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"S4s are old..."

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Charc, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Said my dept head at our department dinner meeting the other night.

    This was in regards to a budget for lights. "1 Light per show". Take 250 bucks outta each show, and buy a light. By the time I graduate, I'll have about 6 new S4s... that's when the dept head said S4s were old already, so why would they be worth getting?

    Well my understanding is that its the industry standard for conventional lighting, and the best thing out there. I mean, what else could she be talking about? Selecon Pacifics? I'm not sure I'd ever suggest half a dozen griddles up in the air (I think that's how Gaff referred to the massive, 3rd degree burn, heat sinks.).

    Well, what do you guys think? S4s the way to go?

    Anyways, my real question here (though I'd appreciate both to be answered), is this got me thinking about the future of ERSs. My understanding is that the 360Q was released in the early 70s, and was quickly adopted as the standard. In 1992, or there abouts, the S4 was released, and was also quickly adopted as the standard. Well, the S4 is now 15 years old, and if history has taught us anything, the latest and greatest in ERSs might be around the corner. Then again, the proliferation of MLs, and incandescent versions, such as the VL1000 might replace the ERS in the next 30 years? Does ETC/Altman/ADJ have anything up its sleeve? Where is the room for improvement in current ERS technology? How is the rest of the market going to respond? Are our friends at Apollo looking towards what the future might bring, or do they plan to react to it when the industry has made up its mind? My understanding is the thing keeping the HPL lamp under wraps is ETC's patent, what might happen with this expires? Can we expect S4 clones? Anyone have any other thoughts on the future of stage lighting?
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The source four is constantly under the process of revision and refinement. I believe you are right, it is an industry standard, and it probably isn't going to disappear that quickly. There are probably millions of source fours of every style in use today (if not more). I think that until there is a real viable LED ERS fixture we aren't going to see too many drastic changes.

    As for your question on what to buy, well, if you already have an inventory of source fours, it is easy to stick with it. All the parts and lamps are interchangeable, and it is very easy to rent them if you need, as every rental house has them. The Pacific is a wonderful fixture, and may even be better than the source four, but it is more expensive, and bigger, but it has it's advantages.

    For a high school though, i would stick with what you have, it will be easier down the road.
     
  3. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    (Primarily 360Qs, and Altman KL6s. Big, heavy, I don't like them... 20º + 30º. With a smaller version of the same light I assume to be 4.5"x?. I hate them, I'd vote to replace those first. The 360Qs on the other hand, I like. I think S4 is the only thing that makes sense. Other than that we have 3 "Strand" lights. I have yet to look for any other distinguishing marking, but they are long, very cylindrical, and relatively new instruments. We also one Lekolite, that also is quite new. I think made in the last few years. I haven't been able to find out more about it, but again, I have yet to pull it out of the air. It says "LEKO" on the top, by the reflector, and "LEKOLITE" a little lower.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm with Alex on this Charc. The S4 is the standard in the US. I believe it will remain the standard until the LED ERS can produce the same amount of light and doesn't cost more than about $400. That's a minimum of 5-10 years away. Until then the S4 will remain the king. I think the Selecon is probably a better instrument... I think it's optics are better and it certainly has some really clever design features, but they are too expensive in the US to overtake the S4. While I'm a fan, I'm going S4 for my theater because it's "safer to stay with the herd" and get the standard. I didn't make the waffle iron comment. I'm actually buying 8 Selecons for the new theater just for image projection because they are so great.

    You'd have to ask someone like our resident V.P. at ETC this question to know for sure, but I really doubt there is much money being invested by anyone into building a better incandescent ERS right now. The future is either LED or some sort of new lamp technology... remember that stuff from Phillips a while back about redesigning incandescent lamps to be dramatically more efficient. If I was ETC I would be working with someone like Phillips to look at future lamp technology and how it can be used with existing instrument technology. They've pretty much squeezed all the light they can out of an HPL... there isn't much you can do with current lamp technology to make it better.

    Then there's my dream of the LED replacement cap... just pop the old lamp cap off, pop a new one on and you're old S4 is now a color mixing LED machine for the next 20 years.

    No matter how you cut it, the S4 is not "ancient technology" and I'm very happy buying all the S4 gear I can for my new theater.

    Oh and by the way, unless there's a change in direction, Apollo specializes in lighting accessories, gel, gobos, rotators, power supplies, right arm etc... they are not in the lighting instrument business.

    and with that post I'm going on vacation... Camping at Mount Rainier National Park awaits... See you late Monday night...
     
  5. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Have fun on the trip Gaff.

    And to clarify what I meant earlier. Not, is Apollo making lighting instruments, but how might a company like apollo react to the "next big thing" in lighting? Are they thinking forward, thinking of products that might have a place in a new world, of say, LEDs, or new lamp technology? Or do they plan to react to technological advances after they are adopted? (In hindsight it's a poor question, poorly phrased.)
     
  6. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Two million S4's sold (I assume all of the assorted versions), according to the ETC website.

    As with the Sensor dimmer as well as the Express/ion series consoles, with stage lights, ETC really is the 800 + lbs gorilla.

    You will see S4's in use for decades and purchasing them now is certainly not "old already". I just purchased 16 more 25/50 zooms, and submitted a proposal for 120 more, 35 fixed lens as well as 36 S4 Pars.

    SB
     
  7. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    The S4 has entrenched itself as the standard of the industry. Few fixtures actually do that. I divide fixtures up into two categories: Smart, and Tank. The "Smart" fixtures, like varilites will always be changing from year to year and there is good reason to believe the next best thing is right around the corner. The "Tank" fixtures are those whose only control input is the AC plug. These fixtures tend to be around for many many years. (PAR, Leko, Fresnel, S4, etc) If budgets are tight, the wisest investments are in Tanks. You can use them year after year, and rent whatever Smart lights you need and always have the latest and greatest. My opinion is that 20 years from now, there will still be a lot of S4's in use, even if something better comes around!
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I agree with everything that has been said above. The ERS was designed in the early 1930s. The first major refinement came in the mid-1970s with the T-H lamp, which allowed for axial mounting. The next major development came in 1992 with the introduction of the Source4. By 2000, ETC had sold one million; by 2007, two million. Until we have that color-mixing LED lamp cap, and I'm sure steveterry won't confirm or deny that's what they're working on, the HPL750 Source4 is the best conventional fixture available. The line continues to be refined, with the introduction of 3 new lenses and the EDLTs.

    I would respectfully question the opinions of your "dept head."

    To answer your questions individually:

    "...such as the VL1000 might replace the ERS in the next 30 years?" ETC already has the Revolution. In some shows I do, the S4 ERS has been replaced with the VL1000AS, but it is more the exception than the rule.

    "Does ETC/Altman/ADJ have anything up its sleeve?" Altman has the Shakespeare, ADJ has an S4Par copy. Altman has the StarPar.

    "Where is the room for improvement in current ERS technology?" People probably asked this in 1970. Answer: Lamp, Reflector, Lenses.

    "How is the rest of the market going to respond?" They're had 15 years--I think if other manufacturers were going to make a move, they would have done so by now. Selecon seems to be the only other mfg advancing the technology.

    "Are our friends at Apollo looking towards what the future might bring, or do they plan to react to it when the industry has made up its mind?" Defer to kelite.

    "My understanding is the thing keeping the HPL lamp under wraps is ETC's patent, what might happen with this expires?" I believe that patent is set to expire in 2092; need we care?

    "Can we expect S4 clones?" Look at Altman Shakespeare and Strand SL.

    "Anyone have any other thoughts on the future of stage lighting?" Lots of us have other thoughts. Mine are:
    LEDs will continue to proliferate, but will not be the great panacea sought by many. Energy costs will continue to climb, brats at private schools will continue to ignore the benefits of more efficient lamps.:) Moving lights will become more affordable and reliable. All units of measurement will be in multiples of ten.:) Color mixing and digital projectors will practically bankrupt Apollo's gel and gobo businesses. Everyone will have LSD IconMs installed in their theatres, controlled by the ETC Ion. The IGBT dimmer will make SCRs obsolete. The Vari*Lite liquid lens will revolutionize the industry. The Source4 will be de-throned by the EC Parallipshere. Every grandMA user will switch to the truly superior Vista. Gafftaper will buy Fresnels with oval beams for his new theatre. The lamp of the future will be the GE Marc-350. The PAR64 will only be used for Rock Concerts, never in a theatre. Oh, and my favorite, the corollary to Bill Gates' statement "640K ought to be enough for anybody;" "Why would anyone ever need to control more than 512 channels?" Tune-in to 2037 to see how many of these predictions proved accurate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  9. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Look but don't buy...same goes for Pacific in my book. I think they're a waste of space/money.

    Unfortunetly theres not much left to say...everyone else has said it...your dept. head is a fool.
     
  10. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    just look at a lot of older theatres that havent had the money to replenish their inventory. it still consists of 360qs. of course the s4s are a much better instrument but the 360qs have been around quite sometime and many people still use them. just because its older doesnt mean its not useful. im not saying buy 360qs but when if you buy s4s theyll be used for years to come.
     
  11. chrizEHS

    chrizEHS Member

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    Just to add to what propmonkey said, for example our community theater has a bunch of 360q's from the original electric install, they are not as cool looking as source 4s, but to my untrained eye when used by the more professionally trained LD they look just as good on stage ( on a side note---- the lawyer-wanna-be-LD slaughters them, but so he does with everything else :) Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but the aforementioned big players like ETC, Altman, Strand focus on not-a-ton-of-money-don't-need-the latest and greatest venues like high schools and community theaters, (etc told me thats where most of their venerable express series sales came from-high schools) So naturally these companies are going to be slow to change winning formulas , like express-S4s-sensor combinations. Smaller, more nimble companies like apollo would be more willing to undertake risky product changes. Sorry for the long thought, and again please correct me if I am wrong.
     
  12. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    Err.... not exactly.
    The ETC formula for the S4 was to make the best possible ERS fixture. The result was that the professional lighting market jumped on it immediately. The secondary result was that consultants and school users saw the benefit of this revolutionary fixture.
    ETC is constantly improving the S4 (14, 70, 90, EDLT, etc), and the beneficiaries of this work are both the professional market and the academic market.
    There is no corporate strategy at ETC that says "Let's be slow, because the market is the schools". To the contrary, our approach is "Let's do all the product development we can to enhance the S4 brand and make it more desirable to the broad market".
    ST
     
  13. chrizEHS

    chrizEHS Member

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    murhhhh-PR-rep-murhhhhhhhhh

    no just kidding, but I do see what you mean about pro's first, schools-consultants will follow.

    on a side note --you guys must have the coolest headquarters.
     
  14. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So this person that doesn’t want the S-4 because they are out of date, but wants to put up the money, have they any idea of what’s better on the market to invest in? Have Mr. Or Mrs. Moneybags fill us all in on what one should invest in as the next generation - hopefully it’s not the Leo.

    “The lamp of the future will be the GE Marc-350.” - derejkeffew

    That’s a EZT lamp that bairly survived the latest round of “discontinued” from GE I believe. Detecting some jokes and pulling of the tail in this forecast. Not a very efficient lamp - this especially with an only 50 hour lamp life especially for it’s price.

    LED’s in Lekos... gonna be a good long time until you can get a point source of light to be bright enough to make into other than a wash light. Concept in doing a Leko or other projector is small bright source of light, not lots of fairly bright small sources of light, this much less small sources of light spread over a wide area. Imagine what your patterns would look like if bright enough but with lots of lamps lighting it.

    Written a bit in the past about new lamps TBA, they are coming for all sorts of instruments. This much less other than LED, lots of new filament and arc lamp technology coming or concepts to work with. This including from what I hear for the S-4, new concepts under development.
     
  15. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I shouldn't be stirring the pot...

    Zooms? Fixed angle? (Correct name?)

    We have a half dozen 19º instruments. I'd like some tighter ones, but the cost of the 14º seems too exorbitant. (I have that correct, right? 14º costs more? Do all the new lenses come standard as EDLT?) I'm trying to think, what would be useful, and worth ordering. I suppose some 36º instruments, as they seem to be the workhorses, but I'd love to have some 90º and 70º instruments for some tight throw applications. Given the length of our throws, some 5º and 10º instruments would really be useful. And the 10º could replace out inventory of 6x22s, but the 6x22s seem so great, and the 10ºs just seem so bulky, and expensive. My primary concern I suppose is replacing our 1KL-6s, or w/e their names are. We have the 20º and 30º flavors, as well as something closer to 50º. Perhaps its best I stick to these angles, approximately, as our dept head is used to these in the inventory. I'm kinda torn on what I should suggest we purchase for the upcoming show. However, I think some birdies would probably fit the bill nicely. However, to tell you the truth, I'm utterly lost on where I can get quality birdies, lamped with MR16s, and not the medium screw base (I think that's what it is) of the PAR16s. Are these usually custom jobs? If so, I might need to approach some MEs in area theaters.

    Edit:
    As an afterthought, 575W Long-Life across the board. They have a ton of punch, will use less electricity, and my understanding is the 750W can really burn through gel. So I'm keeping that in mind.
     
  16. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Don't know of anyone still selling a true PAR 16 "Birdie" fixture that's low voltage MR-16 based. That's given I have not searched. Curious, why does it need to be low voltage MR-16 fixtures instead of PAR 16 or PAR 20 fixtures with what's normally a medium screw MR-16 lamp?
     
  17. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The zoom vs. fixed argument I think has been had here before. In my opinion it isn't really worth investing the zooms, but some people like them. If you are going to buy zoom instruments I would buy the Pacifics. (just my humble opinion)

    The ETC 14˚, 70˚ and 90˚ all come standard as the EDLT optics. If you want EDLT in the "standard" focal range (19˚-50˚) you have to buy EDLT lenses separate, they are not standard on new fixtures. This is part of the reason you pay more for the 14˚, 70˚ and 90˚ lenses. The other big reason is the same as why you pay more for 5˚ and 10˚ lenses, they are bigger and have more glass (or plastic in the cast of the 5˚ and 10˚). I would imagine, that in the future as more of these lenses get sold and they become more popular the price will go down.
     
  18. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    TMB makes them. http://www.tmb.com/Pdf/MiniPAR-web.pdf

    Of course, many folks jam 120v lamps in them.


    --Sean
     
  19. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Why do you need MR16 birdies? What's unique about your use?

    As I just posted, TMB makes/distributes them. You can get them from any theatrical dealer. That said, you'll need a transformer to use them with the correct lamps, or you'll have to jam a 120v MR16 lamp in them. I'd strongly warn you to not do this, especially in a high school. If you start a fire with them it will be seen as your fault (as the fixtures aren't built for line voltage). They get very very hot with 120v lamps, and in most cases the medium screw JDR lamps work just fine.

    --Sean
     
  20. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    In response to Ship, Sean, and others who have commented on my mention of 120 or 12 volt mr16s.

    To tell you the truth, I just assumed that was the standard...:rolleyes:

    I spent a day at one equity theater, helped out with their focus session, and was installing some birdies. I noticed they were MR16, and presumably 120 volts, as they all had their own dimmer.

    I also worked at a shakes in the park, they borrowed their birdies from another equity house in town. Again, these were birdies with bi-pin mr16 lamps. Which I presumed to be 120volts, as they each had their own circuit on our portable dimmer pack.

    This led me to believe the standard for birdies was 120volt bipin mr16 lamps.

    Since this was apparently the wrong assumption. What then is recommended? Why not 120v mr16? When you say fire hazard, is that because the cans themselves melt, or are the mr16s uncommonly hot? Is there a significant light output difference from 12 to 120 volt mr16lamps? I'd rather not wire ten of these together, would the 12volt flavor be useable with, say a ghostload? Any more information on the subject is greatly appreciated.
     

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