File puptcrit/puptcrit.0707, message 79

Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2007 22:04:14 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Black theatre lighting

 >       1.  I need instruments that will work for a stage opening
 >about 7 ft. wide, 5 ft. high.  I have a stock of 500w lekos from our

The ones I've seen for that size of stage were home made fixtures 
that used 500 watt halogen bulbs, like those found in work lights 
from Home Depot.  However, what they did was paint the inside black 
(using high-temp black paint used for barbecue grills - again a Home 
Depot item). Then, the metal formed around the fixture formed slit, 
about 1" wide, and 6" long that the light would exit.  Because most 
of the light was just blocked, and not reflected, it is a very 
inefficient lighting system.  If you are going to use a lot of other 
lights, I wonder if there is a better way that uses a lower wattage 
bulb.  You use your Leko by shuttering down the light to the beam you 
need and perhaps get a lower wattage bulb.  But, a lot will depend on 
how your stage is constructed, and how far away you can place your 
light.  A Leko (or any ellipsoid type reflector light with a lens) is 
best if you will be placing the fixture further away from the stage, 
while the home-made one without any lens is great if your fixture is 
mounted within a few feet of the proscenium.

 > I find the 75w Altman "Micro Ellipse" that seems workable, but
 >at $175 per instrument I don't wanna be wrong.

Again, a lot depends on your particular set-up.  But, the above light 
seems a bit low powered.  I wouldn't buy unless you can test the 
light first.  Your local theatrical dealer may be able to set you up 
for a test, or short term rental.

 >Any other suggestions from people who've worked with small-scale

I haven't tried the following, but throw it out as a suggestion.  Use 
one of the low-cost par-cans (about $15 to $20) and put a spot lamp 
in it.  They have the kind with regular edison base sockets in it... 
but those are prone to vibrating out of their sockets when you 
travel.  The kind that use a sealed bulb, like a car headlamp, might 
be best.  Then in the gel holder, put a metal piece that has the 
1"x6" slit cut in it.  Of course, paint it black.  It will not have 
as tight a beam as a lens system, but if you can mount it near the 
stage, it may be acceptable.  Again, you may be able to test this out 
if you can get a hold of a fixture.

Note that the par can you get should be the kind that have some depth 
to them.  You don't want the kind that have the bulb almost to the end.

Here is one mail-order source for a Par36 (uses a regular household 
reflector bulb), but if you use this kind, get a small sized halogen 
bulb... the Par 16 size.  The small bulb size will give you a sharper 
Here is a more professional type Par 56.

 >       2.  We're also looking for new lighting control & dimming
 >equipment for our puppet work.

It used to be that the Lighttronics sytem, which used the AMX 
protocol to connect to the dimmers was the cheap way to go.  But, now 
DMX is actually cheaper, and I recommend that you stay with DMX.  The 
control board and dimmers are two separate issues.

The source has a number of low cost dimmer 
packs.  They range $75 to $100 for a 4 channel dimmer that accepts 
the DMX signal. I think it is best to get a few smaller dimmer packs 
rather than one large one with only one plug.  This way, if you fear 
you may be drawing too much from one socket, you can plug some of the 
dimmers into a plug on a separate circuit.  I don't know if you can 
really depend on 15 amps every where you go.  The circuit they have 
you plug into might also be used for a coffee maker in another room.

The controllers are another more complicated matter.  I am afraid I 
can't specifically advise you here. The source has a 
number of them under $200, but they are really geared towards the 
Disk Jockey. Still, their small size might do for your 
situation.  This is another situation where it is best to go with a 
local dealer if you can.

Joe Dunfee
Gordonville, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. 

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