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Author Topic: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre  (Read 926 times)

Tim Weaver

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2018, 04:15:42 pm »

10k won't get you far with LED front lighting. Mid-range fixtures (chauvet ovation) are about a grand a piece. How many zones are you trying to light? Say you want 3 zones across the front. Thats at least 6 lights (better if 9) and then you have to think about specials and gobos if you want them.

I would keep an eye out for some used source4 leko's and an old dimmer. There's nothing wrong with that technology as long as you don't use them for worklights and constantly burn up the lamps.... If you could get 12 lights on (hopefully) 12 dimmer channels up front you'd be looking good.

With a 6ft throw to the front of the stage you are going to need some really wide lenses. Like 50 degree.


On stage overhead light will be a bit easier. You can definately go LED here. I would look into some type of LED Batten type fixture. Something very cheap and get reasonably bright for a color wash batten is this: https://www.chauvetdj.com/products/colorbandpix-usb/

Don't expect to get good skin color or do any type of actor lighting with this. This is scenic stuff. It puts the color on the scene or else it gets the hose again.....

I would intersperse the Colorbands with some type of LED par that has an amber or a white color in it. Like this: https://www.chauvetdj.com/products/slimpar-q12-bt/

These LED pars can highlight scenery with a passable white color, but again. These are scenic lights. Not for actors. I'd put 4-6 of these on the midstage batten along with as many colorbands as you can fit edge to edge. Now you can have a color down-wash and some scenery highlight washes all from midstage.

One downside to using these cheaper lights is that you may need to frost them to get a better coverage. They tend to have a fairly narrow beam. Some gaff and some tough silk will help here.

For a console, it's real hard to beat the Chamsys MagicQ on PC with a wing. Get a 500 dollar touchscreen all-in-one PC and a full size wing and for less than 2000 you have something that looks and feels like a real desk. I hear the new Martin stuff is promising too, but I have no experience with it. The wings are cheaper, but they use a stupid touch-strip instead of real faders. I would hate that I think.


So there's my suggestion. Buy a real desk, get cheap LED's for the stage, and a used system of old school lights for the front wash. I think you can squeak that by for under 10k.

If you have some money left over, buy more COlorband battens and put them as a ground row on your rear wall/drop/Cyc/whatever you have. Then you have a bakground color, mdistage color, and FOH washes.









*edit* I didn't really explain why you don't want to use cheap LED's for your front wash. They look like crap on skin. Cheap LED's don't really provide the complete spectrum of light that is required to have natural skin tones and the like. This metric is usuallu found as a CRi number. The higher it is, the better and more natural it looks. Cheap lights won't even list this number. You want to keep it 90 or above for any light you use for a "white" light on actors. You will blow you whole budget on high-CRi Leko's if you want to buy LED's. Just stick with hot lights for this.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 04:21:34 pm by Tim Weaver »
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John Fruits

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2018, 04:25:38 pm »

Well golly, more questions not answers but anyway, where are you located (US or elsewhere), do you have a local lighting supply dealer?  How was the dimmer and par cans installation handled, how were the dimmers tied in?  How much power do you have available?   Will you have to hang and remove your equipment for every show or can it stay in place?  One bit of advice, get a stage lighting textbook, the older editions are very cheap, sometimes $5 or so from Amazon.  Consoles that can handle LEDs and movers are much more expensive than the simple 2 scene boards for incandescent lights.  Consider a computer based option.  The Elation (formerly Martin) M-PC is quite popular.   The ETC Nomad plus gadget is another bargain if you are a student (or teacher) somewhere.   
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Rob Enders

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2018, 04:59:24 pm »

Well golly, more questions not answers but anyway, where are you located (US or elsewhere), do you have a local lighting supply dealer?  How was the dimmer and par cans installation handled, how were the dimmers tied in?  How much power do you have available?   Will you have to hang and remove your equipment for every show or can it stay in place?  One bit of advice, get a stage lighting textbook, the older editions are very cheap, sometimes $5 or so from Amazon.  Consoles that can handle LEDs and movers are much more expensive than the simple 2 scene boards for incandescent lights.  Consider a computer based option.  The Elation (formerly Martin) M-PC is quite popular.   The ETC Nomad plus gadget is another bargain if you are a student (or teacher) somewhere.
Hi John.. Thanks for the reply.. I am in Canada. I do have a couple of suppliers close by. The dimmers were in a portable rack located behind the stage. I have several 20 amp circuits at the same location as the dimmer rack. The equipment will be permanently installed. I will find the textbook, good suggestion.
The shows tend to be run by volunteers so simpler is better. The rental console was a simple two scene that was not very flexible and totally manual in operation.
Rob
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Rob Enders

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2018, 05:08:00 pm »

Wow, great response, lots of detail. Thank you.
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2018, 06:49:01 pm »

At the risk of stating the obvious, the first rule of lighting design is you have to get enough light on the faces of the actors for the audience to see them. If your audience can't see the actors, it doesn't matter what fancy effects or colors you have.

Light shining "straight ahead" tends to wash out the features of an actor's face. It is better to shine two lights (one SL, one SR) on an area - it provides modeling and depth to the actor's features.

Lights should ideally come from 45 degrees above and 45 degrees to the side. 30 to 60 degrees above will work. Lower and you just blind the talent. Directly overhead doesn't light the front of the face. Never shine the face light from below, unless you want someone to look like a ghoul.

In order to direct attention to different parts of the stage, you will need to focus them so they divide the stage upstage/downstage, and SL, center stage, and SR. With two lights (cross-lighting) for six zones, that's 12 lighting instruments. With all 12 lights on, the stage will be (should be) evenly washed with light.  That is the basic light hang you will use all the time. If you can't get 12 lights, get 8 and just have SL and SR, upstage and downstage. Split them between the two battens for the upstage/downstage lighting.

Watts don't particularly matter. Luminous intensity is what counts. Any light worth buying will give its photometric specs:  beam and field angle, and the lux at a given distance. For a given output from a light, it can be bright but illuminate a small area, or it can light a broader area with less intensity. (The inverse square law applies, just like in audio.)

While you can get just warm white ("WW") and cool white LEDs, you will probably get more use from an RGBA (red, grren, blue, amber) or RGBW unit. You generally need an amber or a white in order to mix softer colors.

I would generally prefer to have fewer intense lights than lots of not-so-bright lights.  You should try to borrow or demo any light you are considering to see if you have sufficient lux on stage, focused in an appropriate manner.

There is lots more to know, but that is the basic light plot. After you have the basic wash, you can start doing more interesting things.

Tip:  If possible, you should get the 12 wash lights (all the same model) at the same time. You'll have better chance that the LEDs will all render colors the same way.  A "one light a month" plan usually doesn't work out as well.  Sets of 4 is the minimum, at least in the beginning.


Edit: Lots of good posts as I was tapping out my reply on an iPhone. Sorry for any redundant info.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 06:53:21 pm by Mark Cadwallader »
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2018, 01:20:47 am »

Huh? I see what looks like a real name.
It wasnt there when I posted that Tom just a nickname.

Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2018, 01:23:42 am »

lol
Rob,  you did update it right?  If not I am going batshit crazy.

Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
River Delta Audio is now:

Ghost Audio Visual Solutions, LLC
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Rob Enders

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2018, 08:21:23 am »

At the risk of stating the obvious, the first rule of lighting design is you have to get enough light on the faces of the actors for the audience to see them. If your audience can't see the actors, it doesn't matter what fancy effects or colors you have.

Light shining "straight ahead" tends to wash out the features of an actor's face. It is better to shine two lights (one SL, one SR) on an area - it provides modeling and depth to the actor's features.

Lights should ideally come from 45 degrees above and 45 degrees to the side. 30 to 60 degrees above will work. Lower and you just blind the talent. Directly overhead doesn't light the front of the face. Never shine the face light from below, unless you want someone to look like a ghoul.

In order to direct attention to different parts of the stage, you will need to focus them so they divide the stage upstage/downstage, and SL, center stage, and SR. With two lights (cross-lighting) for six zones, that's 12 lighting instruments. With all 12 lights on, the stage will be (should be) evenly washed with light.  That is the basic light hang you will use all the time. If you can't get 12 lights, get 8 and just have SL and SR, upstage and downstage. Split them between the two battens for the upstage/downstage lighting.

Watts don't particularly matter. Luminous intensity is what counts. Any light worth buying will give its photometric specs:  beam and field angle, and the lux at a given distance. For a given output from a light, it can be bright but illuminate a small area, or it can light a broader area with less intensity. (The inverse square law applies, just like in audio.)

While you can get just warm white ("WW") and cool white LEDs, you will probably get more use from an RGBA (red, grren, blue, amber) or RGBW unit. You generally need an amber or a white in order to mix softer colors.

I would generally prefer to have fewer intense lights than lots of not-so-bright lights.  You should try to borrow or demo any light you are considering to see if you have sufficient lux on stage, focused in an appropriate manner.

There is lots more to know, but that is the basic light plot. After you have the basic wash, you can start doing more interesting things.

Tip:  If possible, you should get the 12 wash lights (all the same model) at the same time. You'll have better chance that the LEDs will all render colors the same way.  A "one light a month" plan usually doesn't work out as well.  Sets of 4 is the minimum, at least in the beginning.


Edit: Lots of good posts as I was tapping out my reply on an iPhone. Sorry for any redundant info.
Thanks for the detailed info, Mark..

Appreciated..
Rob
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Rob Enders

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2018, 08:22:01 am »

Rob,  you did update it right?  If not I am going batshit crazy.

Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk

Indeed..  8)
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Rob Enders

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Re: New LED lighting system for small amateur theatre
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2018, 08:59:11 am »

Hi all.. I am putting together a new lighting system for a small amateur theatre. I am also an amateur lighting guy  ;) so please bear with me.

Our stage is about 40 feet wide by 18ft deep. Ceiling is quite low, only 9ft above the stage. There are two existing bars across the width of the stage. One located about 6 ft in front of the stage. The other is about 6 feet within the front of the stage. Both are located about 6" below the ceiling. We don't own the space so making modifications is limited.

Our performances are fairly low tech with sound effects but no actor mics are in use. We use SCS, Show Cue System for all the audio cues. This software does have support DMX and MIDI cues.

I have been reading forums and watching a lot of Youtube. Most info available is about DJ's and music performances.

Our budget is also limited to under 10k. I am an electronics tech by trade so can handle the installation myself. Majority of the cost will be to the fixtures and console.

I would be interested in suggestions on next steps and possible equipment selections.

Thanks
Rob

Based on the limited stage dimensions and everything I have learned from this forum and others, 

I should purchase 12 fixtures to provide the stage wash coverage. The fixtures need to have a wide field, colour accurate and bright enough.

Possible solutions that I have found include Chauvet COLORado 1 Solo ($800CAD) , Chauvet COLORado 1-Quad Zoom ($775CAD) or Elation FUZE PAR Z60. ($1000CAD).  All have RGBW emitters which should help with accurate skin colours. The 1-Quad has the highest LUX (324)when zoomed out.

Also considering the Jands Stage CL console ($2000CAD).  I need to keep the show operation as simple as pressing one button to change the scene. This unit looks promising.

Any experience with this devices?

Thanks again for all suggestions..
Rob
 

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