units at full output will take up 20-25% of your 20A circuit (going by the manual's specs). Maybe that's okay and maybe it isn't, but it certainly isn't negligible. Do you know how many amps you actually have at your disposal for lighting once everything else has been taken into account?
How wide are you talking? I routinely light an outdoor stage that's about 50ft wide x 30ft deep and I'll use my 38s with 250w lamps filling in from the sides. Even then, I use 6-8 per side to get a full wash, and that's just supplementing more powerful fixtures (usually 700w CMY movers and/or 1kw 64s) shooting from much further up and out. So yes, unless you can get by with just one or two per side with a smaller lamp your power probably isn't best spent here. As much as it pains me to say it, you'll probably get the best bang-to-buck powerwise by going with a unit that uses a bunch of the 1/8w or 1/4w LEDs. Your colors won't be nearly as good, bright, or consistent when compared to some of the nicer 4-in-1, 5-in-1, or 6-in-1 LED lights, but these options are extremely cheap and power efficient. Why not take a trip to your local Guitar Center to see a few in action? They might just do the trick for you! Good luck
This investment will never pay off. I do this because I find it enjoyable and I am financially able to. I do agree with your point about this, and if I were in this as a profession or possible profession I would definitely make venues supply adequate power.
There's certainly nothing wrong with doing this as a hobby and not intending to have this investment pay off. You don't have to be a professional though, in the literal sense of the word, to have basic needs written in your contract. I'm starting to get confused about what it is you actually want though. So portability and convenience are more important than power consumption? You now say you have close to a full 20A circuit for lighting, yet on the previous page you say that sometimes you don't get more than 20A for everything, yet don't want to just put things up and hope for the best. You've already been given some good ideas and I'm curious what it is that you don't like about them. The Elation product you mentioned is very similar to things on the page Lance pointed you to. For what it's worth I believe Blizzard makes a full color COB bar...I think you're going to have to first: - Figure out how much power you actually use right now. Maybe it's not as much as you think...Then: - Identify what actually matters to you and compromise on everything else. So you have a few options. You can: - Buy some lights that you like and "wing it" it at your shows that may not have sufficient power capacity. - Buy the lights you like and make adequate power a contractual obligation to your client. - Buy a system that you know will work with any venue you walk in to, knowing that you'll be compromising on output and quality. - Build a system that lets you scale your rig based on the size and capability of the system. I like the last option the best...and in fact that's what I do with my own system. As an added bonus, if you're smart with how you program your board you may not have to change a bit of programming at all when moving between smaller and larger rigs. I don't see how the scaling factor of this really contributes to substantially more work at the scope we're talking here. What is it that you have against trees? Visual distraction? If their portability is a concern to you, many of us (myself included) pack the crossbeam parts of the trees with the lights hung and wired. It's really about as simple as it gets and there are many ways to do this efficiently while still protecting the fixtures - cases, meat racks, etc. You can also choose buy lights that are small enough to swing inside of box truss for protection when traveling if you decide to go the totem route. I've actually seen this done with full-size movers before and it's quite impressive. You already have some ADJ Dotz Pars... Why not just buy more of those? I apologize if this response sounds rather blunt or upfront. I just think that to really make sure you're happy with the resulting purchase you need to think very carefully about what your needs for this expansion actually are and what "box" so to speak the system still needs to fit in...power, ease of use, physical size, etc. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the response, it's been great. ...The light totems I have stay all together. Lights stay clamped and wired up and the baseplate and top plate stay on. Its literally set it down, plug in power and dmx in/out, then re-aim them. My biggest issue with light trees is just more space taken up out front. Plus now might have to gaff down more cables and such. Not a deal breaker, but something I'd rather not have to do. It might end up being the easiest option. I use them often with the production company I work for.
The Dotz pars are decent little lights. Plenty bright for my needs, but they arent holding up as well I would like. I have lost dmx function on 3 of the 12 I own.
My biggest issue with light trees is just more space taken up out front. Plus now might have to gaff down more cables and such. Not a deal breaker, but something I'd rather not have to do. It might end up being the easiest option. I use them often with the production company I work for.
Another time saver is using the 2.4 wireless dmx dongles. All you have to connect is power, which keeps those small stages cleaner without dmx cable running all around. Plus less to wrap up at the end of the night.
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