ORLAND PARK, IL -- (For Immediate Release) – It might not be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but a reprisal of the musical Hair by a Chicago-area theatre group marks the dawning of a new age in stage lighting: the use of mostly-LED rigs in place of conventional theatrical lights.
In Opening Night Arts Group's production of Hair, directed by Cassie Dawe and held at the Carl Sandburg Performing Arts Center, the iconic musical from the '60s hippie counter-culture era got an updated look with ELED Tri Par 56 tri-color LED par cans from Elation Professional. The show's lighting was supplied, designed and programmed by Jason Reberski, JR Lighting Design, Inc. (Orland Park, IL), who used 21 x ELED Tri Par 56 units in creating a 100% LED top/back light system as well as 100% LED footlight and downstage “shin” sidelight systems. The ELED Tri Par 56 is a compact RGB mixing par can powered by 14 x 3-watt tri-color LEDs that combine red, green and blue in one source. They were outfitted with LSF film for beam shaping.
“It was a wonderful exercise for me as a designer and programmer to use a large amount of LEDs for a theatrical show, and the Elation fixtures performed beautifully,” said Reberski, noting that four Elation Design Spot 575E moving heads were also utilized to augment the LEDs for added texture, color and special effects. “Most of the show's lighting was defined with Elation LEDs and moving lights, with minimal support from conventional sources.”
Interestingly, Reberski had originally intended to use the LEDs merely as supplements to conventional top-light and backlight systems. However on the first day of programming when he saw “the power available to me by using only (the ELED Tri Par 56s), I decided to use the LEDs exclusively,” he said. “In saturated and intermediate colors, LEDs excel in terms of intensity over conventional sources . . . at a fraction of the power consumption. For instance, to bathe the entire stage in deep, saturated blue light, the conventional system would have used 6,900 watts of electricity. The entire system of LED top and backlight in dark blue only drew about 210 watts, and incredibly the light output was almost three times more than the conventional system to my eye!”
But the ELED Tri Par 56's energy efficiency wasn't the only advantage it brought to this cultural snapshot of '60s. Ironically, back in the day when Hair became a defining portrayal of the peace/love generation, LEDs were barely in use as little red indicator lights on electronics and appliances. Flash forward five decades -- and LED technology has become an amazingly effective visual conduit for conveying the bold psychedelic colors and trippy feeling of that era.
“Aside from the practical benefits, the design-specific benefits of having so many instruments that could change color on a whim were huge!” said Reberski. “Typically in a theatrical setting using color scrollers, you have to â€˜toggle' to other systems to allow for â€˜mark cues' to take place. The ability to fade from any color to any other color allowed for a more organic lighting creation process, which worked very well with the nature of the show. The needs of the show were such that bold, saturated colors were often used, however the LEDs were still capable of more subtle theatrical hues as well.”
In creating the top/back light system, Reberski used 15 x ELED Tri Par 56s, “hung across three electrics with five fixtures per pipe. This allowed me to isolate 15 different acting areas with backlight,” he explained. The footlight was positioned on the apron downstage of the proscenium stage left and right, with two ELED Tri Par 56s per side. “This allowed for colored extreme low front light, which was used mainly as effects lighting and casted huge shadows on the cyc. At lower intensities, it behaved like normal footlight, but with the ability to be any color I wanted!” The downstage sidelight system also utilized two ELED Tri Par 56s to provide “shin” dance side lighting for some of the larger numbers in the show.
The four Design Spot 575E moving heads were hung across the first and second electrics, with the downstage two units spaced far left and right, and the mid-stage units slightly closer together. “On stage they were my workhorses,” said Reberski. “The Design Spot 575E is bright; it competes directly with 700-watt fixtures and has a massive amount of features in a very small form factor. I used them often as high side-light during musical numbers. In many cases they served as repositionable specials and allowed me to further define â€˜tighter' scenes with special backlight or sidelight, often suggesting moonlight or other motivated lights. They were also used for effects like light shining through helicopter blades and a few strobing effects, as well as scenic treatments like color chases through psychedelic patterns on the cyc. The Variable Frost feature is something that you almost never find in a 575-watt fixture, and it was very useful at several points in the show. As a growing lighting company, the Design Spot 575E is a great investment because of its feature-set to price-point ratio.”
Reberski also had high praise for the ELED Tri Par 56, from both a design and business standpoint. “The ELED Tri Par 56 has a great ROI because of its low price, and yet it is a very professional product. Tri-LEDs are a popular commodity right now in the industry. The intensity is great and the filter frame allows you to use LSF film to shape the beam easily. It's an all-around great LED fixture that is serving my business well in everything from theatrical productions to event lighting.
“I think the main point I'd like to stress is that LED fixtures are completely useful and adequate to use in theatrical productions in their current state. Many people are concerned about the low Color Rendering Index of straight RGB LED fixtures, yet we only really need to worry about this in front light and white-light situations. For color washes and backlight systems, RGB LEDs excel.. For front light, higher CRI applications RGBW and RGBA/RGBAW systems are perfectly fine.
“Elation is really leading that pack in LED technology,” Reberski added. “There are so many different products in the Elation line for every budget and application.”
For more information contact:
Elation Professional at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
JR Lighting Design at 708-460-6319 or visit www.JRLightingDesign.com