Low Cost Intelligents

SAWYeR

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Joined
Feb 17, 2007
Location
Chicago, Illinois
My high school's theatre department recently rented two MAC 700 Profiles for our winter musical production of "Ragtime". My Lighting Designer and I fell in love with them the moment we opened the road case, and we used them for great effects throughout the show. We were reluctant, to say the least, to have to return them after the show was over. Now we would like to get our own, but the problem is their cost. The only way our theatre makes money is through ticket sales, and most of the money goes to paying back the cost of wood, rentals, supllies, etc.
Now we are wondering: What are good alternatives to the MACs, but at a lower cost. We made around $17,500 before paybacks, so our pofit will be small, if any. Any ideas?
 

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Nov 24, 2005
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Saratoga Springs, NY
My advice, give that rental house a call that you rented them from, and tell them your in the market for some used gear. Let them know what you liked about the 700 and what you would like in a fixture. You can usually get some pretty nice used gear for a greatly reduced price. Also, most of the smaller rental houses love building relationships with local schools because they know they will always be there and always need gel, gaff, lamps, and all that good stuff.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
You got yourselves started on what is one of the most versatile fixtures in the industry. I'd wait until Elation's new Design Spot 575E has been released fully and get two of those. They'd fit very well, and they have a huge amount of features that are similar to the MAC700's. They'll be less than half of the cost of new MAC700's. The fixture is very close to the Martin line because one of Martin's folks went over to the Elation side, so you should start seeing some better stuff from Elation, like the fixture that I reccommended. You might be able to get a pair of those suckers for $9K.

Now if you need to have fixtures starting at $1K or under, well, then that's a whole different ballpark. First off, they're going to have far fewer features. Secondly, they're not gonna be as bright as the 700's, no where near it. Thirdly, zoom. It won't exist. At all. You'll be lucky to get an iris on a fixture that's under $1K. BUT, all that said, here's my reccomendation: the Focus Spot 250R. It's a great little fixture, and I've seen a few shots of them in use that look nice. And they have rotating gobos. They easily compete with the output of a MAC250, and they're rather small, allowing you to hide them easier, and put them in places with a smaller wing radius.

Under $2K per fixture the options open up a bit more, letting some
Robe equipment in, like the Clubspot 250 CT and the Colorspot 170 AT. You also get some more Elation stuff like the Power Spot 250 and maybe the Powerspot 575 if you get a good deal on it. Elation's Design Spot 250 could also be a really attractive option for your budget.
 
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ship

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Mar 29, 2003
Location
Illinois
continuing to rent them or the next phase of development would possibly be a solution.

Think about lamp cost, yearly at least service, and people screwing abut with the fixture in breaking it costs.

This much less do you always need say a few of even this fixture as used? More efficient to continue renting it? Possibility pehaps for while this is still the most useful moving light for you, you are not sticking future productions with what eventually become antiquated gear.
 

gafftaper

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One thing Soundlight missed is that to get CMY color mixing you have to pay the big bucks. There are a lot of decent quality intelligents out there in the $3k range but I think you've got to get up over $5K before you get color mixing.

I would suggest you take a look at the VL1000 by Varilite. They are quite popular around here, do a search. They won't quite do all the tricks that the MAC 700 does. But they have CMY mixing, cost around $5K and are designed more with the needs of theater in mind.

Also to echo Ship, take a serious look at your maintenance and lamp budget. Can you afford $100 per year per instrument for lamps? Plus yes they do need regular checkups and repair.

Another very cool option that a lot of people don't know about is the Seachanger. It is an accessory for any standard Source 4 that gives it CMY color mixing. It won't spin and do tricks, but imagine having a dozen conventional instruments in your rig that never need gel and can instantly color mix. At about $1,700 each for the price of one MAC 2K you could have 10 Seachangers. While not quite as sexy, it's REALLY practical.
 
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soundlight

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Location
NJ & NYC
The Elation Design Spot 575E has CMY. Also, the Elation Design Spot is gonna go for about $5K. So that relationship is gonna hold true.

Yar, you may just wanna rent. You may need something like the 700's for one show, you may need something like a vari-lite with framing shutters for another show, you may want some 1200W scanners for another show, and you may want a bunch of moving wash fixtures for another show. Plus, you can get experience with alot of fixtures that way.
 
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len

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Oct 23, 2004
Location
Chicagoland
Curious who you got them from and for how much, if you'd care to share.
 

SAWYeR

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Feb 17, 2007
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Wow! Thanks for all the replies. We rented the lights from a place called Intelligent Lighting Creations. What me and my friend really would love to use them for is our bi-annual dance show, Orchesis. We really thought we could put them to their full use there. We also thought about some SeaChangers for our Source4s. We have maybe one issue, and that is size, but only where we used them for the show, top hung on a pipe with C clamps in our FOH, where the distance between the pipe and ceiling is about 27 inches. Otherwise, we have 3 full-time linesets, plus the option of floor mounts. We want to know more about possibly used equipment, Vari*Lites (which my friend has used), and SeaChangers. Again, Thanks!!!
 

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Wow! Thanks for all the replies. We rented the lights from a place called Intelligent Lighting Creations. What me and my friend really would love to use them for is our bi-annual dance show, Orchesis. We really thought we could put them to their full use there. We also thought about some SeaChangers for our Source4s. We have maybe one issue, and that is size, but only where we used them for the show, top hung on a pipe with C clamps in our FOH, where the distance between the pipe and ceiling is about 27 inches. Otherwise, we have 3 full-time linesets, plus the option of floor mounts. We want to know more about possibly used equipment, Vari*Lites (which my friend has used), and SeaChangers. Again, Thanks!!!
ILC loves educational theatre, give them a call about used gear. I know many schools in that area have bought used gear from them for a greatly reduced price. The owner of that company is a former Main South grad who went to Depaul for a period of time. They have pretty good gear and rent for a decent price. If you feel you can use those fixtures all the time, adding them to your inventory would not be a bad idea. If you think that you want a variety of fixtures, then you might want to keep renting. Its completely up to you.
 

gafftaper

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For used gear keep an eye on Solaris Network. I think it's mostly stuff that they buy off of touring rigs. I've never purchased from them but they have been recommended by others around here in the past.
 

DarSax

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May 3, 2006
Location
Bethesda MD
To warn you, VariLites are some of the most expsensive fixtures in the business (for a good reason, or for not). I know it's kind of difficult to go outside your comfort zone on what you've worked with, etc., but if you're dependent on "low cost," you'll probably want to look for other brand names. Martin, which you've used, is pretty much the industry leader for intelligents. I've heard some really good stuff about Robe products (that pretty much they're as or more dependable than Martin gear, and a lot cheaper). Elation, not going to lie, I've heard that their prices match their quality...but I haven't heard too much in-depth stuff.

It's been said before too, but I would recommend rental if you only think you'll use these things to their full potential for your dance show. It's always nice to have them, versatility is perfect, etc. etc. but at the same time, it will probably take years for the luminaires to "pay for themselves." And, especially since it's a dance show, where (I'm assuming here) you will want to have a lot of flash and dash, some of that money could be spent in renting a more diverse show comprised of different movers and effects for a fuller, more well-rounded show.

Just my 2¢
 

SAWYeR

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Feb 17, 2007
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Just wondering; has anyone here used SeaChangers before? If so, did you like them?
 

kovacika

Active Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
I used a seachanger at the ACTF demo setup. Very rich colors, very fast changes. If i had the money id take them in a heartbeat. The dichroic filter creates a very high saturation color, but also limits your color selection to a certain degree.
 

icewolf08

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Jan 11, 2007
Location
Lititz, PA
I actually have one of the Elation PowerSpot 700's in as a demo right now. It has the CMY module. It seems to be a fairly robust fixture. Sure, it is no Martin, but it certainly is not a bad fixture. I have been trying to run it through the paces, and I have been taking it apart and putting it back together again to asses the quality of the components. So far, it seems to be a pretty good fixture, especially considering it's $5000 price tag.

One thing that is great is great is the fact that it is a very quiet unit. Our sound engineer was very impressed by the low noise output. It is fast, and seems to be very accurate. It is a bright bugger, and it is relatively small and light compared to a Mac 2K or Revolution. It is about the size of a Mac 500.

My biggest gripe so far is the fixed gobo wheel does not have interchangeable gobos, but the rotating gobos are interchangeable.

I love the way the effects/attributes engine of the fixture pulls out as one unit for easy access to changing colors and templates and service as needed. Also, the fact that there are currently two options for modules is pretty nice.

I will have the fixture in house for most of the coming week so if there are any of you in the Salt Lake City area who want to take a look, send me a PM and we can try to work out a time. I will try to give more of a review later in the week.
 

soundlight

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Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
Just what I've been waiting for! No, I'm not anywhere near the area, but I've just been waiting for a hands-on review of the PowerSpot 700 because it's the fixture that I've been keeping up the most with in online reviews recently, trying to figure out how robust it is. Please keep us informed.
 

DarSax

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May 3, 2006
Location
Bethesda MD
Yeah, please do. Not to drive you crazy with questoins, but how is it "no Martin?" I've only worked with a couple different types of intelligent fixtures, and while its often just the general "feel" of instruments that helps me "rate" them, besides modules/options/features, I don't really understand how people differentiate between different brands, yet very alike fixtures.
 

icewolf08

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CB Mods
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Location
Lititz, PA
well, like I said, I will put together a better review later this week and post it for those interested.
 
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SHARYNF

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Joined
Sep 3, 2006
If you are not going to use them all the time and have the staff and time to support them I agree with Ship, rent them. It is interesting if you look at the pro's they typically look at each production, find out what they want in the design see what they have and rent the rest. The Martins are nice, but it is a lot of capital to keep tied up.
Sharyn
 

lighttechie5948

Active Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2006
Location
Long Island, New York
You got yourselves started on what is one of the most versatile fixtures in the industry. I'd wait until Elation's new Design Spot 575E has been released fully and get two of those. They'd fit very well, and they have a huge amount of features that are similar to the MAC700's. They'll be less than half of the cost of new MAC700's. The fixture is very close to the Martin line because one of Martin's folks went over to the Elation side, so you should start seeing some better stuff from Elation, like the fixture that I reccommended. You might be able to get a pair of those suckers for $9K.
Now if you need to have fixtures starting at $1K or under, well, then that's a whole different ballpark. First off, they're going to have far fewer features. Secondly, they're not gonna be as bright as the 700's, no where near it. Thirdly, zoom. It won't exist. At all. You'll be lucky to get an iris on a fixture that's under $1K. BUT, all that said, here's my reccomendation: the Focus Spot 250R. It's a great little fixture, and I've seen a few shots of them in use that look nice. And they have rotating gobos. They easily compete with the output of a MAC250, and they're rather small, allowing you to hide them easier, and put them in places with a smaller wing radius.
Under $2K per fixture the options open up a bit more, letting some
Robe equipment in, like the Clubspot 250 CT and the Colorspot 170 AT. You also get some more Elation stuff like the Power Spot 250 and maybe the Powerspot 575 if you get a good deal on it. Elation's Design Spot 250 could also be a really attractive option for your budget.
I would reccomend 2 Elation Power Spots, Their list price is $2,000. It is worth the price. The theater I work in just installed them last week. They are great. There isn't much they can't do. (except program/run the light board for you, most intellegents cant do that)
 

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