Moving Lights


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yesterday my school's FCA club (fellowship of christian athletes), had a christian rock group come in and play music and tell us to make the right choices, i've heard all of this before, but what i was interested in was the moving lights that they had. my school does not have any of these, and i have no idea on how they work.

Does anybody know a good website where i can learn a little more about moving lights?

the only thing that i know about them is that they cost a lot of money.
I don't know any websites clean off the top of my head. If you poke around this site, google and I'm sure you can find a lot of good info both on moving lights and books (from amazon).

Try the wiki articles on "moving light" and "automated lighting".
The best thing to do if your short on cash though is look around and ask other theathers and such about some manufatours that are any good. From there, go direct and see if you can get any that were returned and "refurbished". Thats where our school got 'em a few years ago, and we ended up with 3 for alittle more than the price of one. Also, you dont really need the belt packs that they follow, and not gettin em makes it alot cheaper to. We love our intels though...they pretty mych replaced our spots most of the time, give lots of gobos, colors, effects, random lighting thats adjustible without dropping a pole...great multitaskers when used right.
Seriously, I'd just go to the websites of the major lighting manufacturers themselves. They don't give the most understandable idea of how the lights are controlled (that's something you'd probably want to consult a book, online description, etc. on), but if you go to the "products" sections of the manufacturer's websites, they give really understandable and fairly in-depth descriptions of the features of each moving light.

The main manufacturers sites I frequent are Martin (maker of the Mac series) at (aren't they the largest moving light manufacturer? can someone back me up on this?), and High-End (maker of the workhorses Studio Spots and Studio Colors, as well as the drool-inducing DL-2's) at

But there are tons of manufacturers, each with their own distinct product lines. Vari-Lite, Coemar, Clay Paky, American DJ, you can google any of these manufacturers and voila.
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Since no one has really answered your question I'll try to explain moving lights in a fairly brief and informative manner. Moving lights come in two flavors, moving mirror and moving yoke. Most companies don't make many moving mirror fixtures. Moving mirrors work by having a solid base mounted somewhere that projects onto a mirror. The mirror then moves about an X (across) and a Y (up and down axis). Moving yokes too have a base, but typically the base houses the power transformer and some logic boards. It has a yoke mounted to the base that moves about the X axis, and attached to the yoke is the head which moves about the Y axis. Inside the head resides all the optics, bulb included. Perhaps the biggest advantage to moving yokes is that they are commonly manufactured to be able to light more area (they rotate over a full circle on the X axis compared to about a half circle for mirrors). An advantage to moving mirrors is that they can move faster (they only have to move a mirror) and in my opinion are easier to mount.

Inside the moving light is a bulb with a large reflector that shoots the light down one central path. Along the path are an assortment of items that make it possible to alter the light. A color wheel is probably the simplist. It is just a disc wiht several colors on it. The disc rotates so that the necessary color goes through the light path. That is why it is a color wheel. Gobos work on the same principle, but there are typically less gobos per wheel than there are colors. This is likely because many moving lights have wheels where the gobos rotate in their holder. Other things to alter the light may include CMY subtractive color mixing. This color mixing method uses 3 wheels, one with varying amounts of cyan, one with varying amounts of magenta, and one with varying amounts of yellow. For purpose of an illustration these wheels typically have a "piece of pie" taken out of them where there is nothing. Any glass lessens the output of light. Once the operator calls for any of one of these colors the wheel moves so that the light goes through the glass. As the operator calls for more of these colors the wheel rolls. On the far end of the wheel is the color and progressively the color gets weaker and weaker. Mixing these 3 colors subtractively makes it possible to make about any color. Most moving lights also have an automated focus mechanism, no explination necessary. Diffusers, frosts, zooms, shutters, iris mechanisms, dimmers, and prisms aren't uncommon either. Depending on the kind of light you can expect differnt features. "Wash" lights don't have gobo wheels for example.

The lights are controlled by using several DMX channels. One may be used for the color wheel, much like a color scroller. Another for the gobo wheel, increasing DMX values making the light go further into the wheel. Typically 2 DMX channels are used for pan, and 2 more for tilt. One moves quickly in large incriments, and another moves the projection slowly enabling accurate positioning, often within fractions of a degree on nicer lights. Almost all moving lights have a control or function channel allowing one to re-hone the fixture (re-calibrate the motors incase they get bumped and the projection is out of place) or allowing one to turn the bulb on or off, etc.

There is a fairly brief explination. I hope that helps you.
Go to the major makers of automated lights. If you have a local college community or otherwise, contact the theater or events Facilities supervisor to find out where s/he gets the stuff. The colleges host rock concerts. Barney live, or other shows, and they always need a source to get equipment. Now rural areas pay a premium because most of the market for automated is in the urban areas.
that does actually. but i've seen a computer hooked up to one of these boards. can you set a specific motion on a submaster. or is it all by hand?
depends on the board. On the MA line you can set up the faders to do whatever you want. Can set up one to control the intensity of an effects cue and have another control the rate of the same cue. Try downloading some offline editors and you will get a feel for how powerful some boards are.
soundman1024 said:
Since no one has really answered your question I'll try to explain moving lights in a fairly brief and informative manner.

first off the original question has been answerd multiple times over and over again.

Does anybody know a good website where i can learn a little more about moving lights?

and to the question about moving the lights manualy versus preprograming, most situations require that you preprogram. Yet sometimes when spot lighting someone you need to go manual but it is not the perferd way to do things.

is there a free demo of one of these programs available to download?

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