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Author Topic: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?  (Read 5442 times)

Cameron White

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HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« on: December 02, 2016, 10:43:46 pm »

Hello, I work with a High School theater program that has been using incandescent lamps for as long as I can remember. We recently purchased a new light board(ETC ColorSource 20), and have been looking into switching to LED lighting ever since.

My question is, which lights would you guys suggest? Our venue is a Black Box Theater, with the catwalk about 12-15 feet off the ground. We don't want to go full LED just yet, we want to slowly swap out the old PAR Cans one or two at a time. Thanks!
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2016, 11:12:04 pm »

Lots of applicable discussion going on here right now about this, but before we can help you'll need to change your display name to your actual name per the forum rules.  Thanks!
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Cameron White

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 11:59:08 pm »

Lots of applicable discussion going on here right now about this, but before we can help you'll need to change your display name to your actual name per the forum rules.  Thanks!
I'm sorry, I was unaware of that rule. I changed it now.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2016, 12:38:00 am »

You'll get a wide variety of opinions here, but to start I'd suggest reading these threads (link link link) if you haven't already.  How big is your stage, and what specific make/model(s) of lights are you hoping to replace with an LED alternative? 

A lot of this will also come down to your budget.  ETC and Altman both make very theater-acceptable LED fixtures, but you'll be paying a premium for them.  Chauvet and Elation's product is a bit more affordable, though still not cheap if you want equivalent output to a 1k Par 64, Source 4, 360Q, etc.  Then you have the Chinese line of product from ebay and Ali Express (the subject of many recent threads and debates here).  I'm sure others will chime in with their suggestions, but generally you get what you pay for.  Since this is for a fixed installation I'd recommend spending a little more to get higher quality fixtures that will last.  I will add this though - unless you buy from a manufacture that calibrates each individual fixture to a set standard for consistency (such as ETC), buy all your fixtures at one time - especially if you end up going the Chinese route.  Production batches can differ enough that you'll end up with a mixed bag of fixtures that aren't entirely interchangeable.  I've been burned on that a few times myself, so I can't stress it enough!  Good luck!   
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Cameron White

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2016, 01:24:19 am »

Thank you so much! Like I said, our space is a Black Box, so we can put lights virtually anywhere. The catwalk is about 12-15 feet above the stage/floor.

We're mostly looking into replacing our really old Altman Fresnels(specifically the 1KAF and 65Q). We also use Source Four Jrs, but they still work relatively well. The school doesn't give as much funding to our program as we hope, so buying all the fixtures at once isn't too likely of an option. Additionally, we aren't going to afford the top-notch ETC and Altman ones, so the Chauvet Par family looks like our best bet. Thanks again!
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2016, 02:14:14 am »

No worries - we're happy to help and I'm sure you'll get plenty of other feedback over the course of the weekend.  The situation you present is one where cost-effective LED lighting is still sparse.  Both Fresnels you mentioned are industry standards, and for good reason.  Unfortunately a direct replacement won't come cheap, at least by most people's standards, since you're trying to replicate a 750w or 1000w lamp and a very dynamic field angle range (16 degrees to 70 degrees on your 65Qs for example).  Lights along the lines of the Chauvet COLORado Solo Series are probably your best bet if you're looking for a theater friendly fixture that can be around a 1:1 replacement with your existing lights.  You might actually do better than a 1:1 replacement if you usually hang multiple Fresnels in different colors for each position.  If you can do without the motorized zoom, several other models within the COLORado Series might also be a suitable choice as well.  The Chauvet SlimPar Series won't be comparable in output.  The highest-end model MIGHT look similar when compared to an applicable beam angle from the Fresnel, but the SlimPars can't replicate the wide beam angle, and the lower-end COB units like the COREpars will struggle to match overall brightness in softer colors, not to mention the RGB-only color mixing will leave a lot to be desired in a theatrical application (you really want the white and/or amber).  Luckily you're not shooting too far so replicating intensity might not be all that important, whereas the shorter throw distance will rule out most DJ-grade Pars since you'll need a wide and even beam to make up for the lack of distance.   

All of that said, it won't hurt to keep some of your existing units in place, or at least in inventory.  Many venues I work in (plus my own mobile rig) use a mixture of different types of lights.  There's a very good reason I have yet to retire my 700w discharge CMY mixers!  You can always use your conventionals for basic stage washes and put a few LEDs to work as specials, depending on the nature and style of your lighting design.  I still strongly recommend trying to figure out how many fixtures you realistically need and then making the purchase in one go.  Even if you buy name brand or budget name brand fixtures, the technology is still progressing at a rate that what's popular and available now will almost certainly be replaced by the next best thing in a year's time.  Hope this helps!
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John Fruits

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2016, 03:48:09 am »

One big hurdle you have already taken care of is your choice of control board.  This can be a big problem when going from all incandescent to LEDs. 
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Don T. Williams

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2016, 11:44:25 am »

With the relatively short throw, you might look at the ADJ COB Cannon Wash at $399.00 MAP (the street price could be lower).  It is not a full fresnel replacement, but has a smooth output and RGBA color mixing.  Agian, not in the same class as ETC and Altman (and other) theatrical instruments, but also not in that price class.  There are a lot of choices available! 
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2016, 12:07:20 pm »

IMO there are two main reasons to choose wash lights as the first kind of light to convert to LEDs from conventional fixtutes:

1. You don't have to change gels to change colors. That means that you can use one LED fixture to replace three (or so) gelled fixtures, and have better color mixing as an added benefit.

2. You use wash lights more than any other lights, so the energy savings are the best "bang for the buck." The energy savings arise from : (a) using an LED fixture vs an incandecent fixture, and (b) using fewer fixtures. As an added benefit, you save in energy spent in HVAC costs.  In a school context, you can sell LEDs as a way to help get the school to meet energy savings targets (imposed by administrators and budget folks).

 Win-win-win.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2016, 12:09:40 pm »

You will find most lights under $500 will not dim in a smooth way akin to tungsten halogen theatrical fixtures. Depending on how much this bothers you, it may help you decide what you want to do. 

Regardless audition the dimming.  Some better fixtures have settings to smooth their dimming but then are unable to effectively strobe.   Again - this is something you have to decide if you can live with.


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Re: HS Theater Looking into LED Lights. Suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2016, 12:09:40 pm »


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