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Author Topic: where to start  (Read 2554 times)

Miguel Castro Rios

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where to start
« on: July 07, 2007, 03:44:35 pm »

Hi... I running sound for a band, But now they need to buy lighting equipment. We didn't need any before because we used to play in small bars where they provided it.

We are going to start doing festivals and many outdoor events. The problem is, I know nothing about lighting. Where should I start reading?

What Do you guys recomend to buy for a 50 to 70ft wide stage.- a 500 to 2500 ppl crowd...- Remmember it's outdoors.
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Duane Massey

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Re: where to start
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2007, 03:53:48 pm »

Budget? Basic stuff or advanced moving beams? Truss? All these little details. DIY is certainly possible, but if you have no background in basic electrical, the scope of the shows you are describing could be a bit overwhelming.

Of course, I started with neither knowledge nor $$$, as a lot of us did, so don't get discouraged, just cautious.
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Tony "T" Tissot

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Re: where to start
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2007, 04:23:16 pm »

miguel castro wrote on Sat, 07 July 2007 12:44

What Do you guys recomend to buy for a 50 to 70ft wide stage.- a 500 to 2500 ppl crowd...- Remmember it's outdoors.


Miguel. This a considered a pretty BIG configuration.

- I don't have a simple answer of - "go buy this and this." I could easily just say - "buy 40 PARS" - but then you need to know are they narrow, medium... how bright - etc.?

The first - and most important issue is access to power, and how you get power to your dimmers and lights. You've read on this board about the need for absolute safety at all times.

- "Outdoors" increases the safety concerns. Moisture, audience access to cables.

The second issue is with rigging. Also a potentially dangerous undertaking.

I do not know of a good online source of how to get started. There are some excellent books written about theater lighting.

- A great strategy is just to hire someone for those bigger gigs. You can easily require a 40K rig (think 40 1KW PARs) as a start.

- If you were a lighting designer - you might break down the problems - and the design as follows: (Of course this is just one example. Often you start from the point of "what I have available - how best to use it?")

1. Lighting positions
- 50 foot wide stage. Front light should be high enough to be in scale with the width. 10 foot high is out of proportion for example. Do I need 20 foot tall positions? Do I need a truss across the entire front of the stage?

The goal for front lighting is visibility and interesting colors.

- Back lighting. The audience "sees" the back lights. The more lights, the more interesting the show. How to mount them? A truss or towers?

The goal for back lighting is contrast, interesting colors and the ability to make the stage look different for each song. The audience really keys on interesting back light.

- "interest" lighting. Other positions, on stage floor, sides, on top of speakers etc.

The goal here is to look high tech or have the audience see some interesting (but  not over-used) effects. Moving lights are almost standard for the stage sizes you are describing. Some folks add some truss pieces or stage props to make the stage look more interesting - and then clamp some lights on it.

Blinders are often used. They shine out into the audience. Or folks will aim the movers to shine on the audience.

- The background. That is a big stage. What's on the back wall? A big TV screen? A backdrop? Just a black hole? Can you project something on it - like a moving light with a rotating gobo - or an effects projector?

2. Complexity of lighting.

-Is a simple arrangement of stage wash good enough? Do I need control of zones? like the drummer or the singer.

- Do I need to spotlight performers from the front? With lights on the truss or towers. Or moving lights that can act as spotlights - or do I need an actual follow spot?
- How much "good stuff" like moving lights can we afford?

After you solve the lighting position question you can begin laying out the instruments and the "looks."

This is always a question of budget. Are 500 W PARS sufficient? Do I need 1KW PARS? How many?

Am I better off with PARS with color changers - or should we invest in moving head wash and spot instruments?

How much light is needed?

How do we Haze or smoke up the atmosphere so the light beams are visible.

- After you layout lighting positions - you then have to figure out how to get control of everything. Number of dimmers.

- Then power - Amount of power required for all of it. Cable, dimmer racks or remote dimmers. Power for the movers.

Then the magic equation of how much total power you need (a lot!). So how do you get that power and distribute it?
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Miguel Castro Rios

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Re: where to start
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2007, 12:23:02 am »

ok.. well wow, thanks for taking the time to type all this.

umm. We will be using a 50kw generator. The Audio gear won't pull more then 20kw. Even if it is being used at it's 100%.

Say I have 20Kw for lights and 10 kw of ''head room''. We don't have a true budget yet because we have to buy a new truck, truss and a few other things. ( I know it's dumb, but that's the way they work).

I think we would be using towers. We won't fly the audio, So the towers will only be used for lights. What we want and think will be more effective is moving lights. They seem to work pretty well rather then have a bunch of pars. I've searched but don't know what to look for. I saw this Mac 2000, but it looks pretty expensive. Is that what moving lights usually cost? If so I think we'll just buy a bunch of pars. What do you guys recommend for moving lights. Where do I look for those to compare prices and see what our possibilities are.
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kevinnemrava

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Re: where to start
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2007, 12:48:37 am »

you bring up some good points, moving heads can do a lot more, for example with pars, you need; red, blue green and orange can , .. that is 4 cans, where as 1 moving head can be set to any color at any time. Also a head can point anywhere. a can only gets 1 place.

the mac2000 is a top tier fixture, the cost to RENT one would be more then buying 3-4 par cans. They are VERY different animals though.

I would suggest you look at 250 watt moving heads to get going.

Keep in mind you need some control, like a DMX50 or bluelite ect.
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Tony "T" Tissot

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Re: where to start
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2007, 01:00:52 am »

Miguel,
Sorry I can't just give short answers!

Mac 2000 - maybe US $4K to 5K used?

There are other moving instruments that may be effective in the US $1,000 range. Maybe 250W discharge lamps.

A site like this: http://www.lightbroker.com/latest/index.htm or ones from Soundbroker and Solaris will give you a range of prices.

With a 50 foot wide stage, you are perhaps too big to effectively use the smaller, cheaper moving lights. That's your call.

In a any case - you will always need some stage wash and spots. PARs for larger stages are always cost-effective.

If you elect to use all moving heads for lighting - it can easily be done - but the cost is substantial.

On the positive side - if you use all moving head lights you won't need to spend the money on conventional dimmers.


Just as a point of reference - my entire rig is 32 Par 46, 8 Par 64, 8 Optipar, 4 Martin SCX 600 scanners, 2 SCX500 scanners  and then some effects projectors. I have 2 18 foot towers - about 33 feet of triangle truss + "portable" dimmer packs cable, cases etc. and 4 ground stands. Figure that is less than $10K US, but remember that cables, distros etc. really cost.

When I go back to using Socapex and rack dimmers - I need to spend another $4 to 6K!

It is a decent, flexible small rig. The number of  lights just gives me visual interest. I run it on PC with LightFactory.

But it's marginal for what you describe.
I just don't think it is professional enough for a big 50 foot stage.

I can run everything off of about 120 to 140 amps (and - yes I am rigged to go off of 8 standard edison plugs when I have to - which is almost always (although I have to cut back!)
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Duane Massey

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Re: where to start
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2007, 05:32:55 pm »

Miguel, you need to at least develop a ballpark budget before you can make intelligent decisions. You can light up the stage for less than $10k, or you can spend $250k and still have room for more fixtures. You can put up enough fixtures to look impressive in your market, but someone in the midwest US would tell you it was horribly inadequate for their clients. If you're in the price range, intelligents would be the most forward-thinking method, and would require less power (just a lot more $$$). In addition to Martin, consider Robe, Elation, Clay Paky, Coemar, and even (gasp!) American DJ and Chauvet. If this is for your own band, not a rig for hire, you can seriously consider the lesser-known brands that may not be rider-friendly yet still do the job well.

Most of these brands are available in Mexico.
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Duane Massey
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Miguel Castro Rios

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Re: where to start
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2007, 07:43:21 pm »

Thank you for all your replies.

After searching and reading. Moving lights are kind'a expansive, I guess we'll just use a bunch of PARs. lol.

So What I'm thinking is to buy maybe 4 mac500 Rolling Eyes . And then do the rest with PARs.(front top truss, and back). I think this should be ok to get going and then with time we can improve.

The dmx50 looks ok for us, but ummm what other controllers are out there, I mean to comapre and see. I just want a few more options. Our budget for that would be no more then 1k.

I'll keep searching and reading, and yes it is a bit overwhelming, but that's ok. I guess if I'm running sound, there is no harm in learning about lights.(I have no option anyway Laughing )Thanks for all your help.
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Derrick Bassett

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Re: where to start
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2007, 11:01:32 pm »

There's nothing wrong with mixing and using mostly pars and only a few intels. I mean, maybe it's not what all the "big guys" are doing, but so what. You've gotta do what fits your band and your budget. Too often artists get caught up in - oh i have to do this or have this in order to perform concerts and get my stuff out there. Just do it. Get it out there. Off my soap box now!

I think you'd be going in the right direction getting pars and a few intels. Like you said...you can add on later.

Duane Massey

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Re: where to start
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2007, 11:19:32 am »

I'd suggest either a PC-based controller (Blueight is great, and cost-effective), or one of the Showdesigner controllers form ADJ/Elation. The SD 2 would be my first thought, but it's gonna be over $1k, but the SD 1 would get you going at least. Check out the Robe fixtures before you settle on the Martin.

http://www.innovateshowcontrols.com/x1_overview.php for Bluelight

http://www.elationlighting.com/product.asp?ProductIDNumber=1 202&cat=Intelligent%20Consoles

and

http://www.elationlighting.com/product.asp?ProductIDNumber=1 287&cat=Intelligent%20Consoles

Keep in mind the prices on the ADJ/Elation websites are "list", which no one pays. Should be able to get these for 25-40% less.

http://www.robe.cz/default.aspx?contentid=ce751508-3cd2-407d -bf96-4e01a89ee50d&langid=9d2d0548-2d4a-46fb-8ab2-3e3564 57ee73

Just do your research and keep asking questions before you invest any $$$.
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Duane Massey
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