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What would you do?

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Top 25 Contributor
765 Posts
sk8rs_dad posted on 02-23-2012 6:51 PM

I am pulling together a proposal to revamp our stock plot, replacing our tops, sides, back, and cyc with LED.


33' proscenium, 30 ft nominal stage depth, with existing Sensor+ (154 channels of dimming)

Top system (nominal throw of 18-24 feet (motorized rigging):

3 rows of 5 fixtures (15 zones)

Am I better off purchasing 15 D40 Lustr+

  -- or --

15 D40 Vivid and 15 Source Four Fresnels lamped at 375W or 575W?

Side system:

4 rows (2 fixtures per side per row):

16 D40 Lustr+ orr would you do something different?

Cyclorama might be other-than-ETC because RGBA is good enough.  I could be talked the Selador Vivid 63 if somebody had a compelling argument.


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Top 10 Contributor
1,063 Posts

My completely biased opinion is that you should go with the D40 Vivid & Fresnel option for your toplight system. The Lustr+ is great, but there is still nothing that will replace the warmth of a tungsten source. With this combination, you will get absolutely beautiful bold as well as subtle colours along with the punchiness of tungsten. I think of the tungsten as the canvas and the Vivids as the colouring. I would think that 575 would be enough.

I think Lustr+ for sidelight is a great option. You'll want to look at the oblong lenses in order to control the beam. If the budget stretches, I would really try to put in a little bit of tungsten here as well, maybe some S4 Jrs at 375W? Or some older-stock lanterns?

Naturally I think that the Vivid 63 is the better option, especially if you ever want a "white" cyc. If you are only ever using bold colours, possibly RGBA is enough - as you know the Selador wins in the variations-on-white battle.


Top 25 Contributor
765 Posts

I share a similar bias about having a tungsten source that supports a shutter cut. We do a lot of "box set" plays as well as musicals and dance recitals.  There are things a fresnel can do that you just can't get from a D40, or a PAR. Then again, there are things you can do with a D40 (strobe, instant colour changes, near-infinite colour palette) that a tungsten source isn't going to give you. -- For a moment there it felt like I was channeling Tom Littrell :) --

I didn't mention our existing inventory. Suffice it to say we have an adequate inventory of S4 and S4 Jrs, and S4 PAR EAs to cover off your suggestions for the sides. The plan in my head is to use D40s as tips in the stock plot and layer in whatever else may be required for a particular performance.

For our cyc, I would love to be able to get a second horizon line (top half v. bottom half) without a ground row, for things like naturalistic skies. Unfortunately, I can't come up with a cost-effective way to do that with any vendor's gear. There are a few out there that offer the right sort of lensing for a single fixture but don't offer the independent control of the top and bottom half of the fixture. Everything else involves twice the fixtures, or a lot of smaller fixtures, with a much higher cost per cell, what with all the extra cables, yokes, clamps, connectors, and DMX splitters.

Top 500 Contributor
29 Posts

luke.delwiche:  I completely agree with your recommendations.  This is exactly what we call the hybrid theatre.  And I love your analogy of tungsten being the canvas and D40s the paint.  Can I quote that sometime?

For the cyc, remember that even RGBA is very different than X7 color mixing.  (Of course, as a Selador co-founder, I openly admit my bias.)  If you compare side by side, RGBA fixtures still can't match the full warmth and richness of Selador in yellow / gold / orange tones, because they never use a sufficient quantity of amber LEDs to really make a difference.  In addition, you end up with an extremely limited range of blue tones--depending on the blue wavelength in the fixture, either you have nothing but gray between blue and green, or you're left without anything deeper than medium blue (no congo blue, indigo, purple, etc.).  Plus, like was said, X7 whites and soft pastels are unbeatable.

Having a multi-section cyc is wonderful.  We've done many installations where with everything just top-hung, we can use our secondary lenses to achieve nicely uniform stripes in two or even three sections.  (You'd swear there is a ground row where there isn't one.)  You might be surprised how you can get this kind of vertical control without greatly expanding your budget, because if a given string of fixtures is only lighting half or a third of the cyc, then you might get away with many fewer units to get the light output needed for each section.  It depends a lot on where they're hung in relation to the cyc and how much time you can give yourself to finesse the focus.  I wouldn't rule out the possibility, though--you don't necessarily have to double the fixture count to make it work. 

Top 25 Contributor
765 Posts

I would appreciated it you could spec something on the back of a napkin regarding number and type of instrument and suggested lensing. Our cyc is 24' x 40' with top and sides having trimmable masking. The top portion is usually masked out of sight so lit area would be 22' x 37'. The motorized batten we use for cyc lighting it is 4' downstage of the cyc fabric and can be trimmed as high as 28' (4' above the cyclorama).  I have all the time in the world to finesse the focus.

I've read all  the documents on the ETC site including the application guide but couldn't figure out how to translate good/better/best in the application guide into a combination where I trust my own judgment.

Top 25 Contributor
518 Posts

Bold move going to LED's in these numbers.

I believe you have an Ion to control ?.

Big question though.  Do you do one-off events that expect an incandescent hang of S4 elipsoidals, Pars and/or fresnels and if so,  how are you going to match colors and intensities across a whole lot of cues with an assortment of LED's ?.

As example, you get an event that wants the cyc in R80, R64 and R19.  With assorted cues changing the intensities of those colors.  

This is one stumbling block I have yet to overcome and have put off on one occasion, purchasing an LED cyc set.

If everything you do (or most) is all new and/or you have time to do a cue to cue and match, then sounds like LED's will work.   If not....


Steve B.


Top 25 Contributor
765 Posts

Good question Steve, but not a requirement for our venue. We're strictly community theatre and local arts groups, with the odd corporate rental. There's no real requirement to colour match touring riders.

We have a pair of Ions (and an Express 125 and an AVAB 211 sitting on a shelf if anybody wants to make an offer). I might need to do an output upgrade to the one in the auditorium, but likely not.

We still have a good inventory of tungsten fixtures in the venue, but we would be selling off or giving away to the local schools, all of our Altman EC-1's, 65Q's, and 75Q's, and some of our scrollers. We'd be moving our S4 PARs that were being used for tops, to the black box/rehearsal space to beef up it's inventory, then replacing most of the stage units with S4 Fresnels and LEDs.

I am trying to solve 2 problems at once. We have a fair number of inexperienced/intimidated volunteers who want to get into lighting but find the learning curve daunting, so getting to a stock plot that gives them an easy starting point would go a long way. Financially, if we can get our electricity peak below a certain point we can save about $1,000 per month on demand charges alone. I think we're close enough that we can get there in most months but it requires shedding some stage lighting load and the corresponding HVAC load during warm months.

Ottawa Hydro has offered to provide a small grant from the smartONenergy program but I am chasing the provincial regulator to revise that program, or offer something specific to theatre, much like they did in the '90s when we got our first batch of Source Fours to replace our Strand 2206s. Since our theatre's usage pattern is off-peak from the supplier's perspective, there is less incentive for them to provide grant money.

Top 25 Contributor
518 Posts

I Understand.

I would demo 2 D40 Vivid's side-by-side and do a color transition to determine if it's smooth enough to eliminate the need for separate fixtures (fresnels) as the "other" color.  I have a feeling that between the console and the fixtures the color fades will be smooth enough to eliminate the need for that extra wash.

As to sides ?.   Using what is essentially a wash unit for sides is risky, in my mind.  You do get a lot of beam control with the lenses, but without shutters you leave yourself open to flare on that occasional mid-stage painted scrim, or painted legs (parlor legs and borders for Nutcracker ?), or the rear projection screen with a chorus standing just downstage ?.  Maybe demo the Lustr+ and stick a barn door on it to see what it does, but be aware that usually with LED's all a B/D does is reduce intensity.  

Hard to beat the VividR for cyc lighting, but I've heard good things about the Chroma-Q Color Force units.  Not as good a lens set though, which are very good throughout the Seledor line.  


Top 25 Contributor
765 Posts

The fresnels aren''t so much for the "other colour" but to provide the "white" that would then be tinted by the D40 Vivids. The fresnels also offer much better spill control than a D40 is going to provide, especially for box sets where the shutter cuts matter more.

We've still got the option of using our ERS inventory for the situations you've described where spill control matters.  I'm not expecting any LED wash fixture to be the ideal choice in that role, just like I wouldn't use a PAR.  It's a good thought to consider adding some ERS tips to our downstage and/or midstage electrics for that eventuality. For recital season we typically add in our ladders and hang a complement of ERS instruments to boost the side lighting and provide texturing.

The dance company that uses our venue for Nutcracker (is there any venue that doesn't have a Nutcracker?) has this canyon-like 16' high box set/periaktoi monstrosity that pretty much negates good side lighting, other than booms set right upstage the proscenium. If we add some LEDs I can likely sneak in some shins and waists where it might not have been possible before due to heat management issues. It might be a good reason to build the cyclorama from D40s or Vivid 21s so they could be retasked as booms.

Good conversation! Thanks!

Top 50 Contributor
228 Posts

Take a good look at your dimmers.

Do you have enough dimmers/circuits currently? More LEDs can mean more dimmers for conventionals. Will you need to convert some to real non-dims or hots?

IMHO - if you are set for dimmers go with a hybrid system. Otherwise think hard about the trade offs.

Rick Reid, LC

Silhouette LIghts and Staging

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