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Lights Going On in Sequence

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Edrick, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Edrick

    Edrick Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Alright so I have a general question not so much related to theater but who knows it may be useful for other people.

    Well here it goes, so in movies we've all seen where the lights go on in a sequence instead of all on at once. They have that "click" "click" "click" "click" noise as they come on. Any who do any of you electricians know how they go about doing this? I suppose you could have each individual light on it's own switch or dimmer / what have you. However that seems like quite a lot of work. Someone had mentioned that depending on how you wire it would create this effect.

    So I guess if it was wired in series so the power has to go through each bulb before it gets to the next it would create that effect. But that seems like it would happen pretty fast and also would cause the bulbs to be dim?

    Any who any ideas on how to create this effect?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    If they are wired in series, they will all come on together after the circuit in completed.

    It would be easy to pull off with a few relays and a 0-10v converter, if you don't have the dimmers around.
     
  3. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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    Short answer;
    Movies Aren't real.

    Long Answer;

    You'd need some controller to sequence the lights. A dimmer would work, a relay pack for other loads. Or even a DMX - Analogue converter running contractors. The advantage with contractors would be you would get a click with each channel. The only way to get the loud mechanical noise however would be to have it a recording played back in sync with the lights.

    The sound I assume you are referring to sounds like a disconnect switch being engaged?
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I assume we are talking about the Shawshank Redemption type lights out affect?
     
  5. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Remember in movies after all the research they still might show what people think something should look like not what it is actually like. This might be modeled after lights being turned on by circuit breakers or by contactors. If I were going to try and recreate the effect I would put each light on its own dimmer or depending on how many lights I needed to control use relays.
     
  6. Edrick

    Edrick Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Well I know movies aren't real I go to school for Film Production ;). As far as the sound effect goes it wasn't so much as I was wondering how to get that effect to go with it I know it's added in during post. The question I have more so is how I could go about doing this my self wether it was for a film production or if someone wanted to do it in a theater. We're talking regular lights not like Source Fours or anything but regular incandescent lights.
     
  7. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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  8. Edrick

    Edrick Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I haven't seen the movie in a while but I believe that would be the same thing. Where a bank of lights or a single light will turn on or off one at a time. An example I can think of would in Die Hard I forget which one but when the Air Port runway lights light up one row at a time.
     
  9. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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    A Dimmer (or Some sort of analogue control + Relays or Contactors)

    You can put pretty much any incandescent on a dimmer and it'll function as long as it's under the maximum load and above the minimum. If you were doing fluorescents you'd have to use a relay pack or special ballasts and dimming modules.
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Although not intended specifically for your purpose, the Atlas/Soundolier SACR-191 will sequentially turn ON/off six circuits, with a delay time from one to ten seconds. Similar devices are available from other manufacturers, including Middle-Atlantic and Furman.
     
  11. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    like derek posted, a simple Sequencer will do the trick. They can be found at most audio supply stores. They are used usually to start up a large amount of equipment in sequence one after the other. This is because the surge current draw of everything in a sound rack turning on all at once can be enough to easily blow circuit breakers or cause power surges which could be detrimental to components in the system.

    The same is done with industrial/commercial lighting, each bank of lights is turned on in sequence as to not create a power surge. As one user mentioned, all of the landing and runway lights at pretty much every major airport in the world turn on in a sequence. This is because if they were to turn on all at the same time they could cause a brown out at the airport and even in the surrounding suburban area's.

    In Film/TV it is just used for dramatic effect ;)

    Very rarely do the lights actually make that loud clicking noise in actual practice. If they do it's usually a large relay tripping or a set of contactors (not contractors) closing. I know the contactors in the House Lighting and Parking Lot lighting system at the MVPAC are VERY loud...almost deafening. I was standing next to the Parking Lot ones once when they turned on...scared the crap out of me as I wasn't expecting it at all.

    http://www.pssl.com/Mid-Atlantic-PDS615R-15-Amp-Sequencing-Power-Centr

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/1809/Power_Equipment_Power_Distributors_Conditioners.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  12. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what we have here at MLC, but our lights are on a sequencer-type, well, thing. They work like this:

    Four special light switches are in the Auditorium. These switches are special because they remain in between the on and off positions. Thus, when they are pushed up anywhere in the auditorium, the lights turn on or remain on, and when the switch is pushed down, they turn off or remain off.

    Those special light switches actually remote-control another switch that really controls the lights. That switch provides the power to a breaker panel which controls the lights in sections of two, three, and four individual house lights. The switch also provides more power (and also has heavier-gauge cabling) to the lights that are farther away (some are 150-200 feet away) and also times it so that all the lights come on at the same time and there is no power surge. (50 200-watt lights being turned on at the same time - although now we use CFLs I do not know the wattage of.) Because of this, we get the huge "thunk" whenever the lights are turned on or off.

    This is how the system was described to me. The description I have provided may be inaccurate, but I believe it to be true. Yes, we do need to have an architectural system installed.

    I just wanted to state that yes, this type of system is actually used (I think,) though for the opposite reason that the movies use it for.
     
  13. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Your system sound to me like it's not really a sequencer per-se but just a remote turn on switch. That switch on the wall most likely turns the actual breakers in the panel on and off and thats what the loud noise is. I've seen this type of system used often in wood/metal shops where one switch has the capability of turning on and also cutting all the power to the equipment. Special circuit breakers are installed in the breaker panel and the switch actually physically flips the breakers between the on and off positions remotely. This is especially useful in shops like this because it facilitates the installation and use of those nice big Red PANIC buttons you see mounted on the wall. Pressing this big red button usually flips all of the circuit breakers in the panel to the off position, basically the equivalent of pushing your light switch DOWN to the off position. No reason this system can't be used in systems such as yours.

    The fact that the rest of the lights in the building don't dim when they all turn on means that you have an adequate power supply for the building, which is good. I know a bunch of theatres which are not so lucky, one being the theatre at my college. Whenever the A/C Unit/Cooling Tower outside turns on the lights flicker for a half second, this is even though the building has a 2400 amp service (1800 of which is going to the lighting system) it's not enough to cope with the large surge of the A/C Compressors turning on.

    Also the further away lights don't use more power, the reason they have thicker cabling is to minimize the voltage drop over long distances. All cable has resistance and the further you go, the lower the voltage will be at the end of the line. For instance you may have 120vAC at the breaker panel but you might only have 110vAC at the end of the cable depending on the thickness of the cable. This is because of resistive losses in the cable. Using thicker cable minimizes the voltage loss and prevents overheating. This also has nothing to do with coming on at the same time, electricity travels at nearly the speed of light no matter how thick the cable is. If you were to use a thinner guage on the further away lights they would not turn on any slower...at least not by any percevable amount.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  14. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    At the astrodome, when they would turn off the stadium lights for concerts, you heard about 3 min of CLICK CLICK CLICK. After each click a bank of 2-4 lights would go off. I think part of the reason why they had so many circuits, besides the current draw, is to help turn off different areas of the stadium (these lights also lit the entire stadium as far as seating) So you could turn off just section one, lower middle and upper balconys independently. If you are doing a show and you would like the industrial effect, get a NEMA 3 contactor and wire just the coil of it up to a push button. Have your board op turn off sections of the house lights and have someone push the button at the same time. It will definately be heard. We use NEMA 3 contactors to start 50 HP 480V motors. If you can find a bigger contactor than more power to you.

    Now at movie theaters on the other hand, all of their lights are on dimmers all controlled via DMX.
     
  15. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    [user]TimMiller[/user] brings up something I've been wondering for a while. How are stadium lights controlled? Do they just use breaker panels/disconnects/computerized power management or do they have some kind of proprietary control console?

    I've always wanted to know.
     
  16. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Both of the major arenas here have a Unison system with touch panels as well as an Expression3.
     
  17. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Very interesting. Does this system control HID fixtures?
     
  18. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Easily, the Unison system can be linked via DMX to a Relay Box which can then use relays to Trigger heavy duty Contactors or power HMI Fixtures directly depending on the wattage of the fixtures. The Unison system can control a wide variety of loads from Source Fours to Chain Motors.
     
  19. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I'm fairly certain ETC would NEVER commission one of their systems controlling chain motors.
     
  20. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I've been reading up on the Unison Architectural System for a while now and they have a panel specifically with "RAISE" and "LOWER" buttons. Coupled with the Contact Closure Interface I figured these could control winch motors through a series of contactors. However on reading the documents again it seems they are more meant for controlling Window Blinds and Projection Screens. It is possible though that you could control something like a winch motor, however I can see now that it probably wouldn't be all that safe since there would be no arming switch or anything like that.

    EDIT: On second look I've found the new SmartLink Control system from ETC IS rated to control up to a 1.5HP Motor Load. While that still doesn't mean winches are allowed...that is most likely where I got confused. Sorry!

    Page 2
    http://www.etcconnect.com/docs/docs...02_SmartSwitch_48_Relay_Panel_Spec_Sht_vC.pdf

    Relay Ratings
    • 0.5 HP @ 120V Motor Load
    • 1.5 HP @ 240/277 Motor Load

    In Theory this could be a winch.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2008

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