# Automated FixturesUpgrading to moving lights

#### bjrdillard

##### Member
First, a little backstory. I am in a pretty unique predicament: I got hired as a High School theater technician at the beginning of this school year. This school year started in distance learning and it looks like it's going to end that way too. Good news is I have done okay in terms of teaching theater tech online, and we were able to put on a nice virtual show as well. I have been doing most things remotley, but I do have (somewhat limited) access to our theater (still has a half-built set on stage from the shutdown last year). I have never really touched the systems in the theater or run a show there. Thankfully the previous tech has been in contact with me and helps me out when possible. Also for more about myself, my background is mainly in set construction, though I do have experience in all aspects of theater.

#### ACTSTech

##### Well-Known Member
Not in the same situation, but I was recommended the Nomad system as a temporary fix, and I have to say it's worked out great. For teaching, it might be worthwhile because you can have your students download it for free. No, it's not the same as sitting at a board. No, it's not exactly user friendly in terms of using keyboard entry or a mouse or touchpad instead of faders. However, how many hours can you devote to one board with 10 students? With the software (and I'm not a sales rep or anything) they can all sit at home and work. I'd try to start there in my opinion.

#### derekleffew

##### Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
It sounds like the general stage wash is lacking in coverage, so I was thinking some moving wash lights could help us solve that problem.
If the current "general stage wash" is inadequate, I wouldn't depend on movers as a solution. I'd look at adding more of the same fixtures if extra dimmers/circuits are available, or replacing all with color-changing LED profile or wash units. If the existing dimmers are ETC Sensor, you can replace some modules with R20 or Thru-power to power the new units. Add ColorSource wireless DMX and you're there. Although pretty long-in-the-tooth, see also The Gafftaper Method; much of its philosophy is still valid.

As for console, ETC Ion with fader wing all the way.

#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
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So first off I run a very busy High School Theater with lots of shows from other schools in the district as well as community rentals.

I have lots of thoughts for you:

DMX Data Distribution: What sort of dimmers do you have? How do they currently get their data? DMX line directly from the console? How is DMX data distributed to other points in the theater? If you going to buy new LEDs or Movers you are going to burn through a lot of DMX channels fast. You can probably keep a DMX line direct to the rack if that's what they take, but you'll need to look at how to get data out to your other fixtures. If it's easy to run ethernet cables around the space then a wired solution would be good. You'll need a good network switch (I recommend getting your switch from ETC, Doug Fleenor Design, or Pathway Connectivity) this will be expensive but you just can't cut corners on DMX reliability with a discount network switch. Cheap off the shelf switches are okay with dropping a little data here and there. But if you drop data the lights might not behave the way you want. Send @jfleenor a message for info on Fleenor Switches. Send @Rob a message for questions on Pathway switches.

Once you get the data distributed over ethernet you need to decode it back to DMX. I am really happy with my network of Pathway Connectivity Nodes. I have individual Pathway Unos scattered around the theater and a Pathway Octo dividing up data around the stage. Again @Rob is the guy to help you out with this. Chauvet now makes some DMX nodes. I haven't used them as they are pretty new, but @Ford could answer any questions you have there.

If running wires is a problem and you want to look at Wireless DMX, I recommend RC4 Wireless ( Jim aka @RC4Wireless is a great guy I'm sure he would be happy to answer any questions about how their gear works and specific product recommendations). RC4's typical competition in this range is City Theatrical's Showbaby which is also pretty good stuff. There are cheaper wireless DMX options out there but again, do not cut corners on the reliability of your DMX network.

Power: Every moving light/LED needs to have power that doesn't go through a dimmer. Depending on what dimmer rack you have there may be relay modules you can turn on and off from the console these are safe. But do not plug anything electronic into a dimmer and set it at full... it'll kill your device. You need to turn the power off at the end of the show, so relays are better than manually unplugging everything or hitting breakers. But if that's all you can afford, there's nothing wrong with powering down the manual way.

Console. Go with an Ion XE, Touch Screen, and a fader wing. If you can afford it, upgrade to a Gio@5 and two touch screens (I got this setup last spring and it's fantastic). Consider the number of universes on both. When I was making my choice between the two I realized the basic Ion XE with four universes would not provide enough data for my needs. But when you pay for the upgrade to the full output potential, the price was pretty close to a Gio@5 with the basic 8 universes. 8 universes is more than I need and you get a lot more console with the Gio@5.

Lights: As Derek pointed out, my old "Gafftaper Method" absolutely applies to you. EVERYONE wants movers because they are so COOL and fun to play with. But here's the thing, you won't use them that often. But you ALWAYS need a really good full light wash. You can ALWAYS use nice LED Cyc lighting. You can ALWAYS use a splash of color from the front, sides, and top. Movers are fun, but they take a time to program. If they aren't LED then the lamps are EXPENSIVE and the lamps tend to have a short life. Do you have a couple of hundred bucks in your budget to pay for new lamps every year? Then there is maintenance and repairs which is time consuming and expensive. For those of us in educational theater, Movers are fantastic desert. But you need to eat your vegetables first!

Here's what your priority of purchasing should be in order of how often you really use/need them:
1) Console and Data distribution
2) Conventional Fixtures to provide a full light wash
3) LED Cyc lights (I Recommend: Chauvet Ovation Batten B-2805FC)
4) Additional LED Front, side, and top lights to give every scene more color (I Recommend ETC ColorSource and/or Chauvet Professional Ovation products).
5) Movers

##### Well-Known Member
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If your theater is like mine, half of the use will be parent meetings, band concerts, and scholarship information nights, none of which need movers.
Nothing spices up an information night like a little flash-and-trash cult-of-personality beamage. YMMV!

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
Nothing spices up an information night like a little flash-and-trash cult-of-personality beamage. YMMV!
@sk8rsdad You beat me to it. I was having similar thoughts for boring annual graduations and the rehearsals leading up to them.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

Ben Stiegler

#### JohnD

##### Well-Known Member
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A couple of things to consider. There are those who think you have to dumb down the console choice so the kid's are able to use them. BALDERDASH!!! Kid's these days are quite adept at computerized thingamajigs. Go for the industry standard EOS system. The Element 2 will work, but if at all possible go to the ION with touchscreens.
Now about that color wash, a few years ago when the switch from incandescent to LED's was beginning to take off, there was a lot of discussion of which wash lights to use. The ColorSource pars was new but it was fixed beam, changeable with drop in lenses for different beam spreads. That might involve lots of ladder time and an inventory of many lenses. So zoomable fixtures were considered. Some could be manually zoomed, some had motorized zoom so they could be zoomed remotely. They still required ladder time to point them somewhere else. The quest for the best option moved on to movers. At the time the sweet spot turned out to be the Chauvet Rogue R2 wash. It could be a down light or a back light and it could even wiggle and jiggle if that was needed. So that is something to be considered.

RonHebbard

#### macsound

##### Well-Known Member
As much as I love moving lights, putting them into the hands of those without lighting theory knowledge means you haven't improved your stage lighting, you've given yourself a distraction.

Just like many of us have walked into a theatre where the teacher/TD swears there's a perfectly setup houseplot (that surprisingly wasn't diagramed anywhere for your pre-perusal) only to realize the center position of your nice 5 position houseplot was removed because the previous student designer needed that light for the curtain gobo and used gaff tape instead of muffler tape because they didn't know better so they can't get the gobo out...

Now imagine how bad it can get when you add moving lights.

Someone will say they can do the whole show with moving lights, repatch all the frontlight to a breakup wash and now for the assembley there's only greenish leaves all over the principal's face. Then you find out the student thought it would be ok to use the wrong profile for the moving light because "that's how he did it at home" and it worked ok, except no one else can figure out Cyan is tilt and gobo spin is pan.

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#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
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A couple of things to consider. There are those who think you have to dumb down the console choice so the kid's are able to use them. BALDERDASH!!! Kid's these days are quite adept at computerized thingamajigs. Go for the industry standard EOS system.
100%! A big part of my purchase last year was I want to be teaching my kids how to use an industry standard console that they will encounter everywhere for the next 10+ years. I seriously considered going the Hog/MA route for that same reason, but decided EOS is a better fit for my use.

RonHebbard

#### JohnD

##### Well-Known Member
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You can also accomplish this look by buying imported eBay discount DMX nodes.
But that works best when you wear a fake Rolex while programming a fake MA2 lighting console from Alivoodoo.

#### DELO72

##### Well-Known Member
Moving lights can create more of a problem than solve them (in a High School theatre). First- it can make for REALLY lazy designers. I've seen it firsthand with students who think if they hang a moving light in the center of the stage it can be spun about with a color dialed in and solve any coverage or area special during tech they might have missed. Second, they are expensive to both purchase and maintain. Don't get me wrong, they definitely have their uses, and in the right hands with the right show, they excel. Since it is theatre, if you do go the moving light route, make sure you pick a moving light with great CRI for skin tones as you'll be doing plays and musicals and not rock concerts-- either one of the top of the line LED ones designed for good skin tones (DLS or T1 by ROBE or Relev'e by ETC both come to mind) or better yet get a fixture with super high CRI metal halide like the Clay Paky Scenius (Profile or Unico). Don't get a BEAM fixture, and DON"T GET A WASH. A spot can be a wash- just dial in the frost, but a wash can't be a spot very well. Give yourself the most options possible. Just my two cents.

RonHebbard

#### Ben Stiegler

##### Well-Known Member
I'm here in the Bay Area and work with schools. Curious ... what's your venue?