LDI 2013 in Photos

A fun show happened this year in Las Vegas — lots of beams, lots of friends, and I met my goal to share hug karma with 20 new people!

I’ve heard a few people now call LDI something like “LED-I.”  After making me giggle like a dumbass like I’m known to do, it’s not like it’s far off the mark — the industry is dominated with LED wash fixtures, LED pixel mappers, LED moving head spot AND wash fixtures, and all kinds of other diode-powered light makers.  Strobes, too — LED strobes are intensely appropriate, but they deliver a different kind of stab than a Xenon strobe.  They’re not better or worse, just different!  The industry still has the gamut of discharge, incandescent, and other non-LED sources as well, but there is less push generally on these types of fixtures.

I find that such an interesting paradigm at the LDI show – lots of companies have non-LED stuff and they show it, but there is  definitely a large LED offering in our industry (as is the case in most industries of light right now).  Sometimes I wonder if there are less non-LED beams bouncing around because that’s what the industry wants or if it’s because of the cost savings of NOT having those non-LED sources en masse.  Power is expensive stuff at these shows, and so is drayage on all of the heavy gack that goes along with larger draw 208 gear and dimming.  Most LEDs anymore allow you greater flexibility with 208V power too, making the power linking possibilities even better.  I only had one 48-way PD for the CHAUVET Professional booth, and that powered everything I had designed into the rig, video panels and all.

I programmed the booth I designed on the Avolites Sapphire Touch, which has become my new favorite desk.  I finally found an interface that was designed the way that my brain wants to program.  This has been a joyous time in my programmer life!  It’s nothing like the old Avolites way, they’ve made the flow so unbelievably amazing that it is literally a joy to program.  I just had it again on the Concert Lighting Master Classes this last week, but I’ll be writing a separate post about that this week.

Check out some photos from the show, and I was glad to see you if I saw you at this year’s show!  If I didn’t see you, I’m sorry — we’ll see each other next go round or soon, you know how this business goes!  I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the Fox family.  This show kept me busy, I barely made it out of the booth except for about an hour to walk the floor.

Click on any photo below for the larger images in an *awesome* light box!


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!

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


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!

VLX – Inside the New LED Marvel of Moving Lights

MMM.  VLX!  Sexy!  I cannot WAIT to see this at LDI 2009.  Hey, did I mention I am going to LDI 2009?

I just found some pictures of the inside of the VLX from Vari*Lite, and a few of the outside of the casing.  Check this stuff out!

A light engine chip from the VLX – Phlatlight anyone?


More light engine goodiness:


Even more lighting engine goodiness:


Front lens side view with motors:


Front lens with motors:


VLX with its clothes off – I mean covers:


Front view:


Rear view:


Thanks, Vari*Lite!

Q+A with Luminus Devices Technical Director, Don McDaniel


A while ago I had placed some questions to Luminus Devices, the makers of the Phlatlight LED and other innovative lighting solutions using the light-emitting diode.  My questions hit the hands of Don McDaniel, the Director of Technical Lighting Solutions at Luminus Devices – I have put the Q+A below.  A big thanks to Bill Keeler for getting all the right hands involved.  Thanks Bill!  We’re looking forward to reviewing Luminus products at LDI this year in Orlando!

The Q+A:

JimOnLightLuminus has been getting a lot of press about the PhlatLight; recent news announcing the PhlatLight Color-Mixing CBM-380 chip has reached me in several formats. How does the PhlatLight multi-color LED wafer compare to the Luxeon products in close categories?

Don McDaniel: The PhlatLight CBM-380-RGBW and the SBM-160-RGBW announced during PLASA ’09 put out far more light than any other 4-chip color mixing package on the market. The product premise is that in order to make illumination products that can replace discharge products, you’ve got to deliver a lot of LED chip area. To collect and color mix that effectively, you’ve got to pack that die area together as tightly as possible. Every optic designer wishes to have a point source to design around. Filaments come pretty close; LEDs don’t. Luminus has developed products that deliver a really useful amount of light from a single package and do so from the smallest possible total emitting area. This has enabled color mixed performance in form factors never before seen in the industry.

The other approach to delivering a lot of color-tunable lumens is large multichip arrays. These are certainly able to deliver substantial light, and are suitable for many applications, but optical designs to efficiently collect and shape the output are very challenging due to the large total emitting area of such packages.

JimOnLight: One aspect of the PhlatLight chips that appears to be provocative and popular with companies employing PhlatLight products is the modularity of the design. Can you elaborate a little on the PhlatLight technology and how Luminus arrived there?

Don McDaniel: Luminus Devices has operated from the very beginning with a “Platform Approach” to product design. The idea being that by developing a range of chip and package platforms, we could then cost effectively mix and match them to create differentiated products that enable our customers in unique ways. Furthermore, we could do so with modest investment barriers so that we could profitably address interesting niches. Our PhlatLight LED portfolio speaks the language of our platform approach. We continue to explore new application opportunities and use customer feedback to generate and evaluate new product variants.

If the question refers to the fact that we have many bolt-on, replaceable products, the answer is different:

Luminus was founded in 2002 with the goal of replacing discharge lamps in rear projection DLP televisions. To do so, Luminus developed 100W LEDs! The thermal requirements fundamentally influenced our approach to epitaxial, process, and of course package design. The chip-on-board package of our highest output products reflects that learning and development, from the 0.7 C/W package thermal resistance to the custom high current connectors and finally, to the screw down package design. This package continues to be of value for customers wanting to design in the ability to upgrade or replace LED modules in the future.

JimOnLight: Given the collimated nature of the PhlatLight’s radiation patterns, does Luminus find activity in specific product design and manufacturing categories over others?  Are certain fixture types more a natural fit for the light qualities provided by the PhlatLight?

Don McDaniel: The PhlatLight collimation offers improved optical collection efficiency, particularly in projection type optical systems. With the increasing importance of white LEDs even in color tunable entertainment applications, this is perhaps becoming somewhat less important. While Luminus has developed IP for fabrication of collimated white LEDs, current phosphor processes cause light scattering that largely negates PhlatLight collimation. However, the photonic lattice technology remains an important part of big-chip white LED design, as the enhanced extraction efficiency allows us to maintain efficacy which otherwise diminishes as chip area is scaled up.

JimOnLight: The Luminus website mentions Entertainment lighting as an avenue of exploration for the PhlatLight.  Would you elaborate on which avenues the PhlatLight is experiencing popularity?  Is PhlatLight being used in any high output wash or spot fixtures or other entertainment technology?

Don McDaniel: Philips Vari*Lite has been quite candid in disclosing that their revolutionary VLX moving head wash uses seven of our CBM-380-RGBW modules to deliver 15,000 lumens of white light and dramatic saturated and pastel hues. That product has received an enthusiastic reception from the market and we’re honored to be a part of it.

There are a number of entertainment products in various stages of evaluation, demonstration, prototype and production release. These include color washes, color spots, white spots and other smaller fixtures. You can expect to see several prototypes and production releases at LDI next month.

JimOnLight: Does Luminus have any ongoing product agreements or development relationships with Entertainment lighting manufacturers and designers?  The entertainment lighting industry has been generating tons of news lately on LED development – where does Luminus play into that development?

Don McDaniel: While we have no exclusivity agreements or product development relationships with any customers or partners, we work closely with many of our customers on product development and design. We have the technical resources to provide our customers with a very deep level of applications support which we feel is extremely important given the revolutionary nature of many of our products.

JimOnLight: Tell me about Luminus’ high-bay illumination division – has the PhlatLight product used in high-bay lighting had any case studies or other successful venture stories that you could share?

Don McDaniel: We showcased a high bay prototype with Affineon Lighting of Florida in our booth at Light Fair this year that used three PhlatLight LED CSM-360-W modules. The display generated a great deal of interest for Affineon which is now developing a range of products around that part.

JimOnLight: A growing movement of lighting designers, engineers, and manufacturers are exploring lumen output over time as a priority over accepting lumen maintenance and degradation.  How do PhlatLight sources depreciate over time?  As lamp life grows, are PhlatLight chips capable of maintaining a high output rate over competitor sources?

Don McDaniel: PhlatLight LEDs were designed from scratch to be able to operate efficiently and reliably under more than standard operating conditions. Fundamentally, the lumen depreciation physics of PhlatLight LEDs chips is the same as that of any other LED products operating under the same conditions, since our chip design optimizes heat and current distribution and light output. Any differences from one vendor to another are mostly related to package integrity and thermal management. Luminus is an industry leader in those areas; again as a direct result of our experience serving the consumer electronics market with 100W LEDs for RP-TVs. So, yes, PhlatLight LEDs are capable of delivering operating lifetimes perfectly competitive with, and often in excess of, the leading quality vendors in the industry.

A huge thanks to Don McDaniel and Bill Keeler from Luminus Devices for their time and effort!  Make sure to check out the offerings from Luminus at their website, Luminus Devices.  You can see detailed information on every product in this interview on their website.


Mac 2K *VS* Everything Else

I met a cool sibling of a good friend this weekend who is working as a production electrician in New York City.  After breakfast and coffee, we got to chatting about fixtures and favorites and that kind of geek speak.  Martin’s Mac 2000 came up, and where I love the Mac 2K, my friend’s sister did not.  Her complaint was that the Martin line is not a very good product line, and I had to naturally disagree.  The main comparison was to the Vari*Lite line of fixtures – for which I have a special place in my heart.  The optics are great, the output is great, and the fixture is smooth and reliable.  However, as a designer and also someone who has had both hands knee deep in both of these fixture lines, I can’t say that the Mac 2000 is a “crappy” fixture.  I’ve been all over the globe with these fixtures (Mac 2K), and I love them.  I’d probably rather have Vari*Lite fixtures, but if I had nothing but Mac 2K’s available, I still feel like I could design and program a rockin’ show.

What are your thoughts on the Mac 2000?  Profile, Performance, or Wash, whatever model you know.  Please post in the comments, I really want your opinions!  Am I the only person who still values Mac 2000’s?

LDI – Omnisistem’s Booth

LDI had a TON of moving light manufacturers and reps this year – while I was surprised a little, I wasn’t shocked.  A good quantity of the moving lighting booths that weren’t Clay Paky, Coemar, Vari*Lite, Martin, High End, PRG, etc, were small-ish companies like Ominsistem out of Washington.  They’ve got a very large selection of fixtures and effects (as well as audio, truss, staging, etc), and their booth was hopping the whole weekend.  Give their selection of products a look-see.

LDI 2008 – Coemar’s Booth

Coemar had a pretty kickin’ booth this year at LDI. Coemar, Elation, Chauvet, and Vari*Lite had great booths. Actually, a lot of people had great booths. Barco and PRG’s booths were equally as excellent, and the people at PRG and Barco were extremely friendly and helpful. Martin’s booth was interesting as always – but in addition to the beautiful fixtures on display, I got snubbed a lot, and all I wanted to do was talk to someone about the Mac III. I’ve been using Mac 2000’s of both spot and wash flavors for years. I was bummed to get snubbed.

Rant over. Here’s Coemar’s booth. I do recommend checking out their new Infinity series luminaires. They’re pretty darned bright. Check out the Infinity Wash S, the Infinity Spot S, and the Infinity ACL.

And yeah. The Infinity ACL has a 6° spread. Crazy.

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Vari*Lite’s VL3500 Wash FX Luminaire

I can’t believe I missed this – I must have been stuck up on the new Mac III instead of looking around at other manufacturers and what they’ve prepared for PLASA and LDI this year.  Vari*Lite has introduced a new Wash luminaire into the market – but instead of just being a wash fixture, this fixture can also act as a spot fixture.

Vari*Lite’s optics are superior on the market (if you’ve used them, you know), and having a fixture that can output like a wash and project like a spot is a great tool to have in your rig.  A bit of information from the press release:

Vari-Lite is pleased to announce the new VL3500™ Wash FX luminaire. The unit, exceeding an output of 50,000 lumens, is a remarkable wash luminaire that is also capable of acting like a spot luminaire. In its color bulkhead the VL3500™ Wash FX contains one FX pattern wheel with four spring-loadable rotatable and indexable 50mm glass patterns along with one open position. The dual-wattage unit runs at either 1200W or 1500W and runs 900W in standby. The luminaire projects polished images with the ULTRA clear front lens which ships with the unit.

When asked to describe the market readiness for the VL3500 Wash FX luminaire, Bob Schacherl, Vice President of Sales for Vari-Lite said, “Lighting designers and customers have increasingly expected feature-rich products that can be adapted or configured to meet the widest possible range of applications.  We pride ourselves on meeting those expectations and the VL3500 Wash FX follows onto the successful design strategy we used with the VL3500 Wash, meaning the same incredible beam intensity, wide zoom range and dynamic color capabilities still exist. The addition of rotating patterns and ultra clear lens now creates a fixture that crosses over between hard-edged and wash luminaire and furthers this product line’s flexibility.” Schacherl confirmed that existing VL3500 Wash luminaire owners will also have the option of purchasing a conversion kit that easily re-configures their fixtures into VL3500 Wash FX luminaires.

So, we’re looking at a bright, high output lamp, great optics, dual output wattage, and the ability to project images like a spot.  Outstanding, Vari*Lite!