A Venture into the Color Block DB4

I’ve used the iColor Cove and Color Blast fixtures from Color Kinetics in past productions, but this last week I had the pleasure to use some of the Chroma-Q Color Block DB4 LED wash fixtures in a design.  I was impressed with the fixture on several aspects – I did not have the diffuser accessories available in the kits that arrived on the truck of lighting gear, so I used them in their naked capacity.  They worked out fairly well as close surface fixtures, and extremely well as illumination inside of a nylon-covered stick of truss.  They’re 14° fixtures, so they need diffusing in certain wash situations.

color block db4

My pictures aren’t great, but they give you a decent idea of how the Color Block DB4 fixtures performed.  I would certainly use them again.  I programmed the show on a Wholehog II using an RGB only mode (they also have several HSI modes – Hue, Saturation, and Intensity).  They fade nicely, no choppy fades at all.  They looked great on video as well.  The PSUs are also easy to operate and set, and have several modes for stand-alone operation as well.

I used 8 Color Blocks in the rear of the stage from above to light the 8 vertical surfaces from the truss, and 12 Color Blocks (2 per truss stick) for the downstage vertical sticks.  Funny enough, the scenic design is mine too, designed for a local company back in October and used a few times thus far.  It’s awesome to light your own scenic design!  I also used a ton of Source Fours and Martin Mac 2000 Performance fixtures, and a few High End Studio Colors.

Check out some images – the screen was pretty blown out in my pictures I was trying to just get shots of the work – I’m not great with my DSLR yet:


A look for a video that played to “Cheeseburger in Paradise”



My view for the week:



I worked from a gear list provided – but I learned a few things about the use of the Color Block.  I would have added 2, maybe 3 units to each of the 8 vertical panels, and I would have used four units per truss.  This is only my preference – I think the truss sticks worked out great.  Adding the extra units to the vertical pieces would have helped the coverage, but I’m pretty strict about my design work.

The production company that hired me was great and polite, the house crew was absolutely awesome, the client was pleased, and the week was a heck of a lot of fun.  I love it when gigs go that well!

The Calculite Line: Philips’ First Mainstream LED Light?

Philips released its first mainstream LED product this week – the Calculite line of sources.  A search on the Philips websites turned up zilch in the way of information on this product, but a press release by Clean Tech had some interesting information on the product:

The Calculite line is first being sold to fulfill projects for commercial customers, including architectural, lighting, design and engineering firms. It’s expected to be used in commercial applications such as offices, lobbies, hotels, and colleges where lighting typically runs 10 to 12 hours a day, where the payback is sooner.

Of the 420 million installed down lights in the U.S., about 150 million are in the commercial sector. Because lighting in commercial buildings typically runs 10 to 12 hours a day, it’s easier to make a financial case to commercial customers because of the quicker payback, he said.

A consumer LED down-lighting product is expected before the end of the year, with a goal of reducing the price 30 percent to 40 percent by lowering the optical specs, he said. Early next year the product is likely to be available in retail stores.

What do you think about this?  Philips and Color Kinetics teamed up a while ago.  I wonder why they’re calling this the first mainstream product…

Dean Kamen’s Sustainable LED Paradise

The inventor of the Segway – you know, the lean and go thing – has an island that has in its future a net zero energy badge.  North Dumpling, his 3 acre island is located off of the coast of Connecticut.  Net Zero means that Mr. Kamen’s island (or The Kingdom of North Dumpling) is 100% off-the-grid, per se.  He does not depend on services at all.

Fritz Morgan, the Chief Technology Officer for Philips/Color Kinetics has helped Kamen with this feat – as of the next year, Kamen’s island will be lit up in brilliant color and quality (and with 70% less energy consumption, apparently) by a bunch of gear from Philips/Color Kinetics.

Thanks to DesignBoom!

Also, here’s the press release by Philips.

LDI – Philips/Color Kinetics Booth

Philips and Color Kinetics had a softly lit, multi-color booth this year.  Lots of great new products, and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to chat with anyone there, as every time I went over, Philips reps were swamped.

Check out the booth:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

The McNamara Tunnel, Detroit Airport

Have you ever been through “The Tunnel” at the Detroit Metro Airport?  The McNamara Terminal at the Detroit Metro Airport has a 27 minute lighting masterpiece composed to a soundtrack – it provides an excellent and awesome spectacle of LED fury for those passing through.

Marcus Wuebker, an old friend and fellow lighting designer from Mills-James, Inc in Columbus, OH was the LD.  I asked him to write a few words about the tunnel, which he so graciously did (thanks, Marcus!), and I’ve posted the article below.  I hope you enjoy, as Marcus is a talented designer.

The McNamara Terminal at the Detroit Metro Airport has a passenger tunnel that connects two concourses beneath the tarmac. Curved glass panels with abstract art sand blasted into the back create a mural on both sides that runs the entire length of the tunnel. Translucent material completes the curve of the glass and visually connects the two sides.

The Smith Group is the Architect of record for that part of the airport and is responsible for the initial design. They created the space and specified the type and number of LED fixtures to artfully light it for a number of reasons including low maintenance and low heat output. Northwest Airlines then hired Mills/James Productions to evaluate the existing design and create a show for their passengers.

The Smith Group’s concept was to light the back wall from above with 6 rows of Color Kinetics iCove 12” fixtures. This produced an interesting yet subtle look as the light reflected off the wall through the glass. After spending some time with the mock up at the Fox Fire Glass, I decided the best way to light the glass was to focus the iCoves directly at the glass and break each glass panel into 3 separately controllable areas vertically. I programmed a thunderstorm rolling in complete with some lightning strikes and when the glass artist, Laurel Fyfe, saw it her eyes lit up. It took her about a half a second to realize how this approach would work in the tunnel with 135 glass panels on each side. She was so excited the next 10 panels she carved had shapes that could easily be describes as lighting bolts, rain drops, and clouds.

Back in Columbus, the composer, Victor Alexeeff, and I started discussing ideas for the show. I suggested a rainstorm and a sunrise/sunset themed piece. Victor had an idea for a space like piece that moved into the chaotic world of the infinitely small. Victor would write a piece, give it to me and I would program to it in WYSIWYG. After showing Victor what I could do with what he gave me, he would get excited and go back to his studio and create stuff with music and sound effects just so I could put a cool lighting effect to it like a comet that shot all the way through the tunnel. My favorite part of the show is when two small “fireballs” come at you from one and of the tunnel, and then suddenly the entire tunnel is enveloped in fire from the other end. All of these ideas came down to two sections that totaled 27 minutes, Ethereal and Nature.

The tunnel was programmed and runs today off of two Hog II PC’s. There are 8100 12” iCove Fixtures lighting the glass panels and 222 12” Color Blast lighting the ceiling and 12 48” Color Blaze in each rotunda all from Color Kinetics. Pathport Ethernet nodes distribute DMX throughout the tunnel.

I would like to thank Northwest Airlines and Mills/James Productions for the opportunity, as well as the other Artists that make this a one of a kind project.

Written by Marcus Wuebker