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  • 1.  Lights

    Posted 01-18-2022 08:13
    I am trying to do some theateical lighting upgrades in a private parochial school. I want to start with the stage apron lighting.  We have 10 halogen ellipsoid spots on the ceiling of the house that require twice a year replacements which, because of the poor positioning in the theater require manual scaffolding, 3 workers, and an entire day of work. 
    Does anyone have any recommendations for budget-friendly LED ellipsoid replacement fixtures? Thank you! 

    Sam Johnston
    Steubenville Catholic Central High School
    Steubenville, Ohio

  • 2.  RE: Lights

    Posted 01-20-2022 09:42

    I don't know how budget-friendly, but Chauvet does offer a non-color-changing LED ellipsoidal for about $1000. This solution likely impacts
    how often lamps need to be changed, but you are still dealing with focus and color. They do require constant power (no dimmer) and DMX control.
    What board are you using?

    You are close to Pittsburgh so you might be better off talking to Vincent Lighting in Pittsburgh (412-788-5250). They can better address your needs and actually come to your school and see what might be possible.



    Dana Taylor
    Educational Consultant
    Evansville, IN

  • 3.  RE: Lights

    Posted 01-21-2022 12:05
    I would also suggest (Link to the ellipsoidal pages attached- I have used them several times for different clients and they are great to work with...  The only caution is their stock changes rapidly so make sure to give them a call if you want to lock some in..

    Good Luck

    Don Keith
    Set Designer | Partner
    The KEILIN Group | KL two
    PO Box 1019
    Exton, PA 19341
    o: 610.873.2506

  • 4.  RE: Lights

    Posted 01-21-2022 06:02
    There are some options based on what the current ellipsoidal spots are. If they are ETC there is a Source 4Wrd II retrofit kit that is economical, you will want someone to verify you have DMX available at this location or enough circuits in the proper configuration.

    There are many manufacturers out there, ETC, Chauvet, Blizzard, Strand, Altman

    At minimum you would be looking at over 1,000 per fixture to replace at minimum

    You also need to determine if color mixing or just 3200 color temp is what you want.

    It is possible to replace your current fixtures with a LED wash light instead of an ellipsoidal, this can be less expensive but you lose the sharp focus for wash into the areas.

    Remember you get what you pay for:

    Typically there are tiers in the LED world an ETC fixture will last 10-15 years before needing to be replaced, cheaper are typically 5-10 years, so once you move into this world of LED you will need to have ongoing replacement costs budgeted for from your school so you are not left in the dark due to time and technology moving forward.

    Also you may need to upgrade your lighting console at this time as well.

    Jerry Onik
    V.P. Theatrical Supplies and Equipment
    Heartland Scenic Studio
    Omaha NE

  • 5.  RE: Lights

    Posted 01-21-2022 08:11
    What Dana and Jerry said. LED ellipsoidals that are both cheap and good don't seem to exist.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 6.  RE: Lights

    Posted 01-23-2022 02:30

    Regardless of what fixtures you decide you can afford, you will need to back some money out of the fixture budget to cover re-configuring the wiring to the outlets where the current fixtures are plugged-in.  LED lights do not like to be run from dimmed power circuits.  This means that if you have a dimmer panel with modular dimmers (like ETC Sensor or Strand CD80), you will need to purchase non-dim modules for those lighting circuits; or adding a circuit breaker panel (or finding one near-by with lots of spare [unused breakers or spaces for breakers] load capacity) and re-routing the beam lighting circuits to that constant power source.  Either way, you should have an Electrical Engineer confirm that the electrical re-circuiting plan meets the NEC (National Electric Code). 

    The preferred method is to have a new power panelboard installed that has remote controllable energy management contactors or circuit breakers that can be DMX controlled.  This way you can automate the power-up / power-down of the LED lights so the lights are not left ON when they are not in use.  This extends the life of the internal electronics in the LED light fixtures.  Of course, the receptacle numbering at the beam lighting position should also be updated to match the circuit numbers of the panelboard that powers them, otherwise, confusion will reign.

    Your existing power receptacles for the existing lights are probably 2P&G 'stage pin' or 20 amp twist-lock NEMA L5-20.  Once the power is made switched constant, the receptacle connectors should be replaced with either a conventional 'marked switched' Edison NEMA 5-20, or one of the modern stage lighting power connectors that match the lighting instruments like Neutrik PowerCon or the Neutrik PowerONE. 

    Additionally, you will need to have a DMX control signal distributed to the beam light fixtures.  This should be in conduit with connectors on receptacle plates so short cables can be use from the DMX outlets to the fixtures and between the fixtures.  Just stringing DMX or network cable out-of-conduit over the ceiling may not meet building code, and it generally makes for a rat's nest of cabling that is unserviceable.

    If you are having DMX signals distributed to the beam lighting fixture positions, then it would make sense to have DMX signals distributed to the lighting battens overstage (and adjacent to any wall or floor power receptacles, too).  You can't just 'Y' the cables together to all these locations, they have to be isolated with an active DMX distribution splitter (or a data switch if using a network-based system).  Planning ahead for the eventual DMX control of LED houselights would be prudent, too, as this will happen sooner than later.  I'm guessing that the replacement of house light lamps is every bit as troublesome as the stage lighting lamps, so the maintenance department might very well endorse the simultaneous upgrade of the house lights.  It makes economic sense to do it all at once under one design and implementation contract rather to do this as two separate items.

    As mentioned by others, it is likely that you may need to include an updated lighting control console so that the color temperature (CCT) and/or lighting color (RGBAW) mix can be controlled without driving you crazy (conventional 2-scene preset boards were never intended to provide this function, so you have to do all sorts of odd things to implement more than just intensity control).

    So, with all the infrastructure update involved, the pre-planning and other support budgetary items may over-shadow the actual cost of the new stage lighting instruments.

    Also, regardless of what lighting instruments you install, you will still need to access them to adjust the aiming, focus, shutters, and possibly apply gel/diffusion.  This is part and partial to the very function of stage lighting.  Consideration should be given to hiring a Theatre Consultant [insert shameless plug here] to look at your facility layout and see if there are reasonable solutions to making the stage lighting position(s) more accessible (and therefore, more functional).  There is more than one way to solve problems.  Changing over to LED lights will really only solve the most fundamental problem of lamp replacement, nothing more.  Get them to consider the bigger picture of actually teaching stage lighting to the students in an environment that is safe for them to access.  An objective evaluation of your venue's situation wouldn't really cost very much in the larger scheme of things, and it would not commit the school to buying design services or equipment.  It could provide some insight to possible solutions that they may not have considered previously.  PM me if interested.

    Erich Friend
    Theatre Consultant
    Teqniqal Systems LLC