Depends upon what era and type of Colortran it is now doesn't it? This much less what era and type of Strand gear.

For the most part a Fresnel is a Fresnel only of a different shape. A leko is not a leko amongst all creations of it. etc. What is your specific question?

Colortran has been bougt out many times over, Strand is still itself. Both are ancient companies with good innovation over the years.

One of te books I'm currently reading is a biography of one of the main figures at Strand. Believe he left there at some point and opened other companies. At the start of the ligting business it was a very small world if not even train wrecks of one brand of gear bought out as scavenged gear and re-stamped under another brand as an urban legend.

Of current gear, I about rate them the same for at least domestic gear. Not too many Colortran Bambinos out there.
Colortran used to be Lee Colortran International,until being bought out by electrical powerhouse Leviton in the early 1990's. Lee made some of the first AMX desks affordable and reliable enough for schools and small installations.

Some of their dimmers and consoles use their own protocols(which can be a pain in the arse)though most larger desks produced int the last 20 years have the option of switching between the two.

As for current products, they have some large intelligent lighting consoles avaiable as well extremely affordable and midline desks.

I grew up on a Scenemaster 60 Plus.

As for Strand,
from their site:

"The Strand Electric Company began operating in 1914 to serve London's theater district. In 1926 Century Lighting opened for business in New York to serve Broadway. Today, Strand Lighting, the union of these two companies, continues as the world's leading name in stage, television, motion picture, and architectural lighting and services."
Sidenote: NSI Corp is also part of Leviton, and their MC-24/48 uses the same innnards and face plate as the Colortran Innovator 24/48 console. The innovator just looks different from the front. Basically, NSI is lower quality lighting gear, and Colortran picks up the product line where NSI leaves off. They also share a considerable number of their lighting fixtures on both company's websites.
yes...i have seen lots of berkley colortran ellipsoidals in older spaces.
OK, some history

Colortran timeline - 'ish:

Mid 70's - Colortran is Berkey Colortran, a California company owned by Berkey Film Labs, attempting to kind of break into the film/TV lighting market with lighting "kits", mostly assorted open faced quartz halogen stuff in fiberboard road cases, designed for photo shoots, etc..

They branch into the theatrical market (late 70's - early 80's ?), first with consoles, that in the early stage were all made by Fred Foster (and brother), who would go on to start ETC. ETC actually made the ETC Patchman and Channel Track consoles. Soon after they offer fixtures so as to get the entire bid on a project. The early fixtures were all Altman

Still early to mid 80's they start their own fixture line, not all that different then what they currently offer, including copying the Strand idea of a single ellipsoidal body with 30/40 and 50 degree lense tubes. Very nice fixtures, by the way, the 6" Fresnel is still a great unit.

Early/Mid 80's, they team up with David Cunningham (designer of the Strand Light Pallette and it's operating syntax), to develop the Prestige series (1000, 2000 and 3000) console. Same OS/Syntax as the Light Pallette. Also nice consoles, very buggy though. They also come out with the D192 dimmer system (still a reliable and functional system). The C-Tran CMX console to dimmers control protocol becomes the basis for DMX512.

About this time, they come out with the ENR dimmer, very advanced for the time. They also have engineering issues as they catch fire in large numbers, causing C-Tran to lay out a ton of cash to fix free.

D. Cunningham bolts over to ETC to develop the Sensor dimmer - essentially an improved ENR. C-Tran sues and loses, causes Chapter 11, etc...

A few years go by and they get brought by NSI. They move all gear and a few people to Portland ?. NSI gets brought out by Leviton.

I'll do Strand later.

Oh yeah, forgot that at some point, C-Tran was purchased, then a few years later, sold by Lee Lighting (Lee filters). Thus the Lee logo on a lot of stuff. Never understood why all this took place, or what exactly Lee was after.


Note that a lot of my comments are somewhat opinionated and are certainly US oriented.

As others have mentioned and is seen on the website, Strand merged with US Century.

Some important things about Strand that still matter:

1) Mid/Late 70's - Strand UK did not want Strand US making a US only console. UK wanted the UK style consoles used in the US. US went ahead and developed the very first US made memory console (Multi-Q) anyway. It was widely successfull and superior to the UK MMS stuff. Strand US, emboldened by the success, had Dave Cunningham develop the Light Palette, itself influenced by Pilbrows Lightboard, that was developed for the Nat'l Theaters in London.

Lightpallette changed everything (in consoles - up to the development of ML consoles). The Strand 300/400/500 stuff all derives from the LightPallette tracking style OS (unless you spec. Genius), as does the ETC Obsession, itself created as Broadway designers, for the most part, hated the ETC Expression syntax. The Colortran Prestige also derived from Lightpallette.

Strand also was very successful, early on in the US in developing and installing large numbers of high density dimming systems with its CD80 system. ETC was JUST starting with this stuff, having purchased LMI. Kliegl was also following suite, as was C-Tran, which had the most technically superior systems (IMO).

Kliegl is long gone.

Strand is now playing catch up with ETC. They make very good gear, thought they have a rep. for terrible tech support. They are very strong in the Asian market, not as strong as ETC in the Euro market. The 500 consoles are super consoles, seeing a lot of use on Broadway - due to superior ML plus conventional dimming control, better then anything ETC currently has.

Colortran is playing catch up, probably not enough people in R&D and Tech support to design state-of-the-art stuff as well as support it. Strand also jumped right on the modern ellipsoidal bandwagon with the SL fixtures. Colortran has never updated from 6" stuff.

Not sure where C-Tran will end up, even though Leviton seemingly has limitless resources, potentially more then either ETC or Strand. Not sure there's anyone at C-Tran to tell them how to spend the money, though.

Apologize in advance if the tim-line's a bit rough and feel free to chime in with corrections and any other tidbits of data from the past.

Me, personally I've had my fill of Colortran. Tech support is good, but products are lagging behind ETC.
When at a high school that's been running on a lightronics desk forever, Colortran is a welcome update (we were recently donated an encore). While slightly less stable and harder to learn than ETC, they'll do in a pinch for any high school that can't hand out the money for an ETC and can snatch one off a theater that got c-tran stuff and wants ETC, but those are few and far between....gotta catch them at the right time.
We have two Colortran 2K fresnels (8" I think they are), and they're one of the most versatile lights I have at my disposal. They came with "Berkeley Colortran" stands, if that's any indication to their age.
Oh yeah, forgot that at some point, C-Tran was purchased, then a few years later, sold by Lee Lighting (Lee filters). Thus the Lee logo on a lot of stuff. Never understood why all this took place, or what exactly Lee was after.


To the best of my recollection Lee was after the film lighting market. They set up two companies, Lee Electric East in New York and Lee Electric West in Burbank (where I worked). I heard from someone while I was working at Lee Colortran that the Lee brothers had ~90% of the film lighting market in the UK (which is where they hailed from). At some point, there was a monoply issue with the government of some country (I don't remember which one) and so they sold us.

Disclamer: This is all third hand stuff I heard roughly 20 years ago and am faintly remembering. Please don't treat any of it as gospel.

Thank you.

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