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Vintage Power and Light: The Coolest Thing to Happen to Tungsten Since Edison!

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If you’ve been to an architectural lighting, entertainment lighting, or decorative lighting trade show lately, you should notice an interesting trend:  the lack of attention to incandescent light sources.  The light emitting diode has overtaken the world, and like myself, I miss the days of the warm tungsten filament in a room, bathing everything in its reach with a wider spectrum of color than its LED counterparts.  Tungsten filaments, at least decoratively, have become the fine wine of our lighting generation – only those with the intelligence and artistic knowledge in using tungsten and other incandescent sources have continued to do so.  The rest of the world is convinced, at the behest of excellent marketing and often regardless of price, that LED illumination is not only the way of the future but also today’s only way to appropriately design lighting.

It’s a fact that in many applications, including modern high bay methodologies and architectural applications, LED light sources are winning hearts and minds over their higher-energy-consuming incandescent cousins.  Sooner than later we’re going to see higher output automated fixtures giving their HID counterparts a run for their money, too.  ETC’s LED Source Four ellipsoidal, Chauvet’s Ovation LED ellipsoidal, Altman Lighting’s ME3 ellipsoidal, and Robert Juliat’s Tibo and Zep LED profiles have taken the market by storm – and have begun pushing back on the use of tungsten-halogen sources, arc sources, and even halogen sources!

On the whole, energy costs when dealing with a large facility or venue are where LED and non-incandescent sources make a monster difference in energy costs.  But what about where energy costs are negligible, like in your home?  If saving comparatively a few dollars here and there in your home is less important than the feeling and artistic appreciation that something like an incandescent lamp brings to you, can you put a price on your happiness?  I’ve owned many a compact fluorescent lamp-based fixture in my home, and frankly I replace every single CFL with its halogen or incandescent counterpart.  It’s my decision, and I do what makes my eyes and my brain happy.

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On that thought, I introduce to you the work of Vintage Power and Light out of Austin, Texas – creator Lowell Fowler (of High End Systems fame) has started a new hobby art venture based on utilizing the beauty and intrigue of vintage lighting and electrical equipment tied with the warm glow of incandescent sources.  Even better than just the sexiness of a glowing filament structure, Vintage Power and Light takes the beauty of an Edison filament wrap source and melds it to gorgeous finished old-world wood components, then adds stunning copper and brass connections and controls.  My favorite parts of Vintage Power and Light’s work are their use of Consolidated Design glass insulators – there is nothing quite like a multi-petticoat glass insulator on a fixture with an artistic incandescent filament turning that glass into a mystical piece of glowing jewelry.  GAH!  This stuff is amazing!!!

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Lowell and York Fowler have put an interesting new spin on the idea of Steampunk-esque design by bringing old-world components and combining them with early 20th century incandescence.  The result is a stunning and refreshing take on using incandescence as not only an artistic statement, but a comfortable, familiar, and heartwarming addition to your house, office, or anywhere else that LEDs just don’t cut it.

Check out a series of gallery images below, click on any image for a light box of that gallery for your perusal!
Just make sure that you give credit where credit is due, and all of these photos are courtesy of Vintage Power and Light with photography by Tim Grivas.

First things first, Vintage Power and Light’s Table Lamps:

Vintage Power and Light’s Chandelier and Pendant series:

Got a Steampunk jones?  Vintage Power and Light does that too!

Last but not least, a gorgeous offering of sconces for your collection:

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JimOnLight says HELL YES to Vintage Power and LightAwesome offerings, guys!  We hope that the whole world sees your work and loves it as much as we do!

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HOG 4 TRAINING VIDEOS!

High End Systems has released a series of training videos for the new Hog 4!

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From a press release at High End Systems:

Following the extremely successful HOG4 launch and due to incredibly high demand, High End Systems is today releasing a series of Hog4 training videos.

In tandem with the large number of worldwide training classes undertaken both by High End Systems and it’s extensive distributor network, the initial 12 videos will allow everyone to learn how to use a Hog.

The videos have been split into easy to watch segments meaning that beginners as well as experienced users will benefit from them. They are also in a logical order allowing for the user to move from one element of the Hog software to another with ease. The 12 videos means that users who only need to look at a specific area of the console may do this with ease.

“The addition of these videos to our already extensive training program is testament to our commitment to offer education at multiple levels” says Jeff Pelzl, VP, Technical and Marketing Services “and we are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to Hog training.”

“We realized that not everyone is able to attend training classes and also that users want the ability to brush up on certain areas of the platform’ says Chris Ferrante, Director of Product Management “so we partnered with Colin Wood of Pre Production Services and now have a brilliant suite of training videos”

These videos can be seen at the following location:  http://www.highend.com/support/training/Hog4Training/index.asp

As well as launching this suite of videos, High End Systems has recently launched version 1.2 for the Hog4 platform adding a host of new features including Command Keys, which continues the aggressive release schedule embarked upon on the platform’s launch.

AWESOME!!!!!

The videos:

Lesson 1:  Starting a New Show

Lesson 2: Default Layout of a New Show

Lesson 3: An Introduction to Patching

Lesson 4: Basic Programming

Lesson 5: Cue Playback

Lesson 6: Using Palettes

Lesson 7: Basic Cue Timing and Editing

Lesson 8: Tracking

Lesson 9: User Kinds

Lesson 10: Command Keys

Lesson 11: Multi-Console Setup

Lesson 12: Configuring Art-Net

I hope to see more of these from MORE console manufacturers in the near future!!!

Hump Day Lighting Porn – Catalyst and DL3 Demo Room Footage from 2010 at High End Systems!

Having downtime has allowed me to dig up gigabytes and schmigabytes of video content that I’ve either A) got sidetracked during and never got to finish, B) decided for some reason that I needed to prioritize something else, or C) completely forgot about having altogether!  I found some really fun stuff last night while searching through content — a demo from 2010 at High End Systems of the Axon media server and DL3 digital lights!

I hope you enjoy it!  Please excuse my giggling at one point for a few seconds, I was having a frigging blast!  Thanks a lot, Richard!

Check out some High End Systems lighting demo porn from 2010!  From the JimOnLight.com Vimeo Channel:

Lighting Porn! High End Systems – Catalyst Media Server Demo, 2010, Austin, Texas from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

or if you prefer YouTube:

JimOnLight at Event Live Expo 2013!

Bob S, this one’s for you!

I am finally back from about a month of really busy traveling and trade shows — I have seen so many awesome people already in 2o13, I know that the rest of this year is going to be completely full of win…

CharlieSheen

…and I am talking about some serious Charlie Sheen kind of win.  But no tiger blood and strippers, Laura would kill me and blood is nasty.  Besides, after how much ridiculing I’ve done to the Twilight raisincakes, I wouldn’t be caught dead around a bunch of blood drinkers.

So let’s talk about Event Live Expo 2013!  Yours truly was there promoting CAST Software, with a whole bunch of awesome gear from High End Systems in Austin!  Let me just say that BlackTrax was awesome with a handful of Trackspot Bolts throwing a beam around the booth at the speed of mirrored lightning, and we were privileged to have in our rig two of the upcoming SolaSpot LED heads!  I also had a Road Hog 4 in the booth, which is one sexy machine!  The hardware got lots and lots of compliments by those who knew what it was, this wasn’t a show full of lighting design nerds like me, but for those who knew what was up, it was like meeting a celebrity.

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One of my favorite companies at this year’s Event Live Expo was Brown United.  Nope, they’re not a lighting anything company — Brown United is a temporary stage manufacturer.  However, simply put, they build stages that don’t fall down.  Like this:

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and this:

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I guess besides the fact that there is some outstanding engineering going on here, it’s made of steel.  Steel, and maybe some magic rigging dust.  More on the magic rigging dust later.

Check out a gallery view of my experiences at Event Live Expo!  Click on an image to see the individual gallery views!

High End Systems at LDI 2012 – AND HOG 4!

psst… here’s a little secret: click on a photo and it opens up enormous.

the High End Systems booth at LDI 2012

I love High End Systems, this is always going to be true.  I am a Hog man through and through, no matter how many other desks I “become intimately familiar with,” my good ol’ Hog knows I always spec it at the end of the day.  I cannot wait to get my hands on the Hog 4, it’s like having freshly fried bacon in your hands — you know you’re going to be satisfied!  HES fixtures are always lots of fun too, I’ve seen lots of rock over my lifetime that had Studio Spots and Studio Colors driving it.

The boys from High End were pretty busy at LDI 2012 with the release of Hog 4 — I couldn’t even get a demo at LDI, nor did I get to hug the Richard.  Oh well I guess, sometimes people get too busy.

Hog 4 is pretty cool — first and foremost, did you see those big touchscreens?!

GAH!  Sexy!  I need to get myself down to the factory to see these things in action, I did not get the opportunity to get my hands on one at the show.  Big, beautiful screens, encoders with tactile design, and screen shortcut buttons for days.  From the Hog 4 product website at High End:

The Hog 4 is the flagship in our newest range of consoles. Replacing the much loved Wholehog III, it embraces the latest technology, while retaining the Hog’s familiar control surface. Users will be able to walk up to the Hog 4 and start programming without having to learn a whole new interface. The new encoders, jog shuttle wheel, lcd keys, motorized faders and integrated keyboard all serve to enhance this experience, making the Hog 4 completely customizable. You can now have virtually all the most important attributes to hand at any time.

Retaining the sleek look of generations past, the Hog 4 offers the user an advanced programming experience in an established environment. The Hog 4 console, at the top of the Hog line, is designed to handle the largest shows.

The console provides three monitor outputs, MIDI input and output ports, 8 USB ports, 2 Fast Ethernet ports on a rugged Neutrik Ethercon connector allowing you total flexibility. You’re prepared for everything from the smallest industrial job requiring a single console to the largest stadium show, theme park installation or Broadway spectacular requiring a multi console setup with full network backups!

Preserve show data on a solid state hard disk drive as well as with USB drives and CD/DVD-ROM’s, or alternatively connect directly to a network drive to store your show files remotely.

Features

  • Robust Hog 4 Operating Software
  • Unlimited number of simultaneous crossfades
  • Two internal 17-inch wide screen touchscreens with 10 point multi-touch
  • Three external monitors or touchscreens supported
  • Five encoders for an expanded wheelset
  • Twelve LCD User Keys
  • Tri Axis backlit trackball, with rotary encoder for the third axis and four configurable buttons for cursor and position control
  • Ten motorized playback faders
  • One motorized Grand Master
  • Dedicated Intensity and Rate wheels
  • User assignable Jog Shuttle encoder
  • 48 Soft-Keys for quick toolbar selections
  • Built in DMX Processor 8000
  • Hog-Net Ethernet connector
  • Fixture-Net Ethernet connector
  • Integrated keyboard
  • Internal Hard disk drive
  • Internal CD/DVD drive
  • Eight USB ports for Wholehog wings and external touchscreens
  • Storage space beneath arm rest
  • Desklights, feedback LEDs, and integrated worklight all dimmable
  • Auto-ranging mains input (90-250VAC)
  • Light Converse Visualizer dongle included
  • Dust cover included
  • Custom Road Case included

Connectivity

  • Unlimited number of DMX channels via Ethernet DPs
  • Unlimited number of Art-Net and E1.3.1 (sACN) universes via Ethernet DPs
  • Onboard MIDI Input and Output, MIDI Show Control and MIDI Time Code and LTC Input
  • Multiple LTC inputs via optional multiple SMPTE/ LTC USB Widget
  • Connectivity with many visualizers via Ethernet
  • Wired and wireless networking ability with multiple Wholehog console systems
  • Remote Focus capabilities when networked with a tablet PC running Hog 4PC software
  • Supports USB Playback and Expansion Wings

Dimensions

  • With the Screen down – 40.5” (1028.7mm) wide by 28.49” (723.7mm) deep by 6.49” (164.75mm) high
  • With the Screen up – 40.5” (1028.7mm) wide by 28.49” (723.7mm) deep by 16.43” (417.39mm) high
  • Weight- 75 lbs (34 kg)

Yes.  I cannot wait to drive the Hog 4.  More photos!

Nano Hog 4:

Augh!  I love it!  It’s like the shape of a Whole Hog II with the pizazz of color touchscreens!

…and a beautiful booth design with DLVs, Intellaspots, and TrackSpot Bolts.  Nice work!

 

 

Photos from LDI 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada

JimOnLight with tieline dredlocks.  Oh yeah, and Kung-Fu Action Grip:

I’m back at the helm in Toronto; LDI 2012 has come and gone, I got to see lots of really amazing people, and I got blinded by not one, not seven, but eleventy (yeah, eleventy) freaking LED sources and screens.  It was so refreshing to see a tungsten or an HMI source around the convention center just as a reference to something that has more than one wavelength in a row together.  Holy schmoly!

LDI was full of pretty striking stuff, from lasers and salvo systems to new gobos and moving moving light systems, which was pretty awesome!  Now obviously seeing photos is a lot less ridiculous than reading me talk about photos, so check this out below — a ton of photos from LDI and the show floor!

This is what I made for the BlackTrax guys to go do their magic, which they do very well.  BlackTrax is out and on the market.  If you were at the show, you saw the demo up in N256 at the LVCC:

BlackTrax from CAST Group -- Room N256

The BT guys calibrating the system.  They have it down to about five minutes.

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Ladies and gentlemen:  The HOG 4.

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The High End Systems booth:

stabbing beams at the HES Booth

DMX controlled AirStar balloons!  Awesome!

AirStar at LDI 2012

This was next to us on the show floor — VER’s “upside-down-porno-bedroom-ceiling” thing.  Oh, f*cking hell it was amazing.  I mean absolutely amazing.  I was so proud to be in the view of this booth with my CAST booth, it was absolutely awe inspiring.  I’ll figure out the model of the beautiful equipment being displayed here, but believe me when I say it deserved the award for Best Product Display that it won:

VER at LDI 2012

InLight Gobos!!!  Oh, I have to report that some real winner stole a glass gobo from the InLight Gobos booth, over next to the High End booth.  It was set up on the table, Adri bent down to attend to something in a bag on the floor, and *poof* it was gone.  If you read this blog and you took that gobo, it means that you had an absolute error in judgement.  Mail that thing back to InLight Gobos, 2348 Irving Blvd, Dallas, TX 75207 — be a good human.  Write “I’m Sorry” on the back of the package, too.  It sucks they had to deal with that.

On a lighter note, hey lighting designers — you ever used the rubber band ball gobo from InLight?  That thing is a breakup, an aerial, a wash, and a great atmospheric look maker too.  Every color of the spectrum gives it new characteristics.  Trust me, try it.  You can try it in wysiwyg R29 now too, thanks to Rick and Adri at InLight and Peter Debreceni at CAST for getting the catalogue into the release.  People at LDI who use WYG really seem to dig the InLight lineup — I believe in it, so I figured why not spread the good art word?

InLight Gobos at LDI 2012

There is this guy I know named Peter Kirkup, and he is absolutely one of my favorite people on planet Earth; not because of his ridiculously polite bedside manner, but because he is an industry visionary that has been right since I’ve known him.  I call that a feat in itself; I look to Peter for answers on anything regarding wireless what-have-you, and Peter is now the Vice President of Entertainment for LumenRadio in Sweden.  You might know hime from Cooper Controls and Zero88 fame, when he was just a lowly Product Manager.  Dude, remember — köttbullar i Sverige är inte svenska köttbullar, de är bara köttbullar!

Seriously though, we need to listen to peter’s brain, lighting industry.  He explained something to me that was so amazing, so ingenius as I see it – that I just had to hear him explain it again.  More on that later.  Peter’s a genius.  Ladies, grab him before he’s off the market, Peter’s like the John Holmes of brain power.

Peter Kirkup, VP of Entertainment at LumenRadio

Mac Viper Profile.  I have to say that I am impressed — I spent a lot of my time on shows working with a lot of Martin gear, lots of Mac 2K profiles and washes as you can imagine, Performance versus Profiles was always an argument you had to have in your head when making up a shop order.  “Do I want the FX ribbon, and are framing shutters that important for this one?”  I have no apologies for rocking the living daylights out of Mac 2000 Profiles.  They are absolutely awesome fixtures, despite what your opinions are on it.  I’ve had them apart on the truss while in a basket too, for the bang, they are perfect fixtures.  It looks like the Viper is going to be exactly the same way, and I am so absolutely excited to get my hands on some.  As it was put to me, the Viper is the “Mac 2000 replacement for this decade.”  It is awesome.  Ooh, so is the Mac III AirFX too, just as a side note.

MAC Viper

Oh hey look, another Chinese copy of a Sharpy.

COPY

POINT OF ORDER:  The handles on the VL3515 are very cool.  I yanked around on them quite a bit while I was standing there (perhaps much to the dismay of the guy who I met right there at that point), and they seemed solid and non-conforming.

I LOVE these new handles!

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What a beautiful booth!

Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) at LDI 2012

Me and Susan Rose!  Yes, this Susan Rose.  This guide got me through the teething gigs of the Hog II!

JimOnLight and Susan Rose

Philips Entertainment at LDI 2012

THIS IS EXCELLENT.  The V276 is now available as a piece of gear for sale!  It works on your MAC!  Also, the BAD BOY and BEST BOY are available for SALE!  I think that they are two of the best fixtures built in the last five years, and I really do hope to see them explode in popularity.  They’re solid.  No matter what you think of PRG – whether you’re a fan or a non-fan – Bad Boy and Best Boy rock.  Now there is the V276 on MAC, which allows you the use of the pretty slick V-Series software.  You can run MBOX on this panel, too!  Miguel Ribeiro showed me some amazing things at LDI about MBOX, I am pretty excited to check it out.

the V276 from PRG

The Clay Paky booth at LDI — oh the Sharpys!

Clay Paky, LDI 2012

DTS’s continuously panning beam fixtures.  You have to see these things to believe it, they are poppy and bright, punchy and presentable.  Their booth was one of my faves, designed by a cool LD from Europe, Georg Telos.  Great work, Georg!

DTS/Strong, LDI 2012

The rest of the photos I took at LDI are below in a few different types of Flickr galleries, check out which one works best for you!  Let me know if one or the other floats your boat better than, uh, the other.  Just leave a comment.

Another Flickr show:

Random High End Systems Lighting Demo Porn. WHAT ELSE are You Doing?!

Ha haa, yes, it’s time again for another installment of Random Lighting Porn, and for you fellow Parliament Funkadelic fans out there, “brought to you by the makers of Mr. Prolong – better known as Urge Overkill.”

(The pimping of the Pleasure Principle…)

I took a few of my best lighting students down to Austin at the beginning of the summer with the fantabulous but never nebulous Mr. Rick Hutton to see the factory and High End Systems HQ.  Taylor Knight, Jeremy Fisher, and Katherine Mitchell all got to meet Brad Schiller, Richard Belliveau, Craig Burross, and a lot of the rest of the team at HES, including one of my favorite teams, the developer team – always making that software work!

Here’s a video that I made from some clips of the demo Brad gave us, and some images of the trip in Gallery format.  Enjoy!

Random High End Systems Lighting Porn – WHAT ELSE Have You Got to Do? from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

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.

High End Systems Shows JimOnLight.com the Intellaspot XT-1

Friday was an amazing day.  I have had a bunch of those lately, and life has never been better.  Folks, we are making the future better!  GO US!


(and HEY!  Richard Belliveau still has his JimOnLight.com shirt from LDI 2009!)

A trusted American lighting company is also changing the future.  Friday was an amazing day because I got to hang out with the family of outstanding folks at High End Systems in Austin, and I got to finally set my hands on the new Richard Belliveau baby that will soon become a full-grown bad mamma jamma – the Intellaspot XT-1 from High End Systems.

That’s right, I went there.

The Intellaspot XT-1 got some press on JimOnLight.com a few weeks ago when High End posted the video with Brad Schiller and Richard Belliveau talking about the Intellaspot XT-1.  It’s bright, it’s got a sexy mechanical look, it’s got usability at its root purpose, and – it’s bright.  What is absolutely unbelievable about the fixture is that not only is it bright, but it’s 20,000 lumens bright, on a lamp that sips on 850 watts.  Did I mention that the Intellaspot XT-1 is variable from 100V to 240V?

(For those of you just tuning in, the Intellaspot XT-1 is putting out 20,000 lumens on a lamp that consumes 850 watts, even when you plug it into the wall.)

Okay, holy cow.  Never mind the features of the Intellaspot XT-1 for a moment – when I taught in Texas, our main venue didn’t even have as much as a 208V company switch to use moving lights or motors.  I constantly dreamed about the days when that might show up in the venue.  Now there’s a moving light that is bright, feature packed, and I can switch out a few of the Sensor dimmer modules and stick in a few constant current modules for moving lights, without as much as the smell of three-phase circuits.  How’s that taste, world?  You can thank Richard Belliveau and his team of High End Systems rockstars for that meal.

I got a demo this last Friday when I was at the High End Systems facility in Austin – I got one of Brad Schiller’s outstanding demos to music with the fixture, then Brad stepped me through the different features of the Intellaspot XT-1.  When you first see the fixture, you’re going to notice the big 8″ aperture slamming a beautiful beam of light through the atmosphere.  The objective set itself is pretty hot in general – a static front lens, bumpers in front of it for those times when you accidentally drag the thing on the ground at 3am loadouts, and the condensing lens has the fixture name inside on the lens carriage.  It looks pretty tight.  Generally, the fixture has a sleek, mechanical look to it – I can see it playing well on broadcast television events too.  It just looks good.  You know, like a Corvette just looks good?

Intellaspot guts – Intellaspot XT-1 has 14 rotating gobos, all glass.  The stock gobos are a pretty cool range too – including a rockin’ skull, great aerials, litho patterns, and foliage breakups.  The gamut is covered, it almost has to be in the case of a moving light today being competitive.  A gobo animation system is also included in the Intellaspot XT-1 – this is the same gobo animation system that High End has patented, and that we saw first in the Showgun.  It is visually stunning – Brad had a few just unreal looks programmed with the gobos and animations playing together.  He had walls melting, water running, and the whole studio visually on fire with the gobo animation system.  Intellaspot XT-1 also has a four-facet prism that itself creates some pretty stunning looks – my complaint with prisms normally is that they’re never terribly specular (at least to my eye), and they always have some type of abberation (also, to my eye).  Not this time – the prism in the XT-1 is clear, seems optically sound, and makes some nice effects tied with gobo rotation and animation.

Intellaspot XT-1’s color wheels are one fixed with five spots and open, full CMY mixing, and variable CTO.  The color wheels are fast – with that big eight inch aperture, rolling color effects with the wheels are out of this world in my eyes.  When Richard had the fixture open, I saw the static color wheel and how easy their system of usability with respect to the static color wheel was – the chips pull directly out and snap right back into place like it was just meant to happen that way.  I’ll expunge more about usability here shortly, but there are more features I have to talk about first!

Iris, pan/tilt, strobe, zoom, optics, and the actual mechanics of the fixture are all standard features of moving lights today to stay competitive, but there is that extra bump of R&D on the Intellaspot XT-1 that pushes it to a level of professionality and grace that I expect when I’m designing.  Intellaspot XT-1’s iris is clean, and when it narrows down to a pencil-thin beam slamming through that front aperture, it’s like a laser beam from that old movie Real Genius with Val Kilmer.  Zoom and optics?  Fluid, with 5:1 zoom.  Scott Blair from High End was there at the demo as well (and gave me an excellent tour afterwards where we talked nerd), and he and Richard explained about the lens system that Intellaspot XT-1 uses – the lenses are sealed with an o-ring between them to keep the environment clean and specular, because we know what happens to optics when dirt and haze fluid gets into the light field.

Intellaspot XT-1 also has both types of strobing – electronic (via the ballast) and actual physical, mechanical strobing within the light field.

Pan and tilt and the general movement of the fixture is fast and smooth, and this is attributed to the excellent weight balance that the XT-1 has – it looks like a large fixture until it moves around, then it reminds me of the stealthy movements of a VL6 from back in the day in spirit.  When a fixture is unbalanced, even a little, (and maybe I’m the only weirdo to notice this) but when it gets to around 75% tilt and is panning, and you try to snap the tilt back around, there is a slightly noticeable disconnect between the physics of the pan motion and the physical motion of the tilt.  Does that make any sense?  It almost look like a person was running and they immediately turned around and tried to go the other way without calculating the second or two it takes to stop their forward motion.  A handful of the larger moving heads in our industry seem to exhibit this trait – Intellaspot XT-1 does not – its pan and tilt motor acuity seems very in sync.  Pan and tilt movements are fluid and smooth, and between the front and back ends of the head itself, balance seemed to be perfectly achieved.

(I really, really hope some of that last paragraph made sense.)

Something that I believe in within our industry is usability.  If you make the best fixture in the world, brighter than anything else, and it makes cappuccinos for the rest of the moving lights on the truss, it is only as good as the access it gives to the people who need to interface with it.  Remember, moving lights are really just little robot people waiting on you to give them instructions to execute.  If your techs and designers cannot use the fixture because you have not thought about the best way to have a human interface your fixture, you have failed at making that fixture.  In the case of Intellaspot XT-1, this is the exact opposite.  High End Systems has had a fixture in shows all over the globe on the road for decades – their wealth of experience in build and repair is extensive to say the least.  Intellaspot XT-1 not only has amazing features, but working on those features should they ever need fixing (which everything does at some point) is easy and painless.  The only way I can think of to tell about some of these features is a bulleted list – I hope that will suffice:

  • Body covers.  Intellaspot XT-1’s body covers (upper enclosure lids, head covers, arm covers) all have captive screws embedded in the covers so you don’t bounce one off of the ground 60 feet down while you’re on the truss.  They’re also all tabbed so that you can fit them in place and they stay in place without a deviation from being aligned.
  • Access to inside.  Not only does the fixture have some room to get to components inside, but you can open the upper enclosure of the fixture via two panels on the top, and two panels on the sides of the upper enclosure.  This is monumental.  (For those of you who keep asking what the hell I mean by “upper enclosure,” it’s the part of a moving light on the other side of the head – imagine the fixture upside down – the upper enclosure is where the power, status lights, DMX or ethernet, and all that stuff lives.)
  • Modularity.  Pull two screws, you pull out the gobo wheels from the bulkhead.  Pull two more screws, you pull out the color wheel.  Power supplies in the upper enclosure?  They pull right out in their sleds.  Everything is accessible, and with ease.  Richard says, and I’m paraphrasing, “We know how it is.  We have to pull the stuff out too!”  I can’t wait until JimOnLight.com readers get to take one of these apart.  It is beautiful.  David at High End had all of the covers off in under a minute, I secretly timed him!  The best part?  He used one screwdriver bit.  For everything.
  • Balance in handling.  This is a major item for me – a lot of people who read JimOnLight.com are out there working, designing, loading in and loading out daily.  To date, I have had my hands on every new “large aperture” moving light on the market.  I’ve flipped each of them over and put them into their custom-designed cases, both in showrooms and in production situations.  I asked to flip the Intellaspot XT-1 with Richard at the demo, and by far, it is the most weight balanced moving light I’ve touched.  After doing it once, I asked Richard:  “Can I do that again?”  I had to be sure.  We flipped it back up onto the table.  We flipped it to the case.  We flipped it out of the case and onto the floor, and then from the floor to the table, and back to the case.  I had to be sure.  I’m sure – its handles are smooth, thick, and easy to grasp – and the handles embedded in the yoke arms not only retract flush, but they are at the balance sweet spot.  Intellaspot XT-1’s case has a design with ease of use in mind – the fixtures can come right off the truss and slide right into the case, one motion.  I did not scrape my knuckles once handling the XT-1.  I had a pretty rough knuckles experience with 12 other industry fixtures recently, and the XT-1’s handling is fast, effortless, and smooth.
  • Price point.  Intellaspot XT-1 is going to have an MSRP of $12,650.  This is MSRP, not your dealer price, which will always be more awesome.  What this means is that Intellaspot XT-1 is priced to be competitive; it’s on par with most of the current pricing out there, and way better than some of the industry-standard heads.
  • Address with no power.  How many times have you needed to get your FOH truss units addressed before they flew?  How many times have you needed to get things set up with no power, and time was of the essence?  Yeah, every time.  Intellaspot XT-1 has a battery power unit for the display and “brain” that stores DMX addresses and setup functionality.  The cooler thing is that if you lose the battery power, the fixture still works.  This isn’t the case with some industry fixtures.  In XT-1, if the battery does die, all you do is take off the front cover and replace the three AA rechargables with whatever AA batteries you got, and pow – addressing time again.

Folks, Intellaspot XT-1 is coming.  Listen up – I’ll post new info as soon as I get it.  I’m so grateful to have seen this fixture.