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LED cyc lights


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Hi all


We have a show coming up where the director wants to use a full width cyc. For our small theatre, which does 99% theatrical plays, this is a new departure so the cyc itself will need to be purchased. The cyc will be about 6.5m wide x 4.12m high so small. We will be lucky to get the cyc lights 1.5m from the cyc, and are likely to back this up with a groundrow at about the same distance away from the cyc as we will need full stage lighting at the same time (the stage is only 5m deep). We don't have enough Coda/500 and/or HUIs already to cover this properly, and I hesitate to recommend adding further conventional floods which we might not use very often although I am also reluctant to hire them as other directors are interested in making some use of a new cyc in future productions. So what should we do?


What about a LED solution for the above cyc lighting (and leave the groundrow to conventionals at least for now)? I want something that is good enough to be as good as the floods they are replacing (but obviously more flexible on colour), able to blend with the conventionally gelled groundrow, so maybe RGBA LEDs? Possibly built on something like a Chroma Q Colorforce 12 or Selecon PLCYC1 or something else? I just have a feeling in my bones that we would be better off at least considering more expensive (but affordable) LED options now rather than going for a bargain basement solution as plan a (although we might be forced to do this if the costs are too high).


So if you have a cyc lit by LEDs, what did you go for, why, and how much do they cost (in round numbers)? How many of these would we need to light our cyc? Who can we get them from? Theatre is in Winchester UK and is tiny so please keep any suggestions realistic and be an amount we have some chance of raising.


Many thanks -- Peter

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I'd suggest taking a look at the new Source Four LED Cyc.

- It was at Plasa Focus and ABTT, so you may have seen it.


2:1 spacing (so at 1m away from the cyc, you'd want 2m between fixtures for even coverage.)


Assuming 1-1.5m away you'd want two or three of them across (2 at 1m would cover ~6m, 3 at 1m covers ~8m), and they'll easily cover the full height.


It's an alternate lens tube for the Source Four LED, replacing the shutter & lens assy.

This means you can easily swap the Cyc for any standard Source Four front end (zoom or fixed focus) to change it into a great LED profile for the productions that don't need the cyc.


- The LED light engine is the expensive bit in LED fixtures, so you want to use it as much as possible!


They cost about the same as a Source Four LED Zoom.

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Hi Tomo - with a day job as well, it is hard to keep up with the changing LED world. I like the idea of a reusable LED engine.


A quick google for advertised prices in UK shows the LED Lustr+ engine and the LED engine + shutter barrell (which would be needed to use as a profile) are priced almost the same and a zoom profile lens is tiny by comparison. So I think I am looking at one of these for about UKP 1600 + VAT (which is a zoom profile with all three pieces). Is this in the right ballpark?


To use it as a profile as well, I need to add a real shutter barrell and a zoom lens and I am not sure how much this would be maybe +UKP 600?


The :ED cyc looks as ugly as I don't know what and quite a long structure. I don't see (yet?) an option to put a fresnel-like lens on?


However I will certainly put it on the list pending it becoming available and ready to be demo'ed.



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Hi Big Jay - thanks for the tip. I am looking into it but quite hard to find reliable pricing (and Philips keep bringing out new versions). One of the key requirements for us would be silent running - fans which are like those used in many movers are too noisy for our environment which is mostly plays. How well do your units meet this requirement?

Thanks -- Peter

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Hi Peter,


From what I can gather, they are pretty silent, you can hear the fan if your head is right next to it, but you have to listen very carefully.

Thanks for getting back - Peter

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Hi Peter,



I come across the exact scenario that you describe quite a lot, and I have to say, the Chroma-Q ColorForce will be my go-to fixture every time!


It is incredibly bright, has very even colours(calibrated as well, so easy to sub more units as and when you need to in the future) asymmetric lenses, so even if you put it very close to your CYC, you'll get an even coverage up to about 8 meters. They blend very close to the fixture, so you can put it 4-6 inches from the CYC and still not get any colour streaking.


There is an option to turn the fans off completely if noise is a concern. The fixture will drop it's output slightly to protect the LED's, but should still have plenty of punch for the height you have. Either a top or a ground row will do the job for you. No need to do both and with the individually controllable engines, they become a creative tool as well. no problem doing a ten minute sunrise across the CYC or a night time theme with random "lightning strikes" to give the impression of a thunderstorm. Oh, and the dimming curve is the smoothest I have seen from any LED fixture. Even at the lower end!


I would suggest you get a demo of them. I don't think you will be disappointed.


There is also a recent thread on the Lightnetwork on the same subject which might have some more useful information for you.




I know the fixtures well, so if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer as good as I can.

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In my experience the LED products are great and there is an amazing range available. I have personally never found a situation where you can easily blend them with conventional units.


For example say you went for an RGBW fixture and assigned each channel as a dimmer channel and then used a conventional ground row with it. The blending between the two don't work well, they are different temperatures and I have never been able to find a nice saturated Red from an LED fixture.


Yes go LED it is a good option but I wouldn't want to mix LED and Conventional sources.

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And that, schooltechie, is the reason people want the ETC unit.


The unique feature of ETC's LED range is that you can mix an S4 LED Lustr+ (RAGCBInW) with tungsten fixtures.


An RGBW fixture can only make one red - whichever colour its Red diode is.

An RAGB does much better, because most 'deep' reds (eg Lee 106, 182) actually have a lot of Amber in them.


However, there's no green or blue in a nice, deep red, and an RGBW only lets you add Green, Blue or the White, which is actually a wide spectrum cover with peaks in Blue & Yellow. (The shape of that white is pretty variable between different diodes.)


Lighting with narrowband emitters is a whole new source of great (and surprising!) effects - but you need to know a fair bit of colour theory to get the best out of them.

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I can second Toms claim regarding mixing the Lustr Units with conventionals.


I recently programmed a dance show with the Lustr+ S4's providing most of the side-lighting, and was so impressed that I'm now replacing Standard Source 4's on my Concert Touring specs with Lustr+, Bright, great looking tungsten, incredible deep blues, and a full colour range from Pastels and Tints right through to saturates.






E2A: Agreed also on the colour theory front. If you don't know how to work out what makes the colour you want, you will not get the best out of them, fortunately for me, I've never really found Colour Theory that difficult but can appreciate that it sometimes takes a bit of effort for some to get their head around.



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In case anyone is wondering, I am still here and taking in all the suggestions and trying to figure out what the next step should be.


Most of the ideas are expensive - the ETC one has the advantage of an engine which can be reused for different things with a (relatively) low cost to re-equip it. I didn't appreciate first time around that the S4 zoom attachment includes a frost effect to make it effectively behave almost like a fresnel - so if we don't have a cyc then we can use them as backlights for example or for coloured specials. I am less convinced about facelighting and pastel colours.


We either continue to cook the theatre in the summer with our tungsten rig and add air conditioning to cool it, or migrate to LEDs fairly rapidly and just don't heat the theatre up as much in the first place! With thick medieval walls this is an interesting problem.


I would like to see some of these expensive LED units working in our theatre and can no doubt persuade a supplier to come and demo them to us. However there are some snags anyone interested needs to consider:

  1. We are amateur so that means large capital sums might have to come from the crew's pockets in the short term.
  2. As amateurs some of our key players are out at work during the day so we are talking about a shootout in the evening or weekend. Daytime is not impossible, it just means fewer people can get involved.
  3. Our tungsten rig still has a lot of life left in it - probably 10 years+ making a life of about 20 years. Let's suppose I managed to get a number of the ETC LED units in now'ish (for example). How quickly will they be out of date? I know ETC say we can replace the engine in the future but this is the most expensive part and I doubt will be a free upgrade or anything approaching it.
  4. Yes I know we will save electricity but maybe not such a dramatic amount when our current rig is 500W/650W/600W so it will take a long time to recover the costs from this. Audience comfort won't generate more revenue either, as we still sell out for nearly every show.
  5. Our biggest theatre heaters are the conventional lanterns doing facelighting or specials. These are obviously in pastel colours and I am not convinced that even ETC Lustr+ is intended for this. Having another set of engines with tuned white light is a non starter.

Don't get me wrong. I am sure that moving to LEDs fairly rapidly is our best option. With our low rig, the more expensive units can probably easily light our cyc without a ground row if we have enough of them at the right distance to satisfy the original need. There are just too many options and variables to make sense of it all easily. Even Philips have replaced some of their LED range in the time this thread has been running and how long before Lustr++ comes along?


Oh my head!






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There is no doubt LED products will keep evolving rapidly, but you just have to get the best thing for your task at the time. You've had some offers of product shootouts, go for it.


To go back to your original question about cyc lights, I wouldn't have thought that compatibility with tungsten is that important for cyc lighting. I've used SGM Palco5 a lot (getting quite old now) for cycs and they are just an RGB mix fixture. You can get some really nice blues out of them, a lot better than you'd get from a halogen floodlight. But you can't really get a convincing white or yellow/amber from them. It depends what you are going to need.

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