The last few years we have been dealing with a lot of LED light fixtures. First on stage and now for general lighting. Over the past 15 years and during our world wide touring with acts we had dealt with robotic lighting that used very high wattage incandescent bulbs. Finally, the two industries have collided and we are now using Robotic fixtures that have LED light sources.
We must tell you a little about using robotic lighting over the last 15 years. Basically, a robotic fixture is filled with servos, motors, belts, mirrors, electronics and arc lamps or multi-LED light engines. All that don’t like to naturally wiggle, bounce, get hot, or vibrate. Hmmmmm. You can guess how that went on tour, driving 500+ miles per night, plugged in to generators in the rain, next to the bass subs on stage, up and down on lift motors, attached and unattached to trussing, in and out of cases, rolled up and down ramps into semi’s……..you get the idea. We always carried two of everything and became fed ex shipping specialists just trying to get new parts sent to us two days in the future where we weren’t yet and didn’t know anybody where we were headed……..well you can imagine.
Nowadays, some things have gotten better. The new LED light engine in robotic lighting has allowed for less power consumption to each robot and far less heat within the fixture. Thus less fan noise, and so finally we have been able to install some in our church and school projects in Central Minnesota and Canada successfully.
If you are church or theatre client thinking of getting some robotic LED fixtures. Here are a few of the upsides and downsides we are noticing:
Upsides: The lights can move without staff having to move them! Motion can be programmed into any service or event. Colors and textures are endless without gels. One robot equals many many pars and is extremely energy efficient.
Downsides: Programming can be time consuming and is not for faint of heart technically. Lighting consoles/software can be intimidating. Color Temperatures from the LED fixtures is not always great for video front lighting and it takes a pretty expensive robot to pull this off well. Gobos, like any preset pattern or texture, can be extremely “cheezy” to professionals and taste is a big concern in worship spaces. We train and work with amateur techs to create looks at churches that are tasteful and enhance the patrons experience. It is those same spaces that really can come alive with good programming.