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Author Topic: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?  (Read 1554 times)

Matthias McCready

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Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« on: October 11, 2017, 11:54:05 pm »

So about year back I encountered this video (some very fun lighting design):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yim2WaBm2Ko

I am starting to look into getting a lighting setup, not 160 lights like that video  ;D

My gut feeling is to stick with the more normal stuff (Martin) however this brand Hi Ltte is intriguing. It looks as though their model lineup has remained relatively the same for the last few years, which is a good sign. This doesn't mean they are reliable or that it easy to get parts though. Curious if I should try to get my hands on a light or two to test them out in person.

If nothing else they have some cool videos  ;)

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Matthias
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 06:19:45 am »

You need to work out why you are getting into lights.

If this is just a hobby, buy whatever seems cheap and cool.

If you plan on renting lights out, you need to have what people want to rent.  If you are planning on doing shows, you need to have enough customers for the kind of shows you can do with the gear you have.  You'll double the cost of the lights paying for trusses, clamps, cables, cases, etc.  The youtube show used a lot of lights.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 09:02:16 am »

I am starting to look into getting a lighting setup...

Hi Matthias,

Congratulations on asking for advice first before spending money.  What you'll need to buy 100% dependent on what you want to do with your system.  Will this be for bands, concerts, theater, corporate, DJ, dry rental?  Depending on which of these options suit you, the unique needs of your customers will also need to be taken into account.

I haven't used this specific brand of product, but to help give guidance on the "Generic Chinese" fixtures versus name brand, it can be very hit or miss.  My experience with lower quality moving lights includes jittery motors, position creep, poor optics, gear issues, ballast issues (for discharge lamps), and plastic being used where metal should have been.  Low quality doesn't necessarily mean "Generic Chinese" though...it's just that you get what you pay for no matter who's name is stamped on the side.  The catch with the ebay/AliExpress lights is that aside from being a no-name brand, warranty and parts will be scarce.  LED Pars are one thing, but with moving lights, there will be parts that need replacement from time to time.  That's just the way it is.  With a name brand fixture, most replacement parts can be purchased either directly from the manufacture or from a third party vendor such as lightparts.com, often even after the fixture has been discontinued.  Any warranty issues can be handled with relatively little hassle.  Generic Chinese lights are a bit different.  You're pretty much on your own.  Maybe you'll get lucky and the vendor is willing to mail parts or replace a DOA fixture, but there really isn't any guarantee.  The nice thing is that a lot of Generic Chinese fixtures are built with OEM parts, so if you're decently familiar with moving lights and mechatronics you can usually find what you need.  All of that said, I know many people that have built their light system around Generic Chinese fixtures.  They have issues from time to time, but that's why you buy more than what you need should you go this route.  I personally don't stock Generic Chinese fixtures in my inventory.  A real warranty, plentiful parts and service, and brand pedigree (for rentals) is worth the extra money to me.  In terms of specific units, the Chauvet Rogue series is one of the better value product lines on the market right now.  They can work well in decently large venues, but again it all comes down to your intended application.  I'm not putting much faith in Martin right now (especially their low to mid-grade product lines), but if that's what your clients are asking for than that's what you'll probably be buying. 

Aside from the fixtures themselves, you're going to need a controller of some sort.  What you see in that video is far beyond the capabilities of the $99 DMX Operators you can find at Guitar Center.  Lots of threads here about controllers.  Some are just a software program, others are physical consoles.  Your needs and budget will help determine the right choice for you, though I'm in the mindset of buying the controller you need and cheaping-out on fixtures for the time being if needed.

Finally, as Lyle mentioned, the trussing and power infrastructure to run a big rig like that is significant.  Even though you wouldn't buy that many fixtures at first you'll still need to sort out things like rigging, power, and transportation/storage logistics.  Lighting takes a lot of "stuff" to do what you see at concerts and similar.  Good luck! 
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 09:14:10 am »

You need to work out why you are getting into lights.

If this is just a hobby, buy whatever seems cheap and cool.

If you plan on renting lights out, you need to have what people want to rent.  If you are planning on doing shows, you need to have enough customers for the kind of shows you can do with the gear you have.  You'll double the cost of the lights paying for trusses, clamps, cables, cases, etc.  The youtube show used a lot of lights.

Agreed that is a giant lighting setup, which is nothing I will be getting into in the near future, if that show is the semi I am only needing a wheelbarrow.  ;D For the moment realistically I am only needing some LED wash, haze, and a few movers, completely different purpose than that setup.

Matthias

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Matthias McCready

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 09:31:19 am »

Hi Matthias,

Congratulations on asking for advice first before spending money.  What you'll need to buy 100% dependent on what you want to do with your system.  Will this be for bands, concerts, theater, corporate, DJ, dry rental?  Depending on which of these options suit you, the unique needs of your customers will also need to be taken into account.

I haven't used this specific brand of product, but to help give guidance on the "Generic Chinese" fixtures versus name brand, it can be very hit or miss.  My experience with lower quality moving lights includes jittery motors, position creep, poor optics, gear issues, ballast issues (for discharge lamps), and plastic being used where metal should have been.  Low quality doesn't necessarily mean "Generic Chinese" though...it's just that you get what you pay for no matter who's name is stamped on the side.  The catch with the ebay/AliExpress lights is that aside from being a no-name brand, warranty and parts will be scarce.  LED Pars are one thing, but with moving lights, there will be parts that need replacement from time to time.  That's just the way it is.  With a name brand fixture, most replacement parts can be purchased either directly from the manufacture or from a third party vendor such as lightparts.com, often even after the fixture has been discontinued.  Any warranty issues can be handled with relatively little hassle.  Generic Chinese lights are a bit different.  You're pretty much on your own.  Maybe you'll get lucky and the vendor is willing to mail parts or replace a DOA fixture, but there really isn't any guarantee.  The nice thing is that a lot of Generic Chinese fixtures are built with OEM parts, so if you're decently familiar with moving lights and mechatronics you can usually find what you need.  All of that said, I know many people that have built their light system around Generic Chinese fixtures.  They have issues from time to time, but that's why you buy more than what you need should you go this route.  I personally don't stock Generic Chinese fixtures in my inventory.  A real warranty, plentiful parts and service, and brand pedigree (for rentals) is worth the extra money to me.  In terms of specific units, the Chauvet Rogue series is one of the better value product lines on the market right now.  They can work well in decently large venues, but again it all comes down to your intended application.  I'm not putting much faith in Martin right now (especially their low to mid-grade product lines), but if that's what your clients are asking for than that's what you'll probably be buying. 


Finally, as Lyle mentioned, the trussing and power infrastructure to run a big rig like that is significant.  Even though you wouldn't buy that many fixtures at first you'll still need to sort out things like rigging, power, and transportation/storage logistics.  Lighting takes a lot of "stuff" to do what you see at concerts and similar.  Good luck!

Lighting will be for shows. In addition to what you have wrote here I read some of your other posts about the Chinese lighting too, thanks for the information. I will probably avoid them, if parts are that difficult to get. Currently I am building my system on the basis of getting quality while still being useful in the future. The PSW mantra "buy once cry once" is certainly core. These Chinese lights  don't fit that, unless I were to find out otherwise... which is unlikely

If Martin is having trouble lately (for their lower end stuff) what brands do you recommend or should I focus less on brands and more on specific products? For the moment I think I can do what I want to do with a usb computer interface. Yes not as fun but cheaper and probably better meets the needs for the moment, which is having a lighting rig period...  :) Current work isn't too picky, in fact pipe and drape is probably a higher priority...  :)

Matthias
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 09:52:09 am »

Lighting will be for shows. In addition to what you have wrote here I read some of your other posts about the Chinese lighting too, thanks for the information. I will probably avoid them, if parts are that difficult to get. Currently I am building my system on the basis of getting quality while still being useful in the future. The PSW mantra "buy once cry once" is certainly core. These Chinese lights  don't fit that, unless I were to find out otherwise... which is unlikely

If Martin is having trouble lately (for their lower end stuff) what brands do you recommend or should I focus less on brands and more on specific products? For the moment I think I can do what I want to do with a usb computer interface. Yes not as fun but cheaper and probably better meets the needs for the moment, which is having a lighting rig period...  :) Current work isn't too picky, in fact pipe and drape is probably a higher priority...  :)

Matthias
Hey Matthias.  I have had good luck with Chauvet gear, both their upper-end "DJ" grade, and their pro stuff.  The fact that they stock parts even for their DJ stuff is great, and not something you'll find with most other low-end companies.  I would skip the no-name stuff and at least get the Chauvet upper DJ-level SlimPAR Pro-level lights.  Anything less than that will not have the brightness you want. 

I can't say enough good things about the Chauvet Rogue R2 wash fixtures for basic movers.  They are extremely impressive for the money.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 11:03:08 am »

Hey Matthias.  I have had good luck with Chauvet gear, both their upper-end "DJ" grade, and their pro stuff.  The fact that they stock parts even for their DJ stuff is great, and not something you'll find with most other low-end companies.  I would skip the no-name stuff and at least get the Chauvet upper DJ-level SlimPAR Pro-level lights.  Anything less than that will not have the brightness you want. 

I can't say enough good things about the Chauvet Rogue R2 wash fixtures for basic movers.  They are extremely impressive for the money.

I will check that stuff out TJ, as always thanks for the helpful advice. :-)

Matthias
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 11:23:06 am »

I will check that stuff out TJ, as always thanks for the helpful advice. :-)

Matthias
Lighting specifications are notoriously hard to compare - different manufacturers specify different distances, different beam and/or field angles, zooming fixtures have different efficiencies at different parts of the zoom range, etc.  One immutable thing is power consumption, and I've found that's as good an indication of brightness as anything else.  There are small differences in emitter efficiency I'm sure, but when comparing lights of similar vintage, those differences will be small.  Therefore, in broad strokes, a light that draws 100 watts will be roughly twice as bright as a light that draws 50 watts, etc.  The SlimPar Pro fixtures I mentioned are in this 100 watt area and are usefully bright.  I would be wary of anything that takes less power. 
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 07:50:44 pm »

Lighting will be for shows.

What kind of shows?  Theater, rock, corporate...all of the above?  How large of venues do you normally work in?  The reason I keep asking is that the equipment you buy needs to be applicable to the type of work you hope to accomplish.  The mechanics of good lighting goes far beyond the eye-candy moving light effects that you often see.  Going off your mention of pipe & drape kits, corporate work often needs a higher caliber of equipment compared to your average bar rig.  Ambient noise will be a concern there as will appearance on video, so you'd want lights that run silent and look good on camera.  In the case of moving heads where silent isn't always possible (and almost always isn't), placement needs to be taken into account as well. 

In terms of fixture recommendation, I agree with TJ that the SlimPar Pro series from Chauvet or similar is the "lowest" grade I'd go for even generic use Pars.  The higher up the price scale you go the brighter and better quality of light you get.  If you're doing theater gigs, getting fixtures with good facial tones and solid low-level performance is critical, and you're going to pay nicely for that.  Most corporate work isn't quite as demanding, but still more so than your average weekend bar/club job.  The Rogue Series is nice for movers (and is where I'd start my search), but there are other options out there too depending on what you need on either end of the price/performance spectrum.  Always demo everything if you can.  How much power do your average venues have available and what are you doing for trussing?  Despite LEDs consuming less power than the average conventional fixture, they are not negligible.  Hope this helps! 
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Worth checking out or avoid like the plague?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 09:08:02 pm »

One immutable thing is power consumption, and I've found that's as good an indication of brightness as anything else. 

Thanks for the info. Also TJ what are you running for video right now? If I want to do video what is the best route right now, within a reasonable budget? Some events I could see large TV's working well, while others a projector would be better. I like the idea of a laser projector, but I assume the prices shall keep on falling and it is still a very expensive way to get out of replacing lamps.

What kind of shows?  Theater, rock, corporate...all of the above?  How large of venues do you normally work in?  The reason I keep asking is that the equipment you buy needs to be applicable to the type of work you hope to accomplish.  The mechanics of good lighting goes far beyond the eye-candy moving light effects that you often see.  Going off your mention of pipe & drape kits, corporate work often needs a higher caliber of equipment compared to your average bar rig.  Ambient noise will be a concern there as will appearance on video, so you'd want lights that run silent and look good on camera.  In the case of moving heads where silent isn't always possible (and almost always isn't), placement needs to be taken into account as well. 

No theater haha. Mostly pretty small shows and conferences 100-600ish, depending on the event. Stages are usually 20x30ish, mostly bands with 4-10 members.  The more I think about it what I really need at the moment is just some wash to properly build the ambiance, I think combined with some tactful drape that would go along way. I like the LED wash light bars, however are there any that are good or stand above the rest (to use in conjunction with pars)?

Most larger places we have been I would probably just need to light the stage area, rather than the audience, that can come down the road or I can rent if it is needed that bad. Good point on the camera portion, we are about to get our first decent camera (mostly for light streaming/conference recording). As of yet I do not have any truss, that will be one of my next steps.

Question: There are some event spaces I have been running into lately that have one particular wall that gives quite the slap back or halls that were simply not designed for rock music. While this is of course a scenario dependent question is it possible to use thicker drape as a sort of absorption, or would this simply not be cost effective?

Always demo everything if you can.

Haha so far my demoing has been bothering TJ and checking his stuff out. Thanks TJ!  ;D

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Matthias
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 09:13:16 pm by Matthias McCready »
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