Jump to content


Photo

Theatre Lighting Control Console?


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 jason joseffer

jason joseffer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 29 July 2008 - 02:42 AM

Hey Guys.

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? =)
  • 0

#2 Nick Mulder

Nick Mulder
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1023 posts
  • Other
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:48 AM

We did it for a recent shoot - If I remember correctly it was a little 6 channel desk >DMX >Dimmer...

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.


  • 0

#3 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11939 posts
  • Other

Posted 29 July 2008 - 04:54 AM

Done it myself - on a vastly smaller scale - but it is very effective.

For the sake of equipment minimisation, you can get dimmer racks with controls built right into the front panel.

P
  • 0

#4 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:43 AM

I've been in studios pre-rigged this way, though a strand board. It was nice to be able to raise and lower the overheads as needed.
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.
  • 0

#5 jason joseffer

jason joseffer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:01 PM

Awesome. This really interests me. And of course I am aware of color temperature change, but the ability to change levels quickly and efficiently seems fantastic. Any other thoughts? Perhaps specific units used? Are there lighting boards that have the dimmer mechanism built into the board? -jason
  • 0

#6 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:27 PM

http://www.google.co...m...=1&ct=title

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.
  • 0

#7 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 29 July 2008 - 01:55 PM

Don't confuse the issue by throwing in DMX controlled "intellegent" lighting. The lighting board communicates with dimmer rack(s) which have all the fixtures cabled to them. For smaller/portable systems, the two can be combined into one. For more information and details on the operation of differnt boards and intellegent lighting, see: www.controlbooth.com
  • 0

#8 Daniel Wallens

Daniel Wallens
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 214 posts
  • Grip
  • New York City

Posted 29 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

I work with a gaffer every now and then who owns his own dimming system, complete with remote-controlled dimming board. He's a pretty good gaffer, and I'd think that having this asset does make him a bit more marketable in terms of getting jobs.

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.


-DW
  • 0

#9 Saul Rodgar

Saul Rodgar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1682 posts
  • Cinematographer

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.


-DW


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.

  • 0


Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Paralinx LLC

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Opal

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

CineLab

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera