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Philips, Strand, and Vari*Lite at LDI 2012

Philips/Strand/Vari*Lite (so many names!) always has some serious presence over the last five or six trade shows I’ve done, from LDI to ProLight + Sound in Frankfurt. Their booth always looks wicked cool, and I’m always happy to post pictures of what my buddy Brad Schiller is coming up with nowadays. It’s amazing to see where the industry is heading, and it’s always formatted by the guys out there like Brad.

Check out some awesome shots from Philips at LDI 2012!

You can also check out all of the images via the Gallery Method!

Breaking News! High End Systems INSIDE SCOOP – Intellaspot’s Indigo Highlighter and The TechnoSpot

I told you I’d be back on Thursday!  Check THIS out:

I just got some inside information about something awesome Richard Belliveau and his team are doing over at High End Systems.  You see that image above here?  It’s the new system going into the Intellaspot XT-1 – a system of indigo LEDs that mount into the bumpers on the front of the Intellaspot!  These things are deep indigo, VERY bright, and look great as a wash all on their own.  When I say indigo, I mean indigo – they’re not deep blue.  The output is just quite amazing, let me say that.  The four 1W LEDs are such an interesting contrast to the idea of round beams of light in contrast – can you imagine having a look where all your Intellaspots were in white hard0edged beams, and you crossfade to the indigo highlighter?!  I can just taste that look in my head!

If you’re going to ProLight and Sound in Frankfurt, Germany April 6-9?  If so, you’ll get to put your hands on the new Indigo Highlighter on the Intellaspot XT-1.  I’m bummed, I wanted to go, but I have two shows back-to-back this year.  I can’t really complain, you know?  The House of Atreus is opening tonight – we got some great photos too!

How it has been explained to me is that the Indigo Highlighter on the Intellaspot XT-1 works just like the SHOWGUN and SHOWBEAM fixtures, where you can have the LEDs track with the main intensity of the fixture (which would all go out, for example, when you take down a fader), or you can have independent control of both the LEDs and the main output.  Either way, both awesome.  OH – and you can strobe the indigo LEDs!!!

Also, if you’re going to be in Frankfurt at ProLight and Sound, you’ll be seeing a new fixture from High End Systems!  You’ll be meeting the TechnoSpot – a fixture that has all of the features with a hard edge, and a lower wattage output.  TechnoSpot also has the large aperture too – more huge beams of light!  Take a picture, email me, somebody!

The Technical Evolution of Automated Lighting – High End Systems’ Intellaspot XT-1 and PRG’s Bad Boy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about technical evolution – perhaps it’s just a desire to slimline my life and conglomerate all of the technology I use into some kind of a tight suite of autonomous gadgets that all speak some common language.  Or not.  Who knows.

Something I find interesting is the progression of automated lighting technology over the last decade.  If you look at the progression of fixtures and systems over that period, you might notice that comparatively there is not a lot of major evolution that has taken place in the last ten years.  A lot of people will probably disagree with that statement, and that’s fine (as I welcome it), but the general functioning of the moving light hasn’t really changed.  There has been a very significant amount of improvements and enhancements over the last bunch of years – motors have improved, speed has increased, output has grown in strength, and zoom optics have improved, and we’ve also had some technological advances in power supplies.  We haven’t really revolutionized the way that moving lights work.  Am I forgetting some things, or omitting them?  Probably.  It’s not the point, though.

I’ve talked a lot with my buddy Rick from InLight Gobos about the evolution of automated lighting (being that he was one of the original engineers of moving lights) and I’ve had a few conversations with Jim Bornhorst from PRG (and recipient of the 2010 Parnelli Lighting Visionary Award) about the history of automated fixtures.  It is excellent to hear from the sources of the history you’re writing about regarding the very thing in question.  My conclusion is that the renaissance of moving lights was with them, in their day, when developing the fixtures was important.  Nowadays it seems like most companies drive themselves to develop and research just to increase the bottom line.

I think there are two very large exceptions to this statement:  High End Systems’ Intellaspot XT-1, and PRG’s Bad Boy luminaire.  I think that these two fixtures are my two favorites that came out of the last handful of years.  More than anything, I feel that these two fixtures are on the top of the research and development ladder – something that I am a HUGE proponent of, especially when it comes to advancing the way that our industry revolves and breathes.

Let’s look at the Intellaspot XT-1:

The unit has some interesting features – two wheels of rotating dichroic gobos is a big plus, as is the prism effect that splits the beam into two functioning beams.  Oh, and let’s not forget the 850W lamp that puts out 20,000 lumens on 120V.  I mean, it is an impressive fixture, both functionally and aesthetically.  What blows my mind about the unit is the increase in usability that Richard Belliveau and his team of awesome geeks have put into the Intellaspot XT-1.  USABILITY.  Say it with me, everybody:

USABILITY!

What the hell am I talking about here with the Intellaspot XT-1 and usability?  Well, for starters, the fixture is BALANCED.  When you go grab it off of a lighting position and get ready to stick it in the case, it is amazingly easy to manipulate.  Richard Belliveau and I had a great session before the fixture was released where we just took the unit out of the case and put it back in several times.  It was exhilarating.    There are a LOT of major market fixtures that are a NIGHTMARE to get in and out of their cases.  Not the Intellaspot XT-1.

IT’S MODULAR!  Power supply go bad?  You pull it out and replace it.  Color wheel stop working?  You take the bulkhead out and replace it.  MODULAR.  Screws in the fixture lids are captive, so that when you’re dangling by your bunk sock on a piece of truss trying to repair a fixture, and inevitably every unit goes down, you can do so without bouncing screws and hardware off of the stage floor.  There are bumpers on the front of the head so that when a stagehand or electrician drags the fixture across the floor, the lens and optics don’t get all screwed up.  The handles on the sides are comfortable and not shaped like hand breakers that just smash your phalanges when you put the weight of the unit on your hand.

Doesn’t it seem like all of this stuff should be a great idea?  High End thinks so.

Let’s look at PRG’s Bad Boy:

PRG’s Bad Boy is my other favorite fixture right now – besides the 48,000 lumens coming from its 1200W lamp, it’s a massive bright beast that is fast, steady, has some amazing – no, stunning – features (like split beamgobo morphing and tri-split colors).  If you’ve seen it, you know how beautiful its photons really are.

What tickles me about the fixture is again in the realm of usability.  Bad Boy’s lenses (all eleventeen of them) have a subroutine in the brain of the unit that opens up the lens train, lens at a time, so that they can be cleaned.  GO FIGURE.  The fixture has a big ol’ bright LED that tells you whether the unit has communication (green LED) or no data (red LED).  Have you seen the interface for the unit?  It’s like HAL from 2001 – I’m sorry Dave, but YES THE FIXTURE CAN REMEMBER WHAT WENT WRONG.  Reports, error logs, test sequences, and all kinds of other user-driven tidbits come from PRG’s excellent user experience.  I know the kinds of folks working over at PRG – one of the guys I know and am fond of, Adam DeWitt, is a smart freaking cookie – when you have people like that working on a fixture, then it gets done right.

Research and Development time and money is worth it, lighting companies across the world.  Please believe me.  Stop putting out crap when you could put out something respectable like the two units above.

I think this is a general message for the future of moving light technology in general.  Lighting companies – when you make something, make it so that it is usable.  Not just usable to designers, but usable to the people who keep the show looking as amazing as you envisioned it when you first developed the cool visual features that the fixture can make.  Follow Richard Belliveau and Jim Bornhorst’s leads when you’re in the research room – the people who work on your gear want it to be an awesome experience.

Vari*Lite Videos from the 1980’s – Pure Rock and Roll!

I have a special place in my heart for Vari*Lite fixtures.  My first experiences with automated lighting was with the Vari*Lite Artisan and Mini-Artisan consoles, and the very awesome Vari*Lite VL2C and VL6 spots, and the VL5 wash.  I love the VL2C – it’s like a big ol’ square truck that has great optics and color.  It blew my mind when I got programmer training and teachnician training on the fixture.  Taking a VL2C apart was like performing surgery for me!

Derek Heckler sent me a great video from the 1980s from Vari*Lite – it’s like a promo/sales video, and it’s pretty excellent – I kept expecting to see Genesis show up onstage!  I found part two of the video as well – both are embedded below.  Thanks Derek!

Bad Boy, Chris Conti, and PRG at LDI 2009

I had the pleasure of meeting and getting a Bad Boy demo from Chris Conti, product manager at PRG this year at LDI 2009.  Chris gave us the rundown on all of the features of Bad Boy – from optics and color to servos and touchscreens.  I am working on another interview with Chris for some more in-depth information on the fixture.

Have I mentioned I really like this hoss of a moving light?  That thing is designed all the way down to the smell!

I broke the demo video up into three parts, and I have embedded them below.  You can also check out the JimOnLight.com Youtube Channel, where all three are listed.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Thanks to Justin from iSquint for the second camera view!  I added this earlier, but it needed adding again.

bad-boy-jimonlight-5

bad-boy-jimonlight-2

bad-boy-jimonlight-3

bad-boy-jimonlight-1

bad-boy-jimonlight-4

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

RSC’s Lightlock – Stop Moving Lights from Moving Everything Else

rsc-lightlock

Have you seen this device or heard anything about it?  You’re looking at the RSC Lightlock – a device that uses physics to stop moving lights from wiggling the heck out of whatever they’re attached to – truss, battens, etc.  The Lightlock was developed with the intent of slowing the swing of trapeze-style hangers, and boy does it work – check out this test video of the Lightlock in action, and then it gets powered off.  Watch the difference:

Amazing.  From the RSC Lightlock website:

The main benefits of RSC Lightlock, the RSC’s lighting invention, are:

Creativity
The device enables the creative benefits of moving lights to be used in a broader variety of theatre, TV and film situations as it removes the need for heavy duty mounting infrastructure.

Flexibility
Use of lightweight rigging means that the moving light can be situated virtually anywhere and the halting of movement ensures that there are no ‘out of action’ moving lights.

Quiet Operation
The RSC Lightlock emits low noise levels, which allows its use during live performances.

Health and Safety
The RSC Lightlock reduces the need for bridges or trusses and therefore reduces the need for working at height when maintaining or adjusting a light.

Cost efficiency
Moving lights can be maintained at ground level by lowering the rig to where staff can safely maintain or adjust them. Avoiding working at height results in significant time savings for the entertainment industry.

Environmental
A lighting designer can choose to create the same design with a smaller rig, resulting in a cost saving and environmental benefit.

There’s a decent FAQ on the Lightlock website – I recommend checking it out if you want more information about the device. iSquint tells that Total Structures/Total Solutions will be manufacturing the device, which won a PLASA 2008 Award for Innovation. It’s not surprising that it was recognized for innovating – that thing is amazing.

As a special treat, here’s Patrick Stewart to present the Lightlock:

Thanks Erich and iSquint!

DTS Wins a PLASA 2009 Award for the XR300 Beam

xr300beam

I just got an email about this – luminaire company DTS out of Italy won the PLASA 2009 Award for Innovation at PLASA this year.  They were awarded the honor on Monday at a ceremony during the conference, which is still going on.  The award comes for their new fixture, the XR300 Beam, which is a 5 degree source.

I’ve been looking at the specs on this fixture, and it looks pretty interesting.  DTS is touting their FAR technology – “Free Axis Rotation” – meaning that the fixture will continuously pan and tilt.  Continuously pan and tilt.  I realize that this isn’t the first fixture on the market with this skill, but DTS has been producing some great stuff lately, and this fixture is worth mentioning.

The XR300 Beam provides 125,000 lux at five meters – that’s 125,000 lux at about 16.5 feet.  Not bad, eh?

xr300beam2

Some specifications:

  • Exceptional light power (125.000 Lux at 5 metres)
  • The capacity to project a highly condensed and intense beam of light even over great distances, thanks to the high efficiency of the new optical group
  • Variety of colours (CMY synthesis + 7-colour wheel + CTO)
  • Customizable gobo wheel (7 rotating gobos)
  • Insertable frost filter (soft edge)
  • Unlimited Pan and Tilt movements (new FAR technology)
  • The XR300 BEAM is also the ideal light for a vast range of applications in which quiet operation is a priority, thanks to its silent ventilation system and silent pan/tilt operation.
  • Access to every feature of the internal menu is simple and direct, thanks to the new user interface featuring a LCD backlit graphic display (128 x 64).
  • The XR300 BEAM is also available without the “FAR” system.

Check out a video of the XR300 Beam continuously panning and tilting.  It is truly pretty awesome.