Large HS Auditorium and Black Box Upgrade

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Hello everyone, I’m currently in High School. Our high school was built in 2004 and contracted with JR Clancy and Strand to do lighting in our Auditorium and Black Box. Currently as it stands, we have a few LED fixtures and DMX locations. Including 12 LED Lustrs. Our current board setup is an EOS programming Wing with a Nomad. Most of our room is incandescent. Our dimmer racks are on their way out and we expect them to die in the next few years. (They are 16 year old Strand CD80SVs) We have over 145 dimmer packs in the Auditorium and 24 in the Black Box. To get to the point, we had a representative of Boston Illumination Group come out and take a look at our space. She inspired us to go for a Capital Request to upgrade the room. We are thinking 3 options. 1. All LED with relays pretty much everywhere we have dimmers right now. 2. A combo of LED and incandescent with some relays and some Sensor 3 racks with modules that allow you to switch between relays and dimmers. 3. Replace what we have now with new dimmers and no new fixtures. I’m attaching our new plot and fixture list. Keep in mind we would need to upgrade our DMX and architectural system. We are thinking the ETC response nodes and Paradigm for architectural. And we want “ETCNet” in a lot of places. We are leaning towards all LED. And I would like some feedback on our fixture choices. Keep in mind, we put on 6 productions per year, there are assembly’s and concerts in here, people rent out the room for performances, orchestra practices in here.
 

Attachments

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Location
Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Why do you expect your dimmer rack to die in the next few years? My gut says you are about halfway through the usable life of a CD80 rack.
So here’s the problem. Strand outlook architectural controls SUCKS! We hate it! So I would really like to look into Paradigm. Now, we could go with Strand vision.net but that involves switches to c21. We got a quote from Barbizon that was so high, that it’s not even worth the retrofit. I would much rather go with echo relay panels with ETC architectural. And Johnson Systems retrofit is also out because, the way my school works is that if we are spending this much money, we aren’t spending money on lighting for another 15 years. So I would like to move to LED. Plus we have incandescents on every day. So energy savings would be awesome.
 

NJLX

Active Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2009
Location
Boston, MA
Ultimately the system you get will come down to budget.

If the budget isn't there for a full Series 2 Lustr or ColorSource system, I personally would rather go with a hybrid incandescent and LED system, rather than stepping down to Source 4wd.

Definitely see my post in the other thread regarding relay panels and DMX distribution - happy to answer any further questions as well.

Lastly, this is probably a given considering it's a High School, but multiple bids are an absolute must. There are multiple good lighting installers in New England (the three that come to mind immediately are High Output, Port Lighting, and Barbizon), and they all have excellent people who are willing to work with your organization(and many of them would be willing to work with you on your wish list, prior to bidding, to ensure that you're asking for the right things).

Disclaimer - I work for a company that sells and installs ETC systems in Massachusetts/New England.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Ultimately the system you get will come down to budget.

If the budget isn't there for a full Series 2 Lustr or ColorSource system, I personally would rather go with a hybrid incandescent and LED system, rather than stepping down to Source 4wd.

Definitely see my post in the other thread regarding relay panels and DMX distribution - happy to answer any further questions as well.

Lastly, this is probably a given considering it's a High School, but multiple bids are an absolute must. There are multiple good lighting installers in New England (the three that come to mind immediately are High Output, Port Lighting, and Barbizon), and they all have excellent people who are willing to work with your organization(and many of them would be willing to work with you on your wish list, prior to bidding, to ensure that you're asking for the right things).

Disclaimer - I work for a company that sells and installs ETC systems in Massachusetts/New England.
So here is the problem with Lustrs for us. They aren’t bright enough from our Catwalk so we would a ton of them. Source 4WRD IIs are as bright as a 750 watt bulb. We already have 12 Series 2 Lustrs and they are great. We use them for everything. We have shown this to our Facilities Director and he says it will have to go to bid anyway, so we are going to have to get multiple quotes. We will let BIG handle that. Cause correct me if I’m wrong but they don’t do installations?
 

NJLX

Active Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2009
Location
Boston, MA
So here is the problem with Lustrs for us. They aren’t bright enough from our Catwalk so we would a ton of them. Source 4WRD IIs are as bright as a 750 watt bulb. We already have 12 Series 2 Lustrs and they are great. We use them for everything. We have shown this to our Facilities Director and he says it will have to go to bid anyway, so we are going to have to get multiple quotes. We will let BIG handle that. Cause correct me if I’m wrong but they don’t do installations?
Indeed, BIG works with local installers.

Are your current incandescent fixtures Source 4s? (as in, would the Source 4wrd be a retrofit on an existing unit, or would you be buying entirely new fixtures to put them in?)

What's the throw to your catwalk, and what size lenses are you using? Most places I've worked have used 575w lamps successfully, which would line up with the output of a series 2 or colorsource spot.
 

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Indeed, BIG works with local installers.

Are your current incandescent fixtures Source 4s? (as in, would the Source 4wrd be a retrofit on an existing unit, or would you be buying entirely new fixtures to put them in?)

What's the throw to your catwalk, and what size lenses are you using? Most places I've worked have used 575w lamps successfully, which would line up with the output of a series 2 or colorsource spot.
Indeed, BIG works with local installers.

Are your current incandescent fixtures Source 4s? (as in, would the Source 4wrd be a retrofit on an existing unit, or would you be buying entirely new fixtures to put them in?)

What's the throw to your catwalk, and what size lenses are you using? Most places I've worked have used 575w lamps successfully, which would line up with the output of a series 2 or colorsource spot.
We have like 45ish Source 4s so they would be for retrofitting. Throw is around 40ft and we are using 26 and 36 degree lenses. We are using 750 Watt bulbs in our catwalk. If we were to do this upgrade we would swap to 19s and 26s.
 

NJLX

Active Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2009
Location
Boston, MA
We have like 45ish Source 4s so they would be for retrofitting. Throw is around 40ft and we are using 26 and 36 degree lenses. We are using 750 Watt bulbs in our catwalk. If we were to do this upgrade we would swap to 19s and 26s.
Dropping down one lens size with a ColorSource spot will net you about the same brightness onstage as a Source 4wrd/Source 4 750w. I'd say it's worth doing a shootout in your space - I'm sure BIG can arrange a demo.

I'm personally not a fan of Martin rush pars, but I don't know of any LED pars with motorized zoom that I like better for indoor use. The color on a colorsource par is better, but you lose the motorized zoom. (also note that at least the last time I used them, rush pars were not RDM compliant, meaning that neither the rush pars nor anything downstream of them in the DMX chain could be configured using RDM. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but worth noting).

Solaframe 750s have some color mixing quirks - I'm told the Solaframe 1000 made this better.

I absolutely recommend the Altman Spectra Cyc units - I haven't used the 100s much, but had great experiences with the 200s



For the black box, I absolutely recommend going with ColorSource spot(or even CS Spot Jr) rather than Source 4wrd Color.(See my shootout experience here)


Despite my preference for ColorSource, if you're set on going all LED, the Source 4wrd II will be a capable retrofit that will enable you to install only relays, instead of dimmers.

ETC networking with response gateways are absolutely the way to go, especially with an ETC console. Completely reliable and easy to configure.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

RickR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Location
Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
If you want the right-for-you system and are hoping to spend 6 figures it would be wise to hire an independent consultant. They typically save far more money than they cost!
Full disclosure: I do this regularly, but flying me to Boston would be extra expensive. I'm sure we can find someone in Boston.

Consultants have a few key advantages over sales based proposals. First is independence from manufacturers they sell. This usually means greater respect from the bureaucrats. Second is that getting paid whether the project goes forward or not means they but their full force efforts into solving your problems. This often allows for long meetings with those officials and detailed explanations. Consultants also tend to have greater experience, but that depends on the people involved. Lastly they look at far more than the products. Installation, hiring, construction management, training and many other issues that may come up. (rigging, curtains, booths, safety...)
 

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Dropping down one lens size with a ColorSource spot will net you about the same brightness onstage as a Source 4wrd/Source 4 750w. I'd say it's worth doing a shootout in your space - I'm sure BIG can arrange a demo.

I'm personally not a fan of Martin rush pars, but I don't know of any LED pars with motorized zoom that I like better for indoor use. The color on a colorsource par is better, but you lose the motorized zoom. (also note that at least the last time I used them, rush pars were not RDM compliant, meaning that neither the rush pars nor anything downstream of them in the DMX chain could be configured using RDM. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but worth noting).

Solaframe 750s have some color mixing quirks - I'm told the Solaframe 1000 made this better.

I absolutely recommend the Altman Spectra Cyc units - I haven't used the 100s much, but had great experiences with the 200s



For the black box, I absolutely recommend going with ColorSource spot(or even CS Spot Jr) rather than Source 4wrd Color.(See my shootout experience here)


Despite my preference for ColorSource, if you're set on going all LED, the Source 4wrd II will be a capable retrofit that will enable you to install only relays, instead of dimmers.

ETC networking with response gateways are absolutely the way to go, especially with an ETC console. Completely reliable and easy to configure.
So I have had great experiences with the Martin Rush Pars. I LOVE them! And zoom is a super nice feature to have. I don't really care about RDM that much, I know it's helpful but it isn't a deal breaker for me. I will look into the Sola Frame 1000s, they might be overkill for us but to be honest I haven't researched it enough . Spectras we have also used and had great experiences with. The Source 4WRD Colors for the black box are for top light, we are going to retrofit some Source 4 Pars. I have looked in to the Color Source Spot for top light but I think the retrofit Source 4WRD colors are fine too. I don't usually do Colored front light which is why I'm leaning towards retrofitting Source 4s. The only color we usually do in the Black Box is Lustrs for side light or a a CYC. Networking will pretty much be a necessity because of all these new LEDs. Our current DMX infrastructure cannot handle it. Our philosophy is wherever we think we need DMX put ETCNet port and for places we need it all the time, put a response gateway in.
 

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
If you want the right-for-you system and are hoping to spend 6 figures it would be wise to hire an independent consultant. They typically save far more money than they cost!
Full disclosure: I do this regularly, but flying me to Boston would be extra expensive. I'm sure we can find someone in Boston.

Consultants have a few key advantages over sales based proposals. First is independence from manufacturers they sell. This usually means greater respect from the bureaucrats. Second is that getting paid whether the project goes forward or not means they but their full force efforts into solving your problems. This often allows for long meetings with those officials and detailed explanations. Consultants also tend to have greater experience, but that depends on the people involved. Lastly they look at far more than the products. Installation, hiring, construction management, training and many other issues that may come up. (rigging, curtains, booths, safety...)
We definitely talked over the idea of a consultant. We still may hire one because of how big an upgrade this is. We have had bad experiences in the past with our last consultant. We may not need one because BIG is helping us a lot with upgrade paths and options we have. (Still in pretty early in development though). Definitely something we are keeping in the back of our mind.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
Our dimmer racks are on their way out and we expect them to die in the next few years. (They are 16 year old Strand CD80SVs)
Not likely. Dimmer racks sometimes have issues with control cards but aside from that, they tend to be very bulletproof aside from a module going bad here or there. There are many theaters on far older dimmer racks than that which are plugging along just fine.

A combo of LED and incandescent with some relays and some Sensor 3 racks with modules that allow you to switch between relays and dimmers.
There's very little reason to invest in new dimming infrastructure in 2020. As was highlighted at ETC's CUE conference in July 2019, the process for making tungsten lamps is specialized and the number of manufacturers and plants who will continue to do this is dwindling. Nobody knows a hard a stop date on that but in the next 5-7 years you will see tungsten lamps become more expensive and it is likely there will be a point where they cease to be made at all. As it stands, our friends in the UK are having to fight tooth and nail to allow tungsten lamps to be exempted from restriction enacted as part green energy efficiency policies.

Better to maintain your existing dimmer racks if you need dimmers and install probably a 48-relay panelboard and move some circuits from your current dimmer racks over to the relay panels. With powercon daisy chaining, it's not like you need more than a handful switched relay circuits per raceway. If/when you phase out your tungsten fixtures and dimmer racks entirely, you can switch the rest of the remaining circuits over. Since you can power many more fixtures per 20A circuit, you also do not need to have relay-per-receptacle. I would gang multiple together on the same relay for convenience of power distribution.


I don't really care about RDM that much, I know it's helpful but it isn't a deal breaker for me.
RDM becomes much more important with LED fixtures. Suddenly every fixture in your light plot has different options for dimming curves, color mixing profiles, and needs DMX addressing. There are lots of options to choose from and you do not want to have to touch each fixture manually when the time comes to make any changes.


we are going to retrofit some Source 4 Pars.
The 4WRD kits are not compatible with existing S4 PAR or PARnel bodies. You would be buying a 4WRD kit plus a 4WRD Par body, at which point you might as well be buying a Colorsource PAR.


Networking will pretty much be a necessity because of all these new LEDs. Our current DMX infrastructure cannot handle it. Our philosophy is wherever we think we need DMX put ETCNet port and for places we need it all the time, put a response gateway in.
Wireless DMX is very robust these days, and while I generally like having extra network cabling available to different places, if I were you I would rather spend the $30-40k to add that on more/better fixtures and buy a dozen wireless DMX receivers at $350/ea instead.


We definitely talked over the idea of a consultant. We still may hire one because of how big an upgrade this is. We have had bad experiences in the past with our last consultant. We may not need one because BIG is helping us a lot with upgrade paths and options we have. (Still in pretty early in development though). Definitely something we are keeping in the back of our mind.
They're a manufacturer's rep. Their job is sell product, and they work on commission. The more product they get you to buy, the more money they make. They have a financial incentive to specify only products that they rep whether they are the best option for your goals and your budget or not, and regardless of which vendor in the territory puts those orders in, they get a cut. They are not helping you out of the kindness of their hearts. They're getting paid to whether you realize it or not.


Respectfully, you need a consultant.
 

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Not likely. Dimmer racks sometimes have issues with control cards but aside from that, they tend to be very bulletproof aside from a module going bad here or there. There are many theaters on far older dimmer racks than that which are plugging along just fine.



There's very little reason to invest in new dimming infrastructure in 2020. As was highlighted at ETC's CUE conference in July 2019, the process for making tungsten lamps is specialized and the number of manufacturers and plants who will continue to do this is dwindling. Nobody knows a hard a stop date on that but in the next 5-7 years you will see tungsten lamps become more expensive and it is likely there will be a point where they cease to be made at all. As it stands, our friends in the UK are having to fight tooth and nail to allow tungsten lamps to be exempted from restriction enacted as part green energy efficiency policies.

Better to maintain your existing dimmer racks if you need dimmers and install probably a 48-relay panelboard and move some circuits from your current dimmer racks over to the relay panels. With powercon daisy chaining, it's not like you need more than a handful switched relay circuits per raceway. If/when you phase out your tungsten fixtures and dimmer racks entirely, you can switch the rest of the remaining circuits over. Since you can power many more fixtures per 20A circuit, you also do not need to have relay-per-receptacle. I would gang multiple together on the same relay for convenience of power distribution.




RDM becomes much more important with LED fixtures. Suddenly every fixture in your light plot has different options for dimming curves, color mixing profiles, and needs DMX addressing. There are lots of options to choose from and you do not want to have to touch each fixture manually when the time comes to make any changes.




The 4WRD kits are not compatible with existing S4 PAR or PARnel bodies. You would be buying a 4WRD kit plus a 4WRD Par body, at which point you might as well be buying a Colorsource PAR.




Wireless DMX is very robust these days, and while I generally like having extra network cabling available to different places, if I were you I would rather spend the $30-40k to add that on more/better fixtures and buy a dozen wireless DMX receivers at $350/ea instead.




They're a manufacturer's rep. Their job is sell product, and they work on commission. The more product they get you to buy, the more money they make. They have a financial incentive to specify only products that they rep whether they are the best option for your goals and your budget or not, and regardless of which vendor in the territory puts those orders in, they get a cut. They are not helping you out of the kindness of their hearts. They're getting paid to whether you realize it or not.


Respectfully, you need a consultant.
You make some very good points. However for the dimmer situation, let's say that they do last a few more years, if a processor dies during a show, the Auditorium is out of commission for months and retrofitting would already be expensive. Plus I hate Strand Outlook so architectural controls would already need to be upgraded. I agree with you that it doesn't really make sense to replace all of the dimmers. We are definitely leaning towards all relays and a few dimmers for house lights. As for placement of the relays, I also agree with you that 2 or 3 relays can probably power each electric. We are planning on going this route. I guess I'm not really understanding how important RDM is either. That may end up being a bigger factor for us. I did not know that regular Source 4 Pars were not compatible! Thank you for that information as now we probably will end up going Color Source for top light in the Black Box. As for the consultant I guess we should look deeper into that as well. Thank you, that was very helpful.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
However for the dimmer situation, let's say that they do last a few more years, if a processor dies during a show, the Auditorium is out of commission for months and retrofitting would already be expensive. Plus I hate Strand Outlook so architectural controls would already need to be upgraded.
You're probably looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars if you go with Paradigm and Sensor 3 racks with Throughpower modules. If you really feel uncomfortable leaving the racks in place then either upgrade your house lights to LED's (which you will have to do eventually) or buy a minimum number of dimmers for the house lighting and spend the money you'll be saving from not doing Sensor 3 racks and buy enough LED fixtures to fully upgrade/replace your tungsten system.

Re: Architectural Controls,
Paradigm is sledgehammer intended for the largest, most complicated venues. You may get everything you need out of an Echo system. In most cases, high school theaters are a handful of house lighting presets, maybe a few stage lighting presets, and the ability to turn the relays on and off either manually or by occupancy/vacancy sensor. I wouldn't spend more money on control you aren't going to use, and the EchoTouch touchpanels are very slick and cost only $900. On top of that, you can program it yourself, whereas with a Paradigm system if you want any changes made you have to pay an ETC tech to do those for you. Don't get me wrong -- Paradigm is a great, flexible platform, but do you really want to spend your money on that instead of on fixtures, or risk having bids come in so high the project isn't viable at all?
 
Last edited:

froyop12

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
You're probably looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars if you go with Paradigm and Sensor 3 racks with Throughpower modules. If you really feel uncomfortable leaving the racks in place then either upgrade your house lights to LED's (which you will have to do eventually) or buy a minimum number of dimmers for the house lighting and spend the money you'll be saving from not doing Sensor 3 racks and buy enough LED fixtures to fully upgrade/replace your tungsten system.

Re: Architectural Controls,
Paradigm is sledgehammer intended for the largest, most complicated venues. You may get everything you need out of an Echo system. In most cases, high school theaters are a handful of house lighting presets, maybe a few stage lighting presets, and the ability to turn the relays on and off either manually or by occupancy/vacancy sensor. I wouldn't spend more money on control you aren't going to use, and the EchoTouch touchpanels are very slick and cost only $900. On top of that, you can program it yourself, whereas with a Paradigm system if you want any changes made you have to pay an ETC tech to do those for you. Don't get me wrong -- Paradigm is a great, flexible platform, but do you really want to spend your money on that instead of on fixtures, or risk having bids come in so high the project isn't viable at all?
Yeah, we don't really want to go with any dimmers at this point. We would rather go all relays with a small dimmer rack for our house lights. Our house lights are already LED but they aren't controlled through DMX, they still have to be dimmed. Then get Echo Relay panels. Question though, if we were to go Echo for architectural, would that be able to control a small dimmer rack for the house lights?
 

Users who are viewing this thread