As a college preparatory educational facility, the Detroit Country Day School provides liberal arts educational opportunities including Theater and Dance programs which build skills to prepare students for future careers in both stage and film. Performing inside Detroit Country Day School’s Seligman Performing Arts Center, Technical Director Jim Davis is committed to providing students with a state-of-the-art facility with the most up-to-date lighting and sound systems. When he decided it was time to upgrade the lighting fixtures, he wanted to start with the most innovative cyclorama lighting available and he chose the PLCyc LED Luminaire from Philips Strand Lighting and Philips Selecon.
“I have been the Technical Director at Detroit Country Day School for about 12 years,” began Davis. “At our Seligman Performing Arts Center, we host a lot of high end music groups such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, plus the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble. But our main focus for the theatre is for use by the school where we produce three main stage Broadway-style productions each year in addition to the many smaller performances for all the various grade levels.”
The Theater architecture is a proscenium configuration with an overhead catwalk system 22’ high, the theatre’s cyclorama is approximately 40’ wide. Since the cyc fixtures are the most widely used fixtures in his lighting rig throughout all the various productions, Davis wanted to start his lighting upgrade here, and he wanted to use the most revolutionary yet practical technology he could find.
He continued, “LED fixtures have been on my radar for several years now as the technology has grown and as I started to do my research into LED cyc lights, I got an opportunity to see the PLCyc at USITT. Afterwards, I got in contact with Drew Franklin at Vincent Lighting Systems and he brought both a PLCyc and another LED cyc fixture out to us, and we did a shoot-out in the theatre. I can go to all the tradeshows and see all the product displays in the convention centers, but it’s great to have a dealer that is willing to go the extra mile and bring the fixtures to my space so that we can see how they actually work in the field. Once we turned them on, the PLCyc LED had much better color, was brighter, and had a more even coverage area, so we decided to purchase the seven units.”
Although it was the color and intensity of the PLCyc LED luminaire that drove Davis’ purchase choice, there was also the added cost-savings benefit provided by their powerful yet energy-efficient performance.
Davis explained, “The seven PLCyc fixtures replaced six 4-cell cyc fixtures so we went from a power consumption of roughly 24,000 Watts to only 840 Watts and that was a big advantage, plus we no longer have to pay for gel color. These cost saving reductions are something that the school itself is very happy about because they now have a reduced power bills and production budgets. When you start to add up the gel costs, the reduction in power, plus the lamp replacement costs from the old units, the savings really starts to add up.”
With the PLCyc LED luminaires now installed in the catwalks of the Seligman Family Performing Arts Center, and spaced on 5’ centers, Davis was able to first use them on the main stage production of Macbeth to beautifully cover the entire cyclorama.
“Macbeth was the first performance we used them on and they worked extremely well. I love how they instantly change color to whatever color we choose. Before we couldn’t really do that and would have to pre-program different color sets and hope that it worked well, but now I love all the various colors we can make with very smooth color cross-fading.”
A breakthrough in cyclorama lighting, the PLCyc LED luminaire delivers smooth and even cyclorama lighting in a compact and light weight design. Using a maximum of 120 watts, each unit can replace the equivalent of a traditional 4-color, 500-watt per cell, cyc light. A typical cyclorama can also now be powered from a single circuit using the convenient PLCyc LED Powercon cabling system for power in-and-through applications.
“The size of the PLCyc is sort of deceiving since they are very small units, but they have a lot of punch, and the colors are deep and rich,” concluded Davis. “As a designer, you really need that deep, rich color from your cyc lights, but you also don’t want to lose any intensity. With the additive color mixing of the PLCyc LED you get both the color and the intensity you desire and that’s amazing.”
Philips Strand Lighting and Philips Selecon offer the world's most comprehensive and competitive range of luminaires, dimming equipment, control systems and software to answer the creative needs of lighting designers working in theatre, television, film, themed environments and sophisticated architectural applications. www.strandlighting.com. www.seleconlight.com