by Michael Raia
We work with a lot of church and school clients, and one thing that is always a bear of a challenge is theatrical lighting. It's expensive, it integrates with architectural / house lighting to varying degrees of success (never without large amounts of coordination for both planning and installation), and it can be very difficult to program for regular use without an on-board tech. Well we just found out about a product technology that changes everything. Youth pastors, praise band leaders, tech team members, theater teachers, and anyone else who likes amazing and affordable technology, rejoice! Please read on.
Ketra lighting, right here in our beloved city of Austin, is currently producing some outstanding lighting products, both retrofit lamp and install fixture. The first is a PAR-38 style lamp called the S38 that fits any existing standard fixture rated for that type of lamp. These might include certain types of spotlights and can down-lights that are already in your building, but they also include extremely inexpensive fixtures you can find at your nearest Lowe's or Home Depot like track lights, yard spots/floods, and driveway security lights. Imagine the possibilities! The light output for the 1200-lumen line is roughly comparable to a 150-watt halogen lamp. However, inside this little beauty is completely different than the burning hot heavy glass bulbs you're probably used to. Besides running extremely cool to the touch, the lamp full color-mixable. It can match any color of white light, but can also product any color you can imagine, saturated or pastel. Options for beam angle include 10º spot, 25º flood, 40º wide flood, and 60º very wide flood. They can be automated to any fade time, down to the second, even several minutes for an imperceptible, extremely slow change in light level. They can be fully dimmed down to 1% output. They are wireless. Yes, wireless. You can literally screw in a handful of these bulbs into a PAR-38 fixture, plug in the N1 wireless transmitter to your laptop, and control all of the lights independently or grouped any way you choose. And the software is free! A retrofit lamp and is soon to be made available as well, but in the ever-popular and essentially standard A-lamp style, which is the most commonly found residential style in overhead lights and lamps.
The next product, the G2 High Output Linear Accent is a 12" panel-style fixture that could be used as a wall or ceiling wash, cove light, or an area flood for a stage. They are ideally spaced about a foot apart for uniform coverage, or can extend farther apart via cable. They network to the N3 Satellite for distribution, which allows full DMX mapping for you lighting enthusiasts! The N3 also allows on-board storage and astronomical time clock, meaning the fixtures can be programmed to respond to changing conditions in daylight throughout the day. The N3 can be mounted or concealed near any of the fixtures that daisy-chain into it. The G2 is extremely low-profile, handsome in appearance for integration into a variety of settings, and driven by an on-board power supply, eliminating the need for a bulky external transformer.
Want a little automation and a permanent control panel? The X1 touchpad, with all the sleek, attractive look of an iPod air, provides an on-off switch and 4 programmable scene presets. Any configuration of brightness and color can be saved for quick and easy access. Oh, it's also wireless and can be located in any obvious location by entries like a light switch, or concealed in a more secure setting. Range has been tested successfully at over 200 ft., and WiFi is not required.
So what are the implications of this amazing new technology? If you have a stage that desperately needs some better lighting, you can either retrofit or buy some cheap PAR-38 fixtures and you've got cutting edge stage lighting and controls! If you have recessed can lights, you can put in the energy-efficent LED A20 and you have house lights that can put out any color you want! You can install G2 panels wherever you need a wall accent or an area flood. Put them on the ground at the feet of a band and you've got very inexpensive stage lighting. All of the settings for these lights can tie in to your laptop for control. And if you want to permanently install any of this, all you need is the X1 to save your scenes and you can turn them on instantly upon entering the room. All of this for an amazing price tag that beats the least expensive stuff you can find at any local or online music store, which doesn't offer the control, the features, or the integration that Ketra does. It doesn't get any better than that.
Thanks to our friends at Legacy Lighting for introducing us to this product and for keeping us on the cutting edge of specifying the highest quality products for our clients that also fit the budget.
Want to find out more about getting your hands on some of these products? Give us a shout.