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Digital Lighting… Viable?


For years, it’s been rumored that Digital Lighting would pretty much signal the end to automated lighting as we know it. Well, that hasn’t happened yet. Sure, major inroads have been made, primarily as a result of the efforts of High End and their Digital Lighting range, the DL1, DL2, and now DL3 fixtures

The problem with these digital lights (aside from cost) has always been that they were expensive, especially considering the rack of computers you needed to drag along to operate them. That was resolved with the DL2, but the cost remains an issue.

Secondly, and equally important – is the lack of real useful output. I am talking output that can compete with other moving lights in a typical show. Sure, with more video being incorporated into shows, it’s less of an issue, and video is huge – however – it’s still an issue when you consider the MASS APPEAL or Movement towards these moving video lights. Robe also a light – the Digispot 5000DT – that falls into the same category as the DL2 / DL3. It’s essentially a moving video projector with some slick added software – at a premium price!

The next wave of fixtures is starting to hit. This wave suggests you can “blend” a full on concert light like a MAC2000 or VL3000 – with a digital spot such as the High End DL’s. Two such lights have been making their rounds on the tradeshow and promo circuit. First came the Barco DML1200 (very original Digital Moving Light 1200). I saw the demo at LDI last year – and although the demo itself was less than impressive, reading between the lines – the fixture showed promise. It is a 10k video projector combined with a 1200W moving light. There are all sorts of lamps to accomplish this – and you can “morph” between a standard light and video. Pretty cool – but VERY expensive (I’ve heard $35k) when you consider a “rig” would include at least a dozen or more… Next comes a light from our Italian friends at SGM. The Digital 1500 (wow – another really original name…) claims to combine a 28k lumen moving light and 10.5k lumen video projector in one Attractive Package – Definitely more attractive than the Barco that looks a bit like a Volvo on a yoke. I haven’t seen it yet, but this SGM fixture looks very interesting indeed. It seems to have only a single 1200w lamp vs the multi-lamp assembly in the Barco – and doesn’t have any specialty lamps as required in other digital units (projectors on yokes). This thing shows all sorts of promise, but until I see it – and find out a price – I will have to hold my final judgement.

Although we’re seeing a lot of new gear coming in this genre – I don’t see “conventional moving lights” going away any time soon. If you figure Lumens Per Dollar, these lights are not good options. What small rental company can afford a rig of 24 Barcos for a typical One Off? This was what Barco suggested in their demo “Look – you can make twice as much money from your investment – because you can rent it when people need a video light, or even just a light”… sure – I’m gonna put $35k fixtures out on a local rock show at $175 each… not likely. 

Author: Marcel Fairbairn

Our expert sales team, collectively, have over 50 years experience in the sound, lighting, production and music industry.

3 thoughts on “Digital Lighting… Viable?

  1. I am sorry to say but you are comparing apples with pears.
    This sgm fixture is funny, the HES gear is prof. lighting and the Barco dml1200 is prof. video.
    So.. Barco is working hard to get their lighting-thing right and HES their video-thing.
    SGM is not a professional player in the real world.forget it.
    BTW DLM1200 produces (in lighting mode) well over 20K!!!
    You’ve only seen a prototype @ LDI
    Don’t judge to soon, wait ’till the end of July!

  2. Hey – I agree with you. I never said SGM was a huge player in the rental market, only that they have created what “appears” to be a very interesting combination or package and is “physically” more attractive than the awkward looking Barco unit.

    Fact is – this just may all change soon if High End is purchased by Barco as has been heavily rumored. The latest I heard was that it’s nearing completion and will be announced soon. That would be the best of ALL worlds, and will likely squeeze smaller players in this arena a little further away from the prize.

    Once again, just to clarify (thought it was pretty clear) this is not an endorsement for the SMG unit. I’ve never even seen it operate, nor have most people. They’ve got some nice photos, specs – and even a very slick little website but I haven’t seen it operate, and cannot even begin to endorse it’s profitability. I was only saying that it’s Interesting, which it is.


  3. Thanks for the link. made me think though.
    I’ve seen the product on pro light&sound in Frankfurt (Germany) not convinced/ bit wobbly. Also it was the 1st time for me to see the Barco fixture, I’ve looked at the Beta 1 prototype as you did and again I was not not convinced.
    A week ago a was invited @ a special preview-session in Brussels. I was flabbergasted!!
    Honestly, have a look to see what it is now.(the Barco one)
    Only the price….
    50K$ each.
    Could give you very specific information but not on your blog
    try to google “puntschoen” (dutch for winklepicker) and you’ll find me.
    thanks Charles.

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