Advice on Orchestra Lighting needed

Chase P.

Well-Known Member
Greetings all!

So I need some advice on new lighting for a month long (mostly) orchestral festival in a tent.

(TL;DR Color correct RGB pars or purchase LED "crowd blinders"? See full details below)

When I took over the event, they had:

-A 40'wide by 36' deep stage (black gloss StageRight decking)
-Boxed in with black velour drapes on three sides
-16 Altman 750watt 6x9's hung roughly 16' above stage height, on truss 16 from the downstage edge of the stage for front light and soloist specials
-Two unistrut battens, 13' above the stage
-With 8 350-500watt rectangular outdoor flood lights pretty evenly distributed on each batten for top light
-6-8 more flood lights above the audience as house light
-Powered by an ancient 36 dimmer Scrimmer rack, each dimmer is 3.6 kilowatts, powered off a 100a feed
-In a big white vinyl clearspan tent.

I kept using their previous setup for a couple years, adding some back or side light from LED RGB pars that I could get on a bro-deal from another company I work for.

They now want to switch to all LED, getting rid of the dimmer rack. The lights add too much heat to daytime rehearsals, the dimmer rack sounds like a jet engine, and the Altman's are literally rusty and corroded from being stored in humid conditions for years. Power on the site is very limited, obviously the instruments listed barely make a dent in the available capacity from the Scrimmer rack.

I've tried out the Monoprice Stage Right led ellipsoidals, and they'll do the job for front light. (They're not horrible, despite being plastic housing. They make a zoom in a metal housing as well. We should discuss these in a separate thread).

To the meat of my question: I'm trying to come up with a very affordable top light solution for performances to replace the outdoor flood lights. I'll be running truss at a similar (13-14' trim) across the stage to replace the unistrut, so actual theatrical fixtures can be used. With the existing truss, and the size of the tent, trim is pretty well locked in.

Budget is <$4k. I could rent every year, but the event is a month long, and gets expensive. Purchasing a budget solution would allow me to upgrade something else next year (and there's a lot that needs it).

My two current thoughts are:
Bite the bullet and purchase something like this:

Use a bunch of the RGB Chauvet Tri-Par IRC's that I have cheap access to, with color correction gel to get the "white" close to something useable.

I also have to LED-ize the house lights. Might use LED high bay fixtures, 0-10v control with a DMX converter, since they never need to dim to 0%.

Any advice or experience with these solutions would be appreciated.
I would avoid blinders be cause they blind folks. They are very glary and musicians will complain at the drop of a note anyway. Same goes for the high-bay fixtures. Perhaps you can get away with it, but I don't like making people uncomfortable.

I have been on a bit of a search for a cheap, high output, white only, wide angle DMX fixture. The ETC S4WRD PAR is not so cheap but can go pretty wide. The Osram Krieos is everything but DMX so would need a few dimmers. The Altman and Light Source work lights are not dimmable at all. The new Chauvet F-265WW is about the same lumens/$ as the ETC.

I'm sure there are architectural flood lights that are 0-10 but I'm not willing to run 2 control lines. Look at RAB as a well priced basic brand. That might work for you in several ways.
The high bays are going over the audience, possibly with just diffusion, probably with a white fabric enclosure to mimic a drum style lamp shade, so I'm not seriously concerned about glare out there. The blinders are listed as such, but described as also being usable as film or tv lighting, which is encouraging. Chauvet has an article mentioning them being used as house lights, which is how I stumbled across them. They're the knockoff version of the Elation Cuepix, or a two banger version of the Chauvet Strike 4. I've just never used anything like it as light during a show, only work lights, so I'm nervous about taking that financial plunge. Doubly for Chinese knockoffs, since I can't afford the name brands.

I'll check out the Chauvet and Osram suggestions you made, thanks!
... Doubly for Chinese knockoffs, since I can't afford the name brands.

Aside from general sketchyness, the big red flag on the ebay listing is that they don't even pretend to make any claims about brightness. Yes, they consume 200W, but how much of that power actually gets converted to light? Who knows...

They might not be awful, but you can almost certainly expect crappy dimming and wide variation in both color and brightness across multiple units. It's definitely a gamble.
Hey, it's been a while, but I wanted to thank those that offered advice, and post an update on what I went with. I feel like we too rarely get to see the solution chosen by orignal posters here, and it can be really great to hear how things actually worked.

Due to budgetary constraints, I opted to just color correct the RGB pars over the orchestra. It kind of worked, I wish I'd gotten something a bit more amber (L205 and R119 on RGB Chauvet Slim Par Tri7 fixtures). On the plus side, we were still able to mix some deep colors with the gels in place. Since the performances alternated between orchestral and bands on varying nights, the flexibility was great.

I did replace the house lights with LED highbay fixtures. I got the 0-10v dimmable ones, and wired a cable loom that supplied 120v through edison connectors, and low volt through Anderson PowerPole. Separate cables loomed together, obviously. The cheapie DMX to 0-10v controller I found on Amazon worked great. The fixtures didn't dim lower than about 15-20%, which was perfect, since we don't have aisle lights. That failure to dim completely is the fault of the fixtures, not the controller, by the way.

Over the last three years, our LED conversion has gotten us down to a fraction of our power draw. I know we've talked here about how LEDs in stage lighting take a long time to see a return on the investment, from a power standpoint. We're currently looking at some generator options to power show critical systems, since shore power can occasionally crap out in the wilderness. Without the LED conversion, it wasn't remotely affordable, so our full conversion was a real win.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice here, and elsewhere. I'm proud to be part of the community, I feel like this is such a great venue to expand one's knowledge. I'm constantly tucking away ideas for future use.
Hey, it's been a while, but I wanted to thank those that offered advice, and post an update on what I went with. I feel like we too rarely get to see the solution chosen by orignal posters here, and it can be really great to hear how things actually worked.
It has been, in fact, traditionally, the currency of Internet help; it's almost an obligation to tell everyone how it went... though, as you note, so few people do.

Thanks for the update, and glad things worked out as well as they have.
Also something to think about is refresh rate. Even if no one is taking professional pictures, some of the less professional LEDs have the same phycological effects as old fluorescents where they cause headaches and eye strain after an hour or so. Definitely something to think about when people are staring at music.

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