Barco Lays Off More High End Systems Employees, Just in Time for Christmas

barco-pink-slip

I just found out in a round-about way that digital lighting and display company Barco let some more High End Systems employees go last week.  And JUST in time for the holidays, too!  How fantastic.

You know, I am no MBA holder, nor would I know how to conduct a multi-million dollar business, so I won’t.  But I do have to say that it seems to me like you are trying to erase an American lighting icon from the industry altogether.  I have a problem with that.  Does it matter what I think?  More than likely not in this case.  I have a suggestion, though – why don’t you come on over from Belgium and get to know the people and equipment that people like?

The stock picture – six months:

barco-6month-stock

The last two days (December 15-17, 2009):

barco-2day-stock

On November 27, Barco acquired another business entity, FIMI Medical Imaging.  From Reuters:

Dow Jones reported that Barco NV has reached an agreement with Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV about the acquisition of FIMI. Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV is to sell FIMI for EUR 19 million in cash and the agreement includes an earn-out-construction from which it will earn EUR 10 million in the next five years. The transaction is expected to be completed at the end of 2009.

From Barco’s press release:

Eric Van Zele, Barco’s President and CEO, stated: “Our Medical Imaging Division has been performing strongly in recent years both sales and profit-wise. The acquisition of FIMI fits well within the overall growth strategy of the division as it further strengthens our existing product portfolio, opens opportunities in new segments of medical imaging, and strengthens our strategic relationship with Philips.”

Well, I really hope that you’re going to do more with the High End Systems brand. Those people are good people, and you have an asset in Richard Belleveau.  I hope you realize that and understand the entertainment industry before you spill white-out all over history and innovation.  You could be an industry leader.  Don’t forget, they were doing things well way before you.

High End Systems – The Blackstone Audio Days

Have you ever heard of Blackstone Audio?  JimOnLight reader Joey van der  Berg just sent me a link to a really retro-excellent video from the early days of High End Systems and their rental stock of lighting – when it was Lowell Fowler’s first company, Blackstone Audio.  The video is below.

Lowell’s bio (founder of High End) on the High End website gives a little history:

along with wife Sue, he founded Blackstone Audio Visual, a production company marketing to touring groups and special events. In 1986, along with partner [Richard] Belliveau, High End Systems began wholesaling lighting products to the entertainment industry on a global basis. Shortly thereafter, the company moved into the design and manufacturing of microprocessor-based lighting fixtures and control systems. In addition to serving as CEO and/or President of the company for over 25 years Fowler has held various capacities primarily in the sales and marketing organizations. He is currently a member of the senior management group and serves on the Board of Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Texas.

I was looking a little further into the background of High End Systems, and it started out as Blackstone, then became LightWave Research (the people with the original Intellabeams) and then High End Systems.  Most of the progress seems as though it was technology driven.  An engineer named Steve Tulk who started with Blackstone Audio tells a little of his story:

In 1984 I began working at Blackstone Audio Visual as a repair and installation tech. During the 3 years of working in Clubs and Disco’s, I was privledged to have been involved with some of the most elaborate systems built in the US in the 1980’s. Lighting was just beginning to “evolve” in the US market. Much of this was driven by the lights that Blackstone imported from Europe for it’s own installations. Eventually Blackstone opened a small distribution company and called it Highend Systems.

In 1986 the FDA loosened the restrictions on class 3A lasers. This allowed a very contraversial product known as “Laser Chorus” to be built and sold into clubs. Laser Chorus was a low power laser that came in 4 different colors and was able to be safely used directly on the audience. Since this was such a new and novel product, it became very popular.

Following the popularity of Laser Chorus, another revolutionary product was born called Color Pro. The Patented Color Pro system used 3 light bulbs with dichroic filters to seperate the light into Red, Green and Blue then re-combine them into 1 light beam again to allow for almost any color to be produced from it. Since dichroic color filters were fairly new to the entertainment lighting industry, there were no inexpensive sources of these filters, only very expensive scientific grade filters which really weren’t very precise either. With that need for filters in the lighting industry, Blackstone opened another division called Lightwave Research. Four men (including myself) made lighting history by building the first optical thinfilm coating laboratory for production of dichroic filters for the entertainment lighting industry. Color Pro was a HUGE success and launched Highend Systems/Lightwave Research up to the next level.

Interesting. I am so looking forward to LDI.  Check out the video:

Barco to Release Cyberlight 2.0

Updated!

Cyberlight2_500px

There’s been a lot of news out lately on the release of the new version of an older classic scanner (mirror luminaire), the Cyberlight 2.0, from High End Systems/Barco.  If you’ve done any lighting design for entertainment and used a scanner in the last decade, there is a good chance that you’ve used a Cyberlight – it is and was a popular mirror fixture in the industry.  High End Systems/Barco has re-engineered this classic, added some new stuff, and made some old stuff better.  iSquint posted the release on this a few days ago – I’ve been putting together some research on a comparison between the Cyberlight 2.0 and the older model, Cyberlight Turbo.

I was having a discussion with a buddy about the redesign of the Cyberlight, and he could not figure out why Barco made this move.  I frankly liked the Cyberlight, and I am excited to see the new version, and how it stacks up against the old version – I am assuming the new one will be at LDI, so hopefully we’ll get to see it (hint, hint, Barco, please).

There are some applications where a mirror luminaire is choice over a moving head – for example, if I am trying to get beams of light to move back and forth very fast (you know, like with the untz-untz-untz-untz of some Drum and Bass), a mirror fixture might be a good choice.  This is simple physics – the mirror servo can travel faster because it has less distance to go and less weight to propel than a moving head.  There are reasons each designer can tell for choosing one over another – I have my reasons, and other people have theirs.

I’ve been looking at the specs from the Cyberlight Turbo and the new Cyberlight 2.0, noting differences and additions.  From the specifications only, there are some similarities (this isn’t ALL similarities, just some):

  • both have 170 degree pan, 110 degree tilt
  • both have optical zoom (13-22 degrees or 16-26 degrees) and same 36 degree field angle
  • both have CMY color mixing
  • both have full optical dimming and fade to black
  • both have a dichroic static color wheel with seven colors and white
  • both have a seven position effects wheel, plus open
  • both have a static Litho pattern wheel (seven gobos) and a rotating Litho pattern wheel (four gobos)

The Cyberlight 2.0 version has some added features over the Cyberlight Turbo (again, some, not all):
UPDATE:  I got an email from Brad Schiller at High End with more information about the Cyberlight 2.0 changes.  Thank you, Brad!

  • Cyberlight 2.0 has a 2,000w short-arc MSR lamp at 30,000 lumens at 7,000 degrees Kelvin – the
    (Turbo has a 1,200w short-arc MSR lamp at 12,500 lumens at 5400 degrees Kelvin)
  • Cyberlight 2.0’s Litho patterns in the static wheel are all replaceable
  • Cyberlight 2.0 has 28 DMX channels, compared to Turbo’s 20 DMX channels (see chart below)
  • New software that allows the mirror and other parameters to move faster
  • 3 new effects on the effects wheel
  • 5-pin DMX connectors
  • New DMX protocol that fits current protocols better
  • New DMX controlled options such as TriColor, random strobes, macros, and more
  • RDM capabilities
  • Electronic power supply that dims the lamp when the shutter/dimmer is closed (saves electricity and reduces heat)
  • Electronic strobe capabilities
  • Taller base handles for better clearance of the DMX connectors
  • LED menu system instead of dipswitches
  • 2 pounds lighter
  • Cyberlight 2.0 has a fixed head that does not deviate – High End interviewed lighting designers about this feature, and discovered that while it was useful at times, it wasn’t really desired.

I’ve put together a few comparison images from the product data sheets on the Cyberlight Turbo and the Cyberlight 2.0.  I’m looking for some photometric data on the GE MSR 2000 SA/SE, which is the lamp designated for the new Cyberlight 2.0.  Anyone seen this?

First, a side-by-side on DMX assignments for the Cyberlight Turbo and the Cyberlight 2.0:

cyberlight-dmx-assignment

Next, a side-by-side comparison of the static Litho wheels in Cyberlight Turbo and Cyberlight 2.0:

cyberlight-wheel-comparison

Last but not least, and only last for right now, a side-by-side of the rotating Litho pattern wheels for Cyberlight Turbo and Cyberlight 2.0:

cyberlight-rotating-wheel-comparison

Barco, What’s the Deal with High End Systems?

barco_quote

The giant lighting and projector company Barco has been doing really, really well – they bought High End Systems, they’re always getting contracts and selling lots of their gear.  Check out some stock info – I took some captures of my stock tracker.

Year to Date:

barco-year-to-date

Last Three Months:

barco-3-months

Barco’s stock is sitting at $33.56 a share – up $0.27, or 0.81% today.  I am always reading news stories about how Barco has created some new partnership, released some new product for touring video, or presented some new display technology and made yet a new partnership.

Why, if all of this stuff is going on, are High End Systems personnel getting laid off?  There are a lot of really good people who have been let go from High End Systems by Barco – it is business, I understand, don’t get me wrong.  But what are you doing with High End Systems?

The question is fairly innocuous and certainly isn’t directed to offend, but High End Systems is a brand that has been a huge part of the lighting industries for decades – and there is little to no information about what is going on with HES.  The High End Systems website hasn’t been updated in months, and this looks bad.  What is going on here?  At least be up front about what’s going down.

Barco, whatever is going to happen with High End Systems is obviously up to you.  I, as someone who has a lifetime of respect for the lighting industries, High End Systems, and your brand as well, is really hoping that some of that respect is paid to a company (and its workers) that has been a major part of the industries for a long time.

Guess Who’s Touring? SHOWBEAM 2.5!

showbeam 2.5

The Showbeam 2.5 from Barco/High End is out rocking the road.  Butch Allen has some out with No Doubt, Loz Upton has some out with Crystal Method, and Brian Hartley has some ShowBeams out with Aerosmith.  Here’s the press release from High End Systems:

No Doubt, The Crystal Method and the upcoming Aerosmith tour have one thing in common: they all are debuting a new Barco product — the High End Systems SHOWBEAM 2.5 — in their shows.

The SHOWBEAM 2.5 is a new 2500-watt automated wash luminaire, distinguishing itself with a revolutionary Twin Beam. This feature allows for two hard-edge beams to exit the fixture on command, with variable control over the Twin Beam deviation and rotation speed — all with little brightness degradation. Users may add incremental color to the Twin Beam by using the CMY color mixing system.

No Doubt’s Lighting Designer Butch Allen says, “These lights are amazing. Well done!” Tour lighting contractor Epic Production Technologies is supplying 6 SHOWBEAM 2.5s, along with 6 High End Systems DL.3 Digital Lights. No Doubt went out on its North American tour May 2.

The Crystal Method’s LD Lawrence “Loz” Upton says, “First of all you can use SHOWBEAM 2.5 as a very powerful washlight. I love the colors, and I love the colors with the ring of LEDs and it works really well in the show with our circular trussing. The next thing is, at a moment’s notice, you can just turn on the Twin Beam effect and it’s pretty hallucinogenic because you go from a beam focus and then all of a sudden you’ve got this crazy two-beam focus that comes in, which is just awesome. It also has a cool oscillation effect. This is an effects driven show and SHOWBEAM 2.5 adds to the layers of looks to match our layers of sound. The High End Systems products are very innovative and they work well for me personally.”

Delicate Productions is the lighting contractor for the tour, which kicked off May 5 in North America. In addition to SHOWBEAM 2.5, the Crystal Method tour includes SHOWGUN, StudioPix, Axon, CLM projectors with control from a Wholehog 3 and DMX Processor 8000.

Aerosmith’s North American tour starts June 10. Lighting Designer Bryan Hartley says, “SHOWBEAM 2.5 will work out great in my design. I’m excited about using it. I needed a strong washlight and the Twin Beam is really cool. Plus it has the LED ring, which gives it a SHOWGUN look. I’ll have 10 SHOWBEAMs in my rig for the tour, and I’m psyched.”

Hartley will control the lighting with a Wholehog 3 console and a DMX 8000 processor. Creative Stage Lighting is supplying the SHOWBEAM 2.5s to Epic Production Technologies, the lighting contractor.

Creative Stage Lighting’s George Studnicky IV says, “High End Systems knows what designers want. Another year goes by and HES brings another innovation and benchmark to the table. It’s a very exciting time to be in our industry. With the further development of LEDs and the automated lighting market, there is truly a custom design to every show you see. The SHOWBEAM 2.5 with the Twin Beam effect and interesting internal wash lens adds to this ability.”

SHOWBEAM 2.5 also features a user-changeable fixed color wheel, a variable CTO and the ability to produce an 11-degree fixed hard-edge profile with fast color change and Electronic Strobe. An LED tracking system encircles the lens. The profile can be rapidly zoomed from 11 to 33 degrees.

Look for SHOWBEAM 2.5 and other Barco lighting and control products to make more headlines as the touring season hits the heights this summer.

A JimOnLight.com Contest – FREE T-SHIRT!

jimonlight

The lovely Cat West of Console Trainer has provided me with a great High End Showpix t-shirt, so I want to have a little contest to give it to some knowledgeable JimOnLight.com reader!  I’m giving this t-shirt to a random correct answerer of a small question that Cat has posed for the contest.  I’ll end this contest on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 11:59pm.

The question to answer via the JimOnLight.com contact form is as follows:

Holding down what 2 keys on the Wholehog will open the Programmer window?

DO NOT leave a comment with the answer – submit your answer via the contact form, and good luck!

jimonlight

High End Systems Births the ShowBeam 2.5

showbeampreliminary_l1

One of the things about High End’s latest fixtures that I have really enjoyed seeing is the effort to add a little less utility to new fixtures, and actually make them look pretty great.  ShowGun, StudioPix, ShowPix, and now the ShowBeam 2.5 – these fixtures provide an advanced function while giving a new form to the fixture.

High End Systems and Barco have released a new bright monster luminaire, the ShowBeam 2.5.  ShowBeam features something that High End is calling the Twin Beam™ effect, which does look pretty cool.  Don’t forget the ring of controllable LEDs around the lens.  Here’s some info from the ShowBeam 2.5 product page:

The SHOWBEAM™ 2.5 is a new dedicated automated wash luminaire with a revolutionary Twin Beam™ effect.

The SHOWBEAM 2.5 features a jointly developed Philips MSR 2500-watt lamp source. A smooth field, soft-edge illumination is produced using a new radial lenticular homogenizing lens system that provides a signature look on stage. In addition, the dedicated wash light includes a user changeable fixed color wheel, a variable CTO, a full CMY color mixing system, and the ability to produce an 11-degree fixed hard-edge profile with fast color change and Electronic Strobe. The profile can be rapidly zoomed from 11 to 33 degrees.

More than just a washlight, SHOWBEAM 2.5 offers users a revolutionary patent pending effect, the Twin Beam. In this effect, two discrete hard-edge beams exit the fixture on command, with variable control over the Twin Beam deviation and rotation speed — all with little brightness degradation. Users may vary the Twin Beam by adding incremental color using the CMY color mixing system.

SHOWBEAM 2.5 also includes the renowned LED tracking system that encircles the lens, a feature that debuted with its SHOWGUN predecessor. Users may choose to use the LED tracking system alone or as a complementary ring of color to their set.

Features

  • Proprietary Short Arc Lamp and optics produce 140,000 center lumens of light
  • 2500W wash light
  • Innovative Twin Beam effect
  • Electronic strobe
  • Quick zoom range from 11 °-33°
  • Full optical dimming and fade to black
  • Innovative LED Tracking Ring produces over 5000 lumens of RGB color. Homogenously mixed RGB LED circular array eliminates the multiple colored RGB look when white or mixed colors are produced.
  • Smooth CMY color mixing provides and infinite palette of color tracking and Independent modes selectable via DMX
  • Optical encoders automatically correct the head’s position if manually moved


Operation

  • 420° pan and 216° tilt movement
  • Auto-switching power supply
  • 200v-240v
  • DMX/RDM Connector: 5-pin XLR
  • Compliances: ETL, CE

Construction

  • Modular construction
  • Fast service design for Reflector, Condenser and Output lens
  • Electronic cooling system control
  • Stunningly fast, smooth and quiet yoke movement using proprietary multi-phase technology
  • Performance oriented exterior design prevents stray light scatter
  • Pan and tilt locks for easy transportation.

Electrical Specifications/Light Source
Power Consumption: 18 Amps at 208 V, 15 Amps at 240V

Fixture Rated Power: 2500 W
Lamp: PHILIPS MSR 2500/2 SA

Color Temperature 7000K
Barco rated Lamp Life: 1250 hrs
CRI >80
CIE X=.320; Y=.330

Mechanical Specifications:
Fixture Dimensions: mm: 596 x 605 x 925 (in: 23.5 x.23.8 x 36.4)

Road Case Dimensions: mm: 749 x 724 (in: 29.5 x 47.25 x 28.5)

Fixture Weight: 66.2kg (146 lbs.)
Shipping Weight (Road Case + fixture): 120 kg (266 lbs.)

Feaat your eyes upon the ShowBeam 2.5’s Twin Beam effect:

showbeambeam

High End’s Pixellage Software

High End Systems and Barco have released some software called Pixellage – the software allows the user/designer/programmer to apply an image across several of High End’s pixel luminaires, like ShowPix and StudioPix.

From the press release:

Barco, a global leader in video and lighting solutions, today announces the release of Pixellage, a new software feature for two High End Systems Pixelation Luminaires. This feature allows the SHOWPIX and StudioPix luminaires to display one image across multiple fixtures, providing an eye-catching stage presence, especially on television and for outdoor daytime events. The SHOWPIX and StudioPix luminaires are hybrid LED wash lights and graphic image display fixtures.

When Pixellage is used in conjunction with the latest version of High End Systems’ Echo software, users can easily divide a single piece of content into discrete files and assign each portion to different fixtures for output. This interactive process uses templates, alignment tools and media manipulation functions to provide lighting professionals with the power to create striking imagery across multiple fixtures. The procedure is streamlined with a familiar user interface and simple controls. Once created, the individual files are uploaded to the fixtures and are then ready for playback to create one combined image.

“The Pixellage feature brings the power and flexibility to the Pixelation Luminaire family that the Collage Generator feature brought to the digital lighting family,” noted Chris Colpaert, VP Creative Lighting. “It’s a remarkably creative addition to the lighting professional’s toolbox.”

The Pixellage feature, which previewed at the LDI 2008 trade show in Las Vegas, is now available for download on the Barco website and from www.highend.com/support/LED

Awesome!

genimageasp

DMX Processor 8000

I saw these at LDI (and I apparently did not win one via the card drawing that was held, sigh), and there is a press release pimping the new v3.0 software, and the fact that they’re shipping.  The DMX Processor 8000 is the new big bad wolf of DMX processing.  Get an expander, and you can do up to 16 universes.

From the product page:

The DMX Processor 8000 adds extraordinary DMX processing capabilities to the Wholehog line.  With no compromise to Flying Pig Systems’ exacting standards, its longevity, quality and innovation are assured to set new standards.

The Wholehog DMX processor 8000 provides the output power for Wholehog systems. The Wholehog Operating System doesn’t limit you to a fixed number of DMX channels – just add as many DMX processor 8000s as needed (along with an Ethernet switch) to supply the specified number of DMX universes for the production or installation.

With an unprecedented amount of computing power, the DMX Processor 8000 manages 16 DMX universes with ease while expanding the power and reliability of the Wholehog control system as a whole. By providing both standard XLR and Art-Net output at a steady rate, the possibilities for lighting design are truly endless with the DMX Processor 8000.

Features

  • Eight 5-pin XLR DMX 512 outputs
  • Expandable to 16 via USB Expander or Widgets
  • Sixteen universes of DMX via Art-Net output
  • Powerful distributed processing of cross-fades and effects
  • Local interface with LCD screen and buttons for configuration and testing
  • DMX status and test facilities
  • All functions are configurable remotely
  • Firmware remotely upgradeable over network

Specifications

  • 2.0 GHz Intel Dual Core processor with 1 GByte RAM and 1 GByte Flash
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • Dual Ether-Con connectors (Hog-Net and Art-Net)
  • White LED backlit graphic LCD for graphical user interface
  • Comprehensive LED status feedback
  • Connectors: 8 5-pin XLR, 1 EtherCon for Hog-Net, 1 EtherCon for Art-Net, 2 USB-A
  • Auto-ranging mains input (90-250V AC)
  • Locking IEC connector
  • Precision machined Aluminium panel with wear-resistant anoprinted legends
  • 1U 19″ rack unit, 11″ deep
  • Kensington Security Slot
  • Compatible with Wholehog 3, Road Hog Full Boar, Hog iPC, Hog 3PC