Theatre Lighting Control Console?
Posted 29 July 2008 - 02:42 AM
I randomly found an old American Cinematographer magazine a few days ago and read something interesting It was an article about Vittorio Storaro's work on the film titled Caravaggio. It briefly mentions that Storaro has his Gaffer rig his lights to a theatre lighting control console so that he can tweak his lighting from a single place. This seems like a brilliant idea to me and wanted to get the feedback others. Has anyone does? What sore of board works well for this? Any and all thoughts? =)
Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:48 AM
The reason it was fine is that we were shooting black and white so color temperature change wasn't as issue, we also wanted lighting changes mid-shot.
Posted 29 July 2008 - 04:54 AM
For the sake of equipment minimisation, you can get dimmer racks with controls built right into the front panel.
Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:43 AM
Also helps if you've got 2 set-ups in 1 space. You light one and then the other before. Day of, one button takes you from one to the other.
Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:01 PM
Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:27 PM
for an example from just googling of the different models and the like. I believe that the lights also need a DMX thingi on them, Thingi being of course the technical term, though some boards may act just as basic dimmers.
Posted 29 July 2008 - 01:55 PM
Posted 29 July 2008 - 04:06 PM
The upfront cost of obtaining a dimming system can be pretty expensive (and can get VERY expensive), but after the initial cost, you can pay it off quickly, provided you can do your own maintenance and know how to service the equipment yourself to some extent (which you should be able to do, considering you own and operate the equipment). This, of course, is not considering lighting units themselves -- just the dimmer packs and board, cabling, etc.
A dimmer board can be very basic, such as a simple ETC 16-channel, 2-scene board with really no memory. These are cheaper, costing only a few hundred dollars. Other boards are entire computers, allowing complex commands to be sent to hundreds of lights simultaneously, in succession, or at timed intervals. Still others allow control over intelligent lighting unit, and each individual movement or change each unit makes. These can cost many thousands of dollars.
Dimmer packs come in, similarly, less expensive and more expensive configurations. Think of a dimmer pack like a variac, just many of them in sequence, remotely controlled, connected to many lights. I'd say that dimmer packs/racks are slightly more expensive than the consoles, when looking at comparable units/product lines.
DMX (technically DMX512A) is simply a communications protocol. It is the method of how boards, dimming systems, and intelligent lights (not fixed units, for the most part), talk to each other. Similar to RS-232 on computers for transferring data between devices, DMX is a standard. It is used on most lighting systems today.
Intelligent lighting is another ballgame entirely. They are, like the more advanced consoles, computers unto themselves, usually having their own firmware. The most widely used and highest-end manufacturers are Vari-Light, HighEnd Systems and Martin. Other companies also make such units, but for the most professional settings and most versatile products, these three seem to be the most preferred.
As for their practicality on a film set, it can be a mixed bag. Dimming systems are great for stage and theater because they are good as permanent (or at least semi-permanent) installations. They can take a while to set up, and there's several more steps involved than just running an HMI to a ballast and then to a power source, and a specific knowledge and craft is needed. On sets where things are fast-paced, on the go, "run and gun" etc., I've seen that setting up even a small dimming system is not really the best way to go. Usually, only 1 or 2 people on set know what to do, and programming the board, running the extra cable, and working out whatever kinks there are simply takes up too much time. For sets where the production will be filming for multiple days, where they might have a prerig and derig crew, where there is a lot of fine-tweaking of units that are far away (high up in rafters) to be done, a dimming system might prove beneficial.
Posted 29 July 2008 - 07:13 PM
As for their practicality on a film set, it can be a mixed bag. Dimming systems are great for stage and theater because they are good as permanent (or at least semi-permanent) installations.
Right, I have only seen them on big the big budget stage-bound features/TV shows I have worked on. It is not very conducive to use big dimming boards on location sets, as they take a while to set up, as explained above. I have never seen one on location, regardless of budget. I am sure they have been used for that, but not very often.
Edited by Saul Rodgar, 29 July 2008 - 07:13 PM.