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Tophats & Donuts

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Chris Chapman, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Okay, getting ready for my budget to roll over and I'm finally considering purchasing some tophats and donuts for my (cringe) Altman Shakespeares. So my question is this,

    Does anyone really use tophats and donuts anymore? I'm thinking about the City Theatrical stackable ones to use for my long throws on FOH2 to eliminate some spill.

    Does anyone really use donuts anymore to take up valuable gate space in an ellipsodial? Glass paterns need the gate slot, and so do rotaters, so is there really any point in them anymore?

    Thanks,

    -Chris
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Tophats and half hats are useful for many things. However it depends on your space. Most of the time you see them used to mask the lens of an instrument from the audience so they are not looking at flare. Also often used to keep hilation off walls, drops, and set pieces. I have a bunch in my inventory, used as needed.

    I am not sure what kind of donut you are talking about. Most of the time when people talk about donuts I think of the ones you stick in the color frame slot to help with keeping templates sharp. I have never heard of ones you stick in the accessory slot. Maybe you are thinking of irises? Irises are nice to have, though I wouldn't go buying a ton. I have a few that get used only every now and then, but it is nice to have them around when needed.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Sounds like an ideal application. City Theatrical lists Standard 6.25" at $18.50, and Stackers at $20. As long as storage is not an issue, especially in an FOH2 location where they're likely to live in the fixture all the time, I would buy the regular ones. The shortened versions are generally used with wide-throw fixtures, so I doubt that's an issue with your FOH Shakespeares. As with any accessory, be sure to devise a method of safety-ing the accessory either to the fixture or mounting position. A length of 1/16" Aircraft cable, permanently attached to the accessory and with a rated clip on the other end, works well for this.

    You may be using the wrong term. The accepted definition of a donut is a colorframe sized sheet stock, usually steel, with a hole in it to make gobos sharper. The smaller the hole the sharper the image, but with a decrease in intensity. So donuts don't go in the gate, they go in a colorframe slot.

    Now I have used a gobo-holder sized piece of sheet metal with different sized holes in them in lieu of a drop-in iris. For the price of an iris, one can make/buy many "aperture reducers."
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2008
  4. jklak

    jklak Member

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    Hi Chris,

    The top hats sound like a great idea. I've been thinking of getting the same ones so I'll let you be the guinnea pig and let me know how you like them. If you are using your shakespeares for basic FOH stuff then you probably won't be sticking stuff in the gate/iris slot much anyway. As far as the donuts go I was right with you in sticking it in the iris slot rather than the color frame slot. I guess that comes from both of us having Bill Valle tell us to "Stick this chunk of metal with a hole in it in there."

    Later,
    John
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Don't forget to get a price quote on the Apollo Stackable Top Hats too. They are essentially the same thing. I got the City Stackers in my theater and wish I had the Apollo Tapers. Look carefully at the product pictures.

    [​IMG]
    The City ones are round so it's a little harder to just drop them in the color frame slot. As they slide in they only contact the slot in a few places so the bottom tends to pop into either the wrong frame slot or out of the slot completely. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pull them out and very carefully put them back in to get them to sit correctly... and I've only had two hangs in this new theater.

    [​IMG]
    The Apollo ones have a square gel frame shape to the part that goes in the slot. I haven't used them but it looks to me like that would make them a lot easier to seat correctly in the color frame slot. Plus if you are lucky Apollo might throw in a few packs of gum!
     
  6. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    You don't have to be lucky to get gum from Apollo, it's standard with all orders.
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    The two benefits, which may not matter depending on application, i see in the City Theatrical version are: 1) No corners to bend, 2) Packs better for travel.

    Many years ago, a traveling company came through my theatre with tapered cardboard paint buckets with the bottoms cut out, spray painted black. Big end fit perfectly in 360Qs. I thought they were genius! The show was the Philip Glass opera 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, and the stage lighting as ALL sidelight booms (except for me running a Midget HP in an FOH Cove) as the set was entirely front-projected from multiple (21?) Kodak E-III 35mm slide projectors.

    Now for half-hats, the round colorframe is very desirable, as one can spin the half wherever it's best needed.
     
  8. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Sorry to join the party late, but I'm getting pretty good at it! :)

    The cost difference between these manufacturers may be worth noting, as the 6.25 inch size from Apollo carries an MSRP of $10.50 when you get a 6-pack, while 7.5 inch Hats are $11.50 when a 'sixer' is ordered. For what it's worth, the Apollo Tapered Top Hats were the originals, with patents and the rest.

    I would suggest getting what works best for your application at the best price available-
     
  9. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    John,

    Great to see you on here. You are absolutely right. Valle training led me to the wrong conclusion on donuts.

    For everybody else, I do have some iris kits that I actually love. I now that I've received that vital calrification on donuts, my question still lingers, does anyone use them IN THEIR GEL FRAME SLOTS (thanks everyone) and have any real noticible improvement in gobo resolution?

    I think I will go with the top hats in FOH2, thanks again everyone on the opinions.

    Thanks again,
    -Chris
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Keith, not trying to be difficult, but the company with the cardboard paint buckets was around 1989, long before Apollo existed. [user]STEVETERRY[/user], [user]SteveB[/user], other old New Yorkers, one of you must have seen these in use. I'm thinking the fixtures may have come from Production Arts?


    Answering your question with a question. How often do you need/want a really SHARP gobo image? Donuts make a huge difference in a 360/360Q, somewhat of an improvement in a SourceFour™, and I've yet to try them or need them in a Source4-EDLT™. However, donuts do come with a loss of intensity. They're not expensive, but also easy to make in a metal shop, or out of BlackWrap™ in a color frame.

    To really answer your question: Yes, donuts are used often, and do show a noticeable improvement in gobo resolution. Donuts compensate for the fact that no lamp filament is an actual point source, thus negating slightly the ideal geometry of the ellipsoidal reflector.
     
    Chris Chapman likes this.
  11. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    My main application would not be for breakups but for patterns that are projected on the cyc and proscenium. Cyc throw is about 15 feet, and the proscenium throws are about 30 to 50 depending on the hang point.

    If donuts are cutting the lumen output, I think I'll pass. I'm running HX600's in all of these, so if I cut my output, problems begin. (See image multiplexers for more on footcandles being whacked on long throughs w/a HX600 as your lamp. Hysterical laugh included if you listen REAL close.)

    -Chris
     
  12. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Granted, the use of a tapered top hat at the end of the barrel may not be a new idea, but the manufacture and sale of a tapered, flocked top hat was accepted. The reason I included this fact was to differentiate between the two similar products, and the money spent to bring it to market for a period of time without blatant knock-offs, from China or otherwise...
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Chris Chapman, you're probably correct regarding your use of donuts. Most often in theatre one wants a gobo slightly (or a lot) out of focus. More interesting that way. Some LDs spend more time sharpening/softening gobo fixtures than on any other light.

    Rarely does one want a super sharp image, particularly of a steel pattern. As stated elsewhere, sharp clouds on a cyc just look cartoonish. Works for Charlie Brown, but not much else.
    [​IMG]

    I use donuts all the time when projecting a corporate logo, or text, but that's a quite different application.
    [​IMG]

    Perhaps one of our esteemed E.T.C. members could speak to the effectiveness/need for donuts with the use of EDLT (Extended Definition Lens Tubes)?

    A standard for determining sharpness is in progress by ESTA's Technical Standards Program. An article by Mike Wood, appearing in a recent issue of ESTA's Protocol, the quarterly publication, addressed this topic. Unfortunately it's not online yet. Purchase it here. Visit Mike Wood's Site for other articles he's written for various publications.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I would say every theater should have a few donuts laying around. You don't need a lot but when you want to put up a gobo with text they make a huge difference. They are also nice at times when you want to establish some sort of really harshly focused realistic element (like a window/door frame on the ground). For most gobo applications you probably don't need them... but they are delicious.
     
  15. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    <For most gobo applications you probably don't need them... but they are delicious.>

    'Specially with hot black coffee in a styrofoam cup!


    :)
     
  16. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    And here I was thinking Apollo was a green company. Should have known, all their packaging is blue. And what about all that chewed gum overloading our landfills?
     
  17. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    But this is the cup I continue to re-use over and over again.....

    Now THAT's recycling!

    (The gum is organic, which is way better than inorganics in the landfill. This stuff turns into dirt!)
     

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