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Old 27th October 2008 , 09:21 PM
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Default DMX and Lighting primer

I starting writing some an introduction to DMX and while hunt8ing around checking a few details I came across a really good primer on the Skytronic web site. For those who dont know - DV are a Skytronic dealer, so it seems only fitting to link to their view of the world

Anyway this is good reading for a quick introduction to what DMX is.

http://www.skytronic.co.uk/support/g..._lighting.html

They also appear to have manuals on their web site for manual of their fixtures, unfortunately they dont have a manual online for the most obvious fixture for small stage and/or room lighting use - ie the Par 36 LED spot.

A common requirement for room lights rather than full stage/club lighting is that you can set a colour and then dim it to black while more or less preserving the basic colour.

For this you generally want an LED RGB fixture that has 3 channel for control of the red/green/blue colour levels and therefore colour mix and a separate channel labelled something like dimmer (0-100%).

In chosing LED spot/wash lights you usually come across the name PAR Can. For a good background article on par can and in particular where the numbers (36, 38, 56 and 64 being the common ones) came from, then this wiki page is worth a read.

If you are not sure of the difference between a spot and a wash (and with LED fixturs this can be a bit vague), then the basic difference is really only in the beam spread with a wash being wide angle and a spot being narrow angle. Its seems anything upto about 20deg is counted as a spot in LED PAR Can fixtures. When choosing LED fixtures you therefore need to look at the beam angle in the specification to determine the type. Par 36 are generally spots. Par 56 also seem to be generally spots, par 64 often seem to be washes. You often find Par 38 as well - in the LED fixture I have seen, Par 36 and Par 38 are often interchangable except that many Par 38 include a gel/mask holder. You will sometimes find both short and long barrel Par 36 - the purpose of the long barrel is to mask off more light around the edge to produce and mroe defined spot.

Generally in a small room or studio, and LED Par 36 will provide good mbient spot lighting. If you want it to double as a bright full on room light as well, then you probably want either quite a few Par 36 fixtures or an additional Par 64 wash.

Generally I find most of the cheaper RGB light a bit on the cold side when used to produce white or yellow light. The reason behind this is down to the visible spectra emitted by most LEDs is simple isnt as full as that emmitted by a regular incandecnt light with a coloured gel, hence why LEDs are still rarely used as front lights for stage as it makes performers looks a little bit cold - especially compared to the common incandescent with a 'b****** amber' (thats actually the colour name) gel.

When looking lighting for studio use, then coldness can be a turn off, so I wouldnt use it exclusively if a warm feel matters, and instead use LED lighting to augment warmer incandescent or natural lighting, or use several differnt colours to avoid the cold/flatness effect you tend to get with mono-colour LED lighting.

Another studio use I have seen is a friend who had a studio actually had a quite decent stage lighting rig in their live room - he reckoned it added energy to performances when needed as it made the musicians feel a bit more like they were on stage rather then in a studio. This is also partly why I have an extensive club lighting rig in my studio/living room as there is no doubt is helps us get the right vibe and energy after a long hard day in our respective days jobs and can make the difference between an unproductive flat evening session and a good session even when neither of us were in the mood for it.

When looking at these kind of fixture for room 'mood' lighting, then the same things apply about not exclsuively relying upon LEDs, or at least not using the same colour.

One final thought about LEDs for room light - dont position them such that people can have them shining diorectly in their faces - even a small par 36 LED can be incredably harsh on the eyes and I actually think more so than a comparable brightness incandescent light.

Looking over the Skytronic controller and par can fixtures, I think they are probably a really good starting point, particular if guys at DV could switch a controller and can on, connect them up to answer a few specific questions - for eg - can you set a colour and then dim it?

I don't know Skytronic as a brand, so I cant comment on their likely quality, however compared to many manufacturers they do seem to make the effort to present themselves quite well online which I find promising and the features in those fixtures that I have looked at seem quite sensibly chosen for the prices, which also seem very competitive, so I have no reason to doubt their quality which can be very variable in this market place.

Another brand who are worth a looking at for 'mood' type lighting is visio which I thing is related to acme and handled by prolight.. Most notably they do a rangle of 12V LED replacement bulbs for the commonly used low voltage halogen lights.

If anyone has question about types of fixtures and controllers, and using them, whether it be cans, moving heads, lasers (and laser safety), smoke machine etc, then by all means do ask.

Collected links:
Skytronic site, lighting section
Skytronic DMX primer
About PAR Cans
Pro-light - ACME, Prolight, Visio, American DJ etc
Lighting at DV247
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Last edited by Khazul; 27th October 2008 at 10:39 PM. . <
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Old 27th October 2008 , 10:10 PM
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Nice work Khazul!
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Old 27th October 2008 , 11:00 PM
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Interesting insight Khazul.. Excellent post...
(rushes off to find emoticon to show a round of applause!)
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Old 28th October 2008 , 09:18 AM
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Super post Khazul.
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Old 28th October 2008 , 01:43 PM
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Hope its useful

If anyone is interested (for bands/clubs/mobile DJs, fun at home/studio etc) I'll do a follow up to cover various lighting types and technologies and laser safety etc - ie kind of fixtures available, what they are good for, (or not!) etc.

Similarly if anyone is interested in more specific stuff around starting points for band lighting, starting point for mobile DJ use etc let me know.
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Old 28th October 2008 , 02:01 PM
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Have made this a sticky Khazul, which will make it a good reference thread for other members and make sure, when you do wish to add new content, it maintains a good level of profile - Nice work again chap!
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Old 28th October 2008 , 03:41 PM
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Cool

Some more resources I've been collecting. This is my known list of manufacturer and/or primary distributor web sites - ie the best places to go for manuals, videos and other source information. Note some of these companies do not actually sell their own branded gear into the retail chhain, but instead manufacture for other companies, for example, Irradiant is part of Neo-Neon who in turn makes lighting for a number of other brand companies. (for eg Elation). In fact alot of the lighting you find under various brands is actually made by a small number of huge companies in China, though this doesnt allways help with manuals due to some of the OEM variations that occur.

Altman Lighting
American DJ
Antari (Elation Atmospheric Division)
Chauvet
Elation
Eliminator
Entec
ETC (Electronic Theater Controls)
Eurolite
Global truss Inc
High End Systems
Highlite - for Showtec, SGM
Bluelite
Irradiant
Jands
KAM
Laserworld
Le Maitre
Leprecon
NSI
Martin
Neo Neon
Optima
Prolight UK - for Acme, Wildtech, iSolution, LEDJ, Rhino, Transcension
RGB Laser Systems
Skytronic
Vari-lite (Philips)
Varytec
Visual Effects Inc
Zero 88

Other resources
Index of Showtec manuals (Not an offical site)

So anything you find in the DV lighting section, you will likely be able to find manuals, promo videos etc for on the above web sites.
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Old 28th October 2008 , 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modz1
Have made this a sticky Khazul, which will make it a good reference thread for other members and make sure, when you do wish to add new content, it maintains a good level of profile - Nice work again chap!
This thread had sticky written all over it.

Quote:
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(rushes off to find emoticon to show a round of applause!)
...emoticon for applause? Here you go... well deserved Khazul
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Old 28th October 2008 , 05:29 PM
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Really great post. I've worked stage lighting for years and I've seen it come a long way. The small stuff like a PAR36 is great for small-ish spaces and DMX makes things really easy to control with most standard lighting boards. If you're looking for something with the punch of a big 1000W PAR60 but without all that heat and energy loss, take a look at ETC's Source4 line. The Source4 PAR comes 575W and a 750W varieties, but even the 575W packs the same punch as the 1000W standard P60, plus the S4PAR vents the heat from the *back* of the fixture rather than the front. It also comes standard with four different lenses ranging from a narrow beam to a wide flood...very versatile. They also don't have that long-tube design of the old P60's that would get burned and warped over time, then the near-field beam would get all misshapen and orange. Yuck.

ETC also makes S4 ellipsoidal fixtures in all kinds of different sizes. If you're not down with hard-wiring DMX plates back to a big dimmer rack somewhere you should also check out EDI's Scrimmer Sticks. They come in 2x1200W and 4x600W versions, all pipe-mountable...then you just daisy chain them together with DMX cable, run that single DMX run back to the console, and you're done. Naturally you'll need 20-amp circuits at every Scrimmer location...you can specify Edison, stage pin or twistlock connectors when you order them. They're very reliable...they can make medium-size installs a whole lot easier. For the bigger stuff you'll probably want a much larger dimming system any way as you'll likely want to integrate the house lighting system into it.

Frank
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Old 28th October 2008 , 05:34 PM
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i am completely illiterate when it comes to lighting but reading your article gave me a bearing on certain factors to it, how do i get my room looking like this

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Old 28th October 2008 , 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
i am completely illiterate when it comes to lighting but reading your article gave me a bearing on certain factors to it, how do i get my room looking like this

Not to derail the thread (sorry) but I must say...that is just great!!! Burst out laughing seeing that! LOL! Great.
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Old 28th October 2008 , 05:44 PM
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LOL - a Tiesto gig

In which case some moving heads (ie the usual modern setup for these gigs), probably vari-lite (or the Source 4 above if you dont need them moving), and a huge laser - laserworld do something suitable
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Last edited by Khazul; 28th October 2008 at 05:51 PM. . <
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Old 16th November 2011 , 08:38 PM
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Default Very interesting indeed.

Yes, I am afraid that the days of PAR56 is almost over with the advent of "Burn your eyes out" laser.
I hope I am wrong as being under the radiated heat of the PAR56 or PAR60 was not pleasant. Lasers are almost cool, heat wise only.
Shame.
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