Which new lighting rig?

Paul Hannah

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Location
Closeburn
I am an admin of a theatre group and my experience is in building the sets and props, so this is new territory for me.

I have around $10,000 to spend on a basic theatrical lighting rig. The theatre is a standard proscenium with a raised stage and couple of bars, two over stage, one in front, 200 seats, flat floor, very high ceilings and places to hang bars from. It has a fairly primitive set of lights there now and I'd like to replace them with something I can grow as funds permit.
I haven't seen the board that controls them yet, but I have no doubt it will need replacing too.


Any recommendations?
 

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TJCornish

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Mar 27, 2012
Location
St. Paul, MN
What is inadequate about the current rig for what you’re trying to do? You’re asking a pretty vague question. If it were me, I would get into the space for a bit and see what your real needs are before going shopping.

A potentially large money sink (your $10K may disappear completely and more) is infrastructure - getting dimmed and/or non-dimmed power and DMX control where you need it is a big deal.
 

Paul Hannah

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Location
Closeburn
What is inadequate about the current rig for what you’re trying to do? You’re asking a pretty vague question. If it were me, I would get into the space for a bit and see what your real needs are before going shopping.

A potentially large money sink (your $10K may disappear completely and more) is infrastructure - getting dimmed and/or non-dimmed power and DMX control where you need it is a big deal.
Although I probably won't need a sophisticated rig in the first instance, the funding supplier will think "You managed the last show without anything, make do with that for this show."
Even if I don't add many new lights, I'd like a board I can grow into with the ability to bluetooth to a notebook/pad to remote control.

Sorry for being vague, I guess I don't know enough to ask the right questions and all of the people I know in the area, are old school to the point where none have used even powered bars.
:)
 

TJCornish

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Mar 27, 2012
Location
St. Paul, MN
I can understand your point, however I don't agree. I think it would be much easier to say "I know we will eventually need some things, but for right now I'm going to get through this show and understand what we really need before I propose spending any money" rather than "Yeah, I know we just spent $10,000 [on the wrong stuff], but now we need all these other things I didn't know I needed before."

You haven't even been in the control room yet. I guarantee any decision made now in haste will handicap your future.
 

josh88

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And dont replace the lights unless there's something actually wrong with them, just add on to your stock. You won't be using bluetooth to connect to a pad you'll have to have a wireless network that the board is on and then typically an app. What about dimmers, are they using dmx? 10k can disappear fast and give you nothing to show for it if you dont have a goal or plan.
 

RonHebbard

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Waterdown, ON, CA
And dont replace the lights unless there's something actually wrong with them, just add on to your stock. You won't be using bluetooth to connect to a pad you'll have to have a wireless network that the board is on and then typically an app. What about dimmers, are they using dmx? 10k can disappear fast and give you nothing to show for it if you dont have a goal or plan.
@Paul Hannah @josh88 Speaking in support: $10K can disappear in taxes. Speaking of nothing to show for it.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

josh88

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@Paul Hannah @josh88 Speaking in support: $10K can disappear in taxes. Speaking of nothing to show for it.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
It's not lighting but I had exactly this problem with a space I was in, sound was horrible (big bucket loudspeakers instead of something designed for the space) admin were hesitant to spend the money to fix it because years before I arrived they had spent 10k to "fix it" I never could tell what that money had been spent on, 50k later to finally do it properly, we had a decent sound system. Different equipment but the principle is the same. Figure out what you want to be capable of doing in 5 years and break it up into tiers and a list of most important gear and build towards something. Conventional lighting will give you more bang for your buck starting out and the infrastructure is likely already in place.
 

Duncan Milne

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Mar 9, 2017
Location
New Zealand
Hi Paul - lovely to see an administrator wanting to buy tech gear! I'm sure you're aware that $10K is not very much money for lighting gear. You can easily blow that and more on the desk alone, before you connect it to anything. I'd suggest the following:

- at that budget, you will be using mostly conventional fixtures. Good quality fixtures never wear out, so it is reasonable to get all your existing stock down on the floor, given them a good clean and service, replace all the dead lamps, and see what you actually have. They are probably 100% fit for purpose.
- what you might need is more infrastructure. You definitely need more lighting bars, and you need some safe and reliable way of getting to them - often an issue in this type of venue! You don't say what type and how many channels of dimmers you have, but they will certainly need a good clean. Dimmers are $2-3K each, but second-hand bargains do happen. Power distro to bars is nice, but extension leads are pretty cheap and may be a better option at this point. It can be cheaper to get dimmers up into the rig and run one big three phase line to it, than to have the dimmers side stage with lots of distro. Ultimately, you will want some DMX distro, but probably not yet, except if access is so awful that all your budget is going to go on hoists, in which case at least run the cable.
- as others have said, check out the existing desk. It might be awesome! But if not, consider PC-based lighting control. I like Chamsys MagicQ - it can do more that you will ever need and the software is free so all you need is a $100 USB to DMX dongle eg Enttec DMX Pro 2. A good desk will cost you $10 to 30K, a Chamsys wing more like $3K. iPad remotes are nice but pricey, so do what most of us do and get a long DMX cable so you can haul the desk out into the middle of the seats.

Soooo... (and knowing this is all a stab in the dark) my priorities would be 1. sort and service all existing stock 2. get more bars up, mostly onstage, and more dimmers if required 3. get a PC-based control system 4. look for awesome bargains on second-hand conventional fixtures eg I saw 6x Selecon Pacific profiles for $180 the other day 5. Maybe 6x good quality LED pars for splashy colours, if you've done everything else on the list!

Hope this helps. Happy to fly over to consult!
 

Crisp image

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Jun 18, 2017
Location
Eastern Victoria Australia
[QUOTE="Duncan Milne, ....
Hope this helps. Happy to fly over to consult!
Thanks for all that buddy... I suppose you'd want business class? - There goes my $10k ![/QUOTE]
Hi Paul,
I am the same as you coming from a sets and props background but moving into technical stuff.
Here in Oz philips showline SL 155 ZOOM led par which a search reveals they are about $800 ea. I have used these in a couple of venues and they do quite well.
As for the chamsys system mentioned above, while there are some in the country they are not widespread so learning them will be via online sources where as something like ETC Nomad is the pc based system of the consoles that lots of the venues have in my local area have. If student based or school based then the education version will be about $387 aud available from Jands.
As others have said you need to see what you have already and see if that gear is still serviceable and the if possible add to it.

I hope this helps you out a little. If you have any questions and want to pm me feel free to do so.
Regards
Geoff
 

kendal69

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Location
USA
Rather than tell you what you CAN'T do with the 10K I'll actually attempt to actually answer your question. Get a Martin M2Go board, $3,500. Spend the rest on CHAUVET Slim Par Pro lights and a few CHAUVET ellipsoidals. There you have it a new system for 10K that will handle all your needs, until you grow and add movers, effects lighting, etc.
 

TDjohn

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Location
San Francisco
Rather than tell you what you CAN'T do with the 10K I'll actually attempt to actually answer your question. Get a Martin M2Go board, $3,500. Spend the rest on CHAUVET Slim Par Pro lights and a few CHAUVET ellipsoidals. There you have it a new system for 10K that will handle all your needs, until you grow and add movers, effects lighting, etc.

Yummy!

8 universes for $3k! That will cover a lot of DMX. I have a good sized kit and am pressing on the top of a 4 universe system. That is the biggest issue I face with expanding my kit - control. And yes, I think control is the first thing to solve. When they go out and get those rather inexpensive led fixtures, often people find that running out of board channels is a big obstacle. Some people use computer based systems to cut costs, but most of those are channel impaired as well.

You might want to keep in mind that cabling dmx can run up costs, too. You'll need power and dmx to each fixture.

As for front lights. I would try to include some white light movers from the start.

I, too, would like to apply to fly to OZ.

John
 

taneglaus

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Location
Wasatch Back, Utah!
I am an admin of a theatre group and my experience is in building the sets and props, so this is new territory for me.

I have around $10,000 to spend on a basic theatrical lighting rig. The theatre is a standard proscenium with a raised stage and couple of bars, two over stage, one in front, 200 seats, flat floor, very high ceilings and places to hang bars from. It has a fairly primitive set of lights there now and I'd like to replace them with something I can grow as funds permit.
I haven't seen the board that controls them yet, but I have no doubt it will need replacing too.


Any recommendations?
Looking at the pic's of your venue...have you considered LED lighting? The nice thing about LED par's is they have their own dimmers so you only supply them with constant 120vac and dmx control. You can get into some good LED par's for several $100 each. And they do color mixing so no more gels or climbing ladders or flying the batons. Be sure the ight is bright and has a smooth dimming cycle from black up...especially on blue & green. These also do white & can do Uv (blacklight). You can control them via computer with usb to dmx done for several hundred $'s. Check local lighting specialists...not guitar center or that type of shop for evaluating and help. For $10k I could get you into an LED setup that can easily grow. You can still use your existing lights with the LED's. Good luck.
 

Paul Hannah

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Location
Closeburn
Looking at the pic's of your venue...have you considered LED lighting? The nice thing about LED par's is they have their own dimmers so you only supply them with constant 120vac and dmx control. You can get into some good LED par's for several $100 each. And they do color mixing so no more gels or climbing ladders or flying the batons. Be sure the ight is bright and has a smooth dimming cycle from black up...especially on blue & green. These also do white & can do Uv (blacklight). You can control them via computer with usb to dmx done for several hundred $'s. Check local lighting specialists...not guitar center or that type of shop for evaluating and help. For $10k I could get you into an LED setup that can easily grow. You can still use your existing lights with the LED's. Good luck.
Thanks for that - great advice...:)
 

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