Color changing with traditional lights


I am currently a senior (why didn't I find this place until I was a senior?) and I have a concert coming up that will be my last chance to do concert lighting. I was reading and i found this article. It is an amazing high school talent show.

I was wondering if I could make those rectangular panels and create any color by mixing red, green, and blue fresnels? They wouldn't be as tall.

I know that in theory it can be done, but I dont know if it can be done, or with what gels to do it with. I have absolutely no budget to rent color changing lights. (does anyone know a ballpark price to rent them for a couple days?) I was thinking of mounting 3 fresnels on the top of the frame, and 3 on the bottom.

My resources are: 30x fresnels, 20x ellipsoidals, 4x Source Four Zooms, and 3 banks of overhead border lights consisting of red, blue, and white glass gels, and a crate full of an assortment of gels. My lighting board is a Colortran Status. If it is necissary, I can borrow an ETC Express 24/48 from our video studio.

Has anyone ever tried something like this? Any advice would be great.

I've done similar things. If you plan on using these as a light source, I have to warn you they'll reduce output a lot, and the light is so soft its virtually uncontrollable.

As for doing it, yeah, you could use 3 sources on the back, place them as close to each other as possible and you can make a good RGB panel. Gels, it depends a bit on what source you're using, lower color temp sources will require higher color temp gel, or a CTB before it.
If you plan on doing mixing with 3 different R, G and B sources, make sure your color media is really pure. For that use, I would go with GAM's series of primaries. I went to one of their seminars here in LA once and they mixed Red, Green, and Blue on a cyc and it actually came out white! Now those are some pure filters!

If youre looking for a creative projection surface to light with these colors, check out Rose Brand's Spandex Strectch Shapes. Or heck, you can even make your own (thats what we did).

The new LED ColorSplash 196 would be perfect for your application.


This DMX fixture features RBG color mixing and exceptional output for a fixture in the sub $ 200.00 class. Besides weighing only 3 pounds and creating no heat the best thing is it draws only 10 watts.
Whats the spread on it though? If he needs 6 of those to cover a panel the cost will be prohibitive. LED units are great, but their spread is not controllable at all, they come at a given angle, and thats that. Some manufacturers have released lenses and gel holders, but most still havent.
Thank you for the responses:

Inaki2: Their purpose is to provide contrasting colors with those that are on the performers, they do not need to light anything besides themselves. According to, I think the lights are only 3050 degrees kelvin at best. I will check with the teacher in charge of lighting about the bulbs, but he only buys bulbs and sets up lights for his choral concerts, he's never tried anything like this.

LDSFX: I know we already have alot of the ROSCO primaries, R27, R80, and i think some R91, but maybe not. I was reading the GAM website, and they had a good article on color theory and how to mix additive colors I'm planning on making my own surface. What properties are important in the fabric?

BillESC: If this was a permanent investment, I would definetly consider those, but I definetly dont have the budget to get any. Plus, our theater has no DMX infrastructure. All I have is a DMX line from a jack in the lighting booth to the dimmer rack.

As far as fabric goes, its really your choice. Spandex panels work well, but its really up to the look your going for. Check out your local Jo-Ann fabrics and then just make some fabric flats. I would also suggest backlighting the panels for more of a "glow" look.

Well as far as material, you want something semi-translucent, and heat resistant, especially working with incandescent fixtures. Depending on your budget, Rose Brand has excelent fabrics. If not, frosted plexiglass (beware of heat, but they take it pretty well). You can always put heat filters on the gel frame.
The color mixing system most moving lights use involves the colors Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. I'm not how that translates into parts, for frensels in your case since that is subtractive mixing, and I guess what you are doing is additive mixing. Can anyone tell how using a cyan, a magenta, and a yellow light works?

Anyway props to you for trying to do a good job. It is always refereshing when someone wants to do something with excellence. Good Luck and welcome to CB.
Well substarctive mixing works off secondaries (CMY) while additive works off primaries (RGB). No translation there, additivie mixing with CMY will do nothing for him.
Given flood position, I might also frost if not silk the fixtures as much as possible and even attempt if there is not room upstage of the screens to reflect them off a mirror to expand or obscure the throw distance some. Always hate it when a screen has a hot (brighter) spot on it from the fixture.

Your 500w BTL lamps would be lucky to get 3,050°K out of the lamp. Dependant upon the brand it's just as possible it's 2,950°K - not that you will be able to tell the difference. Wide range of who is at what color temperature and how much life the BTL lamp is rated for from brand to brand and catalog to catalog from them.

If at all possible in fighting these saturated colors and screens, go with a 750w BTN lamp - especially if from Philips or Osram. Not only will there be more luminous output in the higher wattage lamp given you have dimmer capacity for them, but the specified color temperature of these two brands is currently (changes catalog to catalog) 3,200°K. As opposed to the GE, Ushio and Wiko similar BTN lamps at 3,050°K.

Wonder what adding white scrim material behind the projection screen would do? This especially if you were able to move it upstage - closer to the lamps or downstage closer to the spandex.
Thanks again.

The event was postponed to April, so now I have some time to tinker. It turns out I do not have any primary green. Should I stick with Rosco or should I try GAM? I'm going to look into getting some BTN lamps as well.

I am planning on having 4 panels. I was wondering, should I tie them into two sets of dimmers, or should I keep them independent? To make them independent would require dropping the 3rd (unused) plugging strip to the stage to get enough outlets. I am not sure if they are 1.2 kW or 2.something kW dimmers.

Do you need that much control? At the very least you'll need 3 groups of dimmers. Now you can two-fer 2 panels, or you can have every panel individually. This will let you do cool chases!
not sure if this isn't too late but from a rental house in chicago (ILC) told me that Scrollers cost $22.50 per week- Gel Scroll and standard cable included. P.S.U's are $15 each per week (for every 16 scrollers you need a PSU).
Pie4Weebl said:
not sure if this isn't too late but from a rental house in chicago (ILC) told me that Scrollers cost $22.50 per week- Gel Scroll and standard cable included. P.S.U's are $15 each per week (for every 16 scrollers you need a PSU).

scrollers would be kinda useless in a mixing situation... and ILC rents wymbrom scrollers w/ the concert string in them so getting mixable colors would not be easy... if you want try the CMY route roscos cal colors will get you there... but they go to white VERY quickly so mixing with them kinda sucks... as far as color goes... r124-r126 for RGB w/ built in sile and r121-r123 for RGB with diffusion... these colors should mix pretty well for ya... i would sudgest lighting these panels with some type of leko.... fresnels are a bit too uncontrollable for backlighting something imo....
ILC amongst other sources for rental have scroller options available between what was used in past shows, is a more or less standard scroll and, if not the ability to cusom make a scroll for your rental. Not a difficult thing to make a new scroll.

Just a question of while asking for a quote on the scrollers specifying what you want on them. Custom scroller rolls will no doubt cost more if not already pre-built but would allow for what is desired in colors.

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