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Movers, what can they do?


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I have been made the lighting director for our school production if February and the time has come that I need to start to think about what lights are going where and what effects I can create with lights.


I know what movers are but have never used them because we haven't needed to and would have to hire in them as-well. all I wanted to know is what can be done with them and what can they produce. For example we are doing the play Alice in Wonderland and when Alice is shrinking/growing I was thinking of trying to make furniture behind also look as if it is shrinking and growing. Another example is a scene in the play where it is watery and I want a sort of water/ripple/wave effect.


Are any of these effects possible to create on movers and if so which ones. We would be looking to hire some in and would also like suggestions to where we could go to. We are a school just some west of Derby. I would also like to find out how controlling them is possible. We would have atleast a laptop available for us to use.


Thanks in advance




P.S. Our technical director is a teacher at the school that has been involved for many years so we are not unsupervised.


Edited for typos

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Hi Mark,


Firstly movers are fantastic for most plays, use them to the full, and the show will look stunning.


I have used mac 700's for watery effect and they came across really nicely, although depending on the size of area you need lit, will depend how many mac700's are required, we had 3 for the water and it looked really nice.


Budget is the vital issue, how much can you spend on hire?


For this sort of production, try some Vl2000's wash and spots. A major issue with movers, is if they go wrong, i.e. gobo jam or its not calibrated how it should be. In which case you will need spares and the ability to get up to them and change them over.


Control is vital, and depending on what you know depends on what desk to get, you say you have a laptop, get a hog pc widget, and dowload hog pc.


I will be more than happy to explain how to use the software. dowload off www.flyingpig.com, its called HOG2PC and is great to use.





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Firstly movers are fantastic for most plays, use them to the full, and the show will look stunning.
For most plays movers are irrelevant, bordering cr@p! Without an extremely skilled LD they distract and detract from the action and text. They cost significant sums to hire, require a lot of programming time (unless you are experienced) and need a mover friendly control system. Your laptop may be suitable, but you will need good software and a DMX dongle to output the control signal. These too cost money.


Used sparingly they can be used to create effects, but bearing in mind the noise and cost, discrete effects lanterns are normally more suitable.


In big, loud musicals movers are much more at home.

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I have to agree with that, they look good if you know what your doing, but take so much time.

Picking up, Rigging, Programming, Repairing (if need be), Taking down.


But as your the LD its up to you, if you feel the show needs it, go for it, but remember all of the above. Maybe hire one of those gobo projectors or a thing that can go on a source four, for gobo rotation, with a water gobo in it.


Either way you need time, money, transport (transit size, preferably) and a lighting desk, or hogpc widget.


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I have been made the lighting director for our school production if February and the time has come that I need to start to think about what lights are going where and what effects I can create with lights.

Hi Mark.


I'm going to disagree with 5-pin, in that if you're still new to lighting, then jumping into the complex world that is moving lights, is probably not your best option.


There are a number of options that could be used, and I'm sure some will come up here, but unless you have someone at theschool with experience in programming/using ML's, and a LOT of time to a) learn the stuff and b) set up & programme, then I think you'll be on to a loser. :huh:


In addition, as you apparently don't have a desk capable of controlling them, that's ANOTHER steep learning curve before you start.


Sorry to sound like a killjoy, but better to hear now than suddenly find when the hire kit arrives 3 days before the play that you have NO idea what todo!!


As to the actual issues at hand - assuming you'll still with generic or non ML effects:



I'd probably go with having Alice standing still when she shrinks/grows and start/finish with a full stage wash, and a short series of cues gradually closing down onto a single soft-edged spot (mainly top-light) on her as she's small, or reverse when she grows. You're highly unlikely to get the furniture to appear to shrink, but in the blackout after she shrinks, for example, the audience's eyes will a) be focussed on Alice, and b) not too receptive for a short while to stuff happening in the blackout behind her, so the crew can whip on and change set pieces if needed.


Water/ripple effect:

Youcan rent, fairly cheaply, ripple tank effects - basically a tubular 2kW bubble with a coupl of serrated cylinders rotating in front o it, shining thru a small slit in the top of the lantern.

An alternative might be the Chauvet (or similar) discos water effects - I find these quite nice to look at (have 3 but they're not DMX) and in the right situation can look quite good.




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Whoa- halt - stop!


The first contact with movers is NOT in any way suitable for your first job as a lighting designer - even for a school production. They are fantastic tools, but enhance a design IF they are used properly. To put it into some kind of context - most people have used paint - the microsoft bundled drawing software. Sticking a bit of text on a page, making a brithday card etc - Have you also used photoshop? A real graphics programme. It can do amazingly good things - is used by the pro graphic designers - but if somebody wanted you to produce a poster, in limited time, ready to give to the printer, in full colour with separations - you'd be crazy to use it - you could just about scratch the surface.


Exactly the same with music. Can you play the guitar? How about getting a booking that requires you to play a Roland guitar synth - could you do that?


Lighting is just the same. Generic types are fairly simple to graple with - movers? Most peoples first attemtps are difficult. Frustration in terms of simple operation, let alone aesthetic considerations. Hiring a couple of VLs is totally ludicrous for a first glance with movers. In the hands of somebody with experience you can create fantastic effects WITH LOTS OF THEM. With a couple, or even 4, they look kid of cheesy.


Alice in Wonderland


School cast? Design wise - you can bet bottom dollar the design brief will read 'Bright!'. People need to be seen, especially if grades come out of it. Does it have to bit video recorded for an examiner? If so - forget dark and moody, not that that would fit, would it. Area lighting, in different useful colours seems a sensible starting point.


The shrinking or growing scenes.


What is the director planning for the cast - this will be a key factor. Is Alice alone, if so, it's a bit easier. One old trick is to make sure key items of scenery are away from the walls - chairs, tables etc. Then you put some fresnels in very close on the floor, so that you gp from overhead lighting to up lighting as a crossfade, suddenly, huge shadows on the walls appear - if Alice is isolated in a down light - tight profile, maybe - this looks great.


The water scene would be one good use for movers - even things like MAC250s can be defocussed, and the watery glass gobo spun slowly with a greeny colour - with 4 it doesn't look too bad, and they go quite wide when out of focus.


Budget is vital - but can you justify hiring in movers and a decent control for just a few scenes, and have to learn how to work it.


I would suggest staying well away from any form of hog style desk unless you have ample time to play with the equipment - virtual play at home pc based systems are no substitute for having it connected to a real light! I have a hog and rarely find the pc version useful apart from patching, adjusting cues, doing the housekeeping - I need to see what realy happens on a real system. Otherwise very odd things happen and you spend ages working out what has gone wrong, when all it is is a mover 360 degrees out - and the wierd flash is it doing a complete circuit to get to the next cue!


First design = KISS work out the acronym for yourself.

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I have to agree with that, they look good if you know what your doing,
Exactly. All due respect to the OP, but he's a yr 11 student, with limited experience.
But as your the LD its up to you, if you feel the show needs it, go for it,

See above! :huh:

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I'd generally agree get your head round conventional lighting first, then work your way up through scrollers to moving lights, but at the same time it has a lot to do with confidence, if you feel comfortable designing a rig with moving lights and feel you have enough time to learn the fixture and how to program it, then do it.


I would however say, it might go wrong, even the best programmers have moving light issues from time to time. I used to screw up my programming on a regular basis when I first started using intelligent lighting 6 years ago or so, and it wasn't really until I went to uni, and spent time in the theatre when it was dark playing with VL2000's, VL5B's and MAC's with a 520i and a pearl that I really understood the power of the units/console and what the best applications where for them, and now my career has taken a side ways shift from theatre to concert touring, I am still learning.


Generally if you have the time to use them, get it wrong and try it again, then I would suggest trying it out, if not, don't bother.




edit - pointless comment removed!!

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In the space of 5 minutes look how many posts were all being written at the same time - totally independently, all saying exactly the same thing - everybody seems to have been typing furiously at the same time. Years and years of experience here.


5 pin has a slight bias in that he works for PRG, so despite being fairly young, he is exposed every day to clever kit, and sees what it can do.


As we've said on the forum many times - titles, when you are at school mean zilch - apart from meaning you work a bit harder. The teachers have the power - and unless they budgeted for movers last year, I doubt you'll be given the money for anything like VLs.

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I agree with all of the post above and I haven't use them before. this was just an idea that was suggested in one f our tech meetings and I said that I would do some research into it. The budget that we do have it not hat large so maybe I am going along the wrong track. There is another sceane in the play that I am a bit stuck for on ideas that that is when Alice falls down a rabbit hole and sees lots of furniture spinning and turning around her. I have considered using a data projector and creating some clips but if any one else has other ideas I would be pleased to know them.
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It does appear that you are making the show very, very complicated by trying to create electronic effects for these things. The complications far outweigh the needs of the production. I'm assuming the main aim is drama - so Alice just has to act. Even if done properly, and my gut reaction is that it can't really be done that well with budget and technical assistance limited - so having Alice slowly crumple to the floor in a strobe, or frantic light flash might look much better dramatically, than trying to recreate it with technology. It will be a poor show if the most exciting thing about it is the technical elements.


What does the teacher want (as in what gets the best marks for the people in it) - I've also found some teachers very unwilling to be swayed by technicals - almost treating anything technical as almost irrelevent. They'll be more worried the blackouts come in the correct places. The cleverer the technicals, the more disciplined the cast and director must be. A technical rehearsal won't happen, it will be done during the dress, and any chance of stopping for ten minutes while you sort the lights out will be unlikely. Lights, sound and technical are supportive elements that don't in school have a very high standing - often because the teacher knows very little about it.

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Moving Lights of course they have their place, but with a bit of thought and some creativity you can create fantastic results using the basic tools. Before you even think about moving lights, learn about colour, position, mood and motivation. If you don't consider those things first, you're onto a loser!
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I'm affraid I'm going to have to agree, movers are great, and they don't have to be expensive, cheap stuff is getting better.


But if you have had no experience, forget it or you'll have to hire an operator,


It took me about 3 years of unlimited access to a rig of 8 roboscans to get an idea of how to use them properly.


What I'm trying to say is; if you want to learn movers, start small and simple and make sure you have time, and an experienced person to teach you.

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We have just finished a small show here at uni of "The Witches" where we used a pair of MAC 250 profiles running from an ETC express. they were used mainly as variable position strobes as well as a few random specials here and there. They did take a whole lot longer to program though, and there were three of us who all know the desk fairly well. We also had a bit of play too <<< (see avatar!)


I know how you feel though, I did a fairly big (rock n roll) show at school and felt the need for movers to make things look good. Luckily I was talked out of it!


Have recently seen a Martin effects lamp used in anger.. I believe it's a DC1? It produces great fire / water type effects, so perhaps a few of these would be better for you? Still get funky looking effects, cheap as chips (compared to movers) and really simple to use. They have ON or OFF!


Good luck!

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agreement to most of the above comments. Movers are unlikely to be of use to this type of show and the comments regarding the learning curve are very valid.


For the water/ripple effect, how about standard profile spots with a 'relflected water' gobo and a breakup disc on the front?



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