LED Strips... Help Please!?

KaR356i

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Hello! I'm new to the forum and joined because I was hoping I might find some people out there that have used LED strip lights in a theatre setting. I am the house electrician at a roadhouse and we are looking to replace the old strip lights we use as a groundrow for the cyc with LED strip lights. We know they are expensive and are prepared for that. I've been doing research for a while and finally decided we needed some outside opinions with experience in these types of instruments. We have a 50' cyc that is 22' high, usually place the ground row anywhere from 18" to 3' away from the cyc. Any suggestions, experience with various companies, or reccomendations on a specific unit would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you so much!!

-K
 

soundlight

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I know that I've heard a lot about the Selador strips, with 7 colors. This provides a larger range for color mixing. I know that some people here saw them at LDI, so hopefully they'll comment.

www.selador.net
 

personalZEN

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Selador has incredible line of LED strips. They are quite pricey, but VERY worth it. Our touring company just picked up about 32 units and I'm happy with every single fixture we've received.

The 7 color LED system seems like overkill at first, but then after 3 minutes of use, you can completely understand their philosophy on additive color mixing.

We use the 6ft strips, with 70x70 deg spread lenses as footlights for a handful of colors and the saturation, tonality, and overall even wash is just mind-blowing.

We also use the 6ft strips, with the 30 horizontal spread lenses for cyc washes and the colors are just brilliant, saturated, and hyper-fast w/changes.

We built some of the 7in 3w units into par housings for touring purposes and the punch is far brighter than a 1K.

Out of the LED units I've used (elation, color kinetics, etc) I think selador are absolute top of the line.

The great thing about Selador units is that you can actually talk with Rob (the CEO) about your specifics and he'll work everything out for you. The customer service is incredible.
 

soundlight

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The basic reason that the 7-color system works is summed up by this picture:

http://selador.net/color.htm

If you know the color theory behind additive mixing and these diagrams, you'll really understand how this makes the Selador strips 1000% better than anything else.
 

SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
On the low end options, if your strips are par38 lamps standard screw base, I have been looking at an inexpensive alternative where you simply replace the lamps with white screw in led;s and then continue to use the existing roundels etc.

Certainly this is the low end solution, and a full multi led color mixing system is going to be better but a lot more expensive, but just thought I would mention it. Led Lamps for this method should run under 20 dollars a piece

Sharyn
 

KaR356i

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Thank you so much for the responses! I looked into the Selador strips today before I posted here. I like the technology, it looks great, and I'm impressed with all the tech specs they have on their page about them! Just concerned with brightness mainly, and how big the wash will be when we use them for cyc lights. We've got a demo comming in the next few weeks, so that should answer these questions, but for those of you who are actually using them.... Can you tell me what kind of coverage you're getting on the 6' units when you put them on a cyc? our height is not bad, only 20feet that is really seen, but we have 50feet in width to cover. Also, have you ever hung them instead of using them on a ground row for a cyc?

Again, thanks so much for the info!
 

gafftaper

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I'm the guy who keeps preaching Selador around here. It sounds like you've read all their documentation on their website but if you haven't be sure to read the big research paper and the whole history of their product. It's a very different product designed by real theater people for theater purposes.

I don't have them... YET... but I have seen a small demo done by a local dealer and then I spent a good deal of time at their LDI booth. The small demo with a 2 foot 1 watt LED was a little disappointing at first but still more impressive than the stuff you'll see from Color Kinetics. At LDI they had a set of strips lined up across the back of their booth shooting up the wall. This is in one of those monster Vegas Exhibition halls. They were lighting up the wall about 40 feet up, I think they said the 3 Watters are good to over 70 feet. They had a 3 watter up front doing a demo of how good their white mix is. It was far better than any of the other white mixes at LDI. The trick is you get the strip and then you get a set of plastic lenses that spread the light in different directions. Even though I'm only buying for a small black box, I'm still getting the 3 watt models so that I can spread them really wide and still have a ton of light.
Prices quoted to me for the 3 Watt X7's: 6'=$7,600 4'=$5,080 - 2'=$2,540 Lens kits run about $170 per foot of striplight. Plus the cost of yokes and floorstands etc...
 

SteveB

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I'm Prices quoted to me for the 3 Watt X7's: 6'=$7,600 4'=$5,080 - 2'=$2,540 Lens kits run about $170 per foot of striplight. Plus the cost of yokes and floorstands etc...
So about $70,000 for 48ft of LED strips, vs. $15,000 or so for a set of L&E 8ft x 4 circ. MR16's, double hung w/ lamps for 4 colors.

Hmmm... it's a hard sell, but lot's more hrs. out of the LED lamps, which might be a pain to replace down the road - unless they are in modular/replacable blocks, but the entire package uses ton's less electricity, thus circuits can shift to somewhere else, but I 'gotta buy a node and run Cat5 & some DMX, but unlimited colors, thus some savings on labor...... I'm sold !, no I only have to find $70,000

SB
 

KaR356i

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Thank you so much! I haven't read the research paper, but I will! Thank you for the first hand account of what you saw at LDI! I've been going for several years but we were in the middle of a hellish month and I couldn't leave the theatre last year to go! From your account, I'm not sure that we would need the X7 3Watts because our cyc is only 23 feet high, only 20 of which is generally visable. I think we may be able to get away with the regular 1watt X7s with the wide lense on it....but they may reduce the brightness, so who knows! The pricing I got was a little bit different, but it equals out to about the same. Unfortunately, while the boss wants cool led lights, he said money wasn't a problem when he thought the lights were going to be around $2000/each...then I found these X7's...and THEN they said they didn't really want to spend more than $25 grand, so we may have to look at the color kinetics if these don't give a pretty wide spread with the 80 lense.

Can you take a guess as to how WIDE the wall was that these strips were lighting at LDI, and how many they were using to do so?

You guys are full of great insight with these, thanks SOO Much!
 

gafftaper

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Thank you so much! I haven't read the research paper, but I will! Thank you for the first hand account of what you saw at LDI! I've been going for several years but we were in the middle of a hellish month and I couldn't leave the theatre last year to go! From your account, I'm not sure that we would need the X7 3Watts because our cyc is only 23 feet high, only 20 of which is generally visable. I think we may be able to get away with the regular 1watt X7s with the wide lense on it....but they may reduce the brightness, so who knows! The pricing I got was a little bit different, but it equals out to about the same. Unfortunately, while the boss wants cool led lights, he said money wasn't a problem when he thought the lights were going to be around $2000/each...then I found these X7's...and THEN they said they didn't really want to spend more than $25 grand, so we may have to look at the color kinetics if these don't give a pretty wide spread with the 80 lense.
Can you take a guess as to how WIDE the wall was that these strips were lighting at LDI, and how many they were using to do so?
You guys are full of great insight with these, thanks SOO Much!
The instruments at LDI were the 1 Watt Selador's set up to light a drop maybe 10 feet high across the back wall of the booth. At the same time the booth just happened to be against a side wall of the room. This is one of those huge exhibit halls with probably 60-70 foot ceilings. So although they weren't really trying to light the big concrete wall it was sort of incidentally lit. Then about 40 feet up was a huge punch of light where the main focus of the strips was hitting. There was a lot of light still available. If I remember right they didn't have any lenses on them.
The question to contact Selador about is how much the light spread out of those 6 foot strips when the lenses are in. How far apart can those strips be placed and still evenly light a drop. I bet you can put at least a 5 foot gap between them and with the proper lens get full coverage. But I'm not the expert there. I believe that the 1 Watt Seladors run about $1300 a foot. Which is about the same as Color Kinetics Colorblaze.

As for Steve B's comment about the cost benefit, you are missing one huge point. The quality of the color saturation is unreal. You just can't make colors like these using gel.

Finally, In an unrelated topic I want to point out that the people at Color Kinetics are really architectural minded and just happen to make two products that are useful for theater. Their booth at LDI was this lovely little pagoda-like building showing off all of their products. It had a cute little dome ceiling and way up there in the corner were a couple of colorblasts. You couldn't tell what they were lighting separate from any of the other little cute architectural lights. I found a sales woman and wanted to talk about lighting a drop with them and it was like I was an alien from another planet. It was really frustrating. LDI is not an architectural show it's about live performance... and their most serious theatrical instrument the colorblaze was tucked away in a corner of the booth where you couldn't tell anything! However if I ever have a few million to remodel my house, I'll give them a call because it would look great in an entry way.

OH yeah, Martin has an LED strip light that looks pretty good coming out. You might check into those as well.
 
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KaR356i

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I didn't know martin had one comming out, I'll check into that as well. I also hadn't priced the color kinetics strips yet, I assumed they were a bit less expensive... the rest of the strips I've seen are just not going to work I don't think. They have some out that are between $1000-2000 each but I'm guessing the light output is not so great. Well, we're gonna end up with the companies comming out and doing a demo with whatever we're seriously considering, so I will eventually have details on how wide the spread is. The gal at Barbizon is checking with Selador to arrange a time for a demo, and I'm in the process of checking on color kinetics as well.

About the note on cost, the main reason my bosses want to do this is because they can probably find a way to afford it, and they like the way they look.... I've talked them out of moving lights because we simply do not have the time to mess with them, but we would use the led strips nearly all the time if we could light the whole cyc from either the groundrow or by hanging the instruments on a pipe. We've seen a couple road shows come through with them to light legs and they were pretty impressive but no one could remember who made them.... After that, there is the power consideration: when we put up the 4 cell cyc lights plus the ground row it's usually for a large show that is using nearly every single instrument we have and we run out of dimmers VERY quickly. we consistantly have to cut the groundrow from roadshow plots we recieve because of this. Add that to the hassle of storing the cyc lights and the strip lights, and setting it all up periodically, plus the eternity it takes to gel them all....any led strip light would cut most of that out completely.

The research on this little project for us has only just begun really, but I look forward to any more info you guys may have!
 

KaR356i

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yep I saw the picture. I really like the page that shows the spread of the light with different lenses in it! I agree that it looks like the colors you get with the X7's are fabulous, and that is one of the reasons we are looking to get the leds. however we rarely use white light on the cyc, so the fact that the x7's have that capability are a bonus, not a requirement. the color saturation in the x7's is the real kicker... it would be hard to go with a less expensive unit with less kick to the color after seeing these!

Well, we'll see what we can come up with. The money, unfortunately but as always, will probably be the deciding factor! Man I thought for sure by now they would have come up with some less expensive fabulous units! give it a few more years though, I'm sure the technology will get even better and hopefully the prices will drop a bit! :)
 

SteveB

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As for Steve B's comment about the cost benefit, you are missing one huge point. The quality of the color saturation is unreal. You just can't make colors like these using gel.QUOTE]

I think my sarcasm was too heavy. I'm of the opinion that even with a 4+ times cost factor, they (LED's) might still effective in the long run, ESPECIALLY given the added bonus of unlimited color mixing.

Some thought though:

1) "You just can't make colors like these using gel"
That might actually be an issue, especially in my situation with a road house where I need to be able to match to a designers chosen swatch book gel. I suspect that if brightness and saturation were of sufficient quality, most designers would be perfectly happy, even if the blue isn't exactly L119.

I know this issue is what drove the ETC decision to not do CMY mixing on the S4 Revolution (They supposedly are going to offer the CXI scroller). I believe that a few years experience with VL1000's as well as most arc fixtures with CMY and CYM has allowed many designers to be able to visualize what dichroics can provide, thus they are happy to move away from gel's. I suspect the same will happen with LED's

2) Unlimited color mixing is not, by itself cost effective if labor is cheap and you don't do a huge amount of changing of the colors in the cyc lights. As in, it's not really a selling point to a facility General Manager as would be the savings in electricity.

3) Heat is a major issue with longevity of LED's and my limited experience with medium screw base LED replacements for incandescents was very poor. LED's are expensive and I for one, would be waiting a few years for generation D of any LED striplight. I'd like to see them out at the shops for a few years.

No real problem in my case as I ain't got $75,000

Steve B.
 

soundlight

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Response to Gafftaper's last post on page 1:

$1300/foot for colorblazes? I've gotten a quote of less than $4000 for a 6' unit.
 
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KaR356i

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hehe, I'm lucky in the fact that it is the General Manager, not really the TD, who REALLY wants these lights! I just get to do the legwork and play with them when we get 'em! :D
 

soundlight

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They really are going to save a lot of money in bulbs, reduce heat on the cyc, save electricity costs, free up circuits, and provide incredible flexibility and saturation in colors.
 

gafftaper

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3) Heat is a major issue with longevity of LED's and my limited experience with medium screw base LED replacements for incandescents was very poor. LED's are expensive and I for one, would be waiting a few years for generation D of any LED striplight. I'd like to see them out at the shops for a few years.
No real problem in my case as I ain't got $75,000
Steve B.
I've mentioned this before, but Selador started out as a team of people with a USITT research grant. They then took what they learned and opened a company. This is the link to their 18 page report as a result of that grant. http://www.selador.net/images/LEDs to Light the Theatre.pdf

Anyway, towards the end you'll find their comments on heat issues with LEDs. They say the primary concern is that LED's loose their color due to too much internal heat. So Selador underpowers their LED's to a maximum of 85% and they also have a bunch of extra heat sinks in order to extend the LED life as much as possible.
 

gafftaper

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Response to Gafftaper's last post on page 1:
$1300/foot for colorblazes? I've gotten a quote of less than $4000 for a 6' unit.
Sorry sounds like Colorblazes have gone down in price. Like I said I was so unimpressed with their demo and their reps at LDI I didn't stick around to get the latest prices. They didn't seem to want to talk to me... although they did give me some nice custom packaged M&M's.
 

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