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Design Issues and Solutions Lee 600 Arctic White and other newer Lee Designer Series colors.

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
I've been LD and TD for an annual children's dance production of a Nutcracker variation for 10 years now. I haven't really changed the color from my original design but a lot of it is starting to burn out. I was initially just going to replace the color but decided I wanted to lighten up the key light and give myself more "cool" options. I've always been partial to Lee and have only regularly use a handful of Rosco colors in my designs (plus, I found that Lee is nearly half the cost of Rosco), so I'm trying to replace Rosco with comparable or better Lee color.

Lee has several new Designer Series colors that I've had no experience with, and the color I'm most interested in is Lee 600 Arctic White. The description reads, "Bright, brilliant blue-grey light at 100%. It does not warm up as it dims and is not affected by amber drift." My initial thought was that this could be an interesting replacement for the Lee 201 in my template wash, but now I'm curious what it would look like as a replacement for Lee 709 Electric Lilac in my head-highs or even the shins.

Have you used Lee 600 Arctic White in a design, or seen it used? If so, what was it used for? Did it work for what you were wanting to accomplish? What about the following?
  • Lee 500 Double New Colour Blue to replace Lee 201 in my Shins.
  • Lee 506 Marlene: Warm Front to replace Lee 110 Middle Rose.
  • Lee 525 Argent Blue: Cool High Sides to replace Lee 704 Lily as Lav High Sides. The description is what intrigued me, because it says it's "Great for a foreboding cold winter's night, but useful for general illuminance as well."
  • Lee 773 Cardbox Amber: Warm High Sides to replace Lee 036 Medium Pink as Pink High Sides.
In my opinion, colors can be arbitrary without knowing their relation to the overall design, so I listed all of the main systems and colors below for anyone interested.

Any questions, comments, suggestions and critiques are welcome. Looking forward to your insight, friends!

- Jordan


My design uses the rep plot at the theatre and I swap rep color for my show color in 95% of it (and add 40ish specials and various "a" electrics). Here are the main systems and color:

Side Ladders:
  • Warm Sides: L110 (Previously used rep color, R35, but wanted something more saturated.)
  • Cool Sides: R68 (Previously used rep color, R67, but wanted something more saturated.)
    • L110 and R68 also mix to a beautiful, rich white that I've always loved--especially for ballet.
  • Head-Highs: L709 (Curious about L600 Arctic White.)
  • Mids: ETC D40 Lustr LED (Rep) - Used for more saturated colors, though I wish these were LED Source 4s.
  • Mids: L366 (Previously L165, but it felt cartoony and green, so I chose a softer blue.)
  • Shins: L500 (Previously L201, but L201 is infamously green.)
High Sides:
  • Warm High Sides: L773 (Previously used L036 as Pink High Sides, but felt L036 is too red.)
  • Cool High Sides: L525 (Previously L704 Lav High Sides, but wanted a Warm/Cool system instead of two warms.)
  • Cold Pipe Ends: R81 (Rep)
Backlight:
  • Amber Back: R318 (Open to suggestions for replacing this with something else.)
  • Cold Back: R80 (Rep)
  • ETC D40 Lustr LED (Rep) - Use for more saturated colors.
  • White Back: R60 (Rep - Useful for punching through deep, saturated blues.)
Front Light:
  • Warm Front: L506 (Previously L110, but wanted a less saturated color to keep intensity lower.)
  • Cool Front: L712 (Previously R68, but wanted a less saturated color to keep intensity lower.)
  • Cold Front: R74 (Will probably replace with L714 when it's burnt, but heat shield works wonders.)
  • Hot Front: L147 (Rep color, thought about changing but don't hate it.)
  • N/C Front: R119 (Rep, but I don't use it much because it doesn't blend with my color by giving it a brownish hue.)
Template Washes:
  • FOH Templates: L202 (Rep color, but wouldn't mind replacing it with L502 from the New Colour Blue series.)
  • Template Wash: L600 (Experimenting to replace Rep color, L201, with something less green but still light.)
 
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derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Location
Las Vegas, NV, USA
A very good post; one that I hope will spur some thoughtful discussions. Considering that some are predicting plastic color media will be all but obsolete in a few years, we'd best discuss it while we still can.

Now for me. I'm old. I have never used Lee 500s or 700s and likely never will, so I can't help you there. My learned opinion only: Pay zero attention to color descriptions (and to a lesser extent, color names). This is all marketing BS and bears no resemblance to reality. Puffery. The used car was driven by a little old lady only to church and the Piggly Wiggly on Sundays.

"N/C Front: R119 (Rep, don't use it much because it doesn't blend with my color.)" I don't understand this statement. Do you focus non-template ERSs hard, soft, or medium? Have you tried R132 instead?
 

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
A very good post; one that I hope will spur some thoughtful discussions. Considering that some are predicting plastic color media will be all but obsolete in a few years, we'd best discuss it while we still can.

Now for me. I'm old. I have never used Lee 500s or 700s and likely never will, so I can't help you there. My learned opinion only: Pay zero attention to color descriptions (and to a lesser extent, color names). This is all marketing BS and bears no resemblance to reality. Puffery. The used car was driven by a little old lady only to church and the Piggly Wiggly on Sundays.

"N/C Front: R119 (Rep, don't use it much because it doesn't blend with my color.)" I don't understand this statement. Do you focus non-template ERSs hard, soft, or medium? Have you tried R132 instead?
Thank you! I hope it will spur some discussion... because I need help! I was actually just thinking about the future (or lack of) for color when I started working on this, but I think it's going to be around for a while. Think of all of the schools and churches and community theatres that will inherit hand-me-down equipment as larger, wealthier institutions replace their conventional fixtures with LED. If anything, let's hope it will at least get cheaper. But, even when color gel goes the way of color roundels (those aren't a thing anymore, right..?), we can still have discussions about color! For instance, I'd like to know why I still have yet to encounter a fixture that can accurately match color in conventional tungsten fixtures. :lol:

And as for the N/C Front system, it's two pairs of 19 deg Source 4s with R119, just as FOH fill light. I've worked with a lot of designers who use a N/C Front system, either just as a design choice, or when they have heavily saturated color in their Front systems, like deep blues, rich ambers, etc., and they use it as fill.
 

tdrga

Active Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Location
Central TX
Look at the transmission curve for L600 - you are losing a lot of light compared to L201 and L709. For something that needs to punch through other colors, that would be a problem.
I would talk to your local dealer and get a few sheets of each new color - there's no substitute for seeing it in person. As Derek mentioned - marketing descriptions are useless.
-Todd
 

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
Look at the transmission curve for L600 - you are losing a lot of light compared to L201 and L709. For something that needs to punch through other colors, that would be a problem.
I would talk to your local dealer and get a few sheets of each new color - there's no substitute for seeing it in person. As Derek mentioned - marketing descriptions are useless.
-Todd
You bring up a really good point with the transmission curve. I noticed it does have an astoundingly low transmission of 8.7% for a color that appears fairly light in photos. But I think I forgot about that because I'm so enamored with an idea that may not be realistic. I'm not super concerned about that with the template wash, which I use almost exclusively for texture, as opposed to a look. On one hand, I seem to keep the L201 and L202 at relatively low intensity because it's not a pleasant color that I want to showcase. But, on the other hand, while I don't think consistently using it at higher intensities (relative to L201) would look bad, it could end up being costly if it burns out because of that low transmission percentage. I don't know, I've always had a love/hate relationship with L201; it's useful and versatile, but it's also so g.d. greenish-gray at lower intensities. I like the possibility that something that could potentially take its place, but the best solution might be L501, which was developed specifically as a less-green alternative to L201.

This is for a fairly small dance studio that puts on a massive [read: expensive] production. If we had the budget to throw at color, I would buy a large assortment for "research" purposes. Alas, we do not, so I'm trying to avoid wasting money on color I don't use. Honestly, even swatch books, although far better than my Swatch or Lee Swatch apps, aren't a great representation because it's always different in front of that 575w tungsten HPL.

If I do end up using or at least testing it, even if it doesn't make it into the show, I'll try and remember to take photos. Do y'all know how hard it is to find a photographer that can take GOOD photos with stage lighting..? (Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, @icewolf08)
 

techieman33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Location
topeka, ks
Look at the transmission curve for L600 - you are losing a lot of light compared to L201 and L709. For something that needs to punch through other colors, that would be a problem.
I would talk to your local dealer and get a few sheets of each new color - there's no substitute for seeing it in person. As Derek mentioned - marketing descriptions are useless.
-Todd
Same for L500, there is a lot more light lost there than with L201. The name makes it sound like a sub for a double CTB. The L501 sounds more like a sub for full CTB, and transmits more like than L201. Maybe it's not a big deal if your only running your fronts at 75% or less. But if your having to run them at full then that extra light loss from the gel could be a big deal.
 

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
Same for L500, there is a lot more light lost there than with L201. The name makes it sound like a sub for a double CTB. The L501 sounds more like a sub for full CTB, and transmits more like than L201. Maybe it's not a big deal if your only running your fronts at 75% or less. But if your having to run them at full then that extra light loss from the gel could be a big deal.
Right, I'm not looking for a true equivalent for my shins. I'm fine losing the L201 altogether for the L500, which is the equivalent of Double CTB L200. I rarely run my FOH past 50%, and that's one of the reasons I'm wanting to lighten those from L110/R68 to L506/L712 (for comparison, the rep designer uses R04/L174). Plus, like I said, the template wash is primarily for texture, so being able to run L600 or L501 at higher intensities in the template wash would be an advantage because the undesirable green hue of L201 prevents that.
 
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Colin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Location
Eastern Massachusetts
Lee 600 transmission is hard to work with unless you've got a lot of lamps and even more gel. L711 is similar at a higher transmission, and is a very usable clean, stark, cool white that I like a lot. Here's a pretty accurate pic using 711 heads with texture and 366 (a favorite dance boom color) in the shins, about a 18' throw from each side. https://colinmcnamee.com/artwork/4245451.html

The hue of 600 and 711 is considerably "less colorful" than CTB, and that's still more true compared to 709. I think 709 is a more versatile color, and one a majority of people would call more pleasing to look at, more flattering on skin and costumes. But you're on the right track looking at something the hue of 600 if you want a very crisp, pure "white" from HPLs.

Unless I want to make everyone look sick, I avoid the Lee CTBs. The Rosco 32xxs pass more red and look cleaner, more flattering. Maybe that's what Lee 500 is about too - that's one of the few on your list I'm not familiar with.

Yes, Lee 506 is a lovely, warm, but more natural color than pinker tones, maybe more useful than the old 110, though whether to go more towards pink or more towards amber can have a lot to do with what high sat. systems you have for toning from the front - if you can do red and blue there, then easy to shift amber to pink. If you want to be able to mix the most natural whites with your warm and cool fronts, then moving away from pink towards amber is good too.

I think the 525 vs 704 comparison is something like 600/711 to 709 - very different colors. It seems like your old colors are all warmer, more red, and you're leaning towards more truly cool/blue color now for the systems that are in fact labeled "cool" so that could of course make sense. Just consider whether there are reasons you might miss the slightly warmer, arguably more flattering versions.

Swap 773 for 36? Yes PLEASE. Maybe it's only me, but 36 is a barfy, difficult color in my experience. Sometimes I put it in curtain warmers. Maybe one day I'll finally burn through my whole stock that way. And again, generally speaking I support moving warms a little bit in an amber direction for a dance plot that has toning systems that can easily add red or blue.
 
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JonCarter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2011
Location
Meridian, Idaho, US
I'm not familiar with the color numbers mentioned above as they didn't exist when I was designing in the '50s & '60-s. but I did discover early on that when picking cools of any kind it was best to look at colors at the approximate dimmer settings at which they would be used. (This was of course dealing with incandescent lamps of all kinds; no LEDs back in the dark ages.) (Do LEDs maintain designed color temp when dimmed???) The lamps' color is much warmer at dimmer settings lower than max, and cools look different than at max . (Arcs were another story, since dimming was by irises and color temp didn't change with dimming.)

For film work we used a color temp meter (Spectra) and adjusted things as required to match the film.
 

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
Lee 600 transmission is hard to work with unless you've got a lot of lamps and even more gel. L711 is similar at a higher transmission, and is a very usable clean, stark, cool white that I like a lot. Here's a pretty accurate pic using 711 heads with texture and 366 (a favorite dance boom color) in the shins, about a 18' throw from each side. https://colinmcnamee.com/artwork/4245451.html

The hue of 600 and 711 is considerably "less colorful" than CTB, and that's still more true compared to 709. I think 709 is a more versatile color, and one a majority of people would call more pleasing to look at, more flattering on skin and costumes. But you're on the right track looking at something the hue of 600 if you want a very crisp, pure "white" from HPLs.

Unless I want to make everyone look sick, I avoid the Lee CTBs. The Rosco 32xxs pass more red and look cleaner, more flattering. Maybe that's what Lee 500 is about too - that's one of the few on your list I'm not familiar with.

Yes, Lee 506 is a lovely, warm, but more natural color than pinker tones, maybe more useful than the old 110, though whether to go more towards pink or more towards amber can have a lot to do with what high sat. systems you have for toning from the front - if you can do red and blue there, then easy to shift amber to pink. If you want to be able to mix the most natural whites with your warm and cool fronts, then moving away from pink towards amber is good too.

I think the 525 vs 704 comparison is something like 600/711 to 709 - very different colors. It seems like your old colors are all warmer, more red, and you're leaning towards more truly cool/blue color now for the systems that are in fact labeled "cool" so that could of course make sense. Just consider whether there are reasons you might miss the slightly warmer, arguably more flattering versions.

Swap 773 for 36? Yes PLEASE. Maybe it's only me, but 36 is a barfy, difficult color in my experience. Sometimes I put it in curtain warmers. Maybe one day I'll finally burn through my whole stock that way. And again, generally speaking I support moving warms a little bit in an amber direction for a dance plot that has toning systems that can easily add red or blue.
It's REALLY funny you mention 711 because that's what I was considering before I stumbled across 600! I loved everything about the color but was reluctant to pull the trigger. But, based on that and the photo you shared, I'm going to use that instead of 600. I think the look I'm really wanting is that HMI lamp color temperature, which is exactly what your photo reminds me of. I'm bummed that I didn't research color sooner so I could have created this look years ago, and I'm also glad I didn't resort to using 201! It does sound like the Rosco 32xxs are similar to the Lee NCB color. I'm going to buy a sheet of 600 and try it in the FOH template wash, because the 202 is so harsh that I can never use it above 25-30%.

Thanks for the insight on 506. I want something that looks natural and really like how balanced it seems (I don't have any of those newer colors in my swatch book, which is why I'm asking for help... and because I have a production meeting tomorrow and need to have a list ready!). I mentioned in the ladder section that I am very partial to the L110/R68 combo because of the beautiful white that it mixes to. I'm actually a fan of mixing to white using pink and blue vs using ambers and blues, but I that the 506 will be a balanced alternative. I wasn't ready to let that go, hence why I'm keeping it in the side ladders unless I run out of time or get too lazy to swap the R35/R67, which is close enough that it won't cause me to slowly die inside. I think the 506/712 combo will make the 147 "Hot" Front system more useful. It never blended with the L110/R68/R74 (and I also have a "UV" system of R382, but only for scene changes).

The 525/704 isn't a comparison so much as it is a distinct design change, as with most (all?) of these changes. I just want to shift from so many warm and red colors to more neutral--if not natural--colors, and also want a more diverse palette of cool colors to choose from without having to sacrifice the few LED fixtures I have. This show is 90% dream (a la Balanchine) so, aside from the Sugarplum Fairy and the Parlor, I don't use a lot of warm washes. I've always felt like my options were limited, but chalked it up to the number of dances (42, to be exact). That may have been true when all the theatre had was conventional fixtures but, now that I have a few LED fixtures, I don't have an excuse.

Anyway, I think I'll go with the L773/L525 Warm/Cool combo for the high sides. I like R36 and L036 but they are very red at anything below 75%. I like what they do for skin tone, similar to L110, and especially what it does for white costumes at those high intensities. It's just too saturated to be useful at lower intensities. In general, I think I'll still have enough of those warmer, more flattering colors with the pink sides, the R318 backlight, and LED fixtures to pinkify when more is needed.

Thanks so much for your insight! This is exactly what I needed.
 

Jordan Street

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Location
Salt Lake City
I'm not familiar with the color numbers mentioned above as they didn't exist when I was designing in the '50s & '60-s. but I did discover early on that when picking cools of any kind it was best to look at colors at the approximate dimmer settings at which they would be used. (This was of course dealing with incandescent lamps of all kinds; no LEDs back in the dark ages.) (Do LEDs maintain designed color temp when dimmed???) The lamps' color is much warmer at dimmer settings lower than max, and cools look different than at max . (Arcs were another story, since dimming was by irises and color temp didn't change with dimming.)

For film work we used a color temp meter (Spectra) and adjusted things as required to match the film.
Hey, they didn't exist when I was designing in the early- to mid-2000's and 2010's! :D LEDs are a sore spot. But I honestly don't know the answer to your question. I'm not sure whether they've just designed them to where they compensate for whatever the LED equivalent of amber drift is with color mixing, or if they just don't have that problem. I'll have to take the LEDs for a spin when I'm in the space next month. One of the biggest reasons I'm making these changes is because I have too many colors that aren't flattering or usable at low intensities so I'm forced to a) not use them or b) use them at higher intensities.
 

DrewE

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
LEDs themselves (the basic electronic components) do not change color at all when operated at various intensities; indeed, they are by nature monochromatic sources. White LEDs are actually normal LEDs with a phosphors that absorbs some of that monochromatic light--typically blue--and emit other colors that combine to approximate a true white light. Theatrical LED fixtures use either a variety of LEDs of different colors mixed together or white LEDs (or both) to generate white light. In any case, assuming the driver circuitry is at all decently designed, there should be no color shift when dimming unless that is an engineered-in "feature." s Some household LED bulbs do attempt to replicate the color shifting of incandescent lamps when dimmed; I don't know that any theatrical units do that, nor does it seem to me especially useful for them.
 

almorton

Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Location
Caterham, Surrey, UK
The 500 series CTB are less green than the 200s and after using 501 going back to 201 looks positively sickly.

711 is great for stark lighting - early frosty morning sunlight springs to mind. I quite like 601 for shadowy looks - its sort of grey and dark but you can still see whats going on. I'll be using it for the tunnel scenes in the railway children.