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Advice on alternative lighting


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#1 Hugmaster

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 02:27 PM

Hi folks

Ok, I'm in need of some guidance.

My lighting rig consists of intelligent and effect lighting. Now as you will almost certainly know, this stuff doesn't look half as good unles used with smoke/haze and with many venues not allowing you to use it, it kinda renders the lighting 50% useless.

So, I'm after a secondary rig that I can use in places that won't allow smoke/haze. I want to avoid a shed load of pin spots if possible, there must be self-contained units that just plug and play, or am I asking for an easier ride than I deserve smile.gif

Thanks in advance.

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#2 Gary

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 04:07 PM

I think that a statement that was made on the forum a week or so ago, has a useful place in this thread too. And that phrase leaves you in a better situation than you expected.

Doctors make the worst patients, DJ's make the worst audiences.

(Please dont take "Worst" the wrong way - its not meant badly at all, honest).

You're audience will probably think that you existing lighting rig, without smoke, will be just fine for their needs.

One of my most regular venues over the last 13 odd years, and soon to be my only venue for the next 2 years at least, doesnt allow smoke, and even haze wont work. I worry sometimes that a really pongy cigar will trip the smoke sensors, which are optical; - they "look" for smoke instead of "sniffing" for smoke.

The only difference is that you need to point your lighting effects at walls, ceilings and floors, rather than pointing them somewhere that'll give a mid-air effect through smoke. Gobos, moonflower dots, even flat beams washed over a magnolia wall, or a not-so brilliant white ceiling will create atmosphere perfectly well. Dancing people will still see their friends and family turn different colours as the DMX demons do their "thang" 4ft above them.

Consider however, what the audience will see when they look directly at your set-up. Most lighting effects tend to be a collection of roughly retangular boxes hanging on a bar - not particularly eye-catching. So, you may need to thing about some lighting effect/display for the audience to look AT, a focal point.

The focal point could be a Name light, a star cloth (two words to make Chris cringe at the follow-up post of "Chris? how are the star cloths coming along?"), an ultra violet tube(s) shining on ultra-violet reactive tubing, or paints, light screens etc...etc...














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#3 DJ Spinko

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 04:56 PM

It is now quite a common thread on the forum that we are sometimes our own worst critics. In agreeing with Gary, the public probably won't notice or care about the fact that ther isn't any smoke to accentuate the lighting. Most of them have no idea what DMX is, what a combined gobo/colour wheel means or that you can operate them in banks of 4 etc.... they just see them as flashing lights !
Personally I'd consider what effects lighting that I already have, do I need additional effects ? I'd definitely make sure that they are fan cooled, at least 250w, you then need less of them and able to run for a long time, you don't want to keep switching them on and off all night. You may upon review only need a couple more lights !
I'd also try for an effect light, light screens/star cloth/uv light but one that I have found effective, is that in B&Q and probably other DIY stores, they have a framed decoration light which are a metal frame with a flashing 'duralight' rope light attached spelling out either Happy Birthday or Congratulations.
Sounds crap I know but go in and see for yourself, then compare them to the 40 chauvet mini moons/soundlab vasto etc..
The effect of these at this type of function is really eye catching and certainly gets you noticed. The person for whom the function is for thinks you have gone that extra mile for them. The good news they are cheap, around 25 each.

Spinko

#4 Steve

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 05:57 PM

Ive also got around this problem by directing the effect at a surface. Usually for the effects lighting I use 2 Twister 3's...one at the ceiling and one onto the dance floor, and then a Martin Acrobat which covers most other areas of the room.

A few cans are ok tho... I just use them at the beginning and end of the evening for flood lighting during the slowies...fast intelligent lighting during the first dance never seems to look right to me!

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#5 ChrisPointon

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 08:44 PM

I agree with Gary - most clients are more interested in having a good night with the music that you are playing and your skill as a D.J in acheiving that - rather than how much lighting you have. Most adult audiences don't like the intrusion of smoke when given the choice in any case, I found that when given the option by way of a check box on a booking form, only around 1 out of 10 clients check the "Smoke Desired" box.

Above all, make sure that you are selecting the lighting for your audience's needs and not what you want to see in use. For formal functions or those where there are likely to be people seated then leave the scans at home smile.gif , the light output is difficult to control and likely to cause annoyance when catching people seated directly in the eye.

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#6 Gary

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 09:23 AM

Two interesting points in Chris's reply:

Firstly, when someone who could make a few quid (literally sad.gif ) from flogging you a whole new set of additional "No smoke required" lighting equipment -Doesnt-, then that speaks volumes (or should that be "Watts"?)

The other thing to remember about stray/direct beams of light making it into the audiences eyes etc, is that without smoke the light beams passage is not diluted/dimmed over a distance, in the same way that it would be if you shone it through 40ft of smoke. The upside of this is that gobo's/beams being projected onto a surface (eg: Wall, Ceiling, Dance floor) will appear slightly brighter than it would have done with smoke.

The downside of this is that audiences who might have tollerated a stray beam in the eyes (through smoke), might wince from a stray beam from a non-smoked effect. So, what Chris says about not having "wild" scanners is also a weighty consideration.



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#7 kazzachi

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 09:27 AM

....... just to get this going a bit...... Lights wont do anything to enhance your performance as a DJ - if you have adequate lighting why go the the expense of getting another set..... Im sure the audience dont give a second thought to your lights..... unless you are doing a gig where the lighting is going to be a vital part of the evening... lets face it.... most wedding/birthday crowds are far more bothered about the quality of music than that of the light show.
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#8 YourBigEvent

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Posted 05 November 2003 - 08:45 PM

I had this conversation last week with someone, might have been Kazza, I can't remember, stating that Joe Bloggs Inc Disco Corp down the road from me could go out tomorrow and spent 1m on lights, 2m on sound and still wouldn't be a DJ, just a guy who has some fancy kit, anyone can press play on a CD Player, it is the bits in between the records that make the evening, and the way the CD's are played, what follows what, how loud, when to turn it up, when to turn it down, formal annoucements etc, I know I could turn up in a pair of old jeans and a ripped Sex Pistols T Shirt and still get the crowd going better than old matey down the road, people want a good night out, they are not 'that' intrested in your lights, whether your lighting rig cost 500 or 5000 as long as it looks OK that is all they are intrested in.
.....but what do I know ?



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#9 fenix842

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 01:20 AM

I know i've asked this before but......UV cannons? sterb188.gif Anything like blacklights?

Also: Does anyone use strobes? Or are those superflous? and what kind of stands do you use?

Thanks for the lighting ideas.
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---Alex

#10 ChrisPointon

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 07:45 AM

QUOTE
I know i've asked this before but......UV cannons? Anything like blacklights?


Yes, a U.V canon is a Blacklight. Common forms of UV or Blacklight include fluoresecent tubes which are often 18", 2ft or 4ft in length and fit into a standard Fluorescent fitting, which are the same as you would find in school for example. Light output and power consumption of these is measured in watts, and an average 4ft fluorescent blacklight would give around 36 watts output, which can also be effective.

A Uv Canon, however uses a mercury Discharge (ARC) lamp which gives the same type of UV Output has a conventional fluoresecent but the fact that it is in a more powerful form increases the light output by many times. There is also a reflector mounted behind the lamp which projects the light. Given that the average UV canon has a 400 Watt Rating, you can understand the difference in light output to the 18 or 36 Watt 2 or 4ft conventional Fluorescent smile.gif

QUOTE
Also: Does anyone use strobes? Or are those superflous?


Strobes still have their place at various functions but I only use one at around 1 out of every 50 gigs, mainly because older audiences find them annoying. However, the next guy may use his at every gig!, it depends on your audience and their age group.

Of course there is the safety issue as well, Strobes can be uncomfortable to people with poor eyesight and Migraine Sufferes and also be a major trigger of Epileptic Seizures in people who suffer from photo sensitive epilepsy. If you do intend on using strobe lighting, it is a good idea to point that out on your advertising literature and at least give your clients a choice smile.gif . A warning "Strobes may be used at this Disco, please inform the D.J if you suffer from Epillepsy" type notice is also a good idea, displayed at any function where you are playing and intend on using strobes.

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#11 DJ Spinko

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 08:43 AM

In response to Fenix's query regarding stands, I use a pair of wind up stands (Mobil-Tech ST3000, I think) with usually 2 x 2m Showcraft ladder trussing accross them. I also carry a 1m length in case the set -up area is bigger or smaller allowing me to make any combination from 2m to 5m span.
The best 600 I ever spent.

Strobes, never use them, saw an adult have an epileptic fit once at a nightclub using them, shared the :cense:* out of me

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#12 Gary

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 09:03 AM

Only a tiny snippet of trivia to add on the Strobes idea. A strobe is MOST likely to cause discomfort, or trigger epillepsy, if it is used with a red filter. Colours which contain red (eg: Orange, Purple, Pink) also have greater risk than Red exclusive colours (although less risk than pure red).

There, told you it was trivial.


Stands...I use a Ultimax 1.8 metre wide stand, with a double bar above it. One of the key things which I like about the ultimax stands is the number of assescories which are available. Pivoting shelves, tilt+swivel rack mounts for lighting controllers etc, CD-deck mounts, even an assesory bar which fits, like a bay window shape, between the two poles, ideal for attaching equipment shelves to, and also for hanging Star Cloth/front cloth from.

Edited by Gary, 06 November 2003 - 09:06 AM.

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#13 NineLives

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 03:47 PM

QUOTE (Gary @ Nov 6 2003, 10:03 AM)
even an assesory bar which fits, like a bay window shape, between the two poles, ideal for attaching equipment shelves to, and also for hanging Star Cloth/front cloth from.

That is what i use for my Moving message sign smile.gif

#14 Hugmaster

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 08:17 PM

Howdy folks

Thanks for the constructive posts, has been very useful.

However, it begs the question...why bother with scanners, barrel effects etc, when you could stick with standard disco lighting, if folks don't really give a to$$.


Strobes...only use one sparingly and only for 5 second bursts.

I use an ultimax stand with overhead multi-bar, all IEC and bulgin sockets fitted to the bar, save lots of time and tidying of lengthy leads.

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#15 kazzachi

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 08:17 PM

If you do use strobes - dont run them for longer than 15 seconds in any one burst - once you have done 15 seconds dont use it again for at least 15 minutes.

Its not only strobes that can cause an epileptic fit - your normal lights can trigger one too which is why it is always best to have your lights pointed out of the audience eye line.
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#16 fenix842

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 07:30 PM

Wow. ....lots of info there. thanks a million!
---Alex

#17 Eskie

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 10:52 PM

QUOTE
Stands...I use a Ultimax 1.8 metre wide stand, with a double bar above it. One of the key things which I like about the ultimax stands is the number of assescories which are available. Pivoting shelves, tilt+swivel rack mounts for lighting controllers etc, CD-deck mounts, even an assesory bar which fits, like a bay window shape, between the two poles, ideal for attaching equipment shelves to, and also for hanging Star Cloth/front cloth from.

Gary, any chance of seeing a pic of this?
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#18 ChrisPointon

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:32 PM

QUOTE
However, it begs the question...why bother with scanners, barrel effects etc, when you could stick with standard disco lighting, if folks don't really give a to$$.


No reason at all Darren, although perhaps if you were in a town competing with D.J's who you felt were the same level of professionalism as you but who had crap lighting, then you may like to improve your own lighting in order to gain the edge over them!.

Other than that, Scanners tend to be out of control with regard to light spillage since they tend to scan well beyond the dance area and the width of the room at least, and there is nothing worse than being a guest, seated at a disco and having 250W of halogen, or worse still 575W of metal halide light catching you directly in the eye when you are trying to talk / look at the person sat opposite you at the table smile.gif put up with this for 3 or 4 hours and you are ready to kill the D.J or smash the lights regardless of how good he is sad.gif .

I speak with a little bit of client feedback. For the last 12 months, I have given the clients to my website, details of which lighting packages are available when they book, and with laymans descriptions of each package. The choice is in the form of checkboxes when they fill in the booking form, there is no price difference for whatever they choose since they all come at the same price, and so there is no economic reason as to why they would choose a lesser package than the next one above - other than by CHOICE.

So the results, which you may or may not find useful. The majority of my clients choose either the "Subtle" lighting package or the "Standard" lighting package, neither of which contain scanners. The standard package contains 2x Colourchangers, 1x chameleon 3E and 3x Moonflowers.

Further choices:- around 1 out of 20 elects for the use of a smoke machine by choice pending venue approval, which means by using one by default you could risk making yourself unpopular, and only around 1 gig out of every 50 requires the use of a strobe!.

Okay, so these are the clients choice, and may only reflect the known opinion of 1 out of 200 people attending, but I think that it offers a little food for thought when you come to choosing your gear. I'm not saying that this is the right way, but why not give your clients the option yourself at the time of booking? or carry out a poll on your website for visitors?. A little market research doesn't harm any business and you can learn a lot from it.

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#19 DJ Spinko

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 08:41 AM

What a great posting this is Chris.

I think it confirms the previous comments on this forum that the high powered scanners are fine for the Club 18-30 crowd, but when it comes to the standard function, wedding, 40tt plus birthdays, anniversary etc. they really don't care too much for what the lighting is, just so long as there is is some to help with the atmosphere.

I carry with me as my standard lighting rig:
4 par 56, yes I know they are a bit old hat but I got them for the fraction of the price of one colour changer
4 NJD Chaos
2 Constella Tristars
1 Constella 3E

Sometimes we can become a bit too infatuated with what we think looks good and what the puclic wants...

Spinko

#20 ChrisPointon

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 09:03 AM

QUOTE
(Spinko) Sometimes we can become a bit too infatuated with what we think looks good and what the public wants...


Thats Exactly right. The point raised once again, that we may be buying bigger and better lightshows for our own reasons when our existing one would do just fine smile.gif . Interesting as well to point out that older lighting can be given a new lease of life by just cleaning them!. It's amazing how much 6 months of smoke residue, dust and ciggie smoke can cut down the light output of an average effect.

The lighting industry has become very boring recently and there is no longer anything unique out there.

QUOTE
(Fenix) Wow. ....lots of info there. thanks a million!


Your Welcome. What a change to get some polite youngsters on here for once, asking some good questions - Well Done thumbup.gif and a happy 100th Post.

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#21 Gary

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 01:38 PM

QUOTE (DJ Spinko @ Nov 12 2003, 09:41 AM)
Sometimes we can become a bit too infatuated with what we think looks good and what the public wants...

If you mean ..... "what we THINK the public wants." Then I'm with you 100%.

I used to be drawn into lighting purchases by simply wanting "more than the disco down the road". I even bought a 900, 3ft hgh, 3-way motorised effect once, which was much more suited to a night-club than a mobile, but knowing that I was the only UK mobile DJ to use one was almost part of the "pull" for me.

The effect which it gave was about 30 flat, fanned out beams. Ability to add to the ambient lighting?: Very low?. Effectiveness while audience are looking at the effect from a distance?: Excellent.

The only thing is, I didn't want the audience at a distance, I wanted them on the dancefloor, which is usually 2ft infront of the disco. I ended up swapping the lighting effect for a diversity Shure SM58 radio mic system after about 4 years - which is roughtly when the lighting effects motors started wearing out - They often lit the "Overheat" light on the controller after the motor had been run at low speed for more than 5 minutes. Funny that my demo of the unit to the new owners only lasted 4 minutes... biggrin.gif

However, with lighting, its true that a "Wow factor" does exist with audiences, but its more important to have a simple selection of lights which can effectively match the mood of any part of the show. Here are 4 examples of "parts" of a show, and what lighting I use.

1) "Warm up" - Something interesting for the audience to look at during non-dancing moments eg: while they're eating their Dinner at a Dinner/Dance. I have 2 x 16 bulb floor banks, up high on the rig, dimmed to 20% of their usual 60watt (per bulb) output, slooooooowly crossfading from channel to channel (2 or 3 channels lit at any one time). I also use a slow gobo rotator to highlight a key area of the room - such as the wall behind the top table, or the wall behind the buffet table, or any central/focal point - such as the first wall they'll see if/when they poke their heads around the door - as they do... Also, my front light screens are on a separate (less advanced) 4 channel controller, also doing a slow crossfade on "Dim".

2) "Slow Dances"/"Smoochies" - For some bizarre wacko.gif reason, fast spinning barrel effects just dont seem to go well with "Robbie Williams: Angels". So I use an internally-lit mirrorball type effect - EG: 300 watt bulb inside a large sphere with 103 lenses projecting tiny spots of light, revolving at 6rpm.

3) "Main dancing" - the overhead spot banks get dimmed up to 80% (or 100% in larger venues) and put onto a sound-chase mode, and some of the other gobo effects get brought into timed play, eg: a minute of THIS gobo moonflower, a minute of THAT effect etc...(not a minute of strobes).

4) "Boost lighting" - To high-light certain parts of songs eg: Sing along chorus's, I'll switch on my Rock-ball variation. 2 x 300watts of light spinning around for the duration of the chorus, adds to the atmosphere over the dancefloor.



Im in the process of buying 2 more lights to add to "Mood 3" above, which will be a pair of Constella Chameleon 5G DMX's (hint, hint, hint Chris biggrin.gif ), and possibly an Abyss II DMX, which is a sort of Stargate/Water wall colour changer/washer, to add to "Mood 1" / "Mood 2" above.


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#22 mp3djuk

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Posted 12 November 2003 - 08:14 PM

QUOTE (Gary @ Nov 12 2003, 02:38 PM)
QUOTE (DJ Spinko @ Nov 12 2003, 09:41 AM)
Sometimes we can become a bit too infatuated with what we think looks good and what the public wants...

If you mean ..... "what we THINK the public wants." Then I'm with you 100%.

I used to be drawn into lighting purchases by simply wanting "more than the disco down the road". I even bought a 900, 3ft hgh, 3-way motorised effect once, which was much more suited to a night-club than a mobile, but knowing that I was the only UK mobile DJ to use one was almost part of the "pull" for me.

The effect which it gave was about 30 flat, fanned out beams. Ability to add to the ambient lighting?: Very low?. Effectiveness while audience are looking at the effect from a distance?: Excellent.

The only thing is, I didn't want the audience at a distance, I wanted them on the dancefloor, which is usually 2ft infront of the disco. I ended up swapping the lighting effect for a diversity Shure SM58 radio mic system after about 4 years - which is roughtly when the lighting effects motors started wearing out - They often lit the "Overheat" light on the controller after the motor had been run at low speed for more than 5 minutes. Funny that my demo of the unit to the new owners only lasted 4 minutes... biggrin.gif

However, with lighting, its true that a "Wow factor" does exist with audiences, but its more important to have a simple selection of lights which can effectively match the mood of any part of the show. Here are 4 examples of "parts" of a show, and what lighting I use.

1) "Warm up" - Something interesting for the audience to look at during non-dancing moments eg: while they're eating their Dinner at a Dinner/Dance. I have 2 x 16 bulb floor banks, up high on the rig, dimmed to 20% of their usual 60watt (per bulb) output, slooooooowly crossfading from channel to channel (2 or 3 channels lit at any one time). I also use a slow gobo rotator to highlight a key area of the room - such as the wall behind the top table, or the wall behind the buffet table, or any central/focal point - such as the first wall they'll see if/when they poke their heads around the door - as they do... Also, my front light screens are on a separate (less advanced) 4 channel controller, also doing a slow crossfade on "Dim".

2) "Slow Dances"/"Smoochies" - For some bizarre wacko.gif reason, fast spinning barrel effects just dont seem to go well with "Robbie Williams: Angels". So I use an internally-lit mirrorball type effect - EG: 300 watt bulb inside a large sphere with 103 lenses projecting tiny spots of light, revolving at 6rpm.

3) "Main dancing" - the overhead spot banks get dimmed up to 80% (or 100% in larger venues) and put onto a sound-chase mode, and some of the other gobo effects get brought into timed play, eg: a minute of THIS gobo moonflower, a minute of THAT effect etc...(not a minute of strobes).

4) "Boost lighting" - To high-light certain parts of songs eg: Sing along chorus's, I'll switch on my Rock-ball variation. 2 x 300watts of light spinning around for the duration of the chorus, adds to the atmosphere over the dancefloor.



Im in the process of buying 2 more lights to add to "Mood 3" above, which will be a pair of Constella Chameleon 5G DMX's (hint, hint, hint Chris biggrin.gif ), and possibly an Abyss II DMX, which is a sort of Stargate/Water wall colour changer/washer, to add to "Mood 1" / "Mood 2" above.

hi gary must be the classic nisel intercepter lighting effect
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#23 Cheezy

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 01:51 PM

One lighting effect that looks great, especially for 70/80's is the rope light!

I use mine on the overhead gantry, looks very effective.

However get proper proffessional ones!!!

I saw one of these Xmas rope lights, 10 metres in white with selectable functions looks great. Cost is low! 16

Used it for the first time on Saturday. During the sound check, what is that horrible interference????? The rope light! No amount of re-routing of cables would help.

Oh well!

#24 ChrisPointon

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 02:20 PM

QUOTE
Used it for the first time on Saturday. During the sound check, what is that horrible interference????? The rope light! No amount of re-routing of cables would help.


Don't tell me! - it was one of those imported rope lights with the dangly little black box offering multiple programs??. It's worth remembering that these often don't have any form of supression inside them since they are aimed for use in a back garden rather than around delicate Audio Gear.

If you go for a ropelight then aim for the type that plug into a standard 4 channel chaser, rather than the built in controller type.

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#25 Cheezy

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:06 PM

Yep! Cheap'n'chearful.

Even caused interference at home!

Anyway got my money back smile.gif


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