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muzicman
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Special user
LaCenter, Wa
989 Posts

Profile of muzicman
DMX lights are great but unless you get an intelligent DMX controller, you will find they are not going to do what you want them to do. I bought a DMX controller and it only allowed me to preprogram "chase" type sequences and the speed was controlled with a slider. I finally got ahold of Elations Compuware Pro and my lights now are in perfect sync with my soundtrack.

Another thing is a hazer. I bought all these DMX lights and the Elation software but the lights looked flat. It wasn't until I got a good hazer that my lights came to life. The hazer allows you to see the entire beam. A fog machine doesn't do the job very well. It's hard to control and disapates really quickly. A good hazer will make your lights look 100 times better.
George Ledo
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SF Bay Area
2885 Posts

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Wow! Lots of good information on equipment here, especially the new stuff.

But let's back up for a moment. Stage lighting is not about equipment: stage lighting is about putting light on the action, hopefully in such a way that the dramatic effect is enhanced. The American stage designer Robert Edmond Jones, in The Dramatic Imagination (one of my all-time favorite books) quotes Max Reinhardt: "...the art of lighting a stage consists of putting light where you want it and taking it away where you don't want it." And then Jones goes on to say that this is not so simple: "On the contrary, it demands the knowledge and the application of a lifetime."

Back when I was at about the ripe old age of sixteen or seventeen (around 1968), I read an article by Dave Bamberg in an old Sphinx and thought I'd add some lighting to my act. I picked up several books on lighting at the library, read up on the equipment, and ended up with a few instruments and a dimmer. I thought it was great.

It was awful. The shadows were in the wrong place, the highly-touted "illegitimate amber" was the wrong color for me, and, because there was no way I could light the entire space evenly, I ended up constantly going in and out of the lights. Finally I caught on and realized that the effort required to carry all this stuff and set it up was wasted: it didn't add squat to the show.

I would suggest that anyone who really, seriously, wants to consider spending money on lighting equipment start out by doing two things. First is to find a recognized theatrical lighting designer. Yes he or she will cost money, but it's not an expense: it's an investment in the show. Second is to sit down with the designer and spend some serious time discussing, not the equipment, but exactly what it is that the lighting is expected to do from a theatrical and artistic standpoint. It is only after you understand exactly what you want to do with lighting that you can start selecting the equipment; otherwise you're letting the tail wag the dog.

I wrote about how to work with a designer in one of my columns here in the Buffet section; you may want to take a peek at it.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Kline
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Back in 1968, I knew nothing about lighting - in fact the only lighting I knew about was the really bright one that was at the end of the tunnel...and then someone spanked me on the A$@ !

George, GREAT advice - you know - I actually have a copy of this book in my production road case- "backstage Handbook". GREAT reference book for any theatrical worker.

SK
Steven Kline
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George Ledo
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SF Bay Area
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Yeah, I know about that light too. Problem is, half the time it's not the end of the tunnel... it's the locomotive.

The Backstage Handbook is really good. It's amazing how much practical information is between the covers.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
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