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Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by lazor, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. lazor

    lazor Member

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    I just got a huge increase in my budget and I'm looking into buying some effects and wanted some opinions.

    The increase is not large enough to go out and start buying more robotic lighting but I was thinking I could get away with acquiring perhaps some gobo rotators, effects wheels, or color scrollers.

    The theater manager before me got some money from administration when they said robotic lighting was too much and he ended up buying 30! i-cues. Now, I have 30 i-cues that mostly just sit there because I can only find uses for 10-15 at the most.

    I have a 1000 seat theater with a 40' wide proscenium. And plenty of Source4's to use with all the effects.
     
  2. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I usually tell my clients to look at the type of shows they do for inspiration. I mean gobo rotators are fun, but I think in 10+ years of theatrical lighting design I have used them three times in a non-musical theatrical production. On the other hand scrollers (or even better something like sea changers) are VERY useful in plays, musicals, live music, etc.

    But after buying i-cues, color scrollers, and gobo rotators, you could make a ghetto rigged moving light. ;-) Or you could just buy a few good quality used moving lights.

    You might look into a consultant to help you out. Also, look for a good supplier or production company that can get you good units at a good price (hint hint).

    Mike
    Esoteric Visions
    Lighting/Video Production/Sales/Installation
     
  3. lazor

    lazor Member

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    As far as the types of shows we do.
    Every year we do at least one musical. We also hold the annual campus dance show in the theater. We also just booked four separate dance companies' recitals for this summer.

    I had not thought about the sea changers. I have to look into those.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Actually you are in a position that allows you to get into what we on CB call the "Gafftaper Method." You have to buy a lot of "toys" or component parts before you even come close to touching the price range of a quality moving light, this does not include the routine maintenance that MLs require, thus for small outfits or people with low budgets we recommend exactly what you are looking to do.

    It sounds like (from the size of your venue) that you operate on a similar scale to my theatre. I certainly agree with you that 30 ICues is superfluous! I own 6 GAM TwinSpinIIs and they get used a couple times a year, and not just for musicals. I am working on building my inventory of scrollers, though if I had the money I would go with Seachangers. You just have to figure that you need at least 12-14 units to create a full stage system, so 12 SeaChangers comes out to $13K+ whereas 12 scrollers with PSUs is somewhere around $6K-$8K.

    I am a big fan of Apollo gear. I love the SmartColor Scrollers and though I don't own any, the Apollo SmartMove rotators are very nice. You might also be interested, depending on the size of your budget, in looking at picking up a couple Apollo RightArms, you may find them slightly more useful than your ICues.

    There are lots of useful products out there, you do need to think about what kinds of productions you do and thus which products will get used the most. Also, you need to make sure that you have a good place to store all the new gear!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2009
  5. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I love ChromaQ for the money as far as scrollers go, but you can't beat CMY color mixing. But if you blow $13k on sea changers and then you blew $12k for the iCues, you could get 20 Cybers, or 15 Studio Spot 575's, Spot250's, or MAC250's, a dozen MAC600's, etc. Some of the Sea Changers run as much as a CMY color mixing moving head.

    Alex is correct about maintenance/repair, but even low tech solutions (color scrollers, Sea changers, gobo rotators, etc) require maintenance and repair. Not as much, but they still require it.

    In addition if you find a good technician the maintenance cost for movers is not that much. It just depends on how much you have to spend. In the $15k range I would begin looking at movers. If you only have in the $5k range then I would look at scrollers, etc. But I would never blow $5k-$6k on a dozen scrollers.

    Just something to think about. I do agree 100% on good storage, that is half the maintenance battle! Also do you have the authority to sell some of those iCues? That might be a good solution.

    Mike
     
  6. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    A lot depends on the on-going nature of your budget. Do you see it potentially get cut in a year or two as the economy worsens? I'd avoid getting things that are pricey to mantain (Movers lamps will cost you at the very least $100 each). When faced with a one-time grant, I purchased a bunch of new Source 4's, some Sea Changers and two movers (Elation Design Spots), two Phoebus iMarc followspots, and a crap load of lamps. Make sure what you're buying is "going to be noticed" by your audiences. Even purchasing a nice selection of gobos and gels can make a big difference in the way your shows look. Even though I only have two movers, they make an impression simply because they move and have some fun effects. Look at what kinds of shows you do throughout the year and base your decisions on that, and don't count on that extra money being there forever.
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    You should think about what you could use the most, how many you would like, and go from there. After all, just because one person has only use a gobo rotator three times in ten years doesn't mean you will do the same thing. Depends on how much of a budget increase you actually have.

    I would recommend the Apollo Right Arm! We picked one up and will buy another one next year (hopefully this one will come with gum:evil:). They are very nice, and even have a built in power supply for the Apollo Smart Move scrollers. (Or the DMX Iris? I would assume so.) In using both the iCue and the Right Arm, the Right Arm is much easier to use and more durable in my opinion.
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    In the price range, Chroma-Q is about the worst scroller IMHO. I have both the CQ and Apollo SmartColors in my inventory, and everything about the SmartColor is better. If you want details, i'll be happy to discuss it while not hijacking this thread.

    If you spend $13K on Seachangers you might be able to buy 3 or 4 decent MLs. I have not seen any ML in the sub $4K price range that is worth using in a theatre, especially on the scale we are talking. There is no way you could get 12 MAC600s for $25K, I wish! However, IMHO 12 Seachangers will be more versatile and get used more often than 4 (or even 12) moving lights in most theatres. Why? Because most often in theatre we are looking for a nice quiet way to change colors to vary the looks. Now, if you are producing lots of big musicals you might have more use for moving fixtures.

    Here are some other things to consider. Do you have any old instrumentation that could be upgraded? Any 360Qs or old Strand fixtures or anything? I know, that for me I still have 50 units that any to be replaced (they work, but are old and just not as good as a Source Four) and that is the top of my priority list before other "Toys." Do you need any spare parts or additional parts like lamp bases, lens tubes, lamps? Sometimes when you have "extra" money it is good to stock up on some of the things you wish you had on a daily basis. Also think infrastructure, do you need new or additional data runs anywhere? Maybe this is the time to pick up that remote video node you want or Opto-Splitter that you need.

    The big thing is that we don't know what you have, want, or need, and we don't know how much your budget is. I keep a wish list up to date and prioritized, and as I have money I start to knock items off.
     
  9. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Lets put it this way, I could get 12 Studio Color 575's (excellent units, quiet, great color mixing, terrific) for Just over $15k. I can get a dozen MAC600's (if Martin floats your boat) for $25k-$30k. You just have to have the right suppliers.

    I love the ChromaQ. But I have been using them since college. I always spec them to clients along with HES moving lights, ETC Source 4 lighting units, ETC dimmer racks, ETC/Hog/MA consoles, etc. But to each their own. *shrugs*

    Are moving lights right for you? Who knows. But I know if you do musicals, dance, live music, or rentals I would use $15k to add a few movers to your inventory as well as perhaps some scrollers and updating some instruments.

    Mike
     
  10. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Your part of some sort of campus, is it one of the venues goals to educate or is this more of a road house. If part of your mission statement is educating students on different technologys do you really need movers?

    To me it is foolish for a venue that does short runs and sits dark to own movers. They are expensive, ever changing, high maintenance and too many types to fill a rider. Rental on mac 2ks and VL 3ks is what around 300 a week? List is close to ten grad, that works out to about 30 one week rentals to break even. Will you get your moneys worth? Rembemer that when you rent spare lamps are included most of the time and cable comes at a dirt cheap cost.

    From my experience it might be more worthwhile to look at hazers, strobes and hardware (clamps, chesbroughs, cable, pipe etc)
     
  11. MNBallet

    MNBallet Active Member

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    Toys are fun to buy, but make sure that you can use them. First off, if you own 30 I-cues but really only need 15, why not sell the ones you're not using and turn that money into more toys that you would use?
    Scrollers vrs. some new LED fixtures? There are some 3 watt versions hitting the market for around $500 that are very fun to play with. Well worth the money for a toy that has many uses.
    Movers? If you don't really have the need for movers but want some to play with for the odd dance recital, I recomend getting some that are for the DJ market. They're not as bright, but still make great effects. Much more cost effective to "play around and have fun" if you're really only going to use them 3 or 4 times a year. For the cost of one real professional mover you can get 4 or 5 from the DJ type. Too many people knock the DJ market lights without really looking at them. Again...we're talking "toys" here and most people that knock the DJ market stuff use movers as a real source of light and not as a toy.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Ahh my favorite topic. If you've read my "method" then you understand my strategy. Alex has been doing a great job explaining it as well. Get as many Seachangers as you can afford. They are amazing. You can't do the precise color matching to standard gel colors or color fades with a scroller that a Seachanger can do. I've got 20 Seachangers (12 Wash 8 Profile) and I wish I had a LOT more. Unlike moving heads they are used in every scene of every show. They will become a key workhorse of all your design work.

    Not true. Last I checked you have to pay around $5,000 to get an entry level moving head with CMY. When I got my Seachangers last year I paid about $1400 for a Seachanger and Yoke extension (you have to get the extension if you want to hang them in any sort of downward angle).
     
  13. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on who you get them from and if you are averse to (lightly) used units. I just got a client 4 (almost brand new, used in one trade show installation, still in the box with the unit having less than 100 hours on it) Studio Color 575 for $7500. You just have to know where to go. If you are looking for spot units you can get them brand new for that price.

    You guys are buying your moving lights from the wrong people. Why get just CMY for the same price as a moving head with CMY (or a moving mirror with CMY)? You are not going to get VL3000's for that price, but it is possible.

    But you can't go wrong with the Seachangers. Like I said, you have to know your space and what it is used for. Know how your designers like to design. Some designers are just overwhelmed by movers, and they don't like to use them. Some just don't feel like messing with them. Some just hate the idea of movers. I LOVE movers and use them every chance I get. At the PAC we used our movers on almost every show, in every concert, every opera, every musical and 75% of plays we did (1500+ seat procenium). At the last professional theater I worked at (200 seat black box) we used our 2 MAC 500's on every show. Size doesn't matter with movers. They are cheap and easy to get. Their lamps are expensive, and they do require repair and maintenance from time to time. But so do conventionals (although they rarely get it). *shrugs* I call all my lights toys. But then again there really isn't anything I have never played with, so there aren't any "toys" for me at this point in my career.

    It all depends. As a designer I love movers. I would use them constantly. I would use Seachangers constantly too. But if I drop $15000 and don't walk away with movers or infrastructure I feel cheated. But as always, your mileage may vary.

    But to each their own.

    Mike
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hey Esoteric. I'm just trying to have a friendly debate here of my "Gafftaper Method". You've become quite the all-star new CB member this month with a lot of great new thoughts added to the community. Please don't take this as a personal attack. I come in peace. :angel:

    My theory applies only to schools and straight theater operations. Not road houses, clubs, concert halls, or other large rental venues where music is the primary focus. I am talking about places that don't have touring musical acts come through that require moving head lights. If you are doing concerts you need to be looking at moving heads, ignore my theory. However if you are a typical high school, college theater, or straight theater operation. These venues have very little need for moving heads... they won't need them for Shakespeare and you can't use them for Our Town. There is a big regional rep theater here in town. Light plots for their main stage shows often include up to 600 or 700 instruments. They own NO moving head or moving mirror fixtures. They own no Seachangers. The just in the last few years purchased their first scrollers and I-cues. They do use movers sometimes but when they do they rent. Their feeling is it's far less expensive to rent on the rare occasion they need it than it is to buy and maintain on their own. Most theaters don't need to OWN intelligent gear. (I have a friend who takes this a step further and insists that no high school should own a rotator. They are only needed about once every other year, are very expensive, touchy to work with, and easy to break. But that's another topic all together.)

    Let's take your example of Studio Colors for $7500 each. We'll say I'm a college that got a grant to upgrade the lighting system and has a little money to burn. I've got good infrastructure and a complete conventional package. First off I can't just buy one Studio Color I need to buy several to not look stupid (wow... that show had one moving head light and a conventional wash:rolleyes:). So lets say we squeeze $30k to buy four Studio colors. Now those are going to look cool yes. How often am I going to use them? There's the spring musical, if the music department gets their act together we may have a concert or two, and the student union may pull off a talent show... but I won't have time to program for that. So I may really use them 2 or 3 times a year. They might get used as quick specials in other shows... but those are usually effects that can be created by using other components (dmx Iris, rotators, scrollers etc...). So in the end I say you are spending a lot of money on equipment that will be rarely used which is foolish.

    Instead of buying four Studio Colors, what could I buy for $30k? Well how about 18 Seachangers, 6 rotators and 6 I-cues. The 18 Seachangers will revolutionize the way I design shows with infinite color possibilities at my finger tips. EVERY design I do will begin with the Seachangers. Because they do any color they now free up a huge portion of my inventory to do other tasks. When the musical or Jazz night comes along, throw a rotator and I-cue on a Seachanger and I've got 6 poor man's Studio Colors and still have 12 solo Seachangers left over. The Audience won't know the difference. Instead of only being used a few times a year, my $30k is at the heart of every design.

    In your conclusion you said you feel cheated if you spend $15,000 and don't get moving heads or infrastructure. Well for $15,000 you are going to get two cool instruments that will look a little silly on their own. I'm going to get 10 Seachangers and have money left over. That's 10 lights that I never have to buy gel for, I can say to the person using the theater, "do you like a stage wash that looks like this... or this?". They get used in every show.

    My method is not sexy but it's practical. I wish we could all have lots of moving head CMY gear. But we can't, so I say make sure you have a full conventional inventory then focus on cool tools that you will use the most. Again, I mean no disrespect in this post and look forward to your response... debating is fun! :mrgreen:
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  15. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Try giving your local dealer a call as well. They usually stay abreast of the latest toys out there and can usually get a demo unit or two for you to look at as well.

    You have a great dealer in Houston who even has their own light lab to let you look at stuff - StageLight. Give them a call.
     
  16. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    "However if you are a typical high school, college theater, or straight theater operation. These venues have very little need for moving heads... they won't need them for Shakespeare and you can't use them for Our Town."


    I beg to differ. I used them in shakespeare productions of years. I have used them in straight plays as well as musicals and opera. Movers are not just for music anymore.

    "Light plots for their main stage shows often include up to 600 or 700 instruments. They own NO moving head or moving mirror fixtures. They own no Seachangers. The just in the last few years purchased their first scrollers and I-cues. They do use movers sometimes but when they do they rent. Their feeling is it's far less expensive to rent on the rare occasion they need it than it is to buy and maintain on their own. Most theaters don't need to OWN intelligent gear"


    Wow. That is why they hang 600 or 700 units, if they had movers and changers, they could hang 1/4 of the intruments. The PAC used to think that was the way to go as well. Until they got a couple of guys on staff with the ability to maintain and repair the units. No extra labor. Parts are cheap. So they started with 20 Cybers. It has gone from there. Best thing they ever did. I did some plots with hundreds of units in school until they let us use movers, then I plotted the same show with less than a quarter of the units and a couple dozen movers. I think schools can benefit from them immensly. The first thing I did as TD was to apply for grants for moving lights. We used them in every show, even if it was a straight play, dance performance, musical, whatever.

    "Let's take your example of Studio Colors for $7500 each."

    Look again. $7500 for four of them.

    "So lets say we squeeze $30k to buy four Studio colors."

    That would buy 16 under my example.

    "Now those are going to look cool yes. How often am I going to use them?"


    In every play that could use color washes. Plus every musical, opera, concerts, etc.

    "Well how about 18 Seachangers, 6 rotators and 6 I-cues. The 18 Seachangers will revolutionize the way I design shows with infinite color possibilities at my finger tips. EVERY design I do will begin with the Seachangers."

    I have 16 Studio Colors. Every design I do begins with them. Their infinite color combination will revolutionize the way I do shows. PLUS they have pan/tilt control and beam shaping!

    "Instead of only being used a few times a year, my $30k is at the heart of every design. "

    My Studio Colors are at the heart of every design and they bring so much more to the table.

    "In your conclusion you said you feel cheated if you spend $15,000 and don't get moving heads or infrastructure. Well for $15,000 you are going to get two cool instruments that will look a little silly on their own."

    Make that 8, which in most auditoriums will do the trick nicely.

    "My method is not sexy but it's practical. I wish we could all have lots of moving head CMY gear. But we can't, so I say make sure you have a full conventional inventory then focus on cool tools that you will use the most. Again, I mean no disrespect in this post and look forward to your response... debating is fun!"

    My method is sexy AND practical. Why not have your cake and eat it too? I would use those lights on every show. I wonder why people insist that movers have to be used only for musicals and live music. I use them in traditional theater all the tame. Dance? Check. Opera? Check. Student productions? Check. Please understand I don't ever take anything personally. Different people have different views for different reasons. I love movers and I use them constantly. They would hardly ever turn off. How did they get so pigeonholed? For that kind of money I am going to get infrastructure or movers. Unless I have enough movers, then I might look at Seachangers, etc.

    Good response but based on a misreading of my post.

    Mike

    Why have poor mans Studio Colors if you have the money for the real thing?
     
  17. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    PS I hardly think of myself as an All-Star. I am not on Broadway yet, I thought I would be by now, but God had different plans for me (don't worry, no religious diatribe, but I am a religious person). I just do what I do and try to help other people out in their quest.

    All my advice is to be taken with a grain of salt! It is what works for me, but as one of my profs said, there is more than one way to Mecca.

    I also know that there are people out there with a lot more experience and a lot more knowledge than me. That is why I hire the people I do (I subcontract a journeyman for anything involving the NEC and my dad is a licensed Master Electrician) and surround myself with the people I do.

    But I would put my skills up against any in the country and I take pride in what I do. So I try to help out others who are walking in my footsteps. I also enjoy helping theaters and churches get equipment and set ups that they would never think of or could never afford without my help (while I make a little profit of course).

    Mike
     
  18. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Guess I will weigh in on this one. I am the TD at a very large performing arts high school. We do 6 mainstage shows a year, plus another 6 night of one acts, review shows, etc. We also take a show out on tour throughout the area. I own 4 mac250's and 4 technobeams with a Hog2PC, Expression 3, and Expression 3 Emphasis. I have about a 100 s4's and another 200 or so Altman 360's, strand Lekos, and Strand Fresnels that are ageing. This is my first year at this school. Two months before I started work, they bought the Mac's. The technos have been around for about 7-8 years.

    The technos are not in great condition because they were not properly serviced. The Mac250's are useless for what I do. Yes, they make great eye candy in the air and on the cyc, but they do nothing to hep model the stage. I would love to sell both the Technos and the Macs and buy 30 Smartcolors or 10-15 Seachangers. We do a show that is extremly "concert" style twice a year, and for those shows we could easily rent. I am happy I have the fixtures, but I think that Scrollers would have been a much better investment. Not only that, our cable inventory is horrible.

    So, take it from someone who deals in the education world, don't go buy movers unless EVERYTHING you ever want is taken care of. Movers cost a good amount of money. Go buy some new spot lights, scrollers, 90 deg S4 barrels, Mult Cable, two-fers, 1000' stagepin cable, new lamp bases, DMX opto, Enntec DMX wiget pro, wireless RFU, good soldering set, DMX cable, XWFL S4 par lenses, and the list continues....
     
  19. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    The first statement is a design decision and has nothing to do with being a school, community theater, regional theater, etc.

    The second statement is. No offense, operator error. I can use MAC250's to model the stage, provide depth, color, texture and effects. But yes, if you are short on essentials (repair parts, etc) then you need to get those first! Although I must say, sometimes contracting out your maintenance and repair can be a heck of a lot cheaper.

    Mike
     
  20. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    [user]Esoteric[/user], I have a feeling that you are much more the exception than the rule. I own moving lights, I have access to 8 additional MLs for free as needed, and I own scrollers, ICues, rotators, scene machines, other "toys" as well as a quite full complement of conventional fixtures. My theatre is resident on the campus of the University of Utah, so I also have the opportunity to work with them, they are my source for the 8 additional MLs. On average, we only hang the moving lights for three of the seven shows in our season, the theatre department at the U uses theirs like glorified color changers.

    I don't think that it is true that hanging even 20 MLs will cut a conventional light plot to a quarter of it's size. You just can't pack MLs in the same as conventionals and expect to be able to emulate all of the same angles and looks. However, with a color changer you may only have to hang one system of sidelights instead of one for each color of sidelight you want.

    I agree that MLs are useful tools, and in the hands of the right designers can do amazing things. I am also NOT saying that what you do and how you design is wrong, I just don't think that it is appropriate for everyone. However, I also think that people use things like MLs when they are available just because they are available.

    I know that if I were given $20K to spend (and assuming I already replaced the instruments that need replaced) there are many things that I would buy before I thought of adding more MLs to my inventory. I know that if I had enough SeaChangers to implement a full stage system they would get used much more frequently than MLs. All of our designers know what tools they have access to, and I am sure that if someone like you came to design for us we would use all the MLs, and we have a couple designers who do, but it is more the exception than the convention.

    Again, just my honest opinion, no offense or hard feeling intended.
     

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