The Religious Birth of Theatre

Omi Religion Theatre

Few will deny that theatre has its origins in religion.  While civilizations grew, some type of religion evolved as various gods were worshipped and ceremonies and rituals to honor these deities were developed the world over.  Distinctive features of these rituals contributed to the elements of what we now call theater.  The intermediary between the gods and the worshipers, i.e. priest, shaman, clergyman etc., contributed his words – developing dialog, his gestures – creating acting and even dancing, his voice – vocalizing into singing.  Other components employed in the rituals would add music, masks and even make-up which aided in the formation of theater.

Not all historians, however, agree about when the beginning aspects of theatre first appeared.  Most point to the religious ritual and ceremony in the worship of the god Dionysus, god of wine and fertility for Athens in ancient Greece around 700 BCE.  Hymns, termed dithyrambs, were sung by a chorus of about fifteen worshipers to honor their god Dionysus.  The chorus would perform in future years as a procession wearing costumes and masks, and, still later, some of its members would take the part of special characters, introducing proto-actors.

However, placing the introduction of theater back to the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece negates the influence of the Egyptians from as far back as the 2000s BCE.  Passion plays honoring the king-god Osiris, his death and resurrection, were performed each year in Abydos, Egypt around that time, far earlier than the old Greek theatricals.  Some historians actually put the writing of the original Osiris drama as far back as 3200 BCE.

Although theater continued to evolve around the world, it began to disintegrate in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.  It was practically non-existent in that region during the period known as the Dark Ages.  Again, religion was prominent in returning theater to its present state.  A chant, Quem Quseritis, from a tenth century Easter mass is credited with the revival of theater.  During the Matins service on Easter morning, this chant was enacted as a intimate scene of question and answer dialog among a few worshipers.  From this minuscule performance, theater evolved into today’s gigantic entertainment entity according to historical scholars.

Given the role religion has played in creating theater, what can the theatrical world do for today’s religious institutions?  One answer is stage lighting.  During medieval times  huge Gothic cathedrals were designed in order to bring more light and space into them so that the many religious relics being brought from the Holy Land during the Crusades could be displayed and seen.  But no matter how large the churches’ windows became, they were positioned seventy to eighty feet above the floor and never allowed enough light to enter and illuminate all the exquisite  objects and architectural decorations contained within.  The artificial lighting of the time, oil lamps and candles did little to help.  Imagine what today’s stage lighting, such as a pin spot, could do to highlight  a special statue or featured picture in your sanctuary.

Lighting equipment can also be employed to improve whatever musical performances occur in your place of worship by designating individual soloists or adding visual variety and concentration during the moments of important musical passages and key changes.  Theatrical moments can be enhanced with lighting.  Spiritual moments can, and often are, theatrically communicated and stage lighting can help promote your message.

During these times, as the holidays come closer, it is important to have your lighting systems at the ready for your artistic choices.  Statistically, more people come to services during the holidays and, in order to influence them to increase their attendance during the year, the more memorable the holiday experience, the higher the success rate of return will be.

Did you know that a sixth century mystic wrote in his book, The Celestial Hierarchy, that light was divine?  Why not add more light to your religious campus?  Visit www.StageLIghtingStore.com to see the largest selection of theatrical lighting equipment or give Louie an email at Louie @ StageLightingStore.com and ask a question to one of our advisors for free.

Lighting the first Thanksgiving!

Omi at Thanksgiving Table

It was early in the evening in the autumn of 1621.  The inhabitants of the new settlement of Plymouth were busily preparing for the great Thanksgiving feast which was to be held during the next few days.  Many of the Native Americans who had befriended the Pilgrims during the past, harsh year were invited to celebrate their survival with food and festivities.

Although it was only four in the afternoon, the light in the small, basically one-room homes was almost non-existent.  In order to maintain as much heat as possible in the twelve houses which had been built during the past year, the few, tiny windows were covered with wooden shutters.  Natural light just was not available.  Artificial light was necessary, not only to prepare for the upcoming fest, but also for everyday chores.  The candles from England were limited, but the industrious women of the Plymouth colony quickly made their own tapers, and the candlelight was soon shining from the tops of various pieces of furniture.  The candles were made from tallow and beeswax scented with bayberry.  The wicks came from cotton spun by the women of the household.

The first candlesticks the Pilgrims developed were extremely primitive being created from root vegetables such as turnips and potatoes.  The base of the vegetable was planed flat and a circular hole was cut in the top into which the candle was inserted.  Wall-hung candleholders, known as sconces, frequently had polished metal backs to reflect and add to the light.

Candles were practically worthless out of doors in Plymouth, but the Pilgrims quickly   copied the  pine tree torches which were developed by the neighboring Indians. The resin found in the dried branches of the pine tree, especially in the knots, kept these short pieces of branch lit for a substantial length of time.  The heart of the pine limb also contained more resin, or pitch, than the rest of the wood.  This part was shaved into short lengths by the poorer Pilgrim families and used in place of the more expensive candles.  Baskets made of metal containing burning pine knots, and hung in strategic locations, actually became our first street lamps.

Although sufficient light was not available for the first Thanksgiving preparations, the celebration was such a success that it is now repeated on a yearly basis.  But how much more enjoyable the feast is now with our improved lighting.  Now for the theatrically minded, think of how much fun it would be to highlight the turkey with a pin spot and spotlight the other dishes with modern battery operated candles so that we can easily see every scrumptious morsel on the table.

Why do leaves change color? What colors should we project in light?

FB Omi Why Leaves ChangeOne of the most frequently asked questions about the natural world is what causes the flamboyant change of color in deciduous trees, those trees that lose their broad leaves in the fall.  The answer to that question is chemical and depends upon the initiation of, and ending of, the seasonal production of food for the tree.

All living things require food to continue their existence.  Plants are no different.  Trees manufacture their own food during the warm months of late spring and summer.  The chemical chlorophyll is present in large amounts in the young, newly sprouted leaves, and it continues to be produced and destroyed during the warm summer months.

Trees’ leaves are their nutrient manufacturing sites. Taking water from the ground, the plant’s roots direct that water to the leaves which have absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Chlorophyll is the key element required for the process of photosynthesis, the combining of carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, causing them to change into the sugar glucose.  This glucose is the food which travels from the leaves to the rest of the tree as the plant’s energy and food source. Food is also stored in the tree’s roots during autumn and winter, the time when nutrient production is halted, for use in the following spring.

Not only is chlorophyll the major player in the production of a tree’s food thru its role in photosynthesis, chlorophyll cells are composed of green pigment, and they provide the green color one sees in the leaves during the spring and summer.  But chlorophyll cells require abundant sunlight to exist and, as fall arrives, the days shorten and sunlight lessens.  The green chlorophyll pigment stops being produced and disappears from the leaf.

Due to the abundance of the chlorophyll cells in the leaf throughout the warm seasons, other color pigments, whose cells are also present in the leaf at the same time, are hidden.  Foremost of these additional pigments are the carotenoids and xanthophylls.  People know these pigments best for the colors they produce in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, corn and carrots.  The carotenoids and xanthophylls also gradually change the leaf’s color to the early, beautiful yellows and oranges that signal the beginnings of the leaf color season while the green chlorophyll dissipates entirely.

Allowing the leaves to live longer and continue to produce energy for the plant, other pigments, the anthocyanins, develop after chlorophyll begins to disintegrate. The bright red and purple leaf colors are from these pigments whose cells’ ph determine the variety of reddish hues seen.  Cells that are acidic produce pink to scarlet red colors.  As the acidic content lessens, the hues become a deeper red to purple.

A fourth pigment found in some trees such as oaks are the tannins,  The tannins also develop the golden yellow hues found in trees such as the beech by combining with the carotenoid pigments.  Tannins are also always present in the leaves of the trees which they help color, but they, too, must wait until the  chlorophyll cells have been removed to be noticed.

A number of factors other than chemical influence the hues seen in the fall leaves.  Natural events such as droughts, excessive rainfall, severe heat or killing frosts will limit and dull the beauty of nature’s autumn splendor.  The most successful color presentation will occur after a wet, but warm, spring, a temperate, evenly moist summer and an autumn with cool nights and sun-filled days.  As previously stated, color is determined by the different pigments the leaf contains.  Except for chlorophyll not all pigments are found in every type of tree leaves.  Only those pigments which are originally in, or are created in, the tree leaves during the growing season will determine which part in autumn’s color palette a specific tree will play.

Following is a list of trees and the hues they exhibit during autumn.  You might find this useful when designing lighting for a production that needs projected leaves.  If you know what sort of trees the scenery is based on, then here is a reference as to what colors you should be projecting.

American Beech – golden yellow turning to light orange

American Hornbeam Birch – orange

Aspen – golden yellow

Black Maple – yellow

Black Oak – yellow

Blackjack Oak – red

Black Tupelo – crimson

Bradford Pear – red

Cottonwood – yellow

Dogwood – deep red

Eastern Hop-hornbeam – yellow

Elm drab – brown

Ginkgo – bright yellow

Hickory – golden yellow

Oak – tannish brown

Red Maple – scarlet

Sassafras – red, yellow, orange

Scarlet Oak – scarlet

Silver Maple – yellow-orange

Sourwood – deep red

Southern Red Oak – red

Sugar Maple – red, yellow, orange

Sweet-gum – yellow or red

Tulip Poplar – yellow

White Oak – orange

Winged Sumac – bright red

Yellow Birch – bright yellow

If you want to have some fun with playing with some gobos to project leaves checkout this link…  http://www.stagelightingstore.com/Stage-Lighting-Store/Leaf-Steel-Gobos

If you want to have some fun with some colorful glass to give some multi-colored effects with these gobos check out…

http://www.stagelightingstore.com/Stage-Lighting-Store/Rosco-Colorizers

Headset Etiquette

Headset_Etiquette copy

I ponder if Emily Post ever considered writing about this subject.  It is very common for those producing the technical aspects of a show that we communicate via a headset system.  There are a million opinions as to how this should be done and also as to what rules should be in place to bring the communication to it’s best possible out come.  I have recently designed a production in an educational setting and clearly a reasonable headset protocol was not being followed and I pondered the question if it had been taught.  So this is my attempt to bring up the subject.  Hopefully this will be useful to many and freely shared.

The purpose of headset communication is for appropriate instruction to be given in a clear and concise manner.  For this to occur, people who are to receive this information must actually be on the headset and listening.

Here are some rules that I believe should apply.

1 – Always be on headset if you are to give or are to receive instruction.

2 – Have your microphone off unless you need to speak.  This limits the addition of extra unnecessary noise.

3 – If you are leaving the headset announce that you are leaving and announce when you have returned.

4 – If you are placing your headset down make sure that your microphone is off.

5 – If you ever have to unplug your headset, announce and make sure your microphone is off.  The unplugging can cause a very loud sound and damage the ears of those who are on.

6 – Be polite and use good judgment about not interrupting something that is being said that is important.

7 – If quiet is being called for, obey.

Just as in life, common sense of social interaction will go a long way.

History of Halloween

Louie Lighting Pumpkin

HALLOWEEN

Part One:  Halloween’s British Isles’ Roots

 The origin of one of our most decorated holidays, Halloween, dates well back into the fifth century BCE.  It emerged from the Celtic celebration of  Samhain held in late October during which light in the form of fire played a central roll.  Samhain was the night to honor the dead and the huge bonfires which were lit provided the light to aid the dead souls on their way to their ultimate destination.

In the morning after the celebration the Druids, Celtic priests, presented each family with a still glowing ember from the bonfire, the purpose of which was to reignite their home cooking fires.  The hot, shining coal was carried home in a carved out turnip which eventually became the most renown Halloween decoration, the Jack-o’-lantern.

The naming of this carrying device as a Jack-o’-lantern also is rooted in Celtic, mixed with Christian, history.  According to folklore, an inebriated farmer named Jack played a trick on Satan.  Because of this action, Jack was turned away from both Heaven and Hell when he passed away.  Doomed to walk in darkness, Jack’s soul fashioned a lantern from a turnip and a clump of burning coal Satan tossed to him from Hell. From then on the carved-out, lit turnips were called Jack-o’-lanterns.

Around this same time in Celtic history a group of costumed Celts were celebrating Samhain by dancing around a gigantic bonfire carrying heavy staffs covered with burning hay torches. As seen by a Christian priest the dancers were backlit by the full moon and bonfire and appeared to be flying thru the air on broomsticks.  Hence, our tradition of witches on broomsticks on Halloween.

Part Two:  Halloween in the USA

When in 1846 the potato famine in Ireland sent boatloads of Irishmen immigrating to the United States.  The witches on broomsticks tale and the turnip Jack-o’-lanterns came with them.

After arriving in the United States, the Irish turned to the more plentiful pumpkins to carve their lanterns.  Not only were the pumpkins more numerous but they also were considerably easier to cut.  Nowadays the Jack-o’-lantern has become such a decorative item that contests are held for the best and most interestingly carved pumpkin. In the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI an exhibition is held during the fall with thousands of these painted, carved gourds lining the pathways.

Although Halloween had been quietly celebrated since the vast Irish migration into the United States, the first sanctioned municipal celebration was held in Anoka, Minn and occurred in 1921.  The 1920’s and 30’s found community secular Halloween masquerade parties and celebrations increasing.  Trick or Treating began in the 1950’s.

The great explosion in Halloween decorations only began, however, with the advent of plastics in the 1960’s. One of the most interesting of the new decorations involving lights (lamps?) is the development of the Glow (Glo) Stick.  Development of these was begun by the US military in 1962 which was looking for a compound with luminescent properties that would work in extreme temperatures.  The experimenting of many other scientists was required, however, to develop the Glow stick the is now so popular.

The Glow lamps’ uses for Halloween are many and varied.  They are portable, light weight, inexpensive, and provide cool illumination for costumes and decorations.  Parents appreciate the safety aspect of a Glow light decorating a costume or being placed in a Jack-o’-lantern instead of a burning candle.

Now, as our technology exponentially expands, holiday decorating is only limited to imagination and pocketbook.

Here are some more examples of wonderful artistic pumpkins with light!

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Glow Stick Magic

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In 1962, intrigued by the light flashes of the glowworm, and the need for a safe light source to be used in combat situations both Edwin Chandross, a Bell Lab chemist, and the U.S. Military at the China Lake Navel Weapons Center in California under Herbert Richter, a Naval scientist, began experiments to develop a chemiluminescent lamp.  This lamp produces illumination from a chemical reaction. The work of many other scientists including Michael Rauhut and some of his fellow co-workers at American Cyanamid in Stanford, Conn.  was required before today’s glow sticks were fully developed.

Various patents were granted by the US Government along the way including many of which went to the US Navy scientists.  The earliest patent in 1965 was given to Bernard Dubrow and Eugene Daniel Gath for inventing a packaged chemiluminescent material.  Finally, Richard Taylor Van Zandt was granted a patent for a Chemical Light Device in 1977.

Glow sticks are chemiluminescent lamps which means that they derive their light from the reaction of mixing different chemicals together. They are produced as see-thru plastic tubes in which chemicals are contained in isolation.  When the chemical compounds are agitated, they glow in various colors depending upon the chemicals that have been mixed together.  The components are usually combined by bending and, thereby, breaking a glass capsule of hydrogen peroxide that is contained within the other chemicals held in the plastic tubing.  After the capsule is broken, the tube is shaken to mix the different chemicals.

To discover which chemicals would produce the desired illumination, hydrogen peroxide was the first one tried by Edwin Chandros.  This compound releases a great amount of energy in a short period of time without burning, therefore producing a cool light.  Various different chemical combinations were experimented with in the development of glow sticks.  Hydrogen peroxide and peroxide remain the reactants of choice by the manufacturers to be mixed with a catalyst such as phenyl oxalate along with a florescent dye solution for color.

Although the chemicals stored in the glow stick are in themselves non-toxic, care must be taken in handling these devices because when the solutions interact the substance phenol is produced.  Phenol is both corrosive and toxic.  If a glow stick is ruptured, any bodily area which comes into contact with the internal chemicals should be well cleansed as irritation, allergic reaction, and vomiting may occur.

With the exceptions of the problem with the production of phenol in the chemical reactions, their only single time use, and the fact that they cannot be extinguished, the popular glow sticks have many positive attributes.  For the military they produce light to see, but no heat, so that they are safe in situations where explosives are employed.  They are also lightweight for easy transportation, can be operated in extreme climate conditions, are durable and require no batteries.  The lamps are not pressure sensitive so that they can provide light underwater and in the air.

Outdoor enthusiasts such as campers find glow flares an excellent and safe light source.  Night skiers stand out with glow devices decorating their ski suits.  Spelunkers, or cave explorers, face the danger of gasses accumulating in caves.  These lamps are perfect for illumination within caves because they will not ignite the gasses.  Bicycle riders are more noticeable at night with glow lights embellishing their vehicles.

These disposable, inexpensive lamps provide light anywhere, anytime.  Without heat, flame or sparks, they are permitted in large sport stadiums and concert venues.  Halloween becomes safer for children with Jack-o’-lanterns lit by glow lights instead of candles and costumes decorated with glowing materials.

Best of all, this is the one lamp that can safely go into any area devastated by man-made or natural disasters immediately after the event to help rescuers search for survivors.

Glow sticks are a wonderful way to do safe outdoor decoration lighting.  Give these pictures a look and see if they inspire you.  Have a great Halloween!

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Color, Texture & Movement

Color & Color Theory

The color of light is possibly the most important element you will ever control.  Some people are very concerned about the scientific facts about color, some people are only concerned if they think it looks pretty or not, some people consider both.  There are no two people alike and color has some many points that are really left up to the individual to decide.  Happily, color change  is the easiest and cheapest thing to do.   So experiment and find what you like.

First, let us talk a little about what lighting color is.

No Color = All Color which = White Colored Light

White light encompasses all colors of the spectrum. No Color light actually has all of the colors in it. By blocking different wavelengths of color, and only letting a specific color through, we achieve individual colors. In other words, a blue light is achieved by blocking all other colors from the spectrum (rainbow). In theatre, it is accomplished by placing a piece of colored gel or glass in front of the light. It is also important to note that there is no perfect or imperfect white light. Some white is bluer and some white is redder. Color is relative to contrast and the “base” white. To illustrate this point think of old fashioned fluorescent tubes. There were the cool ones and the warm ones but both are considered white. If you put the two together, you would see a vast color difference. Therefore, if you are in an office filled with cool fluorescents, the base white is much bluer then if you were in an office with the warm fluorescents. Modern Architectural Lighting Designers often use tri-phosphor lamps that have a full spectrum of color.

We do have to have some common language on color so the Kelvin Scale is often used in theatre to compare colors.

Kelvin Scale

On the technical side of color, we judge it by the Kelvin scale. The higher the number, the bluer, and the lower the number, the redder. As an example, an incandescent table lamp is around 2700 K while the sun ranges from 5600 K to 6500 K. To put this in non-technical language let us talk about the sun. So many people are stuck on the idea that sunlight is amber when, in fact, it is very blue. I believe people think it is amber simply because when they look at the fireball it is amber and so, therefore, must produce amber rays of light when nothing could be further from the truth. Go outside on a beautiful sunny day with a piece of white paper. Have the sun light the paper. The paper will turn a little bluer long before it turns amber.

When purchasing your lamps for your fixtures if you want to have consistant color onstage you should purchase lamps that start from the same Kelvin tempreture.  If one lamp is 2800 degrees and the other is 3200 degrees and you put the same piece of colored gel in front of the fixture, they will indeed look like different colors.

Primary and Secondary Colors

Some other technical things to consider are the primary and secondary colors of light. While there are many artistic similarities to paint and light, there is one major technical difference. That is the color wheel. In paint, the primary colors are Red, Yellow and Blue. The primary colors in light are Red, Blue and Green.

The secondary colors in light are Magenta (Red & Blue mixed), Amber (Red & Green mixed), and Cyan (Blue & Green mixed). Many people will choose the three primary colors on a surface to get all of the color combinations possible. While this sounds like a great idea in theory, I have never been impressed with the actual outcome. Lighting gels are not perfect primaries and the light coming from the lighting unit does not have 100% of the entire spectrum coming from it. On top of that, as you dim lights up and down, their color temperature changes. As the light is dimmed down, the color becomes warmer, so therefore changing the color.

In my experience with using the three primaries, you get a nice Red, Blue, Green, Magenta (Red & Blue), Cyan (Green &Blue), but a really murky Amber (Red & Green). The colors also have to be running pretty close to full to look good. If you have a particular color that is not a primary that you want as a background, choose that color and designate a circuit of light specifically to it.

Some More Vocabulary

  • Chroma – the actual color
  • Chroma Level – the degree of saturation
  • Saturation Level – how much Chroma is in the color
  • Primary Color – cannot be made by any other color
  • Secondary Color – made by mixing two primaries together
  • Complimentary Color – the color opposite on the color wheel
  • Tint – Chroma plus white
  • Shade – (in light) Chroma plus its complimentary
  • Neutral Density – A gel that reduces the intensity but doesn’t change the color
  • Dominant Color – A strong color that will hold its own when another color is put on top of it. The addition of the second color will not change the appearance of the dominant color.
  • Recessive Color – A weaker color that will change when another color is put on top of it.
  • Level of dominance – is dependent upon contrast.
  • Desaturation – is when your eye automatically adjusts to a color and your brain turns it white.

The brain strives to have light be white. In a room with no other light but a red one, the brain would desaturate it to the point that it would eventually be seen as white. A nifty trick is taking that red light and instantly turning into a white one. You will see blue-green. This is because the brain has compensated with the opposite part of the color wheel. The white will be seen as aqua. Very shortly thereafter, everything will come back to normal. To avoid desaturation, you must have another color to contrast it. Once the brain has a reference point, it can keep the colors straight.

Design Note: Color can hit you over the head or be extremely subtle. Skill in the manipulation of both will serve you well. Never underestimate the small differences in tints and shades.

How exactly do you change the color of light? Let us not complicate the matter: to change the color of light you put a color filter (gel) on it. If you want the scene to be dark blue, put a dark blue color filter on the lights you are using. With that simplistic view being said, there are other times when it is a little more technically complicated than just saying, “I want what I want, so simply make it that color.”

If you have to mimic reality very closely, it is helpful to be aware of some of the facts of color.

Fact #1 – The sun is around 5600 deg. Kelvin (light blue).
Fact #2 – Incandescent (table lamp) is around 2700 deg. Kelvin (light amber).

This is a big difference between the two. You should also know that most theatrical lights are putting out about 3050 deg. Kelvin. Therefore, it is from there you are adjusting.

Quick Reference of other Color Temperatures
Light Source Kelvin Temp
Sunrise 100 (Redder Light)
Candlelight 1900
Light Bulb 2800
Stage Lamp 3200
Fluorescent Lamp 4500
Cloudy Sky 6500
Hazy Sky 9000
Clear Blue Sky 25000 (Bluer Light)

The next thing is to choose your color and put it in front of the light. There is a plastic sheet called “Gel” that comes in 100’s of colors that you use for this. Gel comes from the lightest of tints to the heaviest of saturated color.

 

Gobos – Templates or Texture

Many people have the need to project images with stage lights. The need can vary from creating scenery to projecting a company’s logo. The basic principle is that there is a piece of metal or glass placed in the middle of the light that blocks some light and lets other light pass through. It is the light that passes through that then creates the image. If the image is white or only needs to be one color (colored by gel) then a metal gobo is the most cost effective. You can get off-the-shelf gobos for around $13.00 and custom (your logo for example) ones for under $70.00. If you need the gobo to have multiple colors, then you must go to glass and that can range from $200 – $500 depending upon the complexity.

You need an ellipsoidal (leko is the slang term) light to project a gobo.

Lighting Cable & Electrical Distribution

Electricity and Data need to get from point A to point B.  It is with these devices that this is accomplished.

Here are a couple of notes about electricity that will be useful.

1 – It is dangerous.  Don’t do anything that you are not trained and qualified to do.

2 – Cables can only handle a certain amount of current.  Theatrically we usually use these three sizes of cable…

  1. 12 gauge – can handle up to 2400 watts though I recommend limiting it to 2300 watts.
  2. 14 gauge – can handle up to 1800 watts though I recommend limiting it to 1725 watts.
  3. 16 gauge – can handle up to 1000 watts though I recommend limiting it to 750 watts.

3 – Cables generally have three wires with a green, a white and a black.

  1. The green is the ground.
  2. The white is the neutral.
  3. The black is the hot.  If there are multiple hots then they will also be red and blue.

Do not mix and match these colors.

Plugs

Edison Plugs Edison plugs are the connectors we most commonly use in our homes.  This is a picture of a 15 amp edison plug.  A 20 amp edison plug will have one of the blades go sideways.  A female edison plug can accept both a 15 and 20 amp male connection.Browse our selection of Edison plugs.
Stage Pin Plugs  Stage Pin Plugs, designed for the theatre are generally 20 amp and very quick and easy to install and use.Browse our selection of stage pin plugs.
Twist Lock Plugs Twist Lock plugs can also be purchased in a 15 and 20 amp variety.  The ground blade will have a tab that usually goes inwards towards the center of the plug.  There are some older styles that have that tab going outwards.   This is usually referred to as nub in and nub out.Browse our selection of twist lock plugs.
Feeder Cable Plugs Feeder Cable plugs are for connecting the main source of power to your system.  They are only for one “leg” of the power wether it be the hot, neutral or ground.Browse our selection of feeder cable plugs.

 

Cable

Adapters  An adapter lets you go from one style of plug to another style while still keeping the hot, neutral and ground in their proper order.Browse our selection of adapters.
Power Cables & Extension Cords Power cables, also known as extension cords are simply a way get to a power source that is farther away then the cord on your unit allows.  No matter what type of plug you use they all work the same.  These are generally made in stock lengths of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 feet.Browse our selection of power cable.
Control Cables Control cable let’s you get control signal from point A to point B.  As electrical cable they can be joined together to make longer lengths.Browse our selection of control cable.
Two-fers / Three-fers A twofer or threefer is a device that let’s you split your electrical distribution.  Generally one male to two or three female plugs then let’s you power more then one device from one circuit of power.Browse our selection of twofers & threefers.
Feeder Cable & Pigtails Feeder cable is very large individual power cables that let’s you bring the main source of power to your dimmer rack or either electrical distributing devices.Browse our selection of feeder cable.
Multicable 6 Circuit Multicable is cable that has multicable circuits inside an outer casing.  It is much faster to run six circuits in one cable from A to B then six individual cables.Browse our selection of multicable.
Cable Cradles A cable cradle is a device that helps hold drooping cables in a particular shape.Browse our selection of cable cradles.
Cable Ties & Tie Line Cable ties and Tie line are things that let you “tie” your cable in place to keep it neat and clean and free from catching on things.Browse our selection of cable ties & tie line.

 

Electrical Distribution

Electrical distribution is a more permanent way of distributing circuits in a theatre.  It still brings the electricity from point A to point B it is just that point B is a permanent location.  That location is generally a place where you almost always want to have some circuits.

Floor Boxes A floor box will generally be found in a permenant installation of a theatre.  Located in the floor this gives you an opportunity to pull some circuits from the floor.Browse our selection of floor boxes.
Pipe Distribution Pipe distribution boxes are simply different box configurations that you can mount on your pipe in your theatre.Browse our selection of pipe distribution.
Wall Boxes Wall boxes are just like a floor box but mounted on the wall.Browse our selection of wall boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

Dimmers

The intensity of a fixture is probably the singular most important element of control.  How bright that light is, is of an incredible importance.  When I say how bright, that includes not on at all.  To control an intensity of a conventional light bulb you simply have to interrupt the amount of power going to the element in the lamp.  If you completely interrupt it with a switch you have either 0% or 100%.  If you want to have a varying degree of intensity then you need a dimmer which lets you choose to what percentage the lamp is at.  The higher quality the dimmer, the more exact and consistent you can be.

Controller Dimmer Combo Controller/Dimmer combo’s used to be very common.  This is an individual unit that houses both the dimmer and the control slider/switch to that dimmer in the same unit.  These can still be used today in small systems.  You would not enjoy it in a large system.  They are simple to understand and operate.

Browse our selection of controller/dimmer combo.


Satellite Dimmer Packs
Satellite dimmer packs are units that are small and portable.  Usually they are mounted near the lights that they are dimming.  While there are variations, they commonly have either four or six dimmers in each box.  If you do the math, they can be a very economical way of dimming.

Browse our selection of satellite dimmers.


Stick Dimmers
A Stick Dimmer is a series of dimmers, usually four or six that are housed in a linear casing.  These stick dimmers are then either attached directly to a pipe or to a lighting stand.  One of the more attractive qualities of stick dimmers is that it is very easy to make your system look neat and clean with them.

Browse our selection of stick dimmers.

Rack Mounted Dimmer Packs Rack mounted dimmers are exactly that.  Dimmer packs that are designed to be inserted into rack cases.

Browse our selection of rack mounted dimmer packs.

Semi Permanent Dimmer Modules These modules are designed to usually be a group of dimmers or one very large dimmer that can be moved from location to location on a stage.  Sometimes they are put on pipes to create extra electrics or placed on the ground for a new ground row that that particular show needed.

Browse our selection of semi-permanent dimmer modules.

Wall Mounted Dimmer Packs Wall mounted dimmers are incredibly aptly named for they are mounted on the wall.  Very clean and do not take up a lot of space.

Browse our wall-mounted dimmer packs.

Touring Dimmer Racks Touring racks are usually large groups of dimmers put together in a portable wheeled case.  Very heavy but very necessary for large shows that go from place to place.

Browse our selection of touring dimmer racks.

Installation Dimmer Racks Permanently installed Dimmer Racks are large groupings of dimmers that will never go anywhere but where they were installed.

Browse our selection of dimmer racks.

Projector Dowser Projectors, in general, do not have lamps that can be individually dimmed.  If you want to lessen the intensity of your projected image one of the ways to do that is to block the light.  Sometimes that is referred to as “dowsing” the light.

Browse our selection of projector dowsers.

Relay Packs A Relay Pack is a unit that controls the intensity of a lighting unit as either being on or off.  There is no variation in between.

Browse our selection of relay packs.

Controllers

Theatrically as lighting designers, control is what we do.  We desire to control the picture on the stage.  We desire to control where and when the audience is looking.  Controllers are the devices that communicate our desire the actual equipment.  Sometimes they communicate directly to the lights and sometimes they communicate to the dimmers or other devices that then control what the lights do.  The most simplistic controller is a switch.  It simply either allows the lighting unit to have power or not.  Thus, the light turns on or off.  A controller can control the intensity but it can also give information as to if the light should move, change color, change shape or size.  Fundamentally not all lights have the capability of being manipulated that much.  That is why you match up your controller to the lighting unit that is appropriate for your system.  The more sophisticated the controller the more types of units it can control.  There is no suprise that the more flexible the controller the more time it takes to learn how to use it and the higher budget you will need to own it.

Controllers must get the information of what to do from itself to the unit it is controlling.  There are many choices in both language and delivery method.  The most common language today is DMX512 which is a digital protocol that is sending continual information at a very fast pace.  As the device see’s it’s information change it acts accordingly.  Prior to digital languages we had analog controllers which simply sent a low voltage signal to the unit.  An example of control would be that if it sent 10 volts DC it would tell the unit that it was to operate at 100% intensity.  If it was given 2 volts DC it would tell the unit to operate at 20% intensity.  Analog was always sent with control cables between the controller and the device.  There would have to be a wire sent to each and every device that was to get information.  With the digital signal you only need to send one wire that can then be daisy chained from one unit to the next.  Think of all units holding hands making a long chain of information.  This control wire, which looks a lot like a microphone cable makes the wiring so much simpler.  There is much debate as to if you can use microphone cable as control cable.  In my view, the fundamental difference between the two is that many microphone cables have wires that lay next to each other.  Control cable have wires that are twisted together.  The reason that this matters is that if there is a fluctuation in the signal on that cable in a twisted scenario all wires will be effected equally.  This makes it much more stable.  So all in all, while a microphone cable will probably function, it is not as stable as actual control cable.  You can also deliver your digital control signal now wirelessly.  While a more expensive upfront cost if you are in a situation where you setup your equipment over and over again, the time and labor savings is incredible with this setup.

Chase Controllers A chase is when you put circuits of light into a repeating cycle.  The most common and classic would be “Chaser” lights around a marquee or stage.  This is where you have light bulbs in an evenly spaced line and if you follow one light bulb go on and off it looks like it is running around the object that it is “chasing” around.  What it really is is a series of three or four circuits lined up next to each other that go on and off at the same rate.  A chase controller is what you can use to control that timing.  You can get individual controllers to do this but many of the higher end controllers also have a chase function built in.

Browse our selection of chase controllers.
Foot Controllers Foot controllers just like any other controller is looking to send a control signal to a device.  The difference is that it is designed to be operated via your foot.  Usually this is for a band situation where there is not a seperate lighting board operator and one of the musicians is operating the lights.

Browse our selection of foot controllers.
Manual Controllers Manual controllers are controllers that we operate by hand.  The operator is the brain that knows what should happen and what should happen next.  It is with our fingers that we communicate what goes where and when.

Browse our manual controller
Memory Controllers Memory controllers are still told by the human what to do, but they remember what we told them.  So while we desire for the look onstage to change all the operator has to do is hit the “Go” button and it goes to the next preprogrammed change.

Browse our selection of memory controllers.
Moving Light Controllers Moving light controllers are controllers that are specifically designed to make programming moving lights easiear.  Moving lights have so many control channels that it can get very complicated.  Each function of a moving light, be it color, iris, focus or location takes at least one channel to control.  These moving light controllers help in grouping those functions together and making it easiear to manipulate.  High end memory controllers have many of these functions built in.

Browse our selection of moving light controllers.
PC Controllers PC controllers quite simply are units that let you use your desk or laptop to become a theatrical lighting controller.  The benefits are that you can get the functionality of a really fancy memory controller for a much lower price point.  The down side is that they can take a little longer to learn how to manipulate.

Browse our selection of PC controllers.
Wall Controllers Wall controllers are specifically designed to be mounted on a wall.  Most commonely used at an entry way into an audience area in which you want to turn a predetermined set of lights on.

Browse our selection of wall controllers.
Wireless Controllers Wireless controllers are units that deliver control information without a control wire.

Browse our selection of wireless controllers.

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