Recommendations for intelligent lighting.


I have received a grant to purchase some intelligent lighting for our high school. My plan when I wrote the grant was to purchase four loaded ETC Revolutions. After reading some of the past threads on here I'm not so sure. I have about $25,000 to spend on instruments and DMX cables. We do primarily theatre but we are also a school and I want students to be exposed to as much as possible. I am a little concerned about comments about the size of the units, their slow speed, and difficulty in changing lamps. Can anyone recommend units that might be better and fit within my budget? We probably will be using them primarily for spots and special effects.
The Design Spot 250 by Elation might suit your needs well


• RDMX - Remote DMX Addressing
USITT DMX-512 (16-bit resoultion)
• 16 DMX Channels
• 4 Digit L.E.D. Display
• On board menu settings
• 3-pin XLR serial input/output
• Sound active mode

• High output luminous-parabolic dichroic reflector
Beam Angle 17°
• Replacable Beam 14°, 20° angles (included)
• All lenses are anti-reflection coated

• 8 Dichroic filters, 7 color, UV + White
• Continuous, variable speed, color scrolling in both directions (rainbow effect)
• More color combinations possible by overlaying the multi-color dichroic gobo and the colors on the color wheel

• 2 gobo wheels, 14 total gobos, 11 metal, 3 glass
• 7 interchangeable, indexable, rotating gobos plus open
• 7 interchangeable, static gobos plus open
• 26.9mm outside diameter, 23mm image diameter
Gobo Overlay (Gobo Morphing)

• Variable speed strobe effect (1-13) flashes per second
• Pre-set variable/random strobe and dimming pulse effect
• Dual Flag mechanical dimming system

• Beam narrow to wide (5% - 100%)
• Variable speed iris macros
• Small to large and large to small

• Variable Frost Control
• Hard edge to soft edge

• 3-facet rotating/Indexing Prism
• Both directions at variable speeds
• Macro-function for rotating gobos/rotating prisim combinations

• Motor driven focus from near to far

• Phillips MSD 250/2 (250W, 8500°K, 3000 HRS)

• Automatic Pan / Tilit position correction
• Maximum PAN-movement 630° in 2.0 secs (default) or 540° (user selectable) / 16 bit
• Maximum TILT-movement 265° in 1.5 secs / 16 bit
• Vector Mode with blackout

• 14”L x 14”W x 22.5”H
• 51 lbs.

Fuse: 8A (120V) or 4A (220V)
• Magnetic Ballast
Voltage: AC 98V, 120V, 220V, 208V, 230V, 240V 50/60Hz
Power Consumption 400W

Retail price is $ 2499.95 but can be had on the street for under $ 1800.00
I had a sales guy trying to talk me into a Chauvet Legend for $4200 each. It's not Martin quality but it does almost all the same things that a Mac 550 for about $4000 less. I haven't used one personally more than 5 minutes in the demo room, but it looked ok.

What about buying some used equipment. I haven't used them, but I've heard good things about
Most of their gear is used touring equipment that has been pretty well cared for and its now really cheap. You can get the top of the line Mac 2000 profiles that list at $16,000 for around $5500. If you don't need CMY mixing then you can get something like Mac 550 or Mac 600 that list around $8000 for around $3000. Every instrument has a different warranty so pay attention to that column.

Another thing to think about is to invest part of your money in $500-$1000 toys like I-cues, gobo rotators, and color scrollers. I was a high school drama teacher and managed to get my hands on two I-cues, it was amazing what just those two little guys did to my light plots.

Finally, do you have the control console that can handle these big boy toys? Unless you have a newer board, they are going to eat up dimmers like crazy.
I'm a little leary of buying used equipment because I have very little experience with this kind of equipment and if they have problems I can see myself wondering if the problem is with me or with the equipment. Warranties would also be an issue. I don't think my district would like the idea of purchasing stuff that no or limited warranties. The attributes that I'm looking for are instruments that are good for students to learn with. I know that no matter what I purchase the learning curve will be steep but I don't want to get something that will never get used because it is too complex to learn. As far as control goes I have a Lehigh Millenium console. It is a fairly crappy board that I never wanted when they bought it six years ago but it does do DMX 512 and I just shipped it off to Allentown, PA for a complete upgrade that includes adding a moving lights module. The whole upgrade will cost me about $2,000.

As far as the other toys like I-cues, gobo rotators, etc. goes, I got another grant for $18,000 to buy some more source fours, some I-cues, color scrollers, gobo rotators, and image pros. I'm pretty geeked about it.

What about the ETC Revolutions? They seem like I can get a lot of bang for my buck with them. I was also wondering about mounting these big instruments. Is a pipe okay or do they need to be attached to a truss (something I don't have)?
I'd recommend 2 - 4 VL1000TSD's. I use these in a high school theatre and they are very effective. Critical features for theatre are tungsten lamp and framing shutters (similar to a ERS, but programable) which are different than 'shutters' on a moving light which are really a dowser. They do a great job of repetitively hitting their marks. They run about $4500/ea.

If your grant limits you to moving instruments then you could also consider some wash instruments such as StudioCommands or VL5's. If it's a general grant then maybe consider 3 VL1000's (2 front & 1 back can cover a number of specials) and some other color changing capability such as scrollers, LED's, Colorcommands, etc. Note that the colorcommands and studiocommands are not a very wide beam (my biggest gripe with them) compared to a fresnel. I'm also a big fan of SeaChangers though they are expensive. Nexera wash instruments are good, but the Nexera spot is kinda like a bad leko (think colortran) that can never focus to a sharp edge and gets halo's along edges.
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don't get revolutions. VL1000TSD fixtures have cmy mixing, more gobos better zoom and built in varibale frost for the same price as a loaded revolution.

Also hanging them on pipe is fine as long as you know the load it can handle and don't excede it. (lights are around 75-100lbs each)
I'm with the Vari-lite VL1000TSD's. I haven't used them but I've been researching similar products and everyone seems to agree they are better than Revolutions. They are a nice mix of a cool moving head for teaching those skills but a product that is very practical for theater purposes.

The Seachanger is an interesting idea as well, at about $2000 each. They don't move but they do turn any Source4 into a CMY mixing instrument. It doesn't sound like that's what you really are looking for right now, but put it on your list for your next grant. Imagine a set of S4's in your wash that all have CMY. Sweet!
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I would consider looking at some HES Stuido Beams. They have CMY colour mixing and a zoom so they can go from 15 degrees to 30 degrees. In addition they have beam shaping. I'm not sure what they run for new, but used they are a very economical fixture for their output. They also are pretty fast at moving around. I don't know how they compare with the Studio Commands, but we got some at our church recently and they are great. The outshine the Studio Colors by quite a bit, and move faster than them as well.
Ok even if you buy brand new lights with warranty they will brake down, eventually and need service. Yes new will last longer with out service then used. Make sure they are cleaned that well help with maintenances. Don’t buy cheap lights cheap lights mean less options, bad zooms, slower movement, and more service with bad support. If you are in a theatre application Vari Lites is the way to go they have the best zoom ratios out there witch means for the money you get more cover-ridge and better flexibility for your money.

Also if your console can not support the lights then it’s not worth getting them buy a new console that is ether ETC or Strand.
I was just talking with a friend who is a head lighting guy at a big university. They recently purchased a bunch of VL1000's. He mentioned an advantage over most other intelligent instruments that wasn't in this thread. They have tungsten lamps so they blend much better with your conventional lighting inventory. He's also really happy with how quiet they are, again many other movers have some sort of fan. The only negative I see for a high school program is the 300 hour lamp life could get expensive.
I'll second techop on getting better quality lights. You get what you pay for often. Looking into control also is a good idea. Some light boards just don't do well with movers.
Couple of points; 1) The lamps in the VL1000's are 1000hr, not 300. When you consider how much they're actually @ 100% (Ours get used at 80% or below a majority of the time) that's not a bad life. 2) DO NOT limit yourself to Strand or ETC boards. MA (grand, mini MA), HES (Hog), Jands (Vista), PRG (Artisian, Virtuoso (my personal favorite)), and many others should be considered. I would suggest avoiding Colortran as their implementation of moving light control is extremely poor and their software rather buggy.

Good luck,
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Thanks everyone for the great information. I'm going to look seriously at the VL1000's. I usually buy through BMI Supply out of Queensbury, NY. Does anyone have any recommendations on who would have good deals on Varilites?

People also mentioned the Seachangers and, yeah, I'd love to get some of those. The $2500 price tag is a bit much for now. Any recommendations for colorchangers? I've been looking at Chroma Q changers.

This past week I was looking at some check lists for our up coming season and saw a note about the purchase of some S4 Revolutions units. So I download the "User Manual" from the ETC site. After reading thru the manual, I sure hope they don't buy them. Looks like a poor mans moving light fixture. Trying to do to many diffrent things and I bet none of them as well as a Vari-Lite. My vote would be for VL1000 Arc units. Being a factory trained Vari-lite repair tech, I'm sure makes me a little prejudice. But 25 years of experence designing and building moving lights has got to count for something.
Hate to break it to you, but this thread is over a year old. Chances are, the purchase has long since been made.

Also, though hate to break it to you, but the VL1000 vs. Source Four Revolution has been thoroughly explored in many other threads, both in terms of on-paper features, and actual real-world experience.

Again, sorry :eek:
We just purchased 3 Elation Design Spot 250 Hybrids. I like them much better that Martin 250's Easy to set up and program. Nice price did not hurt either.

Parkland College
We just purchased 3 Elation Design Spot 250 Hybrids. I like them much better that Martin 250's Easy to set up and program. Nice price did not hurt either.
Parkland College
In what ways did you find them to be better out of curiosity?
Well, they are cheaper.......come with a free fortune cookie..........oh ya, are cheaper........are great with egg rolls............and......did I mention that they are cheaper. Other than that, nothing!

(I am not big on cheap imports, if you couldn't tell)
how did you get the grant? is there any website my school could look at, because we don't even get a lighting budget.... which is really bad because when a lamp blows I'm down an instrument for 5-7 months... and gel... If it weren't for previous schools and summer training I would have no clue what they are, the director of the PAC doesn't know anything about lighting (or sound) and thinks that gel is a waste of taxpayers money.
cheaper is cool, I was wondering more how the output compared.

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