Two Suns in 2012? Really?

So, there’s a woo-mah (you know, a rumor) that in 2012, our Sun will be joined by ANOTHER sun-like bright disk in the sky that people have been worshiping for millions of years.  Our Sun, G2V, could possibly (theoretically) be competing for prime time sky space with the impending supernova of Betegeuse – some know it as Alpha Orionis.

The big rumor is that Betelgeuse is running out of betel-juice – which generally means that the fuel at the center of the star is diminishing.  Once this happens, it’s pretty much curtains for the supergiant star.  A few things could happen if the supergiant does its end-of-star death thing – one, it’ll turn into a massive black hole, or two, it’ll shower the Earth with neutrinos, or both.  Scientists don’t really have a solid understanding of what exactly happens with a supernova, but they do know that it’s only something that happens with stars that have a mass of at least nine times larger than our Sun (G2V).

Some people are being ridiculous about this possible event, saying that it’s a sign of the 2012 Mayan Doomsday thing.  While sometimes I think that it’s fun to pretend, this is a hunk of crap, methinks.  You know that if I’m wrong about this theory, it doesn’t matter because we’re all dead.

A professor at the University of Southern Queensland talked about all of this in an article at News.Com.AU:

When that happens, we’ll get our second sun, according to Dr Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland.

“This old star is running out of fuel in its centre”, Dr Carter said. “This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly.”

When this happens a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun. The bad news is, it could also happen in a million years. But who’s counting? The important thing is, one day, night will become day for several weeks on Earth.

“This is the final hurrah for the star,” says Dr Carter. “It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up – we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”

The interwebs is being flooded with doomsday theories saying the impending supernova confirms the Mayan calendar’s prediction of the Armageddon in 2012.

Well, here’s a picture of two suns in the sky to relieve the fact that if I’m wrong in predicting that the Mayans are right about the whole end of the world thing, we’re toast:

Thanks Wikipedia,, and Wikipedia!

Sunday Flickr Group Photo Pool

It seems the theme is a mix between objects and objectivity this week – lots of good stuff!  Have you joined the Flickr Group yet?  Why not – it’s free!

15 of 365:  rock and roll


Devon Energy crane beams

I love lamp


Winter night

Christmas at DePaul 2010

"Squirrel Cage" lamp

Isabelle Hayeur’s “Fire with Fire” Installation

Have you seen Isabelle Hayeur’s video installation called “Fire with Fire?” Check out this video:

This is pretty awesome! As Make Magazine puts it, and in the words of Mark Frauenfelder, “I think people who enjoy getting mad will enjoy getting mad” at this art installation by Isabelle Hayeur.

From Isabelle Hayeur’s site on Fire with Fire:

3 channels video installation.
Video projection of 15 minutes playing in continuous loop.
3 Blu-ray players, 3 video projectors.

112 West Hastings Street, Vancouver.

Fire with Fire has been commissioned by
The Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.
Curator : Marlene Madison.

The Downtown Eastside is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver; it is also the most run-down. This historic area is infamous for being plagued by social problems due to poverty. Before falling prey to serious urban decay, it has known brighter days, and was even the city’s business hub until the 1980s. Derelict for over twenty years, in more recent ones, it has started to be sought after again. The Downtown Eastside is undergoing a major mutation –witness the newly renovated buildings and the constructions sites that now dot the area.

The coming of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is accelerating the Downtown Eastside’s transformation by heightening real estate speculation and gentrification; new condo towers and big box stores are appearing. The revamping of the neighbourhood seems more responsive to the expectations of people who are better-off. Tensions between real estate developers and members of the community are palpable, with fears of a form of implicit “social cleansing”.

It is striking that the history of the Downtown Eastside began in destruction and disappearance. In 1886, soon after the city was incorporated, the Great Vancouver Fire swept down on the neighbourhood and razed almost all of it to the ground. The video installation Fire with Fire recalls this troubled period of Vancouver’s history. It also alludes to the neighbourhood’s present conditions by reminding us that many lives have been consumed there, worn down by years of homelessness, drug use, street prostitution, and violence.


Ridiculous Scripted Videos: Meet the Master Electrician

Have you seen any of these videos that are made at the XtraNormal website?  They’re the ones where you submit a scripted dialogue between two characters, and the characters are computer voices that often make HILARIOUS scenarios.

If you’ve not seen any of these, you have to see this one – it’s the meeting of the house Master Electrician.  Get ready to chuckle!

You HAVE to check out more of these videos – here’s one with a scenic designer and a lighting designer talking about the upcoming show they’re both designing:

Check out XtraNormal to make your own effing hilarious situational giggle material!

A Grateful

I am traveling this weekend – the next several weeks for me are home a few days, gone a few days.

Home a few days, gone a few days.
Home a few days, gone a few days.
Home a few days, gone a few days.

Then, in March, I’m taking my first non-work long-time vacation!  How ridiculous will it be?

I just want to take a moment and say thank you to everyone – my birthday was amazing.  You all blew up my Facebook page and made me feel absolutely awesome.  Thanks a lot, everybody!

Back to it.  Let’s light some shit!

Happy Birthday, James Watt!

What the fu-HEY!  Is that JAMES WATT?!

DUDE!  We share a birthday!  James Watt and – now THAT is some hilarious coincidence!

You might know James Watt here as the guy who is known for the SI unit for power, called “Watts.”  I wrote a post about ol’ Jimmy Boy Watt here – check it out!  Happy birthday, you old important dead guy!

An Interesting Problem – Surface Color Variations

A member of the Community, Cameron Ware (also known as @VisualWorshiper on Twitter) encountered a pretty interesting problem this weekend while lighting a gig.  Check out this video:

My guess is that one of two things has happened – either a UV field has somehow made its way into the beam, or that surface has something about it that surface being illuminated is reflecting that crazy UV tint. What do you think? Please leave a comment in the Comment section below, let’s solve this problem together!

Daft Punk – A Visual History of Daft Punk’s Illuminated Helmets

Okay, this is just excellent.  I found this in a forum called The Daft Club – the creator’s name is Agent RayBans on that forum.  Great job, mang!

At the end of the post are the full-sized images.  Make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Agent RayBans, great work!

Here’s the first image, full size, and the second, full size.

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:


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.

Burning in the Sun

Have you seen trailers for this movie Burning in the Sun? Below is not a trailer, it’s an in-depth video about the film’s subject, Daniel Dembélé. You have got to check it out.

From Al Jazeera:

Twenty-six-year-old Daniel Dembélé is equal parts West African and European, and looking to make his mark on the world.

Seizing the moment at a crossroads in his life, Daniel decides to return to his homeland in Mali and start a local business building solar panels – the first of its kind in the sun-drenched nation.

Daniel’s goal is to electrify the households of rural communities – 99 per cent of which live without power.

Burning in the Sun tells the story of Daniel’s journey growing the budding idea into a viable company, and its impact on Daniel’s first customers in the tiny village of Banko.

Taking controversial stances on climate change, poverty and African self-sufficiency, the film explores what it means to grow up as a man, and what it takes to prosper as a nation.

This is something that inspired me this morning to drive 2011’s possibilities of solar, wind, geothermal, and wave power as hard as I can. I’m tired of hearing stories about how gas is going up higher than five or six bucks a gallon soon, and how companies like BP are skirting around the legal system like it was a flea market in which the only penalty is paying too much.

Let’s kick ass in 2011 to make up for 2010’s shortcomings!