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Buying Robotic lights

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Spikesgirl, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    I need some imput from all you lighting guys. After listening to our LD talk about how nice it would be to have some robotics - my hubby and I have decided that we are going to buy a couple for the theater (and no, I'm not adpoting any new theaters at the moment).

    We have an Impression board and our LD says that it will run techno's - which I personally love. No cyberlights for this girl!

    However, technology has grown since I've last worked with robotics and I'm asking here - What robotics would you buy (within reason) for a community theater? I have no idea what questions to ask to answer our LD, so it's open season here, folks. HELP!!!!

    Char5lie
     
  2. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Ok first off it's incredibly cute that you call them "Robotics"

    Secondly I'd roll with something that run's 120v as opposed to 220v since you're in a community theatre. I'd look at Mac 250's and 700's. Also their tungsten line. The Tungsten is nice because it'll match what's allready in the air without having to color correct.

    The question (in my mind) comes down to do you want something to get more washes of color on stage or something that can focus and have a hard edge. Personally if it doens't have CMY these days I'm not really interested.

    Give us some more info on the theatre/season and we'll see what we can come up with!
     
  3. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Whatever you like as long as it is quiet, ie it has a studio mode which will let you use it for shows other than dance.Probably best to find which local company is best to deal with, who will do the servicing? is there a manufacturer service course you can attend?, like Martins.Movers are not like conventionals, a conventional will work for years with a quick clean, but movers need proper care, regularly.What parts back up is there?You may get many preferences but quite frankly they're pretty similar, my Chinese movers work as well as the top end gear visually but the build is not as good, not an issue as we are a low usage company doing a few school shows a year and I have heaps of spares and fix them myself.These sorts of considerations should guide your choice.
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Theatre Movers = CMY, Rotating Gobos, and Zoom and Focus Functions.

    New or Used VL1000. The VL1000TSD model is best for theatre, because it has shutters and the built-in IGBT dimmer, and will closely match the color temp of the other fixtures in the rig.

    I prefer moving heads for theatre, but if you want scanners instead of moving heards, the new Elation Vision Scan 575E is nice. It has a decent set of gobos, including many breakups useful in theatre for soft-focusing in to specials. It also has one of the glass breakups popular in theatre. It has a stepping zoom of 20, 22, and 24 degrees. Not too wide. Don't discount Elation due to their DJ history - they've really been putting out quality products. However, don't go for used Vision Scans, the older ones are not the same product.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  5. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Whats your price point and are you willing to buy used?
     
  6. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Okay, now you are asking questions that I can answer or at least fake it.

    First off, thank you for repsonding as lighitng is not my forte.

    Grog - are they no longer called robotics? That what we used to call them. Moving lights, then. Our theater is a pros with a 300 seat capacity. We are closing this season with Full Monty - next season: Big Bang, Cinderella, Children's Hour, I Love You, You're Perfect, Dearly Departed Annie Get your Gun and Frankie and Johnny at the Clare d' Lune. We also rent out to a couple local high schools for their shows as well - no dance shows, just theater (or meetings). 120v is a good idea though - thank you on that!

    Allthings - We are getting quotes now, but servicing would be done by our local theater supplier, who has serviced all the other robotics in the area (I know I used to have to haul the lights back and forth). Unless things change drastically, there will be no one on staff to do repairs, so we need something that will hold up fairly well.

    Soundlight - I am definitely leaning toward moving heads.

    Soundman - at this point, money is not an issue, although it's always a reality. I'm not keen on plunking down $10k for an instrument, but if an issue could be made, I might entertain it. At the same time, I'm not opposed to buying a used instrument either, but would certain want some sort of guarantee or full warranty on it.

    The LD is getting quotes, but I just want to make sure that all things have been considered in the fullness of time, so that we get the best bang for our buck.
     
  7. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    The most common terms seem to be: Automated Luminaries, Intelligent Lighting, Moving Lights, Wiggly Lights, Movers.
    Those are just the non-specific terms.
     
  8. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Don't forget the entire generation that still calls them all vari-lites. I think I hear that more then anything.
     
  9. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    nothing is quiet with martin. Their motors are noisy, mainly due to sloppy programming and lack of engineering. I own over 28 martin fixtures and i am not happy with them. I'd really look at the clay paky alpha's. I saw their alpha 300 shoot a beam all the way across the george R brown convention center here in houston, its a good 600+ ft throw, and it was bright. When i first saw it i figured it was a super trouper spot with some fancy little color mixing module, not a little fixture sitting on a desk. I love all of my claypakys (i currently own 32) and this year at LDI I will be buying either Clay paky alphas or Robe. You should also take a look at Robe. They are very well engineered lights with some really cool technology built in before the rest of the market was even ready for it. With Vari-lite, they are not repair friendly at all. You should make sure you local shop will even touch them. I know quiet a few that will not. If you were in houston, i'd be more than happy to show you some toys to play with and try out. I just sold some studio spot 575's to a local school and they are great theatrical lights also. You can get a CMY color mixing version, also they are completely fanless. There are several lens options you can get, then there is also a zoom lens option you can get that will allow you to zoom in and out.
     
  10. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    I browsed through the impression manual and the first version is limited to 150 channels and the impression 2 is limited to 300 channels. Depending on how many channels the average show is there might not be enough channels to use moving lights. Most moving lights that you want to be looking at use between 20 and 35 channels a piece. If you have a limit of 150 channels and use 115 channels for conventional control and you have a light that uses 20 DMX channels you will only be able to fit one light into the show file.

    If you have the Impression two the restrictions are not as bad but the control surface is lacking. It would be hard to use them for much more than refocusable specials with out some pretty intense programing.

    Might I suggest an I cue or an ellipscan with a scroller? which is 6 channels (2 for pan, 2 for tilt, 1 for color, and 1 for intensity) much less to deal with and for the situation it seems that you will be getting similar uses for less up front cost and more versitality.
     
  11. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Channel count does play a very big role. You may want to look at going with the Icue like sound man said and you can even step up to a color mixing module (sea changer) for your source 4, or if you need to buy a source 4 you will still be under the price of a moving light, but you will be getting close.

    Personally if i was limited to channels what i would do is
    A. Spec a new console to go with the lights
    B. Go with some I cues and sea changers on some source 4's. Then for cyc options stick some gobo changers with rotoating gobo option (gam makes some) so you can change out the gobo colors in the cyc. I would probably also stick a sea changer on that light also, so you can have multicolored cyc with breakup gobos. Id do this for 2-4 source 4s.
     
  12. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    If sounds a large issue go with Studio Spot 575 CMY...I'm a big fan of this light even though its not as punchy as I'd like it to be.

    Personally I feel any light Q'd properly is quiet....the problem is most people don't take the time to do that.
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    The "modular" approach to moving lights is hereby called "The Gafftaper Method," soon hopefully to become just as popular as McCandless. ([user]gafftaper[/user], I can't find the thread(s). Why don't you start a Collaborative Article?) Buying modular components of a moving light is infinitely more versatile.

    I've made my feelings known on purchasing vs. renting moving lights. Moving lights require a great deal of feeding, preventative maintenance, and TLC, and will just collect dust when not needed for a show. Run the financial numbers.

    Plus the fact that programming movers on an Impression will just lead to frustration. I just don't think you're ready. Just my 2¢.
     
  14. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I love high end so I would point you in the direction of the studio spot, the CMY version is a good idea, but it's more channels I believe. There are plenty of other good fixtures out there that would work (VL1000, Powerspots. etc...) that is just the one I know best, so what I would do is look to your local dealers. If you have an Elation dealer in town and the closest High End dealer is an hour away, buy the Powerspot. Also as mentioned make sure you can get parts/service and factor that in (I've heard nightmares about fixing Vari-lites)

    One idea you might look into that has kind of been mentioned is auto yokes. You either loose some of the fun parts of movers or have to get creative (eg. rotating gobo wheel) but considering it can be done in 5 channels it might be the perfect fit if your channel count is getting close.

    EDIT: heres a decent link for info on the Auto Yoke http://www.seal-fla.com/auto-yoke/auto-yoke.htm
     
  15. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone actually used an Auto Yoke? They look interesting. Do they still require the same amount of TLC as a regular moving light?
     
  16. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Don't buy an Auto Yoke - buy an Apollo Right Arm. Smaller, and has a one-arm design. We had a demo of one recently and I really liked it. Albeit kind of slow, it's a very nice unit and has a built in Apollo power supply for scrollers and other accessories such as gobo rotators or DMX irises. Plus, it will move anything - not just source fours. We used it with a narrow source four par with a scroller on it. I see uses for them as a projector moving device, and it could probably move a Source Four with a GAM SX4 in it.
     
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Here's the Technical Data for City Theatrical's AutoYoke®. MSRP $2353.

    Here's the Site for Apollo's RightArm™. MSRP $1195.

    Just to add complexity, here's the page for the Rosco I-Cue. MSRP $597.

    As with any major purchase, attempt to do a side-by-side comparison of performance and features, to see if any will meet your needs/expectations, then compare cost of purchase and ownership.
     
  18. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I-Cue's are sweet, but wait, Gafftaper, you have the capabilities, right? Please hang a S4 w/ I-Cue on a Right Arm?! :cool:

    Anyways, what specifically was your LD talking about when he was extoling the virtues of MLs? I'd vote for the Gafftaper Approach if it can be accomplished.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Now that I am famous for "the method". I will ask you the critical question.

    What do you REALLY want to do with these moving lights?

    -Change colors within a restricted set of choices... buy a scroller
    -Active color mixing... buy a Seachanger, or Wybron CXI or Apollo MXR or Morpheus ColorFader.
    -Ability to reposition lights between cues.... buy an I-cue or Right Arm
    -Make things move... buy a Gobo rotator, Rosco X-effects, Rosco Infinity animation, City EFX Plus, Gam FilmFX, Gam Scen Machine, Gam SX4
    -Make the image shrink/grow... buy a City DMX Iris
    -Strobe... buy a Strobe...

    What do you need the expensive mover for? DJ effects? Do you really want a set of movers that spins and does concert lighting tricks in unison? You are going to need a new console to do that.

    The basic principle of The Method is this. For live theater, the vast majority of the time you only need one or two of the tricks above. So buy the specific tricks that you need. How many times a year do you do a show where you need this spinning and changing colors? What you do probably need is a water or fire effect, or some lights that can change colors. The Gafftaper Method says buy the components and you'll find you get more tricks that you ACTUALLY use for your money. I had a budget of about $50k for toys in my system. I could have purchased 5 Mac 700's. Instead I got 20 Seachangers, 2 rotators, 2 Infinity Effects, 4 right arms, 4 I-cues, and 2 DMX Iris. All of it far more useful on a regular basis than just 4 movers.

    Lets put it this way... Below is the feature list of the MAC 700 profile (one of the top choices for theater).

    * 700 W short arc discharge lamp... Bright and higher color temperature than "the method" but this also means it will not blend well with the rest of your lighting rig.
    * CMY color mixing system... buy a Seachanger
    * 8 position color wheel plus open... you have a seachanger
    * Motorized zoom and focus... ok, we can't do that. AutoYoke® has an AutoFocus option.
    * Mechanical dimming... no problem it's called a dimmer
    * Gobo animation wheel with full movement / direction control... buy a Rosco Infinity Effects
    * 9 static and 6 indexable rotating gobos plus open... buy a rotator
    * Interchangeable 3-facet rotating prism... got me on this one too... but do you need it? City Theatrical's Image Multiplexer.
    * Motorized iris... City Theatrical DMX Iris
    * Strobe effect 2 - 10 Hz, pulse effects, instant open and blackout... buy a strobe or a strobe cap.
    * Pan and tilt range of 540°/246°... I-cue or Right Arm
    * Variable fan control for quieter operation... not a problem
    * Modular design for easy maintenance and servicing... even easier and cheaper with components
    * Electronic ballast with hot lamp restrike and flicker free light... not a problem

    Edits by derekleffew.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2008
    gafftapegreenia likes this.
  20. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I stand corrected I see little in the Auto Yoke to make it worth double the price, go right arm. I have worked with auto yokes and I gave a little of my ideas earlier but I'll expand. This gives you the ability to do the three things you need movers for most: pan, tilt, and change colors. As gaff illustrated quite nicely, if you need other effects (moving gobos, iris, etc...) that's what accessory slots are for.
     

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