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Suggestions On Follow Spot To Purchase?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rosebudld, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. rosebudld

    rosebudld Member

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    Hello all, I'm new here and glad to have found a decent reading forum; I tried to search for recommendations on follow spots and only got a few hits.. so, does anyone have any suggestions for me?

    They need to throw 100ft and they're competing with Source Four 10deg specials from 50ft as well as Source Four Par EAs from 50ft as crosswashes on a general day..

    I don't really want anything overpowering, but there seems to be a gap from high end consumer "nice little spotlight" to professional gear.. of course, I'm on a budget so I'm looking for as much bang for the buck as possible..

    If anyone has any experiences with Altman Comet, Elation FS Pro, Lycian Midget HP, Altman Satellite, Lycian Super Arc 400, etc. then I'd really appreciate just some general advice.

    Thanks so much for your time,
    rosebudld
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    If you are looking at a 100' throw, you are going to need some power in your fixture. A 1200w arc lamp unit like the Altman Satellite. However, I would recommend looking into the Jobert Juliat Topaze. We own both the RJ's and the Lycian Midget HP (1209). Our operators love the RJs, and we don't touch the Midgets unless we need 6 followspots.

    Big things that you should keep in mind is that you want to get a spot with an optical zoom. This will give you much better output than irising in when your max size changes from show to show. (that was hard to articulate, I hope you get it

    By the way, welcome to the booth, stop by the new member forum and let us know a little about yourself!
     
    rosebudld likes this.
  3. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    I agree with Icewolf that you will need some power. You should probably scratch the Altman Comet. The Comet I can speak for first hand. It won't have the punch from that distance to cut through S4s like the other lights you listed.

    Lycian Midgets pack some punch, but are a pain to run as a follow spot op. They also don't have a zoom on them like what Icewolf was talking about. That feature is a big bonus in a spot. With it you can easily change the location with out messing up the intensity to much. You can also change sizes from a fixed position as well for the most punch.

    The others all look promising, I would see if you could try out rentals to see what you like and don't like. Every spot op is different. I hate Midgets, but you and your crew might like them. I personally don't have any experience with the others you listed.
     
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  4. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I think the correct term is "vertically challenged", and they don't hate you, so why should you hate them? :mrgreen:

    The only experience I have is on the Lycian 1206. I have nothing to compare it to, but I can surmise that the output of the 1206 will not meet your specifications.

    I'm sorta surprised to hear Alex doesn't touch the 1209s unless he has to. I don't think it's all that terrible to run, but again, no experience. I'm not sure how the price breaks down, and what sort of position your spots will be in, but RJ (I've read) has some nice gear, especially for use up on catwalks etc.
     
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  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Probably more than your budget allows, but look into the Strong Radience®. There's a user on here who has them. Would be perfect for your application. Most of the fixtures you mentioned could not complete with a 410 at 50'. Add me to the list of "RJ-dislikers." I guarantee you'll have problems with any RJ fixture.

    In order to smoothly run a light from that distance it needs to have some mass and heft to it, and none of the others do. Lycian 1275 might be a possibility also.

    Altman Comet,: only good to about 50', and even then, dim.
    Elation FS Pro,: no experience, but Elation is not known for its followspots.
    Lycian Midget HP,: Bright, but too small to run easily and keep steady.
    Altman Satellite,: The 575 SatI might be okay, but it's a 30 year old design, and has no zoom. The 1200W SatII is like running a bathtub, horrible.
    Lycian Super Arc 400: Again, bright enough, but too small to run easily, and I've found it difficult to keep an even field with the HTI lamp. Plus the increase in intensity as spot size decreases freaks some people out.

    By the way, I'm pretty much a professional spotlight operator, and thus have some rigid opinions.
     
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  6. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    They lycian super arc 400's do pack a punch for what they are. I'd definatly go with something that has a 1200 watt HMI. Key is HMI, a very stable lamp source and makes video happy.
     
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  7. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    We have 2 Strong "Radiance" instruments. 850w MH lamp. Cuts like a knife against our S4's. All national acts that have come through have been very pleased with the result. Has all the features that you require. Also operates very similar to a trouper.
     
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  8. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Look at the Lycian M2 Line. We just got two of them over the summer, and the ops really liked them.

    If you are doing video, get electronic ballasts. Call Lycian and they can probably recomment a model.

    Get a demo in the space if at all possible--every venue is a little different. It is a big purchase that you'll have to live with for 10+ years most likely.


    --Sean
     
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  9. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    The Lycian Midget (575 HMI) is pretty good. As was said, it can be tricky to handle, but it has nice punch. The Satellite 1 (also 575 HMI) is in the same class, but has smother operation. If your operators are used to smaller spots, like the 1000Q, the controls on the Satellite will be very familiar. Both can usually be had used for $2500 to $3500. They are not zoom spots, so that can be an issue if you need to go very wide, but the optics seam to favor the 100 foot distance.

    Now, if you hadn't said you were on a budget, my recommendations would have been a lot different! ;)

    I don't know how familiar you are with followspots, but just in case you didn't know, there is a monstrous difference between the output of a Quartz spot, and an HMI spot for a given wattage. A 575 watt HMI has about 10 times the output of a 1000 watt quartz! (Ok, I don't have the specs in front of me, and that probably is an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

    (Trying to stimulate brain cells that have not fired in 30 years, but I recall the output of a 1000Q at 100 feet to be about 50fc and the 575 Satellite to be 180fc on half the wattage.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008
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  10. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    I think I trust your Follow Spot opinions John.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
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  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Can you give us more information about your venue, your budget, what you want to do with the spot, and how often it will be used. There's a big difference between a follow spot that is used five times a week in a road house facility and a follow spot that a high school is buying to use once a year for a musical.

    When I was a High School teacher I got a basic Lycian with no bells and whistles and it was perfect for the two times a year that I needed it. On the other hand you have Derek who works with follow spots every day and uses REALLY big ones in a massive Vegas event hall. His favorite spot cost 5 times the price of the one I had. So again a better sense of what you want to use it for will be helpful.

    Also have you done the math about renting vs. purchasing? How many times a year do you REALLY use it? What does it cost to rent one for that much time? How many years of renting would it take you to pay for one? If it's sitting in the corner collecting dust except for the musical once a year, and it would take 10 years of rentals to equal buying one, its probably better to just rent and invest your money in more basic conventional gear. (Regulars will note my usual rant follows...) High schools and small venues often spend too much money on extra toys that are rarely used when they should be expanding their regular inventory of basic lights or buying a new light board. Things like moving lights, gobo rotators, follow spots, etc... can go long periods of time without use in most high schools and are easily available to rent. But you need ellipsoidals for every show.


    And Phil you really are starting to scare me with your stalking skills.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Very excellent point, [user]Gafftaper[/user]! I doubt many acts coming to Effingham, IL, have the "Super Trouper clause" in their rider. Effingham looks to be about halfway between Indianapolis and St. Louis; both cities have shops that rent spotlights. At $100-200 per week, it would take a long time for ROI for an $8,000 Radience® or M2.
     
  13. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Though I completely agree with your rant, for schools (and many non-profits) spending capital improvement money once every couple years is much easier than having a larger expendible budget. Even thought dollar-for-dollar it might make more sense to rent, the reality is that getting more money for shows is often harder than saying "hey, these are broken/past useful age/etc--we need to buy new ones."

    That said, and I know a lot of the HS students on the list might disagree, DON'T BUY TOYS. Most schools have no idea what they're getting into, nor do they have the staff to maintain the equipment. All those cool things everybody now seems to think they need for a show (I-cue, scrollers, etc) will not last without skilled maintenance. Buy more source-fours. Clean them once a year. Rent/borrow the rotators for the show that really could use them.

    OK.... *sigh* Back to being home, sick as a dog.

    --Sean
     
  14. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    No one mentioned Altman's Voyager. We used them for years for the closing ceremonies of the NJ Winter Special Olympics in an ice rink. With an output from 250 fc in flood to 850 fc in spot at 100' they are a nice unit. They can be had new in the 6K range.
     
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  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    If you want to go down under, Selecon's got a pretty COOL follow spot too. It's got the typical amazing Selecon heat management stuff. Saw one at LDI briefly, you could touch the barrel of one that had been on for hours without any discomfort. Perhaps one of the boys from OZ could comment on using them.

    By the way I think I got one of the Lycian Midget 1K's at my old high school. I vaguely remember it costing in the $1,000-$1500 range. Again, not up to Derek's needs but for the occasional school use not bad at all. I figured it would take about 5 years to pay it off in what I would save in rentals.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008
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  16. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Funniest thing I ever heard of was an LP (dwarf) running a Midget. A showroom here used those until they got their, very old, 1600W XeSTSTs up and running. The LP was much happier, even though he had to build himself a special platform, complete with steps and handrails.
     
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  17. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I hope you don't think that includes me!

    It's not realistic for a HS to buy what I lovingly refer to as "DMX toys", though that includes rotators and other gear. The previous TD was nice enough to leave behind an I-Cue, Vortex 360 Rotator, and ImagePro. I've used 2/3, and am looking for an excuse for the ImagePro. The gear is fun, and versatile, but not practical for most high schools to own.

    (However, now that my dept has figured out how easy it is to rent... :twisted:)
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Actually Charc you are a prime example of why high schools shouldn't spend money on toys... Those three units plus cable and power supply are around $2k worth of toys. If it wasn't for the fact that a special student came along and asked "What are these for?" they would still be locked in the store room gathering dust. On the other hand you could have had 7 or 8 Source 4's in your inventory being used in every show. Which is more useful? A few years after you graduate they will go back to the closet and no one will know or care about them until another special student comes along 5 years later.
     
  19. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Hahaha, I know.

    People think I like to spout gibberish to sound self important: "We need to run data to the 3rd AP Slot." I don't know a better way to say that... and I guess this gear won't get used after 18 months. I actually plan to un-patch it, pack it up, switch off tracker mode on the board (weird name, huh?), and turn off AMWD on the board... plus probably return the board to two-scene preset... :rolleyes:

    P.S. I wish I had S4s.
     
  20. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Yes, it does. You're looking for an "excuse" for the I-pro. That's what happens with gear that isn't really "needed". Students, like yourself, then "design" by putting all the gear in the air. Had your school purchased more S4's instead of "toy" with limited use, then there would be more flexibility for you.

    I'm the ME for a large professional theatre company. We certainly have DMX gear, etc. But, between two venues, and two smaller blackbox/studio spaces we own somewhere close to 2000 conventional fixtures. We own 4 single gobo rotators. They get used maybe once a year. In the past 8 years I've worked for the company, we've had to rent additional rotators twice. We own two I-pros. They were used in two productions (and only because it was cheaper to buy them plus the custom slides needed for the show that it would have been to have that many color glass gobos made). We have 16 Revolutions, and they get used in just about every production. But we have the staff to maintain them. We don't have any I-cues. We have a lot of scrollers, but they're pretty much required by every show we do. They also need to be serviced regularly. Do you have a staff person who can dedicate the time to not only knowing how this gear works, but also how to care for it? 'Cause, you know, student labor (like most labor) is only as effective as its leadership.

    I'm not saying it isn't education to use some of this equipment. But, I'd much rather have enough lekos than have a "toy" that has limited legitimate use.

    --Sean
     

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