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Topic: Any thoughts on Spider Lights?
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Toronto) (Jan 3, 2008 10:27PM)
The Spider Backdrop people also make a high powered light sold in pairs of 850watts = 1,700 watts. Tons of power,easy to move around and into place, but expensive per pair, especailly if you need another par as back lights. About $710US for the pair with case. 2 pairs seem a minimum set up to have lights from the front and from the back to seperate the backdrop from the performer. Anyone have them, or could give can give any educated opinions about them? We want to get into basic lighting that's quick and esay to set up with out travelling with big theatrical lighting that takes a long time to set up and wire and road cases to take it all around. This simple system could always be added to and upgraded later. Any thoughts? http://www.spider-berlin.com/english/englisch.html (go to "products" and click, then "Spider Lights": "Details" They look really good as a small pair on little tri-pods, 8" x 12" x 24", 11lbs total, 850wx2 = 1,700 watts, x 2 sets = 3,400 watts.
The only problem I see is that they are expensive, but I always believe you need top dollar invested to be able to charge top dollar in fees.
Any help with this would be appreciated or any other tips you have for basic lighting.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jan 3, 2008 10:43PM)
The Spider Lights are really nice but I have one complaint about them. The are mounted to tripods which means they can't be extended very high - a maximum of 165cm or around 5'5". I prefer to have my lights on true photographic light stands and have the lights above me and angled down toward me. (I use two heavy-duty stands that can be extended to more than 13'. These are ideal because I can have them on the floor when I am on an elevated portable stage. I work mostly in banquet facilities and they use stages that are usually 24" - 36" high. With the extra height I can get from my light stands, the lights are still above me.)

I use quartz video lights, which is what the Spider Lights are. The Spider Lights are fan cooled, which is preferable because they stay cool. My lights are made by Smith-Victor and they are not fan cooled and they get dangerously hot.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jan 3, 2008 10:56PM)
The blurb on their website pretty much sums up their weakest point, they're lights built for videography purposes.

The main issue with fixtures designed for videotaping might be important to you, and that's their greatly reduced weight.
With that reduced weight however, comes a fixture that's not as durable as a theatrical fixture of the same lens design and lamp size, from a company like Strand or ETC.

There's likely nothing wrong with these fixtures. Spider doesn't make them, they just re-sell them.

But you'd do well to take a look at a 6" Fresnel from either Strand, ETC, Altman, and there's a few others as well.

The biggest issue with fixtures sporting a lamp over 750 watts though is that two fixtures will max out a single 15 amp circuit.
Two SpiderLights at 850W each simply won't run off a single 15 amp circuit......they'll pop the breaker every time they're turned on. This means hunting down two completely separate 15 amp circuits every single time you want to use the fixtures.
In many situations, this will entail you carrying around AC extension cords, and being prepared to run them to and fro in order to get two split 15 amp circuits.

Fixtures with lamps in the 500 to 750 watt range are more ideally suited for use in pairs, as they will run quite comfortably on a single 15 amp circuit. Also, lamps in the 500 watt range will also let you run your sound system on the same circuit as well.

As long as a fixture uses a standard lamp (note the Spider folks don't mention lamp type), you can often down rate your lamp from a higher wattage to a lower wattage, and them lamp back up again when you play in a larger venue with appropriate power. This means keeping two different set of lamps, which is really not a big problem considering the flexibility if offers you.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jan 3, 2008 10:59PM)
Here's one such lower wattage quartz video light:


These are what I use but they aren't fan cooled. I forgot about the higher wattage of the Spider Lights. That's one of the reasons I didn't switch to them. Thanks for the reminder, silverking!

Message: Posted by: silverking (Jan 3, 2008 11:56PM)
Smith Victor have been around for a long time.
They started out primarily in the filmmaking and photography business, and made a name for themselves there.
Their fixtures are very well made for each of the price points they offer.

The fan thing is a bit of a red herring in live entertainment use (IMHO). As long as the fixtures are up out of reach (which is where they should be for lighting purposes) then it really doesn't matter how hot they get.

Again, it's a video light, and video lights get moved around constantly during a shoot. In this case the fan is a bonus, because it keeps the light cool enough to touch when the gaffer moves it for the 20th time on a single shot.
In the case of a magic performance, as long as you remember to let them cool enough before you re-pack them, a fan isn't really an important addition to the fixture.........just another thing to break, and another source of noise.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Jan 4, 2008 07:28AM)
My concern with the lack of a cooling fan comes from an incident that occurred the first or second time I used my Smith-Victor lights. They have a piece of safety glass in the filter holder. Apparently, I inadvertently touched the glass with my fingers or someone else touched them before they were shipped to me. The oil from the fingers caused the glass to crack right in the middle of a show and the safety glass broke into three large pieces that dropped right in front of the first table of the banquet I was performing for. (At least, I'm assuming the glass broke for that reason. As a long-time photographer, I'm aware of the risks when glass, especially quartz bulbs, get finger oils on them.)

I decided not to replace the safety glass and stopped using them in the second unit. I'm just extra careful with the lights now. It's a little less worrisome since I bought the 13' stands because I can be sure they are out of reach of my curious audience members. Plus, the 13' stands are heavier and very stable.