InfoComm 2016 Coverage: Video and Lighting

We’ll continue our InfoComm 2016 coverage today, wrapping up video and moving into lighting! Lots and lots of lighting…

 It's cute, but it's powerful. 

It's cute, but it's powerful. 

Ross Carbonite Black Solo

Speaking of small switchers that pack a punch, we saw the new all-in-one switcher from Ross again at InfoComm. Boasting 6 HD-SDI and 3 HDMI inputs, along with 5 HD-SDI and 1 HDMI output in a compact chassis, the new Solo is a small powerhouse. It has 4 fully functional keyers, a transition keyer, 1 UltraChrome keyer, and 2 MiniMEs with two keyers each. Because the switcher can be controlled from Dashboard, it opens up some exciting opportunities for system building. At NAB, we said, “This is cool; it would be great if there was a rack mounted version with no control panel for just Dashboard control.” They said, “Yes, we have that, too.” Pricing is looking like it will be surprisingly low for this much power in a small package.And, since it’s from Ross, it will actually work. We like this one.

Chauvet Lighting

There were so many new products at the Chauvet booth, it’s hard to know where to begin. Maybe we’ll just go in the order we looked at them so I can keep it straight. 

 The B-2805FC and it's little brother in the background.

The B-2805FC and it's little brother in the background.

The Ovation B-2805FC is a new strip light that features a crazy-bright RGBA-Lime color engine. I know, lime, right? Well, turns out there’s some science going on here. If you look at a color space chart, you’ll see a long line between red and green. Smack dab in the middle of that is lime. When they add lime to an RGBA color engine, it’s possible to get really good colors in between red and green, along with very smooth dimming. It’s almost 6’ long, has a very well thought out stand and can do some pretty cool tricks with it’s 32 possible personalities. I won’t even try to cover all of it here; just go look at it online. It also comes in a shorter version, the B-565FC.

Then there’s the COLORado 3 Solo, which features three 60W quad-color engines for a fully homogenized beam. It zooms from 8° to 40* (and it’s fast) and in addition to being quite bright, looks very good. It’s also IP65 rated, so if you have a need for some bright outdoor lighting, this could be the ticket. 

Another cool new product is the Strike 1. It’s a tungsten-looking blinder driven by a powerful 260W warm white LED source. It can act as a blinder, wash or strobe and puts out a smooth, even light. They even built in some red-shift to make it look even more like a tungsten source. The CRI is an impressive 93, and with a 30° beam angle and 51° field angle, it might even make a nice front wash light in the right situations. 

Most of you have probably heard me talking about the Ovation E-190WW ellipsoidal fixture; it’s pretty much all we sell any more when we need an ellipsoidal front light. I’ve been impressed with them since I first installed some two years ago, but with an output that mimics a 575x lamp, sometimes they aren’t quite bright enough. That’s about to change with the introduction of the E-260WW. Whereas the 190 was powered by 19 10W LEDs, the 260 is powered by a single 202W warm LED source. I guess E-202WW didn’t sound like enough of a change. While it may not sound like much, some improvements in the lensing bring the output up to the equivalent of a 750W HPL (not long life, a full 750). The output is super-bright, and dead even across the field. They also raised the color temp up from the 190’s 2700K to 3150K, which I think is a welcome change. This one will be the new standard for us, I think. 

Now, you might think a white LED ellipsoidal is fine and all, but what about a color one? Welcome the new E-910FC. It houses the same RGBA-Lime engine of the B-2805FC, and I gotta say, it looks great. Color mixing is fantastic, and the output great. It has 91 3W LEDs and can be ordered with a variety of lenses, both zoom and prime from 19°-50°. CRI is said to be “high,” I’ll have to find out what that means. Standard color temp with all LEDs up is 5850K, but they included white presets from 2800-6500K to make matching easier. This is another great option for front light. 

That’s pretty much it for the static lights, but InfoComm was the first time we got to see the new Maverick line up close and personal. We’ve been hearing about these for a while and I’m glad they are out and we could see them. The line currently consists of three fixtures; the MK1 Hybrid, the MK2 Spot and MK2 Wash. Let’s take them one at a time.

The MK1 Hybrid fixture is powered by a 440W Osram Sirius reflector lamp and is both a beam and spot fixture. In beam mode, it can do a 1° beam for those cool aerial effects. In spot mode, it offers a 3°-18° zoom range. It offers overlapping prisms, full CMY color mixing and dual rotating gobo wheels. It can also handle Art-Net, DMX, W-DMX, sACN natively. It’s a cool fixture. 

The MK2 Spot is similar and features a 13°-37° zoom with variable CMY and CTO color mixing. Like the Hybrid, it has two rotating, indexible gobo wheels and handles all the IP-based protocols. The same lamp as the Hybrid means it’s also crazy-bright. 

The MK2 Wash is powered by 12 40W Osram RGBA LEDs and zooms from 7° to 49°, which means you could do some aerial effects one song, and wash the whole stage in color on the next. Because the LEDs can be controlled internally, they built some quasi-gobo effects into it, which is pretty slick. Also built in are a ton of pre-mixed colors for easy and fast programming. Like the other Maverick fixtures, it takes all the IP-based protocols, and adds Kling-net. Like the other Maverick fixtures, the Wash is bright, fast and looks great. 

 Put two of these on a small- to mid-sized stage and you have some crazy effects possibilities. 

Put two of these on a small- to mid-sized stage and you have some crazy effects possibilities. 

Finally, there was the new Rogue R1 FX-B. This little fixture is so cool it’s hard to describe what it can do. Just go watch the video on their website. It features four pixel mappable 15W RGBA heads with a 5° angle. It’s a continuous movement figure so you can start it spinning and never stop. The programmed dozens of macros into it, and you can combine them into thousands of effects. This one definitely falls into the “flash and trash” category, but it’s some insanely cool flash and trash. 

Chauvet just keeps cranking out new stuff. I had dinner with them one night and got the skinny on some new fixtures that are coming out soon that will be just as cool as these. This is a company to watch for sure. 

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Don't Forget to Check the Cable

We’ve been talking about the transition to IP-based networked AVL systems for quite some time. I just finished up a big install for a church in which every system is IP-based. Audio is Dante, lighting is Streaming ACN and while video was SDI, the router and switcher lived on the network and were remotely controllable. All these systems are extremely flexible, powerful and offer the church great capabilities. They also come with some setup and configuration challenges. I spent as at least 2-3 times the as long getting everything playing nicely as I did actually tuning the PA and building show files.

These system can also be challenging to troubleshoot. And with everything now in IT switches, it’s easy to assume that any problem you have is IP related. However, sometimes, it’s something far more simple—and frustrating. Here are few examples of things I ran into that turned out to be a lot simpler than we originally thought. 

Is It Getting Power?

We installed an RGBW house light that was driven by DMX. The fixtures have their own control box that sends out a proprietary control signal that we initially had some challenges with. Once we worked that out, it all seemed to be working, until we lost half the lights in the youth room. The lights were split into two circuits and two runs of control. Those runs coincided. I spent a few hours trying to troubleshoot the control signal, wondering why it wouldn’t turn on. 

Finally, I grabbed by non-contact voltage tester and found out they weren’t getting AC. I went back to the relay rack and found a fuse blown on the relay tray. Curious as to how the fuse was blown, I shut power off to the relay panel and tested all the hot busses for shorts. Sure enough, we had a short in a different circuit. The electrician accidentally landed a neutral on a hot lug and when we put the relay tray in, it blew the fuse. We didn’t know that, as we hadn’t used that circuit yet. And when we pulled the trays out to connect DMX, we mixed up the order and ended up with the blown fuse in the house light slot. Before you go spending a ton of time trying to sort out IP/IT/DMX/SCAN issues, make sure the fixtures are actually getting power. Lesson learned. 

Is the Pinout Right?

In this same system (it was a frustrating day), we came out of a SCAN gateway to DMX to drive the control box. The gateway used a terminal strip, and the control box used a 5-pin connector. So, we cut the end off a 5-pin cable and landed the wires. My installer had done the exact same thing in another room in this install, so it seemed logical to land the wires the same way.

Three hours of troubleshooting streaming ACN, DMX, gateways and all that nonsense and one of my guys suggested opening up the 5-pin to verify the pinouts. Sure enough, the manufacturer of this 5-pin cable (who will go unnamed, but will not see a ton more business from me) decided that sticking to a single color scheme for all DMX cables is simply too much work. In one cable, shield, data + and data - were bare wire, black and red, respectively. In the other room where I had so much trouble, it was bare wire, red and green. Once I swapped wires, all worked fine. 

Lesson learned; never trust a cable manufacturer to do a good job managing colors in 5-pin (or even 3-pin for that matter) cables. 

In each of these cases, a simple analog cable caused me a ton of headaches. I should have checked them first, but I was sure it was a network issue. When troubleshooting newer systems, don’t forget the basics. Is it hooked up properly? Is it getting power? Is the In cable going to the In port? Often, we spend a lot of time trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

Roland