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Author Topic: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater  (Read 2330 times)

Tim Weaver

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2020, 10:54:33 AM »

Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

I don't think he was concerned about color in that fixture count. Besides, full color fixtures usually don't produce great skin tones. Some do, but they are expensive.

When you start using 3 to 5 lights to cover each area of the stage, and there are 6 to 10 areas to cover you can see how they start to add up.

Front lights, left middle and right, then a rear fill or two depending on the look is pretty typical. So a basic 6 area wash could use 30 key lights, and you haven't lit the background yet.
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Tim Hite

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2020, 01:06:08 PM »

Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

I was drawn to the Colorsource console for my business, after looking at many other consoles at LDI last year. I'm good with audio but a neophyte in the lighting world. The console seemed full-featured and very approachable. I know it has cue lists and such to help run through scripted shows. Your local ETC rep or office likely can send out a console and a couple lights to play with before you make a purchase decision. Not sure what your timeline is to decide.

I never purchased a console due to COVID. I've been meaning to get a loaner over to play with, but have been working full time on things that actually make money, so that got back burnered.

I would echo the sentiments about ETC service and support. They're amazing in that regard. The ColorSource fixtures are a nice price point and squarely aimed at your market segment. Not sue that I'd even consider another brand for this application. I'd suggest contacting ETC directly to see what they think, as well.
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Steven Cohen

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2020, 02:14:09 PM »

Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

And don't worry, I'm not making any recommendations based solely on the internet :). I'm getting input from many, just thought this would also be a good place to ask some questions.

If I am understanding the documentation provided by ETC correctly, the ColorSourse consoles are limited to 40 or 80 control channels. If this is true, I think this is important for you to understand what this means and how it may or may not affect you. A small venue moving light may use approximately 15 control channels for each instrument if one wants each instrument to be colored differently, sized differently, and focused differently, in other words independent from each other. If you think you have any plans of any instrument that moves in the future, this may not be the console for you. There maybe workarounds such as patching of each show but that introduces a level of complexity that is probably not suited for this application.

Speaking as a former kid who was been around theater's since I was a child. The first thing I would be looking for as a kid would be the movers, then the hazer. 
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2020, 04:27:55 PM »

If I am understanding the documentation provided by ETC correctly, the ColorSourse consoles are limited to 40 or 80 control channels.

ETC’s nomenclature can be a bit confusing sometimes.  ETC tends to refer to a “channel” as a device, meaning that it can be anything from a single dimmer to a Mac 2K.  ETC uses the term “output” to reference DMX channels.  My Congo Kid is 256 channels but two full universes of DMX output.  The board’s capacity is reached when either type of allocation is full.  I believe Colorsource works the same way, but anyone looking to purchase this should definitely confirm with their ETC Rep.  And yes, ETC is happy to facilitate console demos.  They can come to you or you can go to a regional office to play and compare.

Is the Element easy for non-lighting people to use? I looked at some videos of the Colorsource 40AV and it looked fairly user friendly. Keep in mind this is for a cast and crew of mostly elementary and middle school campers.

While I’m not an ETC Rep, the Element is mostly targeted towards community theaters, high school/college theaters, and other venues that need some semblance of lighting control that’s beyond a DJ board but not to the level of complexity seen in larger lighting designs.  It’s certainly not the most complicated console I’ve ever used, but you’ll still need to learn it.  Once the system is setup, patched, and has some decent “building block” programs made it can be easy enough to work from there, but you’re still going to need two or three resident experts that have learned the console.  I personally view the Colorsource desks as ETC’s answer to the Pathway Cognito and Jands offerings that are targeted at houses of worship, small performing venues, and the occasional personal user. 

If the lights are all LED and can be different colors, do we still need 60-100 lights?? That seems like so many for our simple productions. The performance part of the platform will be about 35' wide, and about 20' deep I believe.

Yes.  The phrase “need” can be variable, but to do things right you’re going to need more fixtures than you’ve likely anticipated.  Not to put you on the spot but as an honest question, have you ever designed lighting for a full-blown musical?  I ask this as someone who’s instructed tech workshops at community theaters and realizes that those who have never seen the inner workings of lighting design don’t yet grasp the “why” behind the “what”.  Shadow control, boundary definition, color/texture in negative space - all things you’ll see leveraged in professional design that up your fixture count, on top of the key lights that Tim already mentioned.  COVID aside, try taking a field trip to your local regional theater and have a look at their system.  There’s a reason why we pack so many fixtures in there! 
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John Fruits

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2020, 08:48:34 PM »

This will be a bit meandering but it goes to how many lights do you need.
The old school technique was based on the McCandless method.
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Collaborative-Articles:McCandless-Method
This divided the stage into acting areas, at minimum 3 zones across and 2 or 3 zones downstage to upstage.  Sometimes on larger stages is 5 zones across.  This would use at minimum two fixtures from the front for each acting area.  They ideally would be 45 degrees up and 45 degrees to the left and right.  For the downstage areas this would usually be Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlights (aka LEKOS) which have framing shutters to block spill onto non acting areas.  The next area to be lit would also be 3 or 5 zones across and usually be lit with fresnels or in Europe PC spots. 
Then you learn to throw out the McCandless method:
https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/45-degree-rule.8858/#post-103453
Here is another basic guide from Mainstage:
http://www.mainstage.com/PDFs/lighttheory7.pdf
So for a minimum 6 or 10 ERS for the downstage area which would be mounted on an electric above the audience, plus maybe a couple of extras for specials.
Then 6 or 10 washlights (fresnel or other type of fixture) for the mid stage area plus extras for specials.
Then lighting for the upstage "cyc" or sky drop.  Smooth lighting for this is essential and can add a lot to any production.
For the ERS I would suggest the Colorsource units with appropriate lenses.  Chauvet Ovation is another good choice and Elation is also a good possible choice.
For the mid-stage areas, the Colorsource pars  which would require suitable lenses also. Chauvet Ovation has a full color fresnel that might be a good choice.  I think Elation has one too.
For the upstage drop the ETC Colorsource cyc wash fixture has gotten good reviews.  There is also a lot of great comments about the Chauvet Ovation B-2805FC 6 foot striplight.  It is incredibly bright.  In fact several people have used it on their upstage black velour drapes and gotten very nice colored drapes!
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Adam Griff

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2020, 09:14:03 PM »

This has all been really helpful. One more question - I just got a different quote that uses the ChromaQ system with a Vista Ex Control Surface with 1024 channels. This company says "We have found in the past though that volunteers and non-tech people find the Chroma-Q Vista console much easier to operate than ETC consoles."

Any thoughts on the ChromaQ/Vista system? Again, this is for a summer camp, mostly operated by non-technical people, though some of our users might be high schoolers or college students who know a bit about theater. We run a play 2x per summer, a dance show, and some rock performances. The simpler the system is to operate, the more it will get used! Thanks for everyone's input and suggestions!
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John Fruits

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2020, 10:09:02 PM »

https://www.vistabychromaq.com/
Just by a quick glance I don't see how this can be any easier to use than the Element2.

EDIT: As far as the stripped down, easier to use by novice consoles, it used to be the Pathway Cognito.
https://pathwayconnect.com/index.php/products/dmx-show-controllers-and-consoles/103-cognito2
Then there were the ETC ColorSource and ColorSource AV
And Chauvet/ChamSys has the QuickQ consoles.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2020, 10:16:38 PM by John Fruits »
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2020, 12:45:48 AM »

Any thoughts on the ChromaQ/Vista system?

What’s the system?  Without seeing any actual proposed plots, fixture lists, and similar it’s impossible to say what will work best for you.  This where actually getting hands on hardware will be very helpful.  I’m not sure I agree with the statement of something being easier to operate than an ETC console - it depends which consoles we’re comparing.  My ETC Congo Kid is not a beginner board.  An Element2 is.  Try both the Element and the Vista to see which one is more approachable to you.

I’m glad this thread has been helpful to you.  Hopefully one of your main takeaways is that there’s a lot more to theatrical lighting design than just pointing a few dozen lights at a stage.  My hope is that you’ll continue to work with an experienced integrator who can actually design a system for you that will work well in your space.  Debating pros and cons of a console or fixture is one thing, but when building a fresh install the entire design needs to be integrated before money is spent.     
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Steven Cohen

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2020, 02:11:22 PM »

What’s the system?  Without seeing any actual proposed plots, fixture lists, and similar it’s impossible to say what will work best for you.  This where actually getting hands on hardware will be very helpful.  I’m not sure I agree with the statement of something being easier to operate than an ETC console - it depends which consoles we’re comparing.  My ETC Congo Kid is not a beginner board.  An Element2 is.  Try both the Element and the Vista to see which one is more approachable to you.

I’m glad this thread has been helpful to you.  Hopefully one of your main takeaways is that there’s a lot more to theatrical lighting design than just pointing a few dozen lights at a stage.  My hope is that you’ll continue to work with an experienced integrator who can actually design a system for you that will work well in your space.  Debating pros and cons of a console or fixture is one thing, but when building a fresh install the entire design needs to be integrated before money is spent.     
+1 for Jeff's comments. While a console is important, if this is a complete install, think of a console as a steering wheel on a car, and the rest of the car as the lighting instruments, electrical system, cabling, dimmers, relays, house lights, permits, hardware, ect.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2020, 05:56:34 PM »

Don't get stuck in this kind of situation.  A local college "upgraded" their 250 seat theater system to LED lighting.  They pulled out 96 channels of working ETC dimming, and the ETC console, and replaced it with 96 channels of a much lower grade (in my opinion) of dimmers and a console that I don't think ever worked.  The reasonalby professional LED instruments specifically state they should not be used on a dimmer channel!  The dimmer manufacturer actually has non-dim modules for the racks, but a truly unqualified person working at the college worked with an unknowledgable local electrical contractor (their first theater system) put together the system specifications and bid.  They not only threw out (literally- I think it went to a landfill) good gear, but replaced it with cheap gear that is the wrong gear.  I believe the college instructor involved was fired for other reasons that same year.  The theater lighting system was unsuable the one time I worked an event there.  After spending much of two days (donated to a local arts orginization I support), and getting nothing usable out of the system. I gave up and brought in my own system.  Had to do the same thing with sound.  Hundred of thousands of dollars of tax payer money wasted.
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Re: Lighting equipment for summer camp theater
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2020, 05:56:34 PM »


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