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Industry (Technological Advances) Slowing Down???

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by lightman02, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. lightman02

    lightman02 Active Member

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    Ok, I don't want to be too negative here but it dawned on me while watching a video of the Trans Siberian orchestra concert; which is pretty amazing. Anyway I was thinking about the industry and wondering what could possibly come next. We have the digital stuff by High End and high powered traditional moving heads by Martin and various others. It seems that all manufactures are trying to pump more wattage into their fixtures with higher power lamps and maybe some movement speed increases as well. LED’s are still up-coming but the high powered strips such as Color Kinetics are already used in concerts and very bright as they stand and do a lot of cool effects. Also the High End led lights are nice and are great technical wise but not really something extremely new as far as effect wise. I was wondering if anyone else agrees that we are going to be stuck with the same lights for a long time. I really can’t figure out what u can possible do more with conventional optics, etc. And lasers are pretty bright and awesome as they are so I don’t see any gain there, anyone agree??
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Plasma "bulbs", moving lights will get a lot smaller.
     
  3. lightman02

    lightman02 Active Member

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    Yes but no real effect change, Im talking about new effects not improvments such as different bulbs and fixture sizes.
     
  4. PadawanGeek

    PadawanGeek Active Member

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    Things will always be changing.

    PS. I was at TSO this year... it was awesome, though they didnt seem to have anything new, just a compilation of the best things of all the previous years.
     
  5. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    LED's are still phasing in, and once they have entered the market in full force, or possibly even before they do, newer and cooler things will already be coming up behind then, such as plasma lamps and fiber optics.

    Really, the HES DL.3's aren't replacing any existing technology by any means. They're just too pricey to have a huge effect on the industry. LED's, CMY color changers, Mac III's, and fiber optic curtains on the other hand, are more likely to have a greater overall effect. The effects may not be significantly changing, but that's not a prerequisite for being an industry mainstay. Look at the ETC Source Four. It wasn't adopted as an industry standard because it could light a stage like any other light fixture could. It was adopted because it was/is more efficient, more durable, more versatile, and more streamlined. It wasn't any single improvement that made it what it is, it was a string of small improvements. Being able to exchange a lens tube, or use the same lamp in all of the different ETC fixtures (minus the Rev.) were huge steps for the industry, but relatively small as far as technology advancement. The only reason I hesitate to say ETC has, and will continue to hold the ERS market, is because all it would take is for some company to come along and make 3-4 small, but well-done improvements to the fixture design. Strand came close with the 360° barrel rotation and thumb screws, except they did it poorly via the use of spring-loaded knobs and the finest quality of cheap plastic. Selecon came close with their heat dissipation, but has yet to become a practical and cost-effect enough solution for much of the global market.

    Altman, Lightronics, and any of the other copy-cat companies abysmally failed at their ERS lines because that's all they were, ERS lines to compliment their other fixtures. They didn't improve the designs of the fixtures at all though. They created fixtures basically so they could say they have that product available to consumers, but it's hardly real competition.

    In the end, the job of the lighting industry is to do just that, provide light. If we do it for $2,000,000 or $2,000, and at an extreme inconvenience to the stagehands, or with relative ease-of-use for them, we're still doing our job, except one way we're doing it much better than the other.

    It's important to remember that as cool effects become more readily available to the general public, even cooler effects will begin in R&D and production, but release to the market at higher prices. Now in my realm, I consider something like Mac moving heads at a point where they will begin to become more available to the general public, while Showpix and digital projection will bring up the rear as they become selectively available to the small number of groups that can afford them.

    Projection itself is still a technology in the making. Just as people see a day where LED's take over, I speculate that there may be a day when everything is projection. No more patterns, gels, barn doors, top hats, donuts, strobes, or followspots. Everything could end up to be digital projection, as easily programmable as conventional, but as powerful as the designer's imagination. Wouldn't that suck if the entire industry was reduced to digital projection, hazers/foggers, and pyrotechnics? But why not? Who needs consumable gels and gobos with fixtures that constantly need to be refocused, when you could get everything you need out of DL.3-like devices with plasma lamps that burn at low wattages, last 15,000 hrs, and provide the same effects, and even have a perfected digital black that is actually black. You'd never have to refocus, only change lamps in and out, and then the rest of the time is wasted programming. With exceptions to pricing, that sort of power is almost available today, if you've got $20,000,000 or so to spare.
     
  6. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    One word, holograms.
     
  7. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if you should put Altman and Lightronics on the same level. Yes, Altman has the Shakespeare to compete with the Source Four (which it is not very good at) but I think they deserve better than to be compared to Lightronics! At least the Shakes looks different. The Lightronics is just a complete design rip-off. Altman, though not as good as ETC, would have been idiots not to introduce the Shakespeare. As unpopular as it is, the fixture has made them millions.
     
  8. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    What, do you want to get rid of actors or something? :twisted:
     
  9. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    It's a moot point considering both of them were sued by ETC. Now Altman has to pay royalties for each fixture they sell. So sure, it's making Altman money, but it's also making ETC money too.
     
  10. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    It would take out all the sub-human error :twisted:
     
  11. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I don't recall a lawsuit--I believe the Shakespeare was developed under license from the Cunningham-Eskahoff patent. (I may be wrong--we didn't have ControlBooth to keep us abreast of developments then as we do today.:)) Back to topic: as Mike said earlier, technology advances more by a series of many little improvements than fewer great big ones.

    The "next big thing" may very well be plasma sources, (see SeaChanger - Nemo). But just as likely, there will be people who refuse to use them (as was the case in 1992 with the SourceFour™: fragile glass reflector, too even a beam, wrong color temperature, etc.); preferring to stick with "traditional" technology: the tungsten-halogen lamp.

    Technological advances ARE NOT slowing down, [user]lightman02[/user]. You're just looking at the wrong time-frame perspective. Electric artificial illumination is only about 130 years old. There are periods of (seeming) dormancy--the sixty years between the 1932 LEKO and the 1992 SourceFour, for example. During that time, dimmers and control consoles advanced phenomenally. Who in 1990 would have thought moving lights could dominate the concert industry in less than ten years? Who in 1998 thought LEDs would ever provide useful illumination? New technology just adds more paint brushes--we still keep the beam projectors, PC spots, and LED Fresnels around, for use when they're the right tool for the task.
     
  12. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You have to remember that for years all there was to add to shows was more pars, and more pars. We went through a huge change in the mid 80's and in the 90's. Digital lighting is now where we are going. Controls are getting better daily. We are now in the phase where things are now improving under the hood more then anywhere else.
     
  13. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    Given the current economy, I can't see too much money being put into anything really radically new. My guess is that nothing big will happen in the entertainment industry for the next year, or so. Take a look at the 12 months after 9/11. Same story. And back in 1987 when there was a stock market correction the same thing probably happened.
     
  14. tcahall

    tcahall Member

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    Coming from a computer background, I'll vote for consoles making the biggest change. (although I have to agree that everything will end up projection eventually).

    Imagine taking any of the "moving light" consoles back in your time machine to 1990. Roll forward 15 years and you may well have the same level of improvement. We can already do basic focusing remotely, some will tell you it can be done with voice commands, what will be the next step. Maybe a piece of glass that you look through at the theatre, point to a fixture and speak what you want it to do. (or even think it).

    Imagine what you could do if you could program any show in the time it took to think it thru (and change it just as quickly). The director would never make up his/her mind.

    Tim.
     
  15. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    The improvements that made the Source 4 the hot seller were:

    - Size. The 4.5" lens made it slightly more compact then the Altman 360Q, which at the time was the standard in the rental industry.

    - Dichroic glass reflector and great optics. Good lenses, very efficient lamp, which at 575 watts was brighter then a 360Q with a 1kw lamp. Cooler gate, saved on maintenance as compared to 1kw fixtures with an aluminum reflector. The combination of the reflector, lenses and lamp made for a whiter color output which "looked' brighter.

    - Rotating front end.

    - Accessory slot that could accept things like gobo rotators, which soon followed.

    In the early 80's (easily 10 years before the S4), Strand, Colortran, Kliegl, and ADB/CCT in Europe all had a common lamp and interchangeable lens tubes whose concept ETC incorporated into the S4.

    There was also no lawsuit involved in production of the Altman Shakespeare, they merely licensed the technology from Cunningham (and ETC presumably).

    Steve B.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2008
  16. jyenish

    jyenish Member

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    I think some very good points have been made here. Its exciting when something new comes out and you're just discovering how to use it, however there is so much "old" technology out there that shouldn't be forgotten about.

    When I was in grad school we were blessed with a large budget and a lot of toys to play with, I had fiber optic star drops, High end studio spots, nexeras, I-cues, Martin 918s and scrollers upon scrollers. I now work at an institution where in the last three years I have replaced the 20+ year old 360Qs with S4s and we bought an I-Cue this year.

    The point I am trying to make is that there is something to be said for being able to do a lot with what you have and the little you have at that, I just closed a show that impressed my campus to the point where people were talking about the lighting, the only automated light in the rig, the a fore mentioned I-Cue.

    At the end of the day we're still just placing colored water in front of candles, I think that in order to do our craft justice we should excel at the basics which technology can only enhance if we have a handle of.

    Thanks for listening.
     
  17. kiilljoy

    kiilljoy Member

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    Hear Hear!
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I have to say in my mind the technology is still advancing and rapidly. Remember the moving color changing light was only invented 26 years ago (1982 right?). That's an amazing wave of change in a VERY short time.

    The new generation of light consoles released from ETC and Strand in the last two years are VASTLY more powerful than the previous generation of consoles. Bringing power previously only available on mover consoles to the conventional world.

    We are in a bit of a lull between the initial introduction of LED's and LED's dominating the market but that is going to continue to advance very soon. Wait for the new LED product coming from VL next summer its going to rock your world (The PLSN article seems to be confused over if it's a 600 or 800 watt RBGW LED source:shock:).

    Plasma sources are another exciting new invention. Tiny SUPER bright light sources that are higly efficient. In twenty years the conversation will be "remember when we all used incandescent lamps".
     
  19. VAPADean

    VAPADean Member

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    What about the combination of projections, CGI and three demensional surfaces, in essence crafting a multitude of settings out of a 3D greenscreen?
     
  20. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    A few years ago we sold off all or most of our rock and roll PAR 64 cans following the S-4 PAR and AF-1000's. Than suddenly they came back in demand and we had to buy or rent more. Years ago we deleted our Altman Beam Projectors from the inventory, years later the Equipment manager had to crawl up into the attic in his house to get some in outfitting a show and buy more of a different type to outfit another now with scrollers in follow spot mode. Later we got 5K beam prjectors and many other versions. Heck, even ray lights were dead for a while, than the designers the drive the industry wanted them for a show - walls of them with upgraded 800w lamps.

    See the Hunguro Flash strobe light for better and brighter strobe lights in high tech as with the DL-3 but also see that on shows’ the rock and roll PAR can is still in use, as with old Mole Fresnels such as a 10K outfitted with LED fixtures in the gizzards as props. This much less LED’s are big time of course.

    For the most part technology is what the designer wants. Can be old school when new stuff gets boring for them or not sufficient enough - say the Showgun with it’s LED front to the fixture in creating some new idea, could be a 1.5K Mac 2K fixture for more fixture efficiency and or why the heck does anyone need a 16 degree S-4 lens?

    Still all about the designers in what they want and or if not new stuff to catch their interest, either something old school they can retro in such as that antique fixture show I’m working on fixtures for or tonight’s effect. Requested tonight a dual lamp Mar’s light (cop gumball fixture) with red lens and at least as much power but also beam spread as a 1Kw PAR 64 MFL. Hopefully more. That’s a designer with a vision which in the end is the driving force for the industry. Six of them and I’m working on either a dual lamp PAR 36 or 46 fixture that’s 20% more powerful than the above PAR or a PAR 64 MARs light that’s over 500% as bright as that of the above PAR lamp but also a big larger than life in scope. About twice as large which might be a bit too large design concept wise dependant on the designer's wishes. Still designer wants - designer gets in the industry. This will be a fun project to work on. Imagine what type of ruby red gumball globe will be needed to house two 600,000 candle power lamps? Controlbooth members wanted a Fresnel lamp that matched their Lekos’ they got it and that’s the way the industry is driven.

    Sure there is downscaling in the industry and cutting back on labor and development to ride out the recession, on the other hand if it’s the end users that will force the market, also a question of what they will be buying that makes the market. What do you want and will pay for? What’s selling in say for instance the HPR lamp becoming discontinued so Osram I expect won’t take the risk on making a say GLC/R lamp for a while based on sales even if more efficient and a better lamp. The AlumAPAR lamps, asked me a few times what wattage I would buy, I had to offer honest opinion that other than resale purposes, none - too many bottles in stock and not throwing them out and changing over / starting again unless the designers demand them. Technology also needs people to buy it before it can advance or even sustain. Should have been a new HPL lamp to the market by now. Could it be delayed by market conditions or that in team with demand for a new lamp?

    Tech advances might be in a recess for now with only slight improvements such as for LED fixtures, but that’s not persay a bad thing either until the need and or digestive tract catch up with it. Heck, how many Mac 250 LED fixtures are currently being sold per year - assuming they even came to market yet? Fixtures came out like three or four years ago as custom upgrades to old Mac 250 fixtures and have been used on many shows since. One would think they by now would be more in demand and or make their way out to the theater club scene in by demand becoming cheaper. Not aware of such a thing on the market being the new thing at this point. Sometimes even if better technology it will take a few years. Anyone going to Hippo school?
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008

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