Getting to Know the LED Ellipsoidal Generation – A JimOnLight Series Introduction

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I’ve done a lot of shows in my career so far. I’m lucky as hell, don’t get me wrong – but because of it, I feel like I have a real “bond” with incandescent and high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs) that we use in this industry. It’s almost creepy sometimes – in my head, I know how a good ol’ no-color Source Four looks in a dark theatre. I know how an Altman 360Q looks in a theatre sitting next to it, too – and how it looks sitting with a Shakespeare, also uncorrected, next to a Source Four. As I close my eyes to write this, I can see how an old Strand 30-degree feels inside of a theatre or outside during an outdoor performance, and how a tried-and-true PAR64 can burns so beautifully bright and amber when it’s going through red shift during a nice slow fade-up during a song in an arena. Even awesome old Kliegl 6×8’s have a good beam still, as long as the optics are changed from those miserable step lenses!

As a side note, I listened to Vesa Honkonen tell a story when I was attending graduate study in Sweden about “trusting” the light from a certain type of reflector, and how that trust cost him time and money on a project.  So as a bit of an aside, with every statement is an equal anti-statement!

I have gotten to know the fixtures in our industry very well because I’ve been fortunate to use them in a real variety of performance situations and installations. When you get to know something like an ellipsoidal fixture with an incandescent lamp in it and you use it over and over and over again, you get to trust the fixture.  I can say with ease that I trust the light that comes from the business end of a Source Four; at the same time, I trust the light that comes out of an Altman 360Q as well, whether it has an HX601 lamp in it or an old FEL lamp.  As a designer, as an artist — I know what that light from an incandescent lamp in one of the “typical” variety of ellipsoidals is going to do for me in a scene on actors of any skin tone, or on a presenter during, or on film and video, and whether it has a chunk of R26 or L181HT in it.  I know that kind of light.  I trust that light.

In the world we live in now, incandescent lamps are slowly becoming forcefully shunned by a growing portion of the lighting industries as a whole (and politicians, sadly), with LED replacements becoming the forced norm by pretty much all of the companies that at one time were pushing an incandescent based fixture.  These companies are all now driving quickly on the road of a really good trend: to produce a fixture that provides the same kind of light or better than that of an incandescent lamp based fixture with a lot less power consumption and without losing any light quality.  Sounds easy enough, right?

There is a strange, edgy, “new car smell” feeling towards the new strains of LED fixtures making their births into the industry.  We are inundated with them at the trade shows in our business, just like we were with the incandescent conventionals.  Manufacturers, this is perfectly acceptable, and I think that it’s one of your biggest assets in this industry.  It’s your job to make us trust your fixtures, through hands-on videos and “shoot-outs” between incandescent and LED fixtures out there.  My informal surveying of conference attendees over the last three years has seen many responses like “TOO MANY LEDS” and “If I see another crappy wannabe LED fixture at another trade show, I’m going to die.”  Believe it or not, this is a really good thing — it provides an opportunity for the exceptional equipment to rise to the top of the Diode Ocean, as I like to call it.  Lately, these exceptions are overcoming their inferior rivals, much to my happiness.

Users, we have a job to do, too — we have to give the manufacturers the chance to trust LED light.  We have to learn how it is different than its incandescent counterparts.  We’ve had all of these decades to learn how to work with incandescent light (and HID light too, for what it’s worth), and we know it.  We trust it, and we love it.  But why is that?  It’s because it’s what we know, and it really is that simple.  Once we give the LED ellipsoidal generation a chance, you know we’re going to trust that too.  This isn’t to say that LEDs are done developing, this obviously isn’t true.  But I am noticing some unbelievably incredible advances in LED engines and output technology lately, especially after LDI in October 2012, and I have to say that I am finally ready to learn to trust LED conventional ellipsoidals.  It’s hard not to at this point to see that LED ellipsoidals are becoming the obvious choice, with the color temperature tuning we see now and the low power requirement that they provide — and to argue against energy consumption and power conservation is just not in my DNA.

Over the next 2 weeks I’m going to be comparing the LED conventional ellipsoidals we see in Entertainment to their incandescent counterparts over the next month, starting with ETC’s new Source Four LED line first, followed by Robert Juliat’s Zep and Tibo ranges, then moving on to the RevEAL Profile from Prism Projection, and so on.  In the mean time, let’s take a look at the characteristics I’ll be examining that I find important to applying trust, at least on paper – you can argue that there are more to see, but for the sake of argument, let’s start with:

  • Cost Comparison:
    What kinds of costs are we looking at over the course of an LED Ellipsoidal lifetime?  How different is it, really?
  • Light Output, or Perceived Brightness:
    How does it compare to a comparable incandescent conventional?
  • Spectral Analysis:
    What is the white light in the beam comprised of with respect to wavelength?
  • Power Consumption:
    When you put an LED ellipsoidal up against an incandescent lamp at 575W, how does it perform?
  • Weight:
    I have to stick these in a truck and on a truss at some point, so what is the difference I need to know?
  • Controllable Properties:
    Obviously I have only a few with an incandescent fixture, so what comes stock in an LED ellipsoidal that makes a difference?

Let’s go on this journey together.  When we work on something together as an industry, we get to make it how we want it to be, and manufacturers listen.  Once we started to get involved with the ways that incandescent lamps were developed and lighting designers started demanding better control over design and engineering of incandescent lamps, they improved.  All we have to do now is learn what the LED Ellipsoidal generation can do for us, and we can really make a difference.

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Interactive LightBoxes from Enlighter and Light Act

I got an email a little while ago from Mitja Prelovšek who runs the lighting website Enlighter.  (Sorry I haven’t posted this yet Mitja, I’m in just released software land!)  Enlighter did a project recently with interactive product called Light Act, which is pretty cool — imagine tracking a person as they walk past a store front, and allowing the lighting to literally interact with them as they realize they’re being entertained.  Now that is what I call outstanding!  I thought sticking a large pixellated box in front of a video display was pretty creative, this kinda just blew my mind and made me have a morning period of creativity!

Check this out:

From the video description:

Interactive LightBoxes is an interactive lighting installation using 1 reActor and 2 SmartView modules from LightAct system. These modules control 6 light boxes that through the interactivity draw people closer and invite them to interact and play with them. The message displayed on the light boxes gets across much more easily while the interactivity helps to save energy.

This is outstanding, and it’s not really that complicated!

The system itself is a motion tracking-type system that has some extra translators for lighting protocols other than DMX (like DALI for architecture and any pulse-width modulation signal stuff for homes and buildings), along with a software suite that allows you to either write your own code or use the software to set up your “interactivity barriers” as we would call them.  Check out a diagram of the system — opens up to 1024 pixels!

Awesome work, Mitja and the Enlighter crew!  Thanks for letting us know about your project!

Nieuwe Heren’s Aegis Parka Warns You about Pollution with Light

Dutch designers Nieuwe Heren make another appearance on JimOnLight.com!  You might remember them from their very cool Deconstructed Floodlight about a year ago.

Meet the Aegis Parka — a jacket that lights up to warn you about polluted areas in real time.  It reminds me of the movie Cherry 2000 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome all rolled into one crazy looking piece of clothing:

It detects toxins in the air, offers oxygen, and features a very durable ceramic scaly fabric that is supposed to be pretty tough.  From the Nieuwe Heren website on the Aegis Parka:

Aegis: as stated in the Iliad, is the shield of Zeus, possessing great powers, forged by Hephaestus with a surface of gold like scaly snake-skin.

With Urban pollution growing out of hand, and lifespans diminishing due to airborne pollutants we felt the urge to design a jacket that counters those effects.

A sensor in the parka registers hazardous molecules and signals you of the intensity. The more Led’s illuminated the worse the air quality. A built in respirator with an active carbon filter helps you inhale fresh air.

Biking/walking through the city wearing this garment even contributes to the air quality, as the suit is treated with a TiO2 (titaniumdioxide) solution, which cleanses the air due to it’s photocatalystic properties.

The garment is created from schoeller®-Ceraspace™, a scaly fabric created out of ceramic particles, making it far more abrasion and heat resistant then leather.

The inner lining consists of schoeller®-PCM™ a special textile containing millions of microcapsules filled with Phase Change Materials (PCM). They balance out temperatures which are too high or too low to achieve the wearer’s personal comfort climate.

Very cool!  Welcome back to JimOnLight, Nieuwe Heren!

Thanks to Geek, Stuff, and DesignBoom!

Starfield from Lab212 – Interactive Swinging and Stars!

Good Morning, World!

To all that will stumble upon this page in “error,” I wasn’t referring to THAT kind of swinging!

We can thank Lab212 for something absolutely awesome – Starfield.  This equation seems to have it nailed down:  1 kinect + 1 swing + var stars + 1 projector = full speed great.  Check it out:

From the Vimeo page:

Starfield is an installation where a swing is used to create a large interactive starry sky.

With a Kinect installed behind the swing and a video projector, the software creates a galaxy of stars in which the user wanders with the rhythm of his swing.

Created with openFrameworks, the application allows to configure almost any type of swing.

With anaglyph glasses, a 3D mode gives an even more immerse experience.

Music :
Chapelier Fou – Postlude
chapelierfou.com/

An installation by lab212 – lab212.org

 

Zeiss OLED Cinemizer Glasses

I just found this crazy article on Engadget about the Carl Zeiss Cinemizer glasses.  Have you seen these things?

(This image opens up HUGE if you want detail…)

So these are OLED, HD glasses with some pretty interesting specs.  They’re only pre-ordering now, but they’re pre-ordering for 649 Euro.  That’s about 851.55 USD.  I’m guessing that they’re gonna be about 850 bucks cool.

A video demo of the Zeiss Cinemizers:

From the pre-order site – for $850+ you get:

Cinemizer OLED with battery
Cinemizer HDMI adapter – 720p / 1080p (2D / 3D)
Nose pads plus 2 matching items
USB cable
AV video cable
Quick Guide and safety handling
Headset
Travel case
HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable Adapter

Some tech specs on the Cinemizers:

Compatibility:
HDMI: 720p, 1080p and 3D (Frame Packing)
video-capable iPod and iPhone models (component, composite)
AV-in: yellow RCA cable (composite video, PAL / NTSC)

Diopter adjustment:
each eye separately adjustable from -5 to +2 diopters
the lens supporting a pupil distance of 59 – 69mm

Screen resolution:
High resolution 870 x 500 OLED display for each eye

(FOV engl.: Field of View):
30 degrees – equivalent to a 40-inch (102 cm) large image in 2 meters distance
16:9 widescreen

Power supply:
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, USB charging
voltage : 5 V, current consumption: 450mA

Light source:
LED class 1

Battery life:
Battery life of up to 6 hours when fully charged Battery charge time 2.5 hours

Weight:
battery box 80 g weight on the nose 80 g glasses total about
120 g package approx 1000 g

Ports:
Mini-USB for charging the internal battery
3.5 mm audio jack for external stereo-headphone jack
3.5 mm AV (4-pin) for connecting external video sources

environmental conditions:
Operation at 5 ° C to 35 ° C storage and transport at -20 ° C to 60 ° C
humidity 10-90%, noncondensing

I always get such a kick out of product marketing imagery.  For example, I like to call this next one “Hey sweetheart, we’re gonna yank out several of your teeth now, here’s some Cinemizers to help you ignore the fact that you have a dentist standing on your shoulders trying to yank your toofs out!”

Very cool.

Thanks for the original article, Engadget!

 

BLAZE – Laser Safety Sign Projection for Your Bicycle

Ok, first – this is so effing cool that I am excited to try to DIY my own for those times when I’m out biking in the dark.  My good buddy Erich Friend from Teqniqal Systems in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sent me the initial article about this thing below – Erich is a technology and safety consultant for our industry, and he’s one of the smartest and innovative people I know in this business.

Ok, check this thing out – so freaking cool.  This is called BLAZE, and it’s been invented by a student at the University of Brighton.

Emily Brooke is the inventor of the BLAZE unit, from a press release sent from the University of Brighton:

 

The final-year product design student said: “I wanted to tackle the issue of safety of cyclists on city streets by increasing the visibility, footprint, and ultimately the awareness of the bicycle.”

BLAZE is a small, battery-powered device that is attached to the handlebars of bicycles, motorcycles or scooters, and which projects a laser image ahead onto the road. A bright green bicycle symbol travels ahead of the cyclist, alerting others to its presence. It has the option to be flashing, maximizing perception, and the image is visible even in daylight.

Emily said: “Eighty per cent of cycle accidents occur when bicycles travel straight ahead and a vehicle manoeuvres into them. The most common contributory factor is ‘failed to look properly’ on the part of a vehicle driver. The evidence shows the bike simply is not seen on city streets.”

She said: “Even when lit up like a Christmas tree a bicycle in a bus’s blind-spot is still invisible.

“With BLAZE, you see the bike before the cyclist and I believe this could really make a difference in the key scenarios threatening cyclists’ lives on the roads.”

The image says it all for me above – if you’re riding your bike in town, perhaps especially at night, and you get into someone’s blind spot – that’s it for that bike ride, if not any other bike ride again.  BLAZE is a product that projects a “HEY!  HEADS UP!” sign way in front of you, enough so that people will realize that they’re about to take away your birthday, so to speak.  Or “blow out your candle.”  Or “pee in your cheerios.”  Any of them.

We commend you, Emily!  Awesome innovation!

Happy BELATED Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!

There were a few birthdays over the weekend that I totally missed, and now I feel horrible!  Oh wait, both of these people are dead.

Hmm.

Yeah.

HEY, so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, Frank J. Sprague!  Check out this proper lookin’ military-turned-mucker dude!

This is Frank J. Sprague and Rear Admiral S. S. Robinson (I told you he was military, he was Navy).  This particular photograph is actually kinda neat, a bunch of folks presented him with a six-volume set of letters and papers on his 75th birthday.  I think back in that time people expressed their pleasure for birthday gifts by taking pictures that look terribly uncomfortable, as you can see here.  Fads change, I suppose, I guess you had to be there.

Thomas Edison and Frank Sprague were friends through a business partner of Edison’s, a guy named EH Johnson.  Edison, in all of his wisdom, actually convinced Sprague to give up his Navy commission and come work in Menlo Park as a technical assistant.  From the Elevator Museum (I’ll explain that later):

Graduating seventh in a class of 36 in 1878, Sprague was assigned to the USS Richmond, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, where he filled a notebook with detailed drawings and descriptions of devices that evidenced his urge for invention. Among these were a duplex telephone, quadruplex and octoplex telegraph systems, a motor and a means of transmitting pictures by wire. Later, Sprague was ordered to the USS Minnesota. While his ship was in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881, Sprague invented the inverted type of dynamo. Also in 1881, Spraque transferred to the USS Lancaster, flagship of the European Squadron, on which he installed the first crude electrical call-bell system in the Navy.

Sprague took leave to attend the Paris Electrical Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Exhibition in Sydenham, England, where he served as the only American member and as secretary of the jury of awards for gas engines, dynamos and lamps.

Meanwhile, Sprague’s ideas about motors and lamps had so impressed E.H. Johnson, a business associate of Thomas A. Edison, that he convinced Sprague to resign from the Navy in 1883 to become a technical assistant to Edison. While on Edison’s staff, Sprague assisted in the installation and operation of Edison’s pioneer three-wire electric light systems. Sprague also revised and corrected the Edison system of mains and feeders for central station distribution and developed a formula for determining the ratio of wire size to current amperage.

Now, the weird thing about celebrating Frank J. Sprague is not necessarily due to his contributions to the electric light bulb or electric light in general; Sprague’s contributions were to the electrical systems and main busses in Edison’s laboratory, as well as some of the three-wire lighting systems.  Sprague did a lot of correcting of Edison’s power distribution mains and feeders, and he also did a lot of mathematical “updating” to Edison’s methods.  Sprague knew that if he could do some math beforehand, Edison’s Muckers would have to do a lot less “noodling” and “fooling around” in the lab which would save time.  Seems like pretty good sense, right?

Frank Sprague didn’t last very long at Edison Power and Light – about a year and change.  Edison’s main interest was in light and lighting, but Sprague was more of a motor guy.  So, in a move that I would have loved to see firsthand as it happened (as I have to believe there were some wonderful words exchanged), Sprague left Edison’s employ and went off to start the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company.  Suck on THAT, Edison.  What’s funny is that Edison actually DID suck on that, and he spoke very highly about Sprague’s electric motor to the world, and Sprague did pretty well.  From the NNDB archives:

After several years of theoretical work and experiments, it took Sprague and his men only about 90 days to plan the route, lay a dozen miles (19 km) of track, construct the 375 horsepower steam and electric plant, and motorize 40 formerly horse-drawn cars. The first test runs were made in November 1887, and regular service began on 2 February 1888. The first runs were not without difficulties, including frequent mechanical and electrical problems, the indignity of a horse reigned to the trolleys for the additional pulling power needed to climb the tracks’ steepest incline, and the further embarrassment of seeing broken-down trolleys towed away by mule. With some tinkering, though, the system was soon made reliable, and came to be seen as far superior to horse or horse-drawn transport.

Within two years, Sprague had contracts to construct 113 street rail systems, and the within a decade horse-drawn streetcars had virtually disappeared from America’s cities, replaced by an estimated 13,000 miles of urban streetcar tracks. He designed a multi-unit train control system in Chicago, where he built the first of the city’s elevated “L” electric railways. He engineered the electrification of New York’s Grand Central Station, and with William Wilgus he co-invented the “third rail” system of powering electric trains for the New York Central Railroad. Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company was eventually merged into Edison General Electric, which subsequently became General Electric.

Sprague’s talent lied in railways and motors, both electric, as well as a good bunch of other inventions.  One of my favorites is the elevator – yep, good ol’ Frank J. Sprague here invented the elevator.  I have to believe that he was sitting at a bar one day and realized that if he turned a train on its end and made it run vertically, BOOMelevator.  Done.

Bring me another ale, Bitterman.

Happy Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!  (Frank’s actual birthday is July 25.  Sorry, Frank!)

Thanks Wikipedia, The Elevator Museum, NNDB, the Edison Tech Center, and the Chapin Library!

Happy Birthday, Francis Robbins Upton!

Whoa!  It’s time for Mr. Culture‘s birthday – and here he comes, Mr. Culture himself, Francis Robbins Upton!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DUDE!

(We’re all sorry you’re dead man, we’ll have a drink in your honor.  Sorry you didn’t make it to 2011.  I bet you’d be flipping your lid.)

The title of “Culture,” as he was called by the rest of his colleagues was kind of an awesome nickname given to him because of his wealth of knowledge.  Francis Upton here was one of Thomas Edison’s Muckers – the guys who did all of the work for which Edison grabbed the credit.  Upton was the most educated of all of his Muckers, and at one point he was made President of the Muckers!  What a weird title.  From the Smithsonian:

Upton was the best educated of Edison’s Menlo Park assistants, having graduated from Bowdoin College and taken graduate work at Princeton and in Germany. He was recruited by investors who felt it couldn’t hurt to supplement Edison’s wizardry with some advanced scientific training. They were right, and Upton’s understanding of mathematics and physics was of critical assistance in the development of the light bulb, the dynamo, and other elements of Edison’s system. Nicknamed “Culture” by his colleagues, he was placed in charge of the Edison Lamp Works in 1881. In 1918, Upton became the first president of the Edison Pioneers.

A bit more about Francis from About Inventors:

Francis R. Upton was born in Peabody, Massachusetts on July 26, 1852. He studied mathematics at Bowdoin College, Princeton University, and the University of Berlin (under Hermann von Helmholtz) before joining Edison at Menlo Park in December 1878. At Menlo Park he worked as Edison’s chief scientific assistant, preparing blueprints, performing calculations, and solving mathematical problems associated with Edison’s incandescent electric lighting system. He also helped design incandescent lamps, dynamos, and the electric railway.

Following the perfection of the incandescent lamp and Edison’s consequent expansion into lamp manufacture, Upton became general manager of the Edison Lamp Co. in Menlo Park and later in Harrison, New Jersey. There he combined his managerial duties with experimental work on lamp improvements.

Upton traveled to Europe in 1886 to inspect Edison’s financially-troubled electric lighting companies. While there, he examined a transformer used in alternating current electrical delivery systems and advised Edison to purchase the American rights. Edison did so, but later allowed his option to lapse, preferring the direct current delivery system. During the 1880s Upton also served on the board of the Edison General Electric Co.

He left the Edison Lamp Works in 1894 but returned to Edison’s employ in 1898 as an efficiency engineer at the New Jersey & Pennsylvania Concentrating Works. Upton’s talent for selling sand (a by-product of ore-milling) to cement manufacturers helped persuade Edison to enter the cement business himself. Following the collapse of the ore-milling venture, Upton joined the Edison Portland Cement Co., eventually serving as company representative for northern New Jersey. He left that position in 1911, continuing to sell brick and crushed sand independently.

Upton married twice and had three children by each wife. He served as first president of the Edison Pioneers (1918). He later retired to California, but died in Orange, New Jersey, March 10, 1921.

Something that is not well publicized for some reason was Upton’s writing for journals like Scientific American and Scribner’s Monthly.  Upton wrote about Edison’s invention of electric light, and apparently he really impressed Edison, because Edison wrote a note to Scribner’s Monthly saying that Upton was the authority on the subject:

Ah, good times.  Happy Birthday, Francis Robbins Upton!

Thanks Rutgers, EJCov, and the University of St. Andrews Math and Stats!

 

Tanya Vlach Wants to Grow A Bionic Eye

Tanya Vlach is looking for someone to help her invent a “bionic” eye that has a camera inside.  Watch this:

Tanya is looking for donors and engineers to help her create an experimental project featuring her prosthetic eye and a camera.  It sucks that she had to experience such tragedy in order to have this opportunity, but I have to say that I am inspired and excited to see how her project comes out.  If you’re interested in helping Tanya make her project come to life, please help her out over at Kickstarter.

Details from her Kickstarter page:

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the eye camera, let’s back up a few years. In 2005, I was in a near death car accident. Centimeters away from death, I managed to pull through. Although grateful to be alive, I lost my left eye in the tumble and suffered frontal lobe minor brain injury and severe depression.

I entered the vast world of the Internet and chronicled my experiences on my blog, One-Eyed. I posted about new developments in technology that would help me regain sight. Soon I began envisioning a sci-fi plot twist to my predicament. I pitched my idea to Wired Founder Kevin Kelly. Intrigued, he posted my call out to engineers to help build an implant of a miniature camera inside my prosthetic eye. Immediately the idea went viral and I received hundreds of international engineering proposals, support from my  one-eyed community, and thousands of media inquiries. I became the media haven for transhumanism and the subject of controversy around engineering the body. Since then, I’ve been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance. Grow a new eye – is about engineering a new bionic camera eye. 

This is an awesome story.  You need to go check out Tonya’s blog page, Eye, Tanya.  Let me know if you end up supporting the project in any way, leave a comment of support here for Tanya.  I really hope that this technology advances in a direction that helps for everyone.