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Title: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 06, 2017, 10:05:58 pm
Hey Folks,

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  For some background, I'm a sound guy, not a lighting guy.  Not yet anyway, unless you count some high-school musical experience with a follow spot.  When my boss left us suddenly and I started building up my own rig I picked up a few cheap LED fixtures not really knowing what I was looking at.  Here I am five years later, still in the lounge level as a weekend warrior, but my sound rig has expanded, my gigs are getting larger in scale, and yet I can't light a stage to save the universe. (Pun intended?).  I've been doing some self education on this site and many others, and I'm starting to familiarize myself with all the terminology and different units of measure for lighting fixtures (just when I realized I can't trust audio spec sheets, here I am trying to compare lighting spec sheets!).  I'm paying close attention to what the other small-providers in my area are offering.

I'm trying to keep everything simple and compact.  Nothing flown at this time and I'm OK with that.  However, if that prevents me from getting the results I need, feel free to be my wake up call.  I have succeeded so far with my PA being one-person manageable, but I'm struggling with lighting as the lighting designs I seem to like (and required infrastructure to effectively pull it off) would take up more space than I can effectively store, transport or set up. 

I don't know if truss is going to be in my future; I'm thinking four t-bar tripods, one at each front corner for front wash, and two in the rear for the fun part.  If I can fit the lights (prewired) inside some box truss, that could save enough storage/pack space that I might be able to pull off 20-30' of it on some ST-132 type stands behind the band, and use it for totems when that's not practical.  Anyone currently doing something similar?

So, the compromise begins and I'm trying to begin a budget for some minimal but effective and flexible fixtures to provide basic stage lighting that I can run myself while also doing sound (FOH & Monitors) that will hold the audience's focus.  Mostly static lights, but I'd light to do some programming as I get more comfortable. 

Most of my work is with bands at this point, and the stages are indoors and out, ranging from 10-30' wide and 12-24' deep, with up to 11 musicians on stage at a time.  Trim heights will be 13' off the ground (for low stages) or off the deck if it's taller.  I like my ST-132's for my PA and would buy more.  I'm hoping to find some fixtures I could "grow into" as I learn and experiment that won't completely break the bank (or back, or go obsolete).  Simple right?  haha. 

I do not intend to be a full-time lighting supplier anytime soon, I'm OK taking this slow but I do need to address my front lighting deficiencies before next spring.  Some of the events I've worked at recently had staging and lighting provided by some local AV companies and I've really come to appreciate some solid front wash when done effectively.  Those gigs used Lekos, and darn did they look sharp. (more puns)  I always wrote off non-LED fixtures in my mind for fear of heat (burning myself during load out)/power (or lack thereof)/weight (for my back), but the more I read about LED's and warm-whites, the more I realize that might just be what I need.

I own 8 of the ADJ Dots Par RGB 36w COB LED fixtures (great uplights, work OK for lighting the band from behind with a par-can style homogenized beam for a rock and roll look, but not loving them as front lights due to the tricolour limitations I initially ignored), 4-way optical DMX splitter, and an Art-net DMX node with WAP, iPad and Luminair App.  The rest of my stuff will probably be sold off as party toys since it really doesn't hold up. I'm trying to avoid that happening again (buy once, cry once).

Ideas: My first thought was LED wash lights, RGBAW+UV for some flexibility, IP65 for the seasonal outdoor shows I do since they'd be on ST-132's or similar, lighting the stage from the front at either side. (45 up and 45 out would be the goal). Thinking something like the Elation Sixpar 200 IP or 300 IP, two per side. Also considering the offerings from Chauvet's Colorado line (what others are providing in my area now).  Those are all in the range of 900-1500 CAD retail each but they'd pack small and be very flexible as I increase inventory (move to rear wash).

However, for a fraction of the price (500 CAD retail each), I could pick up some ETC Source 4 Jr Zoom lekos and have two per side that could light most stages I work on if I'm doing my beam angle math right.  Not IP65, but perhaps the heat will evaporate a slight drizzle?  Haven't had a downpour yet, but I'm in a rainforest, and my mains all have UndercoverNYC FS/W weatherproof covers, so that part is ready.  Flying solo I wouldn't have much time to react if the weather turns on me quickly.  I guess it depends where I can mount the stands but the manual zoom would allow me to make quick adjustments at set-up time.  Downside of these is that they would require more power than equivalent brightness LED's, some DMX dimmers (added cost), and they don't pack particularly small. 

Other ideas I've had include blinders (used for front wash at first, but could be moved to blinder duty later as I add inventory).  thinking the Chauvet Strike 1 or similar, retails around $1.5k CAD each. Maybe one per side on a tripod. Kind of a one-trick pony, but blinders are quite popular around here.  I don't know how well they would control the beam, but that's a trade off. Anyone been silly enough to experiment like this or would the big-boys just scoff at me?

I've also entertained something like the Rogue 1 wash, two per side on a tripod (TJ I read all your posts here and elsewhere) but I'm hesitant to get into movers since I don't really have the control experience to utilize them properly yet.  Typical retail around 1.5K CAD it seems, but I'd need some road cases for those, and then there's the weather concerns for outdoor shows.  The upside of those being flexibility, brightness, and if the tripods aren't ideally located I don't have to climb a ladder to zoom or aim them.  They'd certainly "look" pro, which might help justify some higher rates.

I'm sure there's more out there, and I'm all ears.

Power: On the small gigs where I only have 1-2 20A circuits to power everything from, my existing Dotz Pars could do the front wash duties for now unless I replace them altogether with something like a Chauvet slimmer pro hex (400 cad retail each but not IP65), so that leaves me with two 20A circuits on my existing distro that I could set aside for lighting duties on the larger gigs where I'm falling flat. 

Business: (Because Ray will ask).  I'm losing out on some gigs because I can't provide a basic stage wash along with audio.  Perhaps I can make some friends with the local lighting suppliers and work together (smartest thing I've said so far) but I don't like relying on others all of the time so need to be somewhat self-sufficient. 

For the number of uses I would get out of these on the short-term, there would be no reasonable directly-measurable ROI for anything I have in mind.  However, I need to start somewhere, and my pride keeps me from wanting to drop money on more no-name toys when I take the presentation of my equipment as seriously as I do.  My day job affords me a flexible budget for now, but once I'm "set up" I intend to move into this full time again which will put the spending to a halt and I want to be reasonably geared up by then.

Basically, I'm hoping to increase the quality of my productions to elevate my company's standing and allow me to compete in my market.  Lights might end up being my "freebie to land the gig" for now until I'm better at it, but you can't practice without the tools.  Everything in my audio rig has been treated with the "buy once cry once" attitude, and it has treated me well. 


Thanks to all who provide insight for me.  I can't put into words how invaluable this forum has been to me over the last few years.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: John Fruits on September 07, 2017, 08:12:14 am
I think the first thing to do is take care of the front lighting.  Yes, incandescent S4's look great, but require lots of infrastructure.  Power, dimmers or dimmer packs, lots of heavy cable, large size, multiple lens tubes....the list goes on.  Oh yeah, the S4 juniors are limited to 575 watts and aren't really that much cheaper or smaller.  Then there are LED versions, at much higher prices.  There are white light only ones (Chauvet even has an IP rated warm white one) and color ones. 
I understand the charm of the itty-bitty hotbox/puck/slimpar fixtures but they are fixed beam spread.
For front lighting using two fixtures on each side I would look at zoom fixtures.
The Phillips Showline Par 155 used to be the best one but it is a manual zoom.
Then there is the Martin Rush Par 2, with motorized zoom.
The hot ticket right now seems to be the Elation FUZE series, and some are IP rated. 
http://www.elationlighting.com/fuze-series
With lighting support at the corner of the stage you would want a wider wash on the near side and a tighter beam on the far side. 
As far as blinders, one history claims that The Who was the first big act to use them.  5K fresnels upstage behind the band.
http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/gear/pa/lighting.html
In addition to the Chauvet Strike, also take a look at the Elation DTW units, the 350 and the 700 are also IP rated.  Good luck with your search.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 07, 2017, 10:39:35 am
Hi Jeremy,

There are a number of ways you can go about this depending on what you need right now and what can wait, and where the money should be spent.  The nice thing about lighting is that there is no "set" way of doing things.  While some techniques are more industry-standard than others, it's easier to shoehorn things on lighting than it is for sound, at least in my experience.

The first thing you'll need to settle on is a controller.  This is a mandatory purchase and I think you're going to want to tackle this now - Luminair has numerous limitations, especially for moving lights.  As you might already know, controllers currently come in two flavors - a standard "hardware" console and those that run on a PC or laptop, with or without a "wing" to give some hands-on control.  Martin's M-PC with an M-Touch is one of the cheapest ways to get a capable control solution that can grow with you.  ChamSys's MagicQ is another popular software controller, though the cost of their wings and accessories is a little bit higher.  I used MagicQ PC for nearly a decade before growing to a dedicated hardware console.  Decent hardware boards will set you back several thousand, so a buy once cry once kind of thing, but if done right it'll last you a long while.  You just have to decided how much of your budget you want to allocate to a board.  Personally, I find it better allocation of money to buy a board you can grow into versus buying fixtures you can grow into. 

Regarding everything else, you have a multitude of options with reasonable flexibility.  I've done pre-rigged and pre-hung truss before.  It can definitely save time if done correctly, but at the same time box truss can be a bit much for a single operator to handle if you try anything much beyond a totem.  Transportation logistics also increase when moving carts of box truss.  ST-132s, T-bars, and I-beam style truss is much more manageable at least to me, plus you can always grow to box truss if needed.

Fixtures are another variable that can really be all over the place.  I agree with John that you need to get your front wash taken care of first.  I personally do my washes with halogen pars and supplement as needed with my 700w discharge CMY moving washes.  Getting back to what you're looking for, it's really a case of you get what you pay for.  The cost of LED Pars is all over the spectrum.  In my personal opinion, front wash acceptable LED lights don't really run under $500/ea. and go up from there.  This would be your Elation SixPar and Fuze Series as well as the Chauvet Colorado Solo Series and similar.  The questions is...is the higher cost of even these types of fixtures really worth it when compared to a conventional fixture or a more budget option such as a SlimPar Pro?  For what it's worth I've never had a major problem with non-IP-65 fixtures in rain, but one storm can change that and everyone is different.  If outdoors is a regular thing I'd consider it, but for 2-2.5 the price of a non-IP-65 equivalent?  Tough choice, and one I'll need to make sooner or later when I buy a few dozen of the latest-generation LED Pars...  Granted they should last longer as they're sealed for dust as well, but with the pace this market keeps evolving I'm not sure I'd want to sign up to a fixture purchase that'll take a few seasons to make back.  If you business model supports it then go for it, otherwise sometimes being cheap and minimal is the best idea from a business perspective.  Instead, spend the cash on something with more longevity to it such as a console.  Flip side, the S4s, S4 Pars, and the like aren't going anywhere this decade.  That's a more future-proof purchase right now versus the latest and greatest LED...which will be superseded next year by something "better".  Just my opinion though.   

Zoom is nice to have as well but for a little bit more you can have a moving wash, which to me has been a much more useful tool.  At least with the direction my rig continues to evolve - go cheap with the generic eye-candy Pars, get something decent (either halogen or higher end LED) for overall front wash and strong facial light, and add a few moving zoomable washes for your "specials" and other effects.  Just remember that while LED is usually lower wattage than halogen, it's not negligible!  Best of luck!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Nate Zifra on September 07, 2017, 12:48:51 pm
Glad to see some activity again here on the lighting forum!

As a mostly single operator, I can appreciate where you are coming from.  I love good lighting, it makes such a difference.  However, what I find is the setup and tear down times it adds doesn't always allow for what I am able to setup.  As a result, I have truss that is rarely used, and some fixtures that remain in the trailer. 

What always comes out of the trailer is front lighting.  I use the warm white/cold white Cob fixtures, a pair per side.  They are perfect for front lighting.  The only complaint I get is typically from the performers, as they are very bright when looking directly at them.  I may look into some type of diffuser for them, but I digress.  I have no complaints, and can choose to operate them on dmx for dimming or blackout, or just standalone in a pinch.  They also make excellent work lights for cleaning up in the dark. 

In place of the truss up stage, I find it the quickest to have LED pars prewired on t-bars.  Usually I use two tbars, but sometimes three total if it is a wider stage.  While pars only can seem boring, I think chases are often overlooked by a lot of beginners.  Most seem to go for the color wash fade, but some simple varying chases with each par dimming (pulsing) or completely on/off can add a lot of movement to your static lights.  Program some of these chases, use a program that allows you to change the speed, and maybe add some bump buttons for all on, or full white for some some quasi blinder action.  You can also vary your chases by using different colors instead of having all the pars the same color. 

My T-bars for upstage have 4 prewired LED Pars, and then for those events I can use haze, I have some small 60 watt moving head spots I attach, two per T-bar.  It doesn't take too long to throw them up, add power and dmx. 

To start, I agree with what was mentioned.  Get your front lighting sorted first, find a controller like M-Touch that lets you expand to the future.  For now, continue to use your COB's for upstage, but consider programing some chases.  Then you can decide how you want to proceed, you could expand your existing inventory of Cobs for larger stages, and look into added some portable movers.

Hope my experience helps you.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 07, 2017, 08:08:42 pm
I think the first thing to do is take care of the front lighting.  Yes, incandescent S4's look great, but require lots of infrastructure.  Power, dimmers or dimmer packs, lots of heavy cable, large size, multiple lens tubes....the list goes on.  Oh yeah, the S4 juniors are limited to 575 watts and aren't really that much cheaper or smaller.  Then there are LED versions, at much higher prices.  There are white light only ones (Chauvet even has an IP rated warm white one) and color ones. 
I understand the charm of the itty-bitty hotbox/puck/slimpar fixtures but they are fixed beam spread.
For front lighting using two fixtures on each side I would look at zoom fixtures.
The Phillips Showline Par 155 used to be the best one but it is a manual zoom.
Then there is the Martin Rush Par 2, with motorized zoom.
The hot ticket right now seems to be the Elation FUZE series, and some are IP rated. 
http://www.elationlighting.com/fuze-series (http://www.elationlighting.com/fuze-series)
With lighting support at the corner of the stage you would want a wider wash on the near side and a tighter beam on the far side. 
As far as blinders, one history claims that The Who was the first big act to use them.  5K fresnels upstage behind the band.
http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/gear/pa/lighting.html (http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/gear/pa/lighting.html)
In addition to the Chauvet Strike, also take a look at the Elation DTW units, the 350 and the 700 are also IP rated.  Good luck with your search.


Thanks for the reply John!  I had looked at almost every fixture you've mentioned in my search (except the Phillips).  I think 575w would be all I could afford (power wise) but having no hands on experience with Lekos i had not considered the lenses etc.  Sounds like a lot of infrastructure (space i don't really have).  I just wish there were more LED fixtures with a known effectiveness like the S4's that had some solid staying power.  Since this will be a long term investment, it makes sense to me to avoid gimmicky products and try for "timeless" fixtures.


I'll stick to (motorized) zoom fixtures for the convenience/flexibility; the Fuze series did intrigue me.  I do like the look of a COB fixture more than a multi-LED looking fixture, hence my inventory of Dotz Pars.  I just wish they had more effective whites and ambers (the ADJ's).


Thanks for the link on The Who, that'll be an interesting read!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 07, 2017, 08:26:22 pm
Hi Jeremy,

There are a number of ways you can go about this depending on what you need right now and what can wait, and where the money should be spent.  The nice thing about lighting is that there is no "set" way of doing things.  While some techniques are more industry-standard than others, it's easier to shoehorn things on lighting than it is for sound, at least in my experience.

The first thing you'll need to settle on is a controller.  This is a mandatory purchase and I think you're going to want to tackle this now - Luminair has numerous limitations, especially for moving lights.  As you might already know, controllers currently come in two flavors - a standard "hardware" console and those that run on a PC or laptop, with or without a "wing" to give some hands-on control.  Martin's M-PC with an M-Touch is one of the cheapest ways to get a capable control solution that can grow with you.  ChamSys's MagicQ is another popular software controller, though the cost of their wings and accessories is a little bit higher.  I used MagicQ PC for nearly a decade before growing to a dedicated hardware console.  Decent hardware boards will set you back several thousand, so a buy once cry once kind of thing, but if done right it'll last you a long while.  You just have to decided how much of your budget you want to allocate to a board.  Personally, I find it better allocation of money to buy a board you can grow into versus buying fixtures you can grow into. 

Regarding everything else, you have a multitude of options with reasonable flexibility.  I've done pre-rigged and pre-hung truss before.  It can definitely save time if done correctly, but at the same time box truss can be a bit much for a single operator to handle if you try anything much beyond a totem.  Transportation logistics also increase when moving carts of box truss.  ST-132s, T-bars, and I-beam style truss is much more manageable at least to me, plus you can always grow to box truss if needed.

Fixtures are another variable that can really be all over the place.  I agree with John that you need to get your front wash taken care of first.  I personally do my washes with halogen pars and supplement as needed with my 700w discharge CMY moving washes.  Getting back to what you're looking for, it's really a case of you get what you pay for.  The cost of LED Pars is all over the spectrum.  In my personal opinion, front wash acceptable LED lights don't really run under $500/ea. and go up from there.  This would be your Elation SixPar and Fuze Series as well as the Chauvet Colorado Solo Series and similar.  The questions is...is the higher cost of even these types of fixtures really worth it when compared to a conventional fixture or a more budget option such as a SlimPar Pro?  For what it's worth I've never had a major problem with non-IP-65 fixtures in rain, but one storm can change that and everyone is different.  If outdoors is a regular thing I'd consider it, but for 2-2.5 the price of a non-IP-65 equivalent?  Tough choice, and one I'll need to make sooner or later when I buy a few dozen of the latest-generation LED Pars...  Granted they should last longer as they're sealed for dust as well, but with the pace this market keeps evolving I'm not sure I'd want to sign up to a fixture purchase that'll take a few seasons to make back.  If you business model supports it then go for it, otherwise sometimes being cheap and minimal is the best idea from a business perspective.  Instead, spend the cash on something with more longevity to it such as a console.  Flip side, the S4s, S4 Pars, and the like aren't going anywhere this decade.  That's a more future-proof purchase right now versus the latest and greatest LED...which will be superseded next year by something "better".  Just my opinion though.   

Zoom is nice to have as well but for a little bit more you can have a moving wash, which to me has been a much more useful tool.  At least with the direction my rig continues to evolve - go cheap with the generic eye-candy Pars, get something decent (either halogen or higher end LED) for overall front wash and strong facial light, and add a few moving zoomable washes for your "specials" and other effects.  Just remember that while LED is usually lower wattage than halogen, it's not negligible!  Best of luck!


I was hoping you'd chime in Jeff.  I've learned a lot from your posts on here.  Having no movers, i hadn't yet run into the limitations on Luminair so that's good to know upfront.  I didn't mention it, but i do own a Chauvet Obey 40, but I'll do some more research on the consoles you've suggested.  I like faders and knobs over touchscreens most days, so I can see where having my own controller (even if i cross rent fixtures occasionally) would be helpful so I'm familiar with the layout/programming.


I could see Truss getting out of hand quickly for a one-person operation, good to know it's not a mandatory thing.  I like the look of staggered height totems behind the band, but really works best with some good moving spots on top (which i don't have).  I currently keep my Dotz Pars pre-wired on t-bars (daisy chain power and DMX with a terminator at the end) and it works pretty well but it still tough to transport safely.  They are too long to fit in any of my road cases and although the fixtures have rubber feet on them, it doesn't sit solidly and has to sit on top of everything else in the van.  Might start getting serious about rigging up some suspension points in the the roof of the van. My hope was truss could do some "protecting" too, but the added weight and complexity of making sure the mounting works for stored versus gigging configurations seems to be asking too much. 


LED pars ARE all over the place.  Man, talk about paralysis by analysis.  The cheaper they are, the more scant they are with photometric data.  Makes comparison hard without a demo or a reliable user review, especially with the typically short lifecycle of these products.  I don't do a lot of outdoor gigs now, but there are a lot in my area and once this is my full-time thing again I will be faced with surprise showers.  Good to know about your experiences, but I may just play it safe and go IP65 anyway.  *sigh* it's only money right?  Front wash will get regular use, so the ROI once up and running should be reasonable.  Should be.... that's why i kept going back to the idea of conventional lighting.  Most bang (lumens) for your buck, excellent staying power.  I know they'll look good on camera and people's faces.  Speaking generally of course, but it seems like I can get similar output from LED fixtures at a third the wattage of conventional, at triple the cost. 


Moving zoom wash makes a lot of sense to me, but also feels a little gimmicky (well sorry, spot would be more gimmicky) for me to buy four now with no other intelligent lighting and some moderately bright upstage fixtures....?  I can see the value and flexibility though.  Maybe gimmicky isn't the right word.  I worked in an audio/lighting repair shop and we worked on a lot of dusty chinese movers from clubs that were always having issues. More moving parts, more maintenance, more careful packing... still gotta think more on that.


Thanks for taking the time.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 07, 2017, 08:34:35 pm
Glad to see some activity again here on the lighting forum!

As a mostly single operator, I can appreciate where you are coming from.  I love good lighting, it makes such a difference.  However, what I find is the setup and tear down times it adds doesn't always allow for what I am able to setup.  As a result, I have truss that is rarely used, and some fixtures that remain in the trailer. 

What always comes out of the trailer is front lighting.  I use the warm white/cold white Cob fixtures, a pair per side.  They are perfect for front lighting.  The only complaint I get is typically from the performers, as they are very bright when looking directly at them.  I may look into some type of diffuser for them, but I digress.  I have no complaints, and can choose to operate them on dmx for dimming or blackout, or just standalone in a pinch.  They also make excellent work lights for cleaning up in the dark. 

In place of the truss up stage, I find it the quickest to have LED pars prewired on t-bars.  Usually I use two tbars, but sometimes three total if it is a wider stage.  While pars only can seem boring, I think chases are often overlooked by a lot of beginners.  Most seem to go for the color wash fade, but some simple varying chases with each par dimming (pulsing) or completely on/off can add a lot of movement to your static lights.  Program some of these chases, use a program that allows you to change the speed, and maybe add some bump buttons for all on, or full white for some some quasi blinder action.  You can also vary your chases by using different colors instead of having all the pars the same color. 

My T-bars for upstage have 4 prewired LED Pars, and then for those events I can use haze, I have some small 60 watt moving head spots I attach, two per T-bar.  It doesn't take too long to throw them up, add power and dmx. 

To start, I agree with what was mentioned.  Get your front lighting sorted first, find a controller like M-Touch that lets you expand to the future.  For now, continue to use your COB's for upstage, but consider programing some chases.  Then you can decide how you want to proceed, you could expand your existing inventory of Cobs for larger stages, and look into added some portable movers.

Hope my experience helps you.


Thanks for the input Nate!  As a single operator, your experiences are extremely valuable to me.  I was afraid of exactly what you describe, truss that collects dust.  I already struggle with setup time with my basic lighting and (not so basic) audio rig.  Which COB fixtures are you using?  Regarding the complaints about brightness, how much higher than head level do you typically mount them? 


Yes worklights for load out !  Now we're talking multi-use!  Been there, done that, killed the van battery with headlights once while wrapping cables.  Try finding someone to give you a jump start in the middle of nowhere at 3am!  haha, I digress.


A third t-bar of ADJ Dotz Pars wouldn't set me back terribly and would add to their flexibility as uplights for larger corporate spaces.  I'll definitely play around with chases more.  This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to hear.  I've seen a lot of "movement" come from fixed lights that were well-programmed so I'll experiment more with that and my existing inventory.


Thanks for the thoughts!


Just writing out my original post was a good exercise in clarifying a lot of the thoughts and emotions I had bouncing around in my head.  It's good to get some supportive feedback that I'm thinking in the right direction.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: John Fruits on September 07, 2017, 09:17:46 pm
Another thought for going with tungsten lighting for your front light.  Instead of using ERS (leko) spots, go with the classic fresnel.  In the US the frequent street price for the Altman 65Q is right at $50.  Gives you adjustable beam spread, no framing shutters like an ERS but you can use barndoors.  You can also use gels, for instance a very light cool from one side and a very light warm from the other.  That gives more depth. 
EDIT: Oh yeah that price is for used. 
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 07, 2017, 09:46:53 pm

I was hoping you'd chime in Jeff.  I've learned a lot from your posts on here.  Having no movers, i hadn't yet run into the limitations on Luminair so that's good to know upfront.  I didn't mention it, but i do own a Chauvet Obey 40, but I'll do some more research on the consoles you've suggested.  I like faders and knobs over touchscreens most days, so I can see where having my own controller (even if i cross rent fixtures occasionally) would be helpful so I'm familiar with the layout/programming.

Glad I've been able to help you!  Luminair is one of those products that has a great niche with many happy users, several of which are frequent posters here.  Like everything though, it has its limits, and unfortunately once you get past the basic bar or small club rig you hit them pretty quickly.  Unfortunately I wouldn't peg your Obey 40 any higher...  It's an okay mini board for basic use, but it can be tricky to program and is still quite limited.  If you're really looking to get into lighting design as a service you're going to want a more capable controller.  Either M-PC or MagicQ PC with a basic Enttec interface will run rings around what you currently have for near pocket change.  You also won't be held back or limited by what your controller can do, so as you buy or rent fixtures down the road you'll be able to use them to their full potential.  Even since buying my Congo Kid a few years ago I still haven't reached its full potential, and that's really how I think you want it.  I get what you mean about wanting faders and knobs - I'm much the same way.  See what you think about PC wings such as the M-Touch.  I personally struggle with the touch pads, but a lot of people like it and it's one of the cheapest options out there.  As far as strictly hardware consoles go, an Elation Show Designer might be worth a look.  ETC's ColorSource Series is nice too, but be sure you understand their limitations.  Lots to think about, but I'd strongly consider making a new controller "Purchase #1" and growing from there.

I could see Truss getting out of hand quickly for a one-person operation, good to know it's not a mandatory thing.  I like the look of staggered height totems behind the band, but really works best with some good moving spots on top (which i don't have).  I currently keep my Dotz Pars pre-wired on t-bars (daisy chain power and DMX with a terminator at the end) and it works pretty well but it still tough to transport safely.  They are too long to fit in any of my road cases and although the fixtures have rubber feet on them, it doesn't sit solidly and has to sit on top of everything else in the van.  Might start getting serious about rigging up some suspension points in the the roof of the van. My hope was truss could do some "protecting" too, but the added weight and complexity of making sure the mounting works for stored versus gigging configurations seems to be asking too much. 
 
If all you want are strictly totems, there are some lighter duty truss options out there that might work and are a little more manageable.  Another option is something like the Global Truss Glow Totem (link (http://www.globaltruss.com/ProductsList.aspx?MainId=20&Category=104)).  These break down flat so they're extremely easy and compact to transport.  Seeing as you operate out of a van I can say first hand that there's a very finite amount of 12" box truss that you can fit in one, especially if you have other gear to haul too! 

One consideration that might be a dealbreaker to your pre-rigged box truss is the truss's lacing.  Oftentimes 12" box is so compact that the lacing prohibits most light fixtures from swinging into it for transport.  It'll work for very small fixtures, but something like a Fuze fixture almost certainly won't fit through the lacing.  16" box truss is a little more accommodating of this as is truss that only has lacing on two sides.  I've see touring truss that can retract arena-sized moving lights into it without unplugging a single cable!  Very impressive.  Just more things to think about.  If you stick with the simple T-bar idea, there are ways to build a "meat rack" style of case that can hold several pre-rigged bars all securely yet ready to deploy.  Dave Bednarski posted this (http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,163857.msg1509039.html#msg1509039) a while back and is a great example of how it can be done. 

LED pars ARE all over the place.  Man, talk about paralysis by analysis.  The cheaper they are, the more scant they are with photometric data.  Makes comparison hard without a demo or a reliable user review, especially with the typically short lifecycle of these products.  I don't do a lot of outdoor gigs now, but there are a lot in my area and once this is my full-time thing again I will be faced with surprise showers.  Good to know about your experiences, but I may just play it safe and go IP65 anyway.  *sigh* it's only money right?  Front wash will get regular use, so the ROI once up and running should be reasonable.  Should be.... that's why i kept going back to the idea of conventional lighting.  Most bang (lumens) for your buck, excellent staying power.  I know they'll look good on camera and people's faces.  Speaking generally of course, but it seems like I can get similar output from LED fixtures at a third the wattage of conventional, at triple the cost.

Moving zoom wash makes a lot of sense to me, but also feels a little gimmicky (well sorry, spot would be more gimmicky) for me to buy four now with no other intelligent lighting and some moderately bright upstage fixtures....?  I can see the value and flexibility though.  Maybe gimmicky isn't the right word.  I worked in an audio/lighting repair shop and we worked on a lot of dusty chinese movers from clubs that were always having issues. More moving parts, more maintenance, more careful packing... still gotta think more on that.
 
Yeah, it's a tough decision on the quality versus quantity versus overall investment price.  Some members here have had excellent luck with the sub-$100 fixtures, even for facial light.  When you can buy a whole rig of Generic Chinese lights for the cost of 1 or 2 name brand lights it really makes you think for a second.  Some of the questions I'd consider are whether you ever plan to cross-rent (i.e. is brand pedigree important), how important is fixture reliability, and will your work end up being filmed for broadcast?  If these things aren't really issues to you, I'd suggest looking to the lower end of the spectrum - either Generic Chinese or the fixtures in the $150-$300 bracket.  I've had decent luck with everything from the $15 ebay lights to SlimPar Pros if you use them within their intended application.  If you do need to operate at a higher reliability and performance I'd agree with spending the extra cash on the IP65 variants and getting something a little higher end, such as a Fuze fixture.  One interesting side note about overall quality, IP65 rating, and "professional" performance is that a few hundred SlimPars, COLORdashes, and Nexus fixtures were used on American Ninja Warrior (link (https://www.chauvetdj.com/news/chauvet-lights-the-way-on-american-ninja-warrior/)).  Maybe not what you'd expect to see, but apparently it worked for them!

Moving washes are a nice tool, but they're only a tool like everything else and it's up to the designer on how to best utilize them to achieve the vision.  Just because it's a moving light doesn't mean you need to have it scanning around the venue in "disco mode".  The reason I like moving washes is because they're extremely easy to aim and can be re-purposed many times over during the course of a typical show.  Static lights, with or without a motorized zoom still need to be aimed manually.  When hung way up off the deck this can be a rather tedious and time consuming process.  Not a huge deal in theater-world when a show might run for a few weeks, but when you're traveling on a daily basis it can be a pain.  With your moving washes, just hang and lift.  Once at show height you aim and focus from the comfort of your light board, usually just by updating a few focus and beam palettes - that's it!  I wouldn't say that all your front light has to come from moving washes, but it's a good way to speed up focusing and to get numerous positions hit from a single fixture.  I still use a mix of moving and static lights for front wash. 

You do touch on a good point though - moving lights mean moving parts, so repairs and maintenance will be something to consider.  It's just up to you to decide on which battles you want to fight!  At least with movers you can do truss totems the way you want, and then also have the ability to repurpose the lights when needing a bit more wash from the front. 

Hope all this helps!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Steve Garris on September 08, 2017, 12:14:10 pm


I currently keep my Dotz Pars pre-wired on t-bars (daisy chain power and DMX with a terminator at the end) and it works pretty well but it still tough to transport safely.  They are too long to fit in any of my road cases and although the fixtures have rubber feet on them, it doesn't sit solidly and has to sit on top of everything else in the van. 



How long are the light bars? I have 4-light bars that I place in Keyboard bags for transport. It works great IMO.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/road-runner-keyboard-bag/j23228000002004?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=CjwKCAjw_8jNBRB-EiwA96Yp1jZ8m_pfzCqQSuivtgS3dhGwS5vT1wUr5cYfu4sCGaoj0oTvtFrKVBoCiroQAvD_BwE&kwid=productads-adid^156727059247-device^c-plaid^62390521681-sku^J23228000002004@ADL4MF-adType^PLA
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: BrianHenry on September 08, 2017, 07:45:34 pm
I made these road cases to hold t-bars.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 09, 2017, 11:35:26 am
I made these road cases to hold t-bars.


Nicely done Brian!  Looks great, wish I were that good at building things....
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 09, 2017, 11:36:10 am
How long are the light bars? I have 4-light bars that I place in Keyboard bags for transport. It works great IMO.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/road-runner-keyboard-bag/j23228000002004?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=CjwKCAjw_8jNBRB-EiwA96Yp1jZ8m_pfzCqQSuivtgS3dhGwS5vT1wUr5cYfu4sCGaoj0oTvtFrKVBoCiroQAvD_BwE&kwid=productads-adid (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/road-runner-keyboard-bag/j23228000002004?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=CjwKCAjw_8jNBRB-EiwA96Yp1jZ8m_pfzCqQSuivtgS3dhGwS5vT1wUr5cYfu4sCGaoj0oTvtFrKVBoCiroQAvD_BwE&kwid=productads-adid)^156727059247-device^c-plaid^62390521681-sku^J23228000002004@ADL4MF-adType^PLA


51-1/2" x 6" x 18", so it looks like some of those 88-key keyboard cases might do the trick, thanks for the idea I never thought of that!  I've seen some of your posts, you've gotten some great light shows with some inexpensive fixtures in large quantities, keep up the great work!  What are you using for a controller?
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 09, 2017, 11:38:19 am
Another thought for going with tungsten lighting for your front light.  Instead of using ERS (leko) spots, go with the classic fresnel.  In the US the frequent street price for the Altman 65Q is right at $50.  Gives you adjustable beam spread, no framing shutters like an ERS but you can use barndoors.  You can also use gels, for instance a very light cool from one side and a very light warm from the other.  That gives more depth. 
EDIT: Oh yeah that price is for used.


I had never really thought about (or used) a fresnel before but you're right they sure do cover a lot of area inexpensively.  I haven't played around with warm and cool lights yet, limited by the best "whites" my RGB fixtures can pull off now.  Thanks for the tip I'll add it to the experimentation list! 
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 09, 2017, 12:25:34 pm

I had never really thought about (or used) a fresnel before but you're right they sure do cover a lot of area inexpensively.  I haven't played around with warm and cool lights yet, limited by the best "whites" my RGB fixtures can pull off now.  Thanks for the tip I'll add it to the experimentation list!

You might also want to take a look at these (https://www.bulbamerica.com/products/bulbamerica-par-38-lighting-can-black-w-socket-power-cord-par38-gel-frame).  I have a few dozen in my inventory and I believe Steve does too.  They don't have the beam control that you'll find on a fresnel, but they're small, cheap, and durable enough for mobile use.  The one nice thing about them is that you can use a wide variety of wattage lamps in them.  I run mine with 250w floods, but you can go way down to sub-100w and still get a nice beam.  The output is a little tight if comparing to a fresnel, but I like them and they're extremely economical.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 09, 2017, 12:26:04 pm
I'll refrain from "quoting" your whole post Jeff, but thanks again.  Great suggestions as always.  I had looked at those truss totems and considered them, but my fear was that they would be another one-trick pony.  At least with box truss lengths they can be connected into a larger design but those glow totems are what they are and no more.  Still, very compact and get the job done.  More to think about. 

I've starting doing more research into controllers, that M-touch does look like a handy tool.  I'll have to figure out what kind of workflow and features I'm going to want/need and start making some lists.

As for IP65, my buddy is doing a 3-day gig this weekend outdoors, and I'm watching the rain come down outside right now as I think about front lighting.  Is there a reasonably safe way to weatherproof a conventional light tree?  I'm imagining hi temperature clear plastic, but can't imagine it not affecting the optics.  Lekos, fresnels, par cans....someone must make one rated for outdoors, no?  I suppose in LED world there's the Ovation E-260WW IP but that comes with a price tag.

I could imagine picking up some conventional front wash lights first, even if they are just static for now, then a better controller, then some zoom wash movers to add to front or rear depending on the gig...  moving straight to the movers without a controller upgrade first would be a little awkward.  If only IP65 movers were cheaper!  I haven't defined a budget, but my comfort zone ends around the Chauvet Rogue 1 Wash / Elation Fuze Wash Z120 range if I'm picking up four with a road case, and that could buy a lot of conventional lights, or a TON of cheap LED slimpars that I replace if/when they fail. 

I mean, if American Ninja Warrior can pull it off.... lol.  I just don't want to be that guy with the failing LED flashing in everyone's eyes mid way through a show as it sputters it's last breath.  Then I'm known as the guy with the cheap gear.  Once the show starts I have very little time for adjustments or reconfiguration.  I'd probably want to triple the inventory for redundancy if I went cheap, then I'm really spending the same amount but packing more...I'd rather something that packs small with lots of punch, hence the appeal of the Sixpar IP style fixtures.  Proper whites and ambers are a must though for front wash.

Key points for me:  Will the gigs I do be photographed or filmed?  Absolutely yes.  I live in a capital city, there are a lot of government related gigs and a lot of local photography groups who attend gigs and take great photos.

Will I be cross renting my equipment to other companies / designers?  Perhaps a controller, but unlikely for the reasonable future that I would be supplying lighting-only since most of the big players around here already have warehouses of par cans and movers.  If I had a good controller and a big gig came in, I could see renting some of their kit to supplement mine but that's future talk. Brand pedigree is something I take seriously on major investments, mostly for future support and parts availability.  My sound rig includes brands most people haven't heard of (Danley, JTR) but I appreciate that they are small enough to offer personalized support if needed and the designs are high quality.  I'm certainly not planning on meeting any lighting riders anytime soon.  This is just to expand the production value of my sound gigs, and eventually offer as a standalone service when sound is already looked after by the band or venue.

How important is IP65 for me?  For front lighting, I'm settling on "very".  Which is my biggest tripping block to an otherwise very flexible and appealing moving zoom wash approach. 


I'm glad I came here!  thanks everyone. 
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 09, 2017, 12:35:05 pm
You might also want to take a look at these (https://www.bulbamerica.com/products/bulbamerica-par-38-lighting-can-black-w-socket-power-cord-par38-gel-frame).  I have a few dozen in my inventory and I believe Steve does too.  They don't have the beam control that you'll find on a fresnel, but they're small, cheap, and durable enough for mobile use.  The one nice thing about them is that you can use a wide variety of wattage lamps in them.  I run mine with 250w floods, but you can go way down to sub-100w and still get a nice beam.  The output is a little tight if comparing to a fresnel, but I like them and they're extremely economical.


Those are VERY economical.  Thanks for the link.  I suppose an appeal there would be that if I smash a bulb I could pick one up at a hardware store in a pinch. 


So, conventional lights like this, outdoors on a tree in front of the band (and therefore at risk for rainwater infiltration), outside of them shorting out and popping a breaker, are there shock risks present?  Would a 20A inline GFCI be enough to mitigate those risks?


I see a lot of people using par cans and lekos hung at the front of stages across the top or as side wash.... so am I making a big deal out of a little thing?  With LED I know you have electronics to worry about and the IP65 rating becomes even more important to the fixture's survival, but I still worry.   
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 11, 2017, 09:16:16 pm
Hey, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  With the hurricane going on I was a little preoccupied!

Those are VERY economical.  Thanks for the link.  I suppose an appeal there would be that if I smash a bulb I could pick one up at a hardware store in a pinch. 

So, conventional lights like this, outdoors on a tree in front of the band (and therefore at risk for rainwater infiltration), outside of them shorting out and popping a breaker, are there shock risks present?  Would a 20A inline GFCI be enough to mitigate those risks?

I see a lot of people using par cans and lekos hung at the front of stages across the top or as side wash.... so am I making a big deal out of a little thing?  With LED I know you have electronics to worry about and the IP65 rating becomes even more important to the fixture's survival, but I still worry.

Yes, these $20 Pars are nothing more than a flood lamp socket in a metal can.  Note that the lamp isn't included with that specific kit, so depending on your selection all said and done they're closer to $35-50/ea. to deploy.  Still amazing bang to buck.  Yep, you can use Home Depot bulbs in these either as an emergency option or as your default option. 

As far as weather goes, they are grounded.  I've never been shocked by them either.  The only thing you have to watch for is something like a sudden cold downpour thermally-shocking the lamp and causing it to fail.  This has only happened to me exactly once in the past 15-20 years or so I've been doing this (on a Par 64), and I still can't definitively say that the rain caused the problem.  Most of these lamps are indoor/outdoor use, so they're pretty robust.  The bigger catch is that while these and most other conventional fixtures are very weather resistant, the dimmers you'll need aren't.  They need to be kept dry.  The most "weather-proof" way to do this is run a line of Soca to your trees and park the dimmers under the stage or in a place where they won't get wet.  Soca isn't cheap though and it's pretty heavy, so maybe more fuss than what you really want.

As for IP65, my buddy is doing a 3-day gig this weekend outdoors, and I'm watching the rain come down outside right now as I think about front lighting.  Is there a reasonably safe way to weatherproof a conventional light tree?  I'm imagining hi temperature clear plastic, but can't imagine it not affecting the optics.  Lekos, fresnels, par cans....someone must make one rated for outdoors, no?  I suppose in LED world there's the Ovation E-260WW IP but that comes with a price tag.
 
I've seen covers, enclosures, and "dog houses" made for this but it can be a bit trickier than you might think at first glace.  Optics aside, the issue is controlling the temperature inside the box.  Any piece of equipment with a circuit board will list a "maximum ambient operating temperature".  If you go the route of an enclosure you need to make it so that it never exceeds the maximum ambient operating temperature of the least robust fixture in the group.  If anything halogen or discharge is in there this can be very hard to do.  Even some LEDs give off a fair amount of heat.  Moving light globes like what Tempest offers have environmental control built-in.  As you can imagine, these aren't cheap and most likely overkill for a non-fixed installation.  I've debated building little sheet metal roofs or bonnets for my trees, but in Florida where it rains sideways I'm not sure how useful these would actually be in practice. 

I mean, if American Ninja Warrior can pull it off.... lol.  I just don't want to be that guy with the failing LED flashing in everyone's eyes mid way through a show as it sputters it's last breath.  Then I'm known as the guy with the cheap gear.  Once the show starts I have very little time for adjustments or reconfiguration.  I'd probably want to triple the inventory for redundancy if I went cheap, then I'm really spending the same amount but packing more...I'd rather something that packs small with lots of punch, hence the appeal of the Sixpar IP style fixtures.  Proper whites and ambers are a must though for front wash.

I totally get what you mean.  The reason I bring up American Ninja Warrior is that it shows you don't need world-class fixtures to work on big-name productions.  Here is where it opens a can of worms though...  Do you need an entire system that is listed for "wet location use"?  The answer to that is "maybe", "maybe", and "it depends"...as usual.  Fixtures like SlimPars are not listed for wet location use.  Technically most conventional lights aren't either, yet you seem them used outdoors all the time.  So does that mean all the amphitheater and stadium shows need to be shut down because most of their rig is intended for "indoor use only"?  Not necessarily, and to be honest this is about where my knowledge and experience hits the limit of what useful advice I can offer.  Maybe someone else can chime in to fill in the gaps, but my experience is that if you're doing a fixed or semi-permanent installation outdoors then all your equipment must be listed for wet location use (IP65 or similar) or provisions in place to make it so, such as a Tempest enclosure...and this extends beyond just the fixtures.  The electrical components of the installation must meet the same requirement, which gets expensive - fast.  In your case, maybe you buy some SixPar IPs and have wet location use fixtures, but that only carries you to what they plug in to.  Is your distro listed for wet location use?  How about your controller?  See where I'm going with this?  To be 100% wet location use things can get extremely expensive and much further down the rabbit hole than you're looking to go.  Here's the caveat though - as a mobile operator you're not confined to the same rules as for a fixed installation.   

My understanding of the topic and thus how I've always operated for mobile outdoor shows is that so long as your equipment is under constant supervision when energized, you have a comprehensive weather plan in place, and you have the ability to safely remove power both during AND after inclement weather has occurred...you're okay running non-outdoor equipment outdoors.  Unfortunately I can't cite a source for this.  I only mention it because it's how outdoor productions running conventional lights, non-IP movers, and non-IP LEDs can operate without being shut down...so long as the electrical infrastructure is up to code for wet location use.  You're obviously voiding your warranty and not using the equipment as listed when doing this, but that's the decision you have to make.  I believe Altman offers a few outdoor conventionals as do a few others.  IP movers are few and expensive. 

That's why you have to decide if it's worth it to buy the IP fixtures anyways to have the warm fuzzy feeling that you'll be okay in the rain (until your tent dumps water into your console or laptop), or is it more economical to buy cheaper, more common lights in higher quantity, understanding that one or two might fail in poor weather...or just on their own.  Go to a few outdoor concerts and you'll see the model that the industry at large follows...   ;)

If it's worth the extra cost of IP to you just to have one less thing to worry about in the rain then I'd say go for it!  It's a direction that I'm strongly considering going myself for my next LED purchase...not that I've had bad luck in the rain and need a better solution - more so that I can just sit back and not worry about it!  Tarp the light board and let it rain!

All that aside, if you're doing higher profile shows that will be filmed you'll want a higher quality light anyways.  Cheap LEDs can do weird things on cameras, especially when operating at lower intensities.  Either way, try to get a demo of what you're interested in to be sure you like the output, and maybe consult with an electrician in your area about wet location use power.  They'll be able to help you out on the infrastructure side of things if you have any compliance questions.  Best of luck with the purchase!   

*Edited for typos and clarity         
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 12, 2017, 08:59:08 pm
Jeff, don't apologize.  Stay safe out there, I'm not on a tight timeline and you've been very generous with your time already.  If you ever find yourself in Victoria I think I owe you a beer or two! 

I'm on the fence between some Altman 65Q-type fresnels with barn doors (simple, flexible, semi-controllable stage wash) or maybe an ETC parnel; or going LED with a Colorado M Solo or similar (variable colour temp, IP65, homogenized beam face, motorized zoom).  Both have pros and cons.  Maybe a combination wouldn't be a bad thing.  Still thinking two per side on tree's and hoping that'll get me some reasonable face coverage.

I do think that I'm going to put off the movers for now, since that will also give me time to settle on a controller upgrade.  I've also come to terms with the fact that I don't have the pack space nor the time to focus something like a Leko to do it justice.  I'll stick to soft-edge washes for now.  If I go IP65 LED, I'll convert my cables to powercon true1 and that'll at least get me some reasonable protection up until my tarped, non-wet-location distro.

You've made some excellent points, I've gotta do some more thinking/budget analysis and see if I can get myself a demo locally on any of this.

I will definitely be picking up some 88-key keyboard cases for my upstage t-bars though, very happy about that concept!



I'll update this thread as my rig expands.  Thanks again everyone!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Mark Cadwallader on September 12, 2017, 11:44:19 pm
Mixing and matching different brands of LED fixtures may give you less than satisfactory results if you want to match color washes. The RGBA+Lime ETC fixtures don't have the same color rendering as the Chauvet Pro fixtures (as an example). If you aren't doing theater it may not matter, but buyers should be aware that there are differences.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 13, 2017, 11:40:08 am
Good point Mark.  I intend to stick with multiples of the same fixture, whatever I select for front wash.  My upstage lighting is RGB-only COB LED, but all the same model.  My use is typically live bands with some talking-head type gigs mixed in, maybe a comedian or two, nothing theatrical.  Still, as this matures it's good to keep things like that in mind so that I don't create my own barriers to new avenues of revenue.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 13, 2017, 08:07:35 pm
Jeff, don't apologize.  Stay safe out there, I'm not on a tight timeline and you've been very generous with your time already.  If you ever find yourself in Victoria I think I owe you a beer or two! 

I'm on the fence between some Altman 65Q-type fresnels with barn doors (simple, flexible, semi-controllable stage wash) or maybe an ETC parnel; or going LED with a Colorado M Solo or similar (variable colour temp, IP65, homogenized beam face, motorized zoom).  Both have pros and cons.  Maybe a combination wouldn't be a bad thing.  Still thinking two per side on tree's and hoping that'll get me some reasonable face coverage.

I do think that I'm going to put off the movers for now, since that will also give me time to settle on a controller upgrade.  I've also come to terms with the fact that I don't have the pack space nor the time to focus something like a Leko to do it justice.  I'll stick to soft-edge washes for now.  If I go IP65 LED, I'll convert my cables to powercon true1 and that'll at least get me some reasonable protection up until my tarped, non-wet-location distro.

You've made some excellent points, I've gotta do some more thinking/budget analysis and see if I can get myself a demo locally on any of this.

I will definitely be picking up some 88-key keyboard cases for my upstage t-bars though, very happy about that concept!

I'll update this thread as my rig expands.  Thanks again everyone!

Oh, it's all good.  That's the point of these forums!  I'm still very much a learner in many areas and I'm happy to share my advice where I can. 

So if you're looking conventional, the benefits of a standard fresnel can't be argued with.  If you're going to look at the ETC Parnel (or PARNel as they put it), also have a look at the standard ETC Par.  They have a set of 4 interchangeable lenses that give you some decent beam control without the "oddities" of the Parnel (which is a love/hate type of fixture).  If you do go with an LED option like the M Solo, be sure you're happy with the output before making the purchase.  Though I've never A/B'd them, I can say with near certainty that an ETC Par lamped with an HPL 750w will stomp all over the M Solo in terms of output in all but maybe the darkest colors.  That may not be a bad thing though if you simply don't need that much output to begin with.   

Mark brings up an excellent point.  Not all LEDs are created equally and different brands are not always 100% interchangeable.  Even more so, new LED units and old LED units don't always match in output either.  Some manufacturers factory calibrate their units to help mitigate this.  Some light boards can also do similar compensation (another reason to upgrade your controller), but in short, try to buy all your LED lights of any given type at once and try to minimize the fixture variety.  That'll help to ensure consistency between everything.  Conventional lights are more friendly to phased purchasing.  Good luck though and keep us posted!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Steve Garris on September 14, 2017, 07:23:57 pm

51-1/2" x 6" x 18", so it looks like some of those 88-key keyboard cases might do the trick, thanks for the idea I never thought of that!  I've seen some of your posts, you've gotten some great light shows with some inexpensive fixtures in large quantities, keep up the great work!  What are you using for a controller?

I ordered that case knowing it was about an inch plus too narrow, but because it is a soft case it worked perfectly.

My current controller is an obsolete Magic 260. It is excellent for single scene and chase programming, but useless for busking. I am in the process of migrating to Luminair 3. Either board works really well for me, but most of my lights are fixed and I just need cool scenes.

Those Par 38's are fantastic for front spots. I have 2 per side, and just plug them in with 90W bulbs. I made a bracket that sits on top of my speaker mains, and bolts to the speaker fly point with one 10 mm thumbscrew. They go up in minutes, and work very well. I'll post a pic when i get back from vacation.

Thanks for the complements. I only wish I could afford or have the cargo space for your JTR or Danely mains!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on September 15, 2017, 08:51:21 pm
Hi Steve, good to know the fit is a bit flexible! 

I have read posts (perhaps yours, can't recall) on here about mounting front lights to the fly points of the mains.  I would like to avoid this.  I generally use tilters on my mains and crank them up high to get a better coverage/consistency of the audience area, so this would throw off my center of gravity, as well as be a compromise between the best PA coverage location and best lighting coverage location.

Great idea, and certainly falls under the "quick", "compact" and "neat looking (when compared to more tripods nested near each other)" categories but I'd rather have the freedom to position the front wash lights and mains separately for each intended purpose.

Cheers!  Enjoy your vacation, I'm off tomorrow for mine!  You shouldn't hear from me for a couple weeks on this thread, or I'm vacationing all wrong.  :)
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on October 13, 2017, 04:59:15 pm
Hey Folks,

Back from holiday and back on topic.  So I've done a lot of thinking about my application, and decided that IP65 is important to me.  I had a look at the Altman Outdoor Par64 for my front wash idea, but the power draw and cabling/dimmers/etc for conventional lighting is pushing me over to LED.  Plus having some color-mixing would be beneficial for those events where house lights are already covering front wash duties so my inventory has more flexibility.

Movers are out.  Too much potential for wear and tear, too early in my lighting career to invest that heavily in stuff that will require road trunks and a better controller, and the lack of IP65 ratings sealed the deal for me.


I started comparing spec's on the Elation Six Par IP series (no zoom, no COB, but very flexible and since it's not zoom it's shallower - 6" versus 12" roughly - and therefore easier to pack).  Having dedicated amber to mix with the whites could be useful, and a nice looking amber would be appreciated.  UV, well that could be fun to experiment with, but it's not something I "need".

I'm thinking perhaps less is more, and two per side of their 300 IP model might be just what I need (or for similar money four per side of the 100 IP's for more coverage area but less output).  Point and shoot, if I need to cover more area just add more fixtures.  More fixtures has the advantage of more chases and angles, but the disadvantage of more cables and setup. 

I can handle the beam width math, but I'm having trouble with the required footcandle/lux/candella math to determine what will be enough, and what will leave me wanting more.  I've read and learned a lot, and there doesn't seem to be a simple answer (go figure).

I know I want something brighter than my 36w COB's currently used for upstage backwash, but maybe going too bright will overpower my existing inventory and be a waste of money?  You can always dim, but once you're on full, you're on full.  I realize ambient lighting will affect this requirement, but I read somewhere that 50 footcandles on the performer's face was a good target for theatre - anyone heard anything similar?  I don't usually work on stages more than 30'wx20'd and these would be no more than 15' off the deck, often less.  And this would not be theatre, but rather rock, blues, country, R&B, metal, reggae and pop bands.

A big part of this quest was a better white and amber than what I'm getting from my current RGB COB LED's.  In searching for IP65 zoom COB type LED's, I can't seem to find anything beyond RGBW without leaving the COB format.  Am I missing something, or is COB technology still not quite at the 6-in-1 stage yet?
In the youtube videos I've watched of the Elation Fuze series and Chauvet Colorado series, they don't seem to showcase the yellows for very long (usually quickly faded to green, which is the hue my current yellows seem to bug me most with).   Perhaps the addition of the white will help rendering some nice yellows without a dedicated yellow, and the fact that the Chauvet Colorado line seems to have adjustable colour temps (again, primarily lighting performers) makes me feel a bit better, but still hesitant.  Has anyone had a chance to A/B the Fuze series against the Colorado series?  Or has anyone tried one and have any comments on front wash applications?  Spec and price wise they are obviously going after the same market and are near the top of my list.


That was, before I found the Z19 in the sixpar series (6-in-1 with zoom!).  It looks like a great fit, if only it weren't so costly ($1645 retail CAD) compared to the similarly spec'd (no zoom) 300 IP at $797 CAD retail.  It's even priced well-above the largest in the Colorado Solo line, and the Fuze line, and it seems to be too new to have any reviews available yet. 

If I went that way, and only bought two for now due to budget, would I be fighting shadows all the time tring to light the performers in the back?  Several of the bands I work with include horn sections and backup vocalists, sometimes 11 people on stage at a time (shoulder to shoulder in smaller venues though).  Is it better to use more fixtures spread wider apart to deal with things like that?  Reason I ask, even fully zoomed out these are nearly as bright as some of the smaller non-zoom wash lights i was looking at.  I'd have them one per side, mounted on top of a tripod with something like this: https://www.avshop.ca/lighting-amp-effects/lighting-stands/prox-x-ls79-speaker-stand-lighting-mount

One per side means I could nest the tripod close to my PA tripod since i'm not worried about the width of a t-bar getting in the way of my mains, and opens up the sightlines a bit from the audience perspective.

Trying to really think this through as this will be my first rather large investment in lighting fixtures for something that I haven't been able to do a lot of my own experimentation on.  Thanks to all who read and respond!
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Mark Cadwallader on October 13, 2017, 06:37:21 pm
Here is another nickel's worth of input:
1. There is no good way to compare lights without actually seeing them on stage. Try to get a demo in as close to performance conditions as possible.
2. If you are cross-lighting from a single position (off to side stage, with no truss across the stage), keep in mind that the performers closer to the light will be more brightly illuminated than those further away. With two or more fixtures per side, you can adjust the intensity as the focus distance changes.
3.  IMO, not being COB isn't a big deal. Performance is what counts (albeit performance can be measured by different metrics).
4.  If you can't buy a full rig all at once, think about a realistic plan to build what you need/want. Make sure that your initial purchase will do an adequate, although sub-optimal, job for most of your clients.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on October 13, 2017, 07:33:35 pm
Thanks Mark! 

Sounds like two per side will be a minimum for me, as there's no truss in my immediate future.  In fact, that throws another point in the scoreboard for going to larger quantities of lesser output fixtures.  I guess I'll have to get on the phone and start trying to track down some demos on some of this stuff.

By the way, we got rid of the penny here in Canada, so no one can give two cents on anything anymore!  A nickel it is!  Appreciate it. 
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Dave Garoutte on October 17, 2017, 07:21:09 pm
Have you looked at the Chauvet Colorado solo 1 and 2?  RGBW with zoom and high PWM frequency for video.  That's what I'm currently using for the (smallish) shows I do.
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on October 17, 2017, 09:51:23 pm
Hi Dave, yes they are in my shortlist. That is, looked at them via the internet.  Haven’t pinned down any demos yet.  How do you find the yellows without having a dedicated amber diode? 

Or more to the point, do they look natural as front wash on skin? 

Do you find there to be a large output difference between the 1 & 2? 

How many do you deploy for a typical “small-ish” gig?

Thanks in advance for any answers you can offer. Cheers
Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeff Lelko on October 19, 2017, 06:38:41 pm
Glad to hear you're making progress Jeremy!  Your thought process is very rationale and methodical.  I hear you on the IP65, especially after getting caught up in a downpour coming in off the ocean last weekend...  No damage to anything though!

I started comparing spec's on the Elation Six Par IP series (no zoom, no COB, but very flexible and since it's not zoom it's shallower - 6" versus 12" roughly - and therefore easier to pack).  Having dedicated amber to mix with the whites could be useful, and a nice looking amber would be appreciated.  UV, well that could be fun to experiment with, but it's not something I "need".

Yet something else to consider - will these units ever be used inside 12" box truss?  Smaller and shallower fixtures such as a smaller SlimPar or a SixPar 100 serve this purpose nicely.  A SixPar 300 won't fit.  Even the smaller COB fixtures may or may not (and the larger ones definitely don't), likely depending on the style of lacing on the truss.  Not that this is a big deal for what I think you're trying to achieve, but when I add fixtures to my own inventory I like to make them as multi-use as possible.  Also, given the speed that this industry is evolving, it'd be nice to have the option of retiring your SixPars (or whatever you settle on) to truss warming duty when the time comes to upgrade to the next best thing down the road.

Mark is absolutely right though - we can compare specs all day long, but only a demo in person will tell you if something is fitting for your intended application.  Much like sound - a speaker may look great on paper, yet there is no specification yet that will tell you how "good" it sounds.

A big part of this quest was a better white and amber than what I'm getting from my current RGB COB LED's.  In searching for IP65 zoom COB type LED's, I can't seem to find anything beyond RGBW without leaving the COB format.  Am I missing something, or is COB technology still not quite at the 6-in-1 stage yet?

That's what I'm still holding out for - a 6-in-1 COB.  Maybe it matters to you and maybe it doesn't, and a lot of it comes down to application, but I personally prefer the even beam from a COB fixture along with its more conventional look.  Talking with one of my dealers at an event last weekend I couldn't get any hints as to if or when we might see such a fixture aside from one or two ebay products, but for what it's worth I was told a "Major Orlando Themepark You've Heard Of" recently purchased a few hundred SixPar 300IPs, so they at least felt that this product/technology was at a reasonable maturity to make such an investment.

Regarding the debate of fewer "large" fixtures versus more "smaller" fixtures, all I can say is that my Par 38s go out roughly twice as often as my Par 64s for events similar to what I think you're describing.  I'm a huge fan of strength in numbers.  Not only from a reliability standpoint, but also from a versatility standpoint.  You just have more options available to you by having more units in stock.  No matter your choice, still try to buy all the units you need at once.  While the consistency of name-brand units is much better than the Generic Chinese lights, I've still been inconvenienced (at best) by not getting all my fixtures from one batch.

Good luck and keep us posted! 

Title: Re: Making a plan for a lighting upgrade
Post by: Jeremy Young on October 19, 2017, 07:58:28 pm
Thanks Jeff, I'm starting to come around to the strength-in-numbers approach too.  Gotta keep reminding myself that it's perfectly OK to have two or more fixtures pointed at the same area to increase brightness, even from multiple angles, without all the resulting comb-filtering that I have to worry about in audio.  Good to know about your par38 vs par64 rentals, thanks for that info. 

Good thoughts on the truss warming too, although that's likely where my Dotz Pars would end up before these next fixtures if anything.  But yes I'm trying to make this a logical, flexible addition to my inventory that will allow me to offer a basic stage wash package to add to the audio gigs I'm doing now, and give me something to practice chases/scenes/real world applications until such time that I'm ready to take the plunge into eye-candy stuff and the controllers that would go with it.  Hopefully by then I'll have more time under my belt dealing with deployment logistics that I can make a wise choice when that time comes.

Thanks everyone!  Anyone know a good Chauvet or Elation dealer in Western Canada?