LED vs Conventional

Hi Everyone,
I am currently writing an essay on why LED Lighting fixtures will eventually become the standard in the lighting industry. I am looking for sources for my essay and have found a couple but wanted to see what the community might have. If you have any research or sources that speaks on the topic, I would love to use them in my essay. I would also love to her y'all's opinion on the subject and what yall think of this technology! (I have a professor that would die before ever NOT being able to use a conventional again, so I know there are sides to this haha)
 

tjrobb

Well-Known Member
Look into power savings, infrastructure savings (transformers, switchgear and distribution, cabling), cooling reductions, lack of gel, and possibly awkward dimming for a start. Also, the shift from dimmer racks to network racks, which can be a problem for retrofits. I mostly see what others post on here, so I'll defer the specifics to them.
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
Pros for LED: less units needed because of colour mixing, lower running costs, lower heat, no dimmers more compatible with modern control systems, getting better everyday
Cons for LED: Higher setup cost per unit, Maintenance cost, replacement of parts cost
Pros for Conv: plug and play, lamp stops working, replace the lamp (low cost) nice warm light
Cons for Conv: Heat, need gels, need multiple fixtures to get colour mixing
I am sure there are others and all I have mentioned have no scientific data to back it up so take it with a grain of salt.
Regards
Geoff
 

TuckerD

Well-Known Member
Color mixing is such a huge advantage. And spectral flexibility to create new types of "gels" that have never been used before is really remarkable. I don't think spectral flexibility is talked about much but I think it's going to be a very big deal.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
Others will surely comment on the technical and artistic aspects, but an often overlooked side of this is global manufacturing and regulatory compliance. The reality is that tungsten is dying. As David Lincecum and/or Steve Terry pointed out at ETC's conference last summer, the tooling and processes for refining tungsten filaments is quite complex and regulatory compliance is driving demand for tungsten way down. An initiative in the EU for a brief moment required the discontinuation of tungsten almost completely in that region. The industry fought hard for an exemption for stage lighting but that exemption is temporary and the industry is going to have to lobby for that in 1-2 years whenever that's slated to be sunsetted.

My understanding is that USHIO, Osram, etc, have committed to continue producing HPL series tungsten lamps for at least the next 4-5 years, but as demand dwindles the cost of these lamps may go up as the manufacturing overheard for making those lamps gets diffused across a smaller and smaller volume of sales.

This isn't prophesying a doomsday scenario for tungsten though. It could still end up being around for another decade and a half but at a minimum the cost for relamping is going to go up. There will also always be the risk that you're one clueless senator away from losing your source of lamps.

A consequence of LED's though is that there is a heavier burden on having skilled programmers. Many community theaters, schools, semi-professional venues, and bars, have relied on being able to throw faders and put on a show like playing a keyboard. That's simply not possible with LED's unless you as a programmer go through the deliberate process of setting your console up to be able to mimic that.

Another unintended consequence is that many school and community theaters currently thrive on inventories of tungsten fixtures that are 2-3 decades old and were donated to them by a professional venue replacing their fixtures. LED fixtures are more likely to have a finite, useful life span before the power supplies or PCB's fail, or the brightness and color consistency degrades. It will be less feasible to donate a large inventory of fixtures to another group -- in part because upgrades at pro venues are going to cost more so they need to milk their inventories for as many years as they can -- and because the fixtures may not be in a suitable condition to donate -- or if they are, may be too expensive for the receiving group to repair.

The truth of the matter is your professor is doing you a major disservice if they aren't teaching how to effectively design, assemble, document, and program LED-based events. I had a similar professor who was willfully ignorant of LED's, insisted on tungsten fixtures, and who lost his bananas when they replaced a pair of Express and Obsession consoles with a Gio and an Element. He took his entire Intro To Tech class up to the booth one day for a demonstration and couldn't even figure out how to turn the consoles on, much less produce light on stage to any kind of artistic effect. The greatest burden on the design process for LED's that students need to be cognizant of is that it's tempting to postpone many artistic decisions on looks and colors until tech week. Big mistake. If you are using a Q2Q to sculpt your lighting for the first time as you see the lights come up on stage, you will be lucky to make it to the end of the first couple scenes by the time tech week is done. Q2Q's should be for setting levels and making minor tweaks to colors and fade times -- absolutely should not be the first time the designer makes decisions on the overall composition of looks and colors palettes.

Some will argue that a designer only needs to know how to design -- that the technical aspects like programming, DMX signal planning, etc, are someone else's responsibility. That may be true in certain circumstances, but those who can understand and swing between multiple roles are the most employable. If shows start picking back up this fall/winter, it will be to small audiences and fewer shows per run. There will far fewer jobs for techs/designers -- it will be more competitive getting work, more important to control costs by reducing unnecessary expenses, and so on. If you know every side of production, you have a fighting chance. If you only know how to throw faders for tungsten or prepare light plots in Vectorworks, good luck -- it will be difficult earning a living wage under a limited skill set for the next 2-3 years. Meanwhile, the programmer or designer/programmer combo who can throw a show file together in a few hours with a blindfold on and has their own busking file ready to build from is going to be in high demand.
 
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BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
You ask why LED will become predominant. For over 10 years I have been designing only all LED systems as a consultant. I should count someday but over 40.

One virtue I didn't see mentioned above: nearly every stage fire I've read of - and it's a subject I have researched for over 30 years and used to change building and fire codes - and LED practically eliminates that ignition source.

And in new build, all LED is less expensive than incandescent, which for public schools - probably 80% or so of all new theatres built in US - is reason enough.
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
@MNicolai you raise some good points about programming. Do you think that with the new generation of programmers being more computer literate this will make learning programming (not design) easier? I started to learn programming on ETC Nomad only a couple of years ago at nearly 50 (still a beginner if you ask me) and have taken to it fairly well considering most of my theatre work is MX in pre rig, resets, load ins and outs only with the occasional LX operator.
I have been around computers from the age of about 10 because my dad was building and programming them as a hobby (even to the point of making the PCB) so I am quite comfortable with them. As the new generation comes on board their tech savvyness (is that even a word?) is quite good and if (big if) they have some sort of passion for the arts will grab it and go wild and before you know it be a very good programmer. But I digress a little from the topic of LED v Conv.
The school my kids went to opened a new PAC about 9 months ago. Their PAC has lots of infrastructure as far as cabling and all the backbone (well no nodes but DMX drops in all the right places ) but is lacking IMO the actual fixtures. The list looks like this. 36 dimmers, 32 conventional fixtures with a mix of fixtures, 12 led par and 2 (yep only 2) PLCYC2 cyc lights. That was their total purchase (for a 300+ seat house with a large stage (about 14m x 12m). The conventional fixtures were purchased because the drama teacher who has worked professionally on TV and stage didn't like the the coldness of LED. They don't have any gel and have since purchased some 2nd hand LED moving wash (Terbly OK108) and some Robe Colourspot 1200A. So I guess in this case the decision to go with mostly conventional fixtures here was due to a misinformed under educated more mature in age person who had not kept up with changes in the tech world and they were not really questioned because of their experience in the industry (as an on stage person but not tech).
In my mind we as an industry will need to embrace change. Change in technology, change in lighting instruments, and change in general because if we don't we will not be able to do 2 things. 1 gain employment and 2 educate the next generation of technicians.
Thanks for listening
Geoff
 

RickR

Well-Known Member
"Coldness of LEDs" in a theater setting? Humm

There is definatly a radical change in color quality and technique. For years many designers have insisted on incandescents for subtleties they've used for decades. It's not just new vs old. Both systems do colors the other can't. And when illuminating complex things the little differences add up.

@Graham Darnell you might want to spend some time with broad band vs narrow band color mixing. Look at the spectral output charts of gels vs the so called matches from LEDs. The ETC Eos console color mixing tools can overlay them on screen. I find it's quite informative.
 

TuckerD

Well-Known Member
I'm not convinced that there is any color or fade that can be done on conventionals that I can't trick you into seeing with LED fixtures. Perhaps some of the red shift is still unaccounted for in commercial products but these are not unachievable goals. Unfortunately some people who saw their first LED fixtures 13 years ago seem to have written their opinions in stone.
 

rwhealey

Well-Known Member
Their PAC has lots of infrastructure as far as cabling and all the backbone (well no nodes but DMX drops in all the right places ) but is lacking IMO the actual fixtures. The list looks like this. 36 dimmers, 32 conventional fixtures with a mix of fixtures, 12 led par and 2 (yep only 2) PLCYC2 cyc lights. That was their total purchase (for a 300+ seat house with a large stage (about 14m x 12m). The conventional fixtures were purchased because the drama teacher who has worked professionally on TV and stage didn't like the the coldness of LED. They don't have any gel and have since purchased some 2nd hand LED moving wash (Terbly OK108) and some Robe Colourspot 1200A.

I would have to guess that this had to do with cost.

I provide very detailed cost opinions for my designs and are rarely more than 5% off from subcontractor. That doesn’t always save you from last minute cuts (“value engineering”) on a new build due to other disciplines. In that case you can justify removing fixtures from the initial package a lot easier than removing infrastructure.

The worry is, of course, that the school won’t go back and buy more fixtures. I suspect a lot don’t.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
@MNicolai you raise some good points about programming. Do you think that with the new generation of programmers being more computer literate this will make learning programming (not design) easier?

It probably helps, but the biggest factor I see in effective programmers is a willingness to march into uncharted waters and start mashing buttons to see what they do and then open the manual or hop on YouTube to see how they can get the most out of their hardware. Lot of people learn how to manually hunt and peck at keys to turn individual channel selections on/off without exploring palettes, groups, presets, etc., and they become dependent on a very manual workflow without discovering the higher levels of workflow these systems are capable of. The willingness for someone to continually seek out new information, better workflows, and walk into the unknown is not skill set everyone has, but in any career makes for some of the most valuable employees.

I'm reminded of a study where they looked at the productivity of people based on which internet browser they use. Chrome and Firefox users scored higher than Internet Explorer/Edge/Safari -- not because Chrome has some secret to efficiency built into it but because the personality types attracted to that browser were people who were unsatisfied with the status quo and were the kinds of people who would go out and find the best solution for their circumstances.

I have what many would consider a highly complex job requiring knowledge in multiple disciplines and subject matters. The truth is that while years of experience helps someone avoid amateur mistakes and oversights, most of what I do can be learned by jumping into Google or opening a textbook and studying a subject matter. You can learn a lot by picking up a phone and calling someone. Knowing who to call is less important than knowing how to find out who you should call. Many people choose never to go out and seek new information though. They just aren't comfortable with it or it isn't something that comes to mind as an option for them. Possibly a consequence of the "you must go to college to learn stuff and college is where you will learn everything you need to know" mentality. In my line of work, there are also many opportunities where you don't know the answer and can choose to either wing it or raise your hand and say, "I don't know but let me research and get back to you." The people who wing it rather than research don't build up that skill set of accepting they need to learn something and then going out and making it happen.

This is why when I'm interviewing job candidates I'll throw in questions I don't expect them to know the answers to. The ability to comfortably navigate unfamiliar subjects is more important than having a right answer for a particular question.

I would have to guess that this had to do with cost.

I provide very detailed cost opinions for my designs and are rarely more than 5% off from subcontractor. That doesn’t always save you from last minute cuts (“value engineering”) on a new build due to other disciplines. In that case you can justify removing fixtures from the initial package a lot easier than removing infrastructure.

The worry is, of course, that the school won’t go back and buy more fixtures. I suspect a lot don’t.

Same. I find a lot of success by offering a "good/better/best" menu of options during early/mid-design. That helps define expectations, allows an opportunity for owner sign-off, and reserves a chunk of the overall project budget for us. Usually we have CM's doing cost estimating during the design process but specialty systems often get lost or underestimated if left to the contractors.
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
It probably helps, but the biggest factor I see in effective programmers is a willingness to march into uncharted waters and start mashing buttons to see what they do and then open the manual or hop on YouTube to see how they can get the most out of their hardware. Lot of people learn how to manually hunt and peck at keys to turn individual channel selections on/off without exploring palettes, groups, presets, etc., and they become dependent on a very manual workflow without discovering the higher levels of workflow these systems are capable of. The willingness for someone to continually seek out new information, better workflows, and walk into the unknown is not skill set everyone has, but in any career makes for some of the most valuable employees.

I'm reminded of a study where they looked at the productivity of people based on which internet browser they use. Chrome and Firefox users scored higher than Internet Explorer/Edge/Safari -- not because Chrome has some secret to efficiency built into it but because the personality types attracted to that browser were people who were unsatisfied with the status quo and were the kinds of people who would go out and find the best solution for their circumstances.

I have what many would consider a highly complex job requiring knowledge in multiple disciplines and subject matters. The truth is that while years of experience helps someone avoid amateur mistakes and oversights, most of what I do can be learned by jumping into Google or opening a textbook and studying a subject matter. You can learn a lot by picking up a phone and calling someone. Knowing who to call is less important than knowing how to find out who you should call. Many people choose never to go out and seek new information though. They just aren't comfortable with it or it isn't something that comes to mind as an option for them. Possibly a consequence of the "you must go to college to learn stuff and college is where you will learn everything you need to know" mentality. In my line of work, there are also many opportunities where you don't know the answer and can choose to either wing it or raise your hand and say, "I don't know but let me research and get back to you." The people who wing it rather than research don't build up that skill set of accepting they need to learn something and then going out and making it happen.

This is why when I'm interviewing job candidates I'll throw in questions I don't expect them to know the answers to. The ability to comfortably navigate unfamiliar subjects is more important than having a right answer for a particular question.



Same. I find a lot of success by offering a "good/better/best" menu of options during early/mid-design. That helps define expectations, allows an opportunity for owner sign-off, and reserves a chunk of the overall project budget for us. Usually we have CM's doing cost estimating during the design process but specialty systems often get lost or underestimated if left to the contractors.
I say I cant sleep tonight until I can say I have ticked the "I learnt something new today" box. Someone told me that to find an easier (not always better) way to do something is to ask a lazy person to do it They will figure out the easiest way. I have learnt from the basics of ETC Nomad and using their videos progressed to where I am now. I am that person who will ask for help or research the question and say why? can you explain that again? I am not sure. Then share it with others so they can learn.
I like you interview thing. I was asked at my theatre tech interview if I don't know what to do or how to do it, what would I do. 1st answer was ask someone. Followed by google and research.
Regards
Geoff
 
Probably the main reasons that LEDs have become the standard for current theatres are: 1. current lighting instructors (many of them work in the industry, too) are familiar with what is available and LED provides so much more versatility, and 2. designers of systems are using almost all LED lighting, from house lighting to stage fixture. As the old school consultants/designers age out, the new designers are bringing in the current, better technology. But all of ^^^that^^^ too.

You guys watch Graham Darnell. He is going places. Big time.
 

Ancient Engineer

Well-Known Member
I'm not convinced that there is any color or fade that can be done on conventionals that I can't trick you into seeing with LED fixtures.


Well, so long as I am tricked.



LED instruments are good for many things.

They make adequate light for many situations and are cheap.

Cheapness, simplicity, and reduced heat are their primary benefits.

Quality of light (thus far) is not amongst their best traits. Oh sure, they will dial around their peaky spectrums and make bountiful color options available.

But a instrument that can make a flat, full spectrum white at 3250K is not there yet (at least at a price point that is reasonable, I'm looking at you Arri).

The peaky spectrum in "white" LEDs (warm or cool) is instantly noticable when applied to flesh-tones.

And, yup like TuckerD said, you can fool us by using more than one instrument or picking one with extra emitters, etc..

Now my workaround trick has me looking at a $60 8" Fresnel because the quality of the light is so frikkin good and it is simple.

Not nearly as simple as standing at the GrandMA and whizzing the whiz wheel to get something "good enough".

I'll give you three examples of incandescent fixtures in use all the time today because there is not a good single LED equal.

1. 9-light Fay (or 12-light Fay)
2. 10K Fresnel for motion picture work.
3. Follow spot with a 250' throw giving 300fc+ @5600k

Debate me, or prove to me that Panera Bread is not just overpriced hospital food... :)
 

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