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.