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Author Topic: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers  (Read 1737 times)

Bob Rhead

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Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« on: February 09, 2021, 01:37:12 pm »

With the advances in moving lights and controls I was wondering if one could set up a small stage lighting system without employing any dimmers, just by DMX control and some fixtures.. moving or fixed (scanners?).  I understand in many new fixtures dimming is internal as part of the DMX control system.  Since the lights are full on all the time I realize that power consumption is still a major consideration.  I am just thinking about simplifying the system design.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2021, 02:16:48 pm »

Hi Bob, yes, every modern LED light fixture (PAR, Fresnel, Ellipsoidal, etc.) is designed to run without a dimmer.  Non-LED moving lights substitute a mechanical shutter for dimming since discharge lamps can't dim 0-100%.  The only time dimmers need to be used is for conventional (incandescent) stage lights which are becoming fewer and fewer.
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2021, 02:32:32 pm »

Short answer is YES... where have you been hiding? ;D

I mean no disrespect with that statement just trying to keep it light... too much seriousness these days. If you are new to this business or have not shopped for lighting any time recently you may not have realized that the widespread use of DMX control and LEDs have changed lighting for the better in many ways, LED sources have drastically cut electrical demands, made internal dimming and EFX easy to build-into a fixture, and reduced weight and the amount of heat generated.
Moving fixtures have long had most of this built-in. Movers with discharge lamps are still available though they are usually reserved for the larger more Pro models, but at the entry level end of the market most everything has moved to LED. LED pars have been a thing for about a decade now give or take but they are only now starting to get up to a performance level where they could replace halogen fixtures on a 1-1 basis at the large scale Professional level, there it's not just about light output color temperature also matters and being flicker free for film or TV production.
Down at the bar band or wedding DJ level there are a wealth of choices now so it is quite easy to put together an all LED package that is light, doesn't require much power and requires nothing but the fixtures and a controller although you might want to look into making at least some of the DMX link wireless to simplify setup and teardown. There are an increasing number of fixtures with built-in wireless DMX capability too.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 02:54:39 pm by Paul G. OBrien »
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Bob Rhead

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2021, 05:49:46 pm »

Yes I've been out of the lighting business for quite some time, although have tried to keep up more or less on what is out there...it just hadn't ocurred to me before that you could actually do without dimmers completely !  I confess I thought the LED fixtures still ran off dimmers so am glad to hear otherwise.  Is DMX still pretty much the control system of choice?  I thought I had heard somewhere that there was a newer IP based system that circumvents the 512 addresses / devices.
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John L Nobile

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2021, 06:04:10 pm »

Yes I've been out of the lighting business for quite some time, although have tried to keep up more or less on what is out there...it just hadn't ocurred to me before that you could actually do without dimmers completely !  I confess I thought the LED fixtures still ran off dimmers so am glad to hear otherwise.  Is DMX still pretty much the control system of choice?  I thought I had heard somewhere that there was a newer IP based system that circumvents the 512 addresses / devices.

The 512 addresses is now 1 Universe and lighting is a multi-universe protocol. You should read up on it. Myself, I have a hybrid. 1 K Lekos, Pars and Fresnels and LED lights. I pretty much only use the dimmers for my front Leko lights. LED's are miles above Par cans.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2021, 07:10:48 pm »

Is DMX still pretty much the control system of choice?  I thought I had heard somewhere that there was a newer IP based system that circumvents the 512 addresses / devices.

There are several, Art-Net and sACN being two of the most prevalent.  A DMX universe is still 512 channels, but with ethernet protocols you can send multiple universes through a single network.  This becomes handy when working with large distributed systems and/or fixtures that use large numbers of DMX channels such as pixel grids.  The benefits become fewer when working with smaller systems to the point that regular DMX outweighs any need to use networked protocols.

What kind of system are you trying to build?
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2021, 07:12:14 pm »

About 4 years ago I spec'd the lighting for a new community theatre where everything in the auditorium was LED: ETC ellipsoidals and PARs, Altman cyc lights, RVE followspots, and Light Source house lights. Did an ETC Sensor rack with more relay modules than dimmers. They still had an inventory of conventionals from the old space.
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Scott Hofmann

Bob Rhead

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2021, 08:49:49 pm »

We have a small church here in Red Deer Alberta and looking to put in some controllable stage lighting.  I would guess we would be looking at maybe 8 or so fixtures, and a controller board.. I know I'm still thinking in 1970's mindset as that was when I worked in theatre... trying to expand my point of view!
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2021, 09:16:58 pm »

We have a small church here in Red Deer Alberta and looking to put in some controllable stage lighting.  I would guess we would be looking at maybe 8 or so fixtures, and a controller board.. I know I'm still thinking in 1970's mindset as that was when I worked in theatre... trying to expand my point of view!
It sounds like one universe will easily do for your needs.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2021, 11:37:21 pm »

As others have said, yes, Traditional dimmers are pretty much a thing of the past.  Fixtures get sent a signal and they output what they are told.

Upside is no dimmers. Downside is you have to supply both power and a signal cable to each fixture, unless you go with a wireless system.  Wireless always has its risks though, so people still wire.  As long as you properly maintain your wires, it's not a big deal. However, an intermittent break in a cable, or a rogue fixture spitting out random DMX can become quite the nightmare if you're not ready for it!

All of my dimmers have been relegated to the annual Christmas light show.  But that too will eventually change as LEDs are becoming individually addressable at somewhat reasonable prices.  Times they keep changing.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Stage Lighting WITHOUT Dimmers
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2021, 11:37:21 pm »


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