Lighting Designer and Guest Blogger Chris Rynne talks about his first experience using the newest members of the Selador Series of LED fixtures, Fire and Ice:
Last year, I was in a conversation with David Lincecum, marketing manager for ETC, and in that conversation I mentioned that I’d be in Madison, Wisconsin, (home of ETC) this April to design lighting for the Madison Opera’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at the Overture Center for the Arts. When I mentioned the show, he offered me an opportunity that some would not refuse, but that I had to think about. He offered me the use of 30 brand new Selador Ice and Fire fixtures to use in my plot. The caveat was that I’d need to use them as real full-stage lighting, not for lighting sky drops or set pieces. For those of you that aren’t familiar with ETC’s Selador line of fixtures, they are a family of high-quality color-mixing LED units (using red, green, blue, indigo, red-orange, cyan, and amber for much richer color-palette capabilities than are available through an RGB fixture) for stage use, and the Fire and Ice units are a new sub-line that each use only five colors and are tuned toward the red and blue ranges.
Getting back to my reluctance to immediately take David up on his offer…. I just wasn’t sure that these fixtures would do the job that I’d been using 750W PARs to do for the last 15 years of my design career. So, ETC sent me a couple of samples to play with and I put them up against my beloved PARs with color filters. It took me a couple hours of reviewing literature, specs, photometrics, and feedback, as well as going back into my garage a few different nights and blasting my neighbor’s garage door across the street with my testing (thanks, James) to convince myself that I was ready to take the leap of faith. But then I jumped in.
I just returned to San Diego on Sunday after spending almost two weeks with the Fire and Ice fixtures on my show and I have to say I’m really impressed. They not only replaced the blue PAR backlight wash and red PAR sidelight wash that I was originally planning, but did so with a vengeance. Not until the other day when someone had asked me how it went with the Seladors did I realize that the smoothness of dimming was indistinguishable from that of its tungsten-based buddies, even with long crossfades or completely fading the fixtures out. Having instant access to a large color palette from a single fixture without worrying about mechanically moving glass filters or plastic-sheet color media was wonderful. I was able to run through a gamut of moods over the span of the opera with these dynamic paint brushes….and feel good about the green-ness of it. I took a rig that would’ve been done with about 35,000 watts of tungsten-sourced lights and did it with under 7,500 watts (they’d only consume that much if I’d run all the colors at full on all the units, which I never did). And, as I noticed after programming, I only ever went as high as 40% of the output potential on the Ice units, as putting them up to full power would’ve been just too bright for the show. All that firepower from a lighting tool that can fit nine 21” fixtures into one 20A circuit.
I have to say that, after my recent experience, I’m a believer. ETC has created an awesome pair of flexible LED fixtures in the Fire and Ice that deliver much more than I would’ve gotten from even 1000W PAR64 fixtures fitted with color changers to meet my blue and red lighting needs. I believe that their color flexibility, smooth dimming curve, long lamp life, low heat, low maintenance, and energy savings will help the Selador line find homes in schools, theaters, music halls, churches, television studios, and architainment projects as an important part of the lighting design toolbox.