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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Stage Lighting Suggestions?

Roger Ball
Contributing Member
**********
******

Canada

New guitars, old amps. Perfect.
Nov 16th, 2017 09:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Can anyone recommend a good quality and reasonably priced stage lighting system for our 7-piece band? We typically play venues for 200-300 people.

I see lots of LED products on different sites but it would be great to hear some feedback from people here who actually use them.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 08:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I do the lighting for my band. We are a 9 piece. Everything is LED. I use 2 trees, one on each side of the stage with a single par on the floor at each edge pointing back across the stage for some uplighting. We have a Hemisphere center stage. The tree has 2 pars on them for lighting the band and 1 KInta FX for lighting the dance floor. The par cans are Puck style I bought from Amazon. I use a Chauvet controller and have programmed scenes. They are connected by wireless. One of the wives runs the lights. One button changes from all red, blue, green. I have slow sequences to fast sequences to sound responsive, and strobe. The Kinta has lasers and strode as well as moving color lights. The 2 Kintas cover any size dance floor.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The Kintas I bought from Sweetwater, $300 for both. The Pars from Amazon, they were $79 each, 6 total. The controller was from Musicians friend, Maybe $59 at the time. It is the oldest part. There are a lot more choices for pars on Amazon now and it seems there are mixed reviews. It takes at least one person a half hour to 45 minutes to set up at each show. Teardown is a little faster. Also, you will need DMX cables to connect it all together. Link is for the wireless for the lights.

External link

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Kinta FX

External link

(This message was last edited by Gaukdawg at 11:31 AM, Nov 19th, 2017)

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:20 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

PAR cans

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Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:23 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

This controller is similar to mine, I have the Obey 50 which is no longer being sold.

External link

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:35 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Can't find a Hemisphere but this is similar.

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Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 19th, 2017 09:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What the lights look like at a show

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Roger Ball
Contributing Member
**********
******

Canada

New guitars, old amps. Perfect.
Nov 19th, 2017 10:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Wow, lots of information to check out.

Thanks, Gaukdawg!

Tony Wright
Contributing Member
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Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 19th, 2017 11:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have owned LEDs for about 9 or 10 years. I have been very pleased with my (out of production) American DJ Tri18 and Tri18X. I "think" the current model ("IF" still in production) is the Tri18S. Each had a slight upgrade to the previous models.

THAT SAID, the two fixtures that have caught my attention lately are the American DJ 12P Hex which sells for $300. (Available from Amazon and Musician's Friend and Guitar Center which are ALL FDP sponsors.) The 12P Hex has a dozen 12 Watt "pods" with 6 colors, Red-Green-Blue-Amber-White-and UV. The fixture has 30 degree beam width which is slightly "narrow. for my personal tastes. However, if you used two on each side of the stage (yes, three per side would be much better) you should have enough to cover a 7 piece band with the basic wash colors you want or need to cover the stage.

AN ALTERNATIVE is the less expensive (you will lose the UV effect if that is important) is the Blizzard Hotbox 5. It has seven 15 Watt LEDs with R-G-B-A-W colors and uses "Powercon" electrical connectors which are PROVIDED BY MANUFACTURER. The HotBox5 has a 30 degree field of light. The HotBox5 sells for $230ish at Full Compass and also at FDP sponsor Amazon. I would suggest no less than four and six would be far better for basic stage wash colors.

If you want fancy lights, I would look at some of the newer "motion bars" with this word of advice...while I really like them, I have not seen any stay "in production - on the market" for more than one generation which implies they may have "motor" or other "reliability" issues to "me". I have NO reports telling me that.

What I like about the motion bars is they tend to really build emotion and "excitement" and draw attention fairly quickly. Two tripod "T-top" light stands: one either side of the drummer, along with any other fixtures you find, would be a wedding band step up.

My bands have always gotten along with just a static stage wash simply because at the venues where we work...few bands drag in stage lighting. Those that do, do not bring in bright, efficient LEDs and they tend to bring in the old school Par38 screw in LED bulbs which are kind of adequate.

There are YouTube opportunities to look at all the above fixtures.

By the way, I work for the local "city government owned event center" doing everything from street festivals to wedding receptions and theater productions.

We own at least 26 of the ADJ Tri18 and Tri18X...We have 15 of the Tri18 family (3 rows of 5) in use as down lighting directly over our main stage (along with the usual complement of sealed beam theatrical lighting fixtures such as Fresnel and Par64). We also have five of the Tri18 style fixtures on our smaller stage (one pipe of 5 along front of stage.) The remaining six are on our "outdoor festival truss" when needed, but we pull and use those inside as needed for productions.

We recently purchased a dozen of the HotBox5 and really liked them for our intended uses. Beam width is NOT a problem when you have 12 fixtures all using the same color wash. We added them as side boom lights (mounted on short upright, floor mounted stands, 3 stands per side of the stage and 2 fixtures per stand) for a professional touring "interpretive dancer". Our longer range plan is to mount these Blizzard HotBox5 inside our outdoor DuraTruss structure for street festivals and also use them at dance recitals, theater productions and similar applications.

In addition to all that...my employer and I both own other LED fixtures that work well with the above fixtures. I have eight ADJ V-PAR which is like a "mini" Tri18, it only has 4 color LED pods; R-G-B-A. The facility has six, they are sold in pairs with wireless controller AND a carry bag for two fixtures. I also own their brother fixture...the ADJ V-BAR. Exactly the same lighting options and additional components (bag and controller) in a "straight bar style fixture" rather than a "round PAR style fixture". At $150 for a pair of EITHER fixtures from FDP Sponsors Amazon, Musicians Friend AND Guitar Center, these are down dirty and low cost. I use mine a lot as up light behind the band OR as task light (at one concert series I do with my personal sound/light for hire I use these fixtures to wash the wall behind the singer-songwriters performing (V-Bars) and then use the other fixtures (one or two of the V-Par for visibility and facial recognition of the person using the piano behind the front row of "guitarist".

By the way, I light that entire "singer songwriter monthly concert series" with only two light sources for the front: On each side of the "stage" I place ONE Tri18 fixture on a straight lighting tripod (NO "T-top, clamped to the upright pole). If the piano will be used that month...I usually clamp one V-Par to the closest tripod stand aimed at the piano. Last time, I took my second V-Par to the floor behind the performer so they had visibility on the keyboard and lyrics from the other performers they were backing.

NORMALLY...for my own band and for the monthly singer-songwriter concert series, I set it and forget it. I pick a color, or I let the performers pick...one preset wash for the entire stage area. They typically pick a pinkish-purple or the sky blue presets.

My goal in stage lighting is strictly to provide enough light for the audience to be able to identify the performers off stage and to do something more than just "warm white" or "cool white" incandescent lighting...at a budget price. Budget does not mean the fixtures are "cheap". They have lasted several years with NO problems. I own LED control boards but only use them when client requires that...but that usually requires a second tech...one sound, one light.

And I have several other "effects lighting fixtures" that I use if someone requires, otherwise they stay in their transport box in storage. I bought most when providing PA support and lighting support for a couple of DJs I used to work with occasionally. Now they are "rental pieces" only.

After I turned 60ish, I decided I do not need to be doing college bars lighting and sound. I was moving past one young coed about 7 years ago when she looked at the fat geezer and I was headed straight towards the girls dancing and she said, "Pervert!" Now that I am 68...I have NO business running shows in college bars. But my friend still does a lot of college bar events and subrents from me...often at the last minute so I do deliver to him...steady client.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member
****

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 19th, 2017 10:26 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

After rereading the above, I should note this explanation on the following from the very last paragraph:

quote:
I was moving past one young coed about 7 years ago when she looked at the fat geezer and I was headed straight towards the girls dancing and she said, "Pervert!"

What I left out is I was headed to the amp rack on the far side of the stage from the "front of house mix location"...which put me walking across the dance floor with those girls dancing...

At least, that is my story and you can believe it or not.



Roger Ball
Contributing Member
**********
*******

Canada

New guitars, old amps. Perfect.
Nov 20th, 2017 10:15 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks, Tony. Lots for me to check out there.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member
****

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 24th, 2017 12:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What you end up buying is/are:

1) a personal investment into products and equipment YOU want or like, not what I want or like.

2) products and equipment that you think will enhance the live performance of your band.

My decisions were fairly generic because I do sound for hire, thus I want "basics" that will come close to satisfying "most" (but admittedly NOT all) people.

Different bands, different expectations and preferences. Some/many show bands want the flash and the "wow" factor while others prefer simple "one color stage wash for visibility"...both can and do enhance, but it depends on your market and your specific goal as a band.

I find that few bands want to learn how to run the light mixer any more than they want to learn how to run a sound mixer for their vocals and instruments. We just want to look and sound better so we get invited back.

Find what you can afford that does the trick for YOU and your band...(assuming they are contributing to buy the lights, otherwise, the decision is yours.)

Edited two paragraphs out...repeating myself myself...

(This message was last edited by Tony Wright at 02:40 PM, Nov 24th, 2017)

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Nov 24th, 2017 01:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I completely agree with Tony. My band wanted to set ourselves apart and offer a little more than other bands but we also started trying to get weddings. Our lights were an attempt to offer lights similar to a DJ with the dance floor lights and also provide some dynamics with stage lighting. I have made it simple with a single button either blacking out or changing the "scene" from a static color or moving lights at different tempos to try and match the song. You can keep it simple and just have the lights set on a program or make them sound responsive. This can be as simple or complicated as you want. It will require more set up and teardown and probably one or 2 people dedicated to it. For us it was worth it but you have to discuss it with your band members

Tony Wright
Contributing Member
****

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 25th, 2017 09:11 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Again, the investment of time depends on your specific choices of fixtures.

Example, my ADJ Tri18 fixtures can spread 40 degrees. From about 8 to 10 feet above the floor, aimed across the stage in an X pattern, 4 lights will easily provide more than adequate color saturation and facial visibility for the audience and the performers will be able to read the settings on their amps and set lists with no problems...for a stage about 16x16...give or take.

You might have a scallop or two of lower intensity light in the center stage area, but with two lights per side, you can easily aim one on each side to fill those spaces.

Just to be more specific, I rarely take the T Top bar. Normally I take the O-clamp and attach the fixture directly to the upright pole of the tripod lighting stand. If the clamp is a larger diameter than the pole, a couple of wraps on the pole of gaffer tape handles shimming the diameter so the clamp holds firm.

I also use a couple of items to help with the electrical feed to the top of the pole. I take a 10ft single end extension cord and attach to the light's power cord...and I gaff tape that connection. Then I use an "IEC to IEC" patch cable (IEC is the electrical connection like on the back of your computer...three bladed) to "daisy chain" the electric power to both lights at the top of the pole.

I believe some other brand names simply use the typical "grounded Edison" plug (your typical appliance plug, two blades and one ground post, like on the wall plug in most houses).

You can certainly elect to use the T-Top for mounting your fixtures...I don't simply for the extra hassle of adding another part to the set up and pack away.

If you have a hard time visualizing my light stand...think 1970s pole light, except this has an adjustable 3 leg base and is painted black...got it? Yes, I tend to put on fixture on the left and one on the right...balances the weight. And often for my small 3 piece band, just one fixture is plenty.

My point is that you can set up in 10 minutes and strike the stage lighting in 10 minutes...and most of that is coiling power cable.

YES, you can add DMX controllers...and both Chauvet and American DJ offer small "LED DMX Controllers" designed for 3 channel light control (Red-Green-Blue) or 4 channel light control (Red-Green-Blue-White) and they can come in wired control (standard mic cable "can" work for DMX signal. It is all I use.) You can also get those controllers with wifi wireless if you want to buy the receiver for the lights...my fixtures and controllers are old enough...well, they are not quite old enough to drive a car yet, but getting close. (just kidding)

It is when you branch out to multiple types of fixtures (scanner and par and strobe and laser) and you have your show set up for different scenes on your mixer.

When I am using the controllers I mentioned, I can get a color change with one touch while mixing sound...just a push button. I have a fader for each of the color intensity...red-green-blue OR I can push another button and the lights begin a slow (or fast) scroll...or they flash. BUT they all do it at the same time, so if you just want to spotlight the singer or the guitar solo...you need individual fixture control which requires a full DMX mixer not a simple LED controller.

Tony Wright
Contributing Member
****

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Nov 25th, 2017 09:41 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I should have mentioned that you are not limited to just one pair of LED or even two pair. I have used those small LED controllers for as many at 10 fixtures...I think the manual says up to a dozen or so...I have never had a job that required that many lights. Since I own three of the LED controllers, I could break into three separate circuits or "banks" of lighting...one for center stage, one for the far left and far right...and one for the lights behind the band facing the audience...or lights on the floor behind the band shining up the wall...

I own mostly American DJ LED fixtures so I own American DJ controllers. Since the DMX protocol is more or less standardized, you could use a Chauvet LED and an American DJ (or ProLine Venue from Guitar Center or Musicians Friend) controller.

The controllers I own are the early versions of the RGB3C and the RGB4C (4 for fourth color...WHITE). Yes, I have owned these things since before there was white LEDs for stage use...then the RGB4C came out before they stabilized the Amber colored LEDs. There is a newer device that can do more channels of colors.

But again, if you want individual control of individual colors or fixtures, you need the full DMX controllers which are fairly easy to learn how to use them. Set up six LED wash fixtures in the living room when the wife is Christmas shopping or playing bingo...plug them in and read the manuals. You can assign each fixture an "address" and you can then tell that address how many channels that unit has that you will control. Thus light 1 can have full RGBWA-UV control while the next 3 lights work in unison on channel. Just like a theater, you can have individual fixture or banks of fixtures or color changing (scrolling from one color to the next, individually or in unison) and you can have flash to the music or flash to a specific pattern.

You can get completely wrapped up in lighting that you need to hire a tech to set it up and hand you the keys...or you become so wrapped up you learn about this stuff on your own..(Guilty of the last)

I have taken a step back and rarely do more than bring the small controller for clients who want or pay for such. I usually offer the light controller to the band wife or friend to run the lights with the band's permission. It takes about 3 minutes to teach a beginner the control functions. ALL lights do the same thing. So pick what you want them to do...bright, dim, flash, scroll, specific color changes during a song...starts on red, sky blue for guitar solo, returns to red, ends on purple. Up to the person running the lights.

If I hired as a two man set up (take a younger tech with a strong back) then I will let them have either sound or light and I will take the other. Which they get depends on their experience and skill with sound...after all, that is what brings in enough money to pay for us to do the labor.

At my regular job, we are slow enough that usually one of the crew is willing to pick up pocket money for one night. I pay my techs better but I do not promise anyone hours...if and when there is a job, I call one or two guys based on their previous talent and willingness to work with a curmudgeon like me.

Back when I owned the second largest privately owned sound company (university and city govt both owned larger sound and lighting services) I had 2 regular guys who worked at least 3 week ends a month for me...and a third guy "as needed".

Now, I do most of it by myself but for this recent concert series, I shared the money with my band leader and he learned how the schlep gear.

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