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‘Theatrical controller and concert controller technologies are merging’ Michael

Brooksbank, Chauvet

There does not appear to

have been a single driving factor that has caused this, rather, he says: “A combination of events, including product maturity and quality, industry awareness, environmental considerations and the ability to filter LED light without ending up with little luminosity.” Now that it is widely

available, LED lighting and the latest generations of luminaires deliver numerous benefits including instantaneous control and a wide colour palette, which allows a single luminaire to replace several dedicated units in a show. The ability to create highly saturated colours and silently and rapidly change between them is appreciated by both designers and operators, as are the effects that are made possible, such as colour strobing and following. Motors are much faster, allowing units to complete an effect and then reset to be used in another within a second or so, further allowing single units to replace multiple sets.

CREATING COLOUR New LED colours are also being introduced into device heads that extend the colour gamut and create new visual effects, for example the addition of UV LEDs that produce a ‘metallic’ type of light. Manufacturers are starting to add in more colours and are also using white LEDs with higher CRI in fixtures to make sure

Tungsten lighting fixtures predominate in front-of-house theatre locations, including at the New Wimbledon Theatre in south-west London

that costumes and scenery react as expected under LED lighting. White LEDs enable colour to be created at specific colour temperatures, managed within the device software.

“The colour temperature of luminaires can be adjusted using built-in correlated colour temperature presets, so that designers can choose

which colour temperature they would like in each cue,” points out Michael Brooksbank, European general manager of Chauvet. “Designers want the ability to create natural light, with the right sculpting attributes. They seek an all-round tool that provides enough lumen coverage, natural-looking light and the ability to have a full range of colour; everything from an electric look into dusty sunsets lets designers achieve what they want,” says Armendariz-Kerr. “One of the major advances is to incorporate lime emitters which ties the colour spectrum together, increases brightness and makes the light richer.” The ability to dim LED


Energy efficiency and practicality were top of the list for the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT’s) renowned Breytenbach Theatre in Pretoria, South Africa. The venue is used as a training ground for TUT’s Performing Arts and Technology students, and a showcase for the technical and creative skills and services they can provide to the industry. The university teaches lighting technical modules for

52 June 2014

a wide range of productions and is aware of the

importance of using the latest technology for students about to enter the profession. It was only when Robe

LEDWash 600s were actually delivered and in situ at the Breytie that technical manager Wandile Mgcodo really began to realise their full potential as creative lighting tools. “I’m impressed with the nice even zooming, the smooth dimming curve

and the fantastic colour options,” he states. “It is so much easier now

having colour-changing wash lights. It means we can use just one fixture instead of a dozen to cover the same range of effects. They also save substantially on the costs of consumables like gels and gobos, obviously there are no lamp replacements required and, of course, the LED technology means they save on power consumption.”

fixtures smoothly without affecting the colour is crucial to their acceptance. Internal dimming software controls this part of the fixture’s performance. “It takes a lot of time to calculate all of the dimming combinations across all of the different colour combinations and is a heavy development investment. The companies that care about the quality of light pay attention to details like this, and it’s an easy way for a user to see the difference between good and bad design,” points out Ravenhill. However other factors come into play, he says: “One of the difficulties is that the intensity of a light will affect one’s perception of colour of a fixture. The colour may not actually change, yet we may see it happen. However, we’ve done everything we can to prevent actual drifting of colour throughout the dimming curve. We’ve also included a feature called Red

Shift that mimics the warming up of colour temperature of an incandescent lamp. Designers think it looks natural and familiar. They know what they want their colours to look like at full or at 50%, and we want to enable that way of working.” According to Searle, dimming of profile lanterns had undesirable effects, although these are now being overcome. Early products, he observes, “did not follow the low-end dimming curves correctly and would cut off, so were not suited to the romantic slow fade to black.” The introduction of 16-bit dimming control, in place of 8-bit, gave the necessary reduction in dimming step to achieve this and a rise in refresh rate to 2.8kHz from the original 300Hz has further improved the visual effect by removing flicker and creating camera-friendly lighting for TV broadcast. Solid-state luminaires with integral software control have increased the pressure on controllers, as Simon Bennett, sales and development, Nicolaudie, explains: “In both the theatre and show industry, people are looking for something new and different to the conventional LED par or moving head. Now we see 3D video matrixes and pixel mapped moving heads. This is generating a marked increase in demand for more DMX control channels. A system that was only really designed for moving head, scanner and par control with a few thousand channels is now being asked to process millions of channels. In future I believe a revision of the DMX


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