ETC Raises the Bar with their PARs

ETC has long been a game changer in theatrical lighting. ETC’s Source Four technology, introduced in 1992, ushered in the ellipsoidal luminaire and the HPL lamp, both of which are popular choices in many stage lighting applications. ETC is once more making waves, this time by adapting their Source Four technology to the PAR can. ETC’s Source Four PAR Enhanced Aluminum Reflector (EA) is powerful, aesthetically appealing, and versatile. The Source Four PAR EA is among the brightest PAR cans available, it is rated for 750w HPL lamps which make it comparable to a PAR64 can with a 1,000w lamp (For more info on HPL lamps, see the article on them posted on our blog). This means that the PAR EA will save you energy over PAR 64s. This fact sets the Source Four EA apart from other PAR cans, but one only needs to see the Source Four’s die-cast aluminum housing to know that this PAR can is different. The Source Four EA’s narrow sculpted can and its attractive black or white finishes make it an attractive option for architectural lighting in addition to stage lighting.

The Source Four PAR EA, like many of ETC’s products, is distinguished by its versatility and usability. The Source Four PAR features interchangeable lenses that run the gamut of beam types from very narrow spot (VNSP) to extra wide flood (XWFL) (optional lens) for broad even washes at shorter distances. The Source Four PAR features unrivaled usability and excellent design with its system of snap-in rings that hold the lenses in place, allowing you to avoid the potentially hazardous task of reach into a hot PAR can. ETC has also addressed one of the PAR can’s most serious short comings, its generation of heat. The Source Four PAR Metal Cold Mirror (MCM) has all of the features of the EA, but features a special reflector coating that prevents heat from leaving the fixture.

ETC’s Source Four PAR EA and PAR MM represent the latest in PAR can technology. As with all of their products, ETC’s PARs feature amazing versatility and performance and attractive design. If you are looking to ramp-up your PAR can arsenal with increased versatility at less wattage then look no further than ETC’s PAR cans. BulbAmerica stocks all of them and other ETC products at amazing prices, so be sure to check us out!
By Victor Lopez | | hpl, lights, par can, stage | 0 comments | Read more

Photographers Choose CFLs for their Studio Lighting

Continuous lighting in a photography studio can make or break the photos being taken there. Therefore, the choice of light the photographer makes is essential to his or her photos, and will strongly influence the way they come out. ‘Hot’ lights, or incandescent or lights using a tungsten filaments and some other high intensity discharge (HID) light sources have long been the industry standard for studio lighting. Though hot lights have their advantages, they can be quite difficult, and even dangerous to use. Hot lights waste a tremendous amount of energy generating heat, thus making the studio rather uncomfortable, and also presenting a fire hazard. Photographers have substituted hot lights with ‘warm lights,’ which are typically compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbbased lighting systems.

CFLs feature many advantages over hot lighting, the most obvious of which is that they remain far cooler. In most studio photography applications, photographers want light that is close to, if not identical to standard daylight, or 5,500˚K. CFLs are popular in studio photography because they naturally emit a diffuse light, thus allowing the photographer to cut down on the number of light diffusers he or she has to use. Studio photographers will also want a CFL with as high a CRI as possible to ensure that the colors being represented in the photo being taken are as accurate as possible.

BulbAmerica has tons of CFLs to choose from including twists, mini-twists, triple-tube, quad-tube, T8, T5, and many, many other styles. We stock CFLs from the best manufacturers including Feit Electric, Osram, GE, Sunlite, Platinum, Philips, and Ushio. Check it out today!
By Victor Lopez | | bulbs, cfl, fluorescent, lights | 0 comments | Read more

Let There Be Light!: A PAR Can Guide for Your House of Worship By BulbAmerica Editor

Let There Be Light!: A PAR Can Guide for Your House of Worship

Recently the house of worship lighting market has been inundated by options for PAR cans. Although the features of these PAR cans seem to be multiplying constantly, the essential decision for the beginning HOW lighting designer remains the same: should I use a traditional a PAR can or a LED PAR can? This article will discuss the pros and cons of each within the particular context of the church and worship service and hopefully it will help clarify your own thinking on the matter. One somewhat neglected but important aspect of this decision has to do with the church layout itself. Many older churches were not built with lighting systems in mind and can present the problem of mounting lighting systems in easily accessible places. Because of this, some churches may require trusses to be mounted higher up or in a hard to reach place. If this is the case, you may want to consider LED PAR cans. LED PAR cans have a much longer life hour rating (30,000hr – 50,00hr) than traditional par cans. Furthermore, LED PAR cans do not require the replacement of color gel filters. In short, if your PAR cans are hard to reach for maintenance, it is best that you get one that requires as little as possible.

LED PAR cans are not always the best choice for the situation. If your church worship service features musical acts using fog or smoke machines, you may want to consider traditional PAR cans. LED PAR cans are not quite as bright as incandescent PAR can lamps and sometimes lack the punch to cut through the fog and get the most out of the lighting effect fog machines yield. If there are LED PAR cans mounted up-stage to illuminate the audience, the flicker of the LEDs, if there is indeed one, and the sight of the individual bulbs rather than a coherent light source may be distracting. Some LED PAR cans, particularly lower end ones, may flicker on camera as AC current modulates and the LED lamp cycles, producing flickering perceptible by video cameras. For this reason, if you videotape or plan on doing so, you may want to determine how high end a LED PAR can you can afford, as any flickering in your recording will probably ruin your recording. To get the most out of your lighting system, you may consider choosing a combination of traditional and LED PAR cans. This will of course depend upon your lighting and personal priorities.This also presents its difficulties, as much matching color and light quality between the sources can sometimes be difficult. If you are willing to sacrifice lighting performance for a greener lighting system, you may opt for a complete LED system.

Like most important questions, there are no simple answers and more often, there really isn’t an answer at all. When it comes to choosing between LED and incandescent PAR cans it is best to know the limitations of each technology so you plan accordingly and use one’s advantages to compensate for the disadvantages of the other. BulbAmerica has both traditional and LED PAR cans to make your choice that much easier, be sure to check us out!
By Victor Lopez | | fog machines, led, lights, par can, stage | 0 comments | Read more

Get the Most Out of Your Lighting Fixtures with Optima's Floor Stand

Though you may be used to seeing your PAR cans hanging above your head, it doesn’t mean they have to be. Optima’s Floor PAR Can Stand allows you to get more out of your PAR cans or other lighting effect units. By mounting the yoke of your PAR can or other lighting effect fixtures to the stand, and then securing it using the provided bolt and hexagonal nuts, you can experience your lighting in a whole new way. By floor mounting your PAR can, you can provide your stage or other event with the benefits of the smooth and even light of your PAR cans in a wall-washing, up-lighting, or accent lighting capacity. The mounting stand is a useful tool for all production houses and churches, but it is especially handy for smaller or traveling venues and DJs that are looking to maximize their lighting options while using a minimum of lighting fixtures. 

Optima’s floor lighting stand will fit PAR 36, PAR38, PAR46, PAR56, PAR64 cans and will support any fixture under 15lbs. Its steel construction and simple design make this stand extremely durable and great for being taken on the road. Get more out of your PAR cans and other lighting by getting an Optima floor stand, your audience will thank you for it!

By Victor Lopez | | lighting, lights, par can, par36, par38, par46, par56, par64, stage | 0 comments | Read more

Followspots: Make Your Performance Stand Out Today

The followspot is an essential light fixture to any theatre or church’s lighting arsenal. The followspot is crucial to directing the attention of the audience and emphasizing certain actions and characters. Today, followspots are technologically advanced and come with numerous options and features which can seem intimidating and bewildering. This article will serve as a guide to followspots that will hopefully help you make an educated decision regarding which followspot is right for you. One of the most important specifications you will want to pay attention to in selecting a followspot is the throw distance, or the distance that the follow spot should be from the stage in order to provide an optimal spot. To determine what throw distance you need, you measure the distance from where the follow spot will be situated to the stage, or area on stage, where followspot illumination will take place. Generally, for small venues such as small churches and theaters, a follow spot with a throw of 25ft to 100ft is sufficient. Time Square Lighting’s 410FS has this throw rating and is ideal for smaller venues. Larger venues will generally require a follow spot with a throw distance of 200ft or more.Time Square Lighting’s MOON 1200 is ideal in larger venues with substantial distances between the spot and the stage.

Throw distance is not the only specification you will want to pay attention to when choosing a followspot. The point of the followspot is to highlight a certain character or action onstage against whatever else is taking place, this means that the spot of light must stand out against whatever other light, if any, is present on stage. You therefore must ensure that you select a followspot that can support a lamp that will be powerful enough to cut through the light provided by your existing lighting system. You’ll also generally want to have a sense of how bright you want your spot to be. To determine how powerful a lamp you’ll need, you should look for center beam candle power (CBCP) or foot-candle (lm/ft2) specs rather than wattage. This is because followspots and lighting system fixtures (PAR cans, Fresnels,Ellipsoidals, etc.) use different bulb types. Followspots typically use some type of high intensity discharge (HID) bulb whereas a PAR Can or ellipsoidal may use a incandescent, halogen, or even LED bulb. Comparing the wattages of different bulb types would therefore prove misleading. CBCP, which measures the intensity of the light in a specific direction at the center of the beam, and foot-candles, which is the measure of the amount of light that falls upon a surface, are the most helpful measures and should be consulted.

Lastly, followspots come with many features which may determine your followspot depending on your lighting demands. Some followspots come with effects like gobos, dichroic color filters, iris adjustment, blackouts (dousers), and dampers. Manufactures like Chauvet also offer automated follow spots, which use DMX512 protocol and connectivity to control its panning, tilting, color, etc. with a controller. Whatever specifications you need, BulbAmerica has a comprehensive line of followspots and has one to suit your demands. Check us out right now!
By Victor Lopez | | Ellipsoidals, followspots, lighting, lights, stage | 0 comments | Read more

PAR Cans, Fresnels, and Ellipsoidals, Oh My!: A Guide to Stage Lighting Fixtures

When selecting luminaires for your stage, theatre, or concert venue you are immediately confronted with choosing between three essential fixtures: the PAR can, Fresnel, and Ellipsoidal. Though many websites and magazine articles will tell you that these fixtures are important, few will tell you how they differ and in what applications they are best used. The PAR can is probably the most recognized fixture in theatre lighting. Its parabolic shape and metal housing make it a common sight hanging from a truss system in a theatre. LED PAR cans are also becoming common. PAR cans are known for their intense beams, and if used with a colored gel, deep and saturated colors. PAR cans are used when flat light with soft edges is required. The wide variety of PAR can beam types available make the PAR can’s application in the theatre production very versatile.

The Fresnel is often rectangular and is distinguished by its unique lens and interior track for the bulb. The Fresnel lens consists of a series of concentric circles on the lens’ exterior to allow the light it transmits to travel further. The inside, or back of the lens is pebbled to aid in collecting the emitted light and focusing it. Inside the Fresnel can, the bulb is mounted on a track that slides back and forth, allowing you to change the bulb’s distance from the lens. This feature enables you to change the beam angle from a more spotted beam as the bulb is toward the back of the can to a flooded beam as the bulb is near the lens at the front of the can. Like the PAR can, the Fresnel’s beam is soft-edged. The Fresnel does not have as a large a throw however, and is used in the theatre primarily for general illumination where beam shape is not important and backlighting.

The ellipsoidal, or ERS or Leko, is another common theatre light source. Ellipsoidals have a well-defined beam of light that is focusable using the can’s focus knobs and adjustable barrel to adjust the beam edge. Ellipsoidals often feature a gel frame and template slot for gobos, making it a versatile lighting choice for spotting and the placement of discrete patterns on stage. There are many choices for ellipsoidal bulbs so you have many options for beam angles and many options regarding where in theatre you will position your Ellipsoidal. There are also a number of LED and plasma Ellipsoidals currently manufactured and surely more will appear on the market as alternative bulb types to the incandescent are developed.

Hopefully this guide has shined some light on the differences between PAR cans, Fresnels, and Ellipsoidals and will help you make an informed decision regarding your own lighting system. As usual, contact our experts or add your questions to the comment box of this article if you have any. Good luck!
By Victor Lopez | | Ellipsoidals, gel sheet, lighting, lights, png, stage | 0 comments | Read more

An Introduction to Dimmer Packs

An Introduction to Dimmer Packs

Dimmer packs are a key component to any lighting system. The dimmer pack is a series of dimmers that lowers and raises the voltage allotted to a particular light source, thus raising and dimming the light source. It is important to realize that dimmers do not dim lights by themselves, they must be controlled by a console. All dimmer packs, whether portable, lightbar, or rack-mounted share basic features. All dimmer packs have outputs, or outlets that power the fixtures they are dimming. The most common output is the Edison dual socket. Dimmer packs have a specific number of channels, of which correspond to a specific piece of lighting equipment. All dimmer packs have a maximum wattage per channel. For portable dimmer packs, the typical per-channel wattage is either 600w or 1,200w. In order to protect the lights and the dimmer pack from short circuits and irregularities in electrical flow, all dimmer packs are outfitted with fuses or circuit breakers to safeguard the lighting system. The more complex dimmer packs have multiple output options, the Lightronics R-series rack-mounted dimmer pack has the option of Edison dual sockets, terminal strips, a patchbay, or two socapex outputs. Some dimmer backs also have outputs for less conventional lighting options, like LED rope lights. All dimmer packs also have a male and female XLR jacks, or universes. The XLR jacks allow you establish a connection between the controller and the dimmer pack, or set up a daisy-chain of dimmer packs. In order for the dimmer pack to communicate with the controller or other dimmer packs, the dimmer pack will have either a DIP switch or an LED display and controls to designate which channel on the controller the dimmer pack will occupy or what position in the daisy chain the dimmer pack has. 

Like theatre lighting technology at large, dimmer packs in the recent years have seen some remarkable technological innovations. Lightronics offers a wireless dimmer pack that replaces XLR wire connectivity with a wireless system in which the dimmer pack can communicate with the controller at up to 4,000ft feet away. Some dimmer packs also have more features directly on the dimmer pack itself including dimming curve selection and built in chases. The use of a LCD display in place of a DIP switch allows the dimmer packs to be more easily used and adapted to more purposes other than dimming.

Hopefully this article has given you the basic information to pick out the dimmer pack best for you. Be sure to check out our comprehensive dimmer pack offerings and packages today!

By Victor Lopez | | dimmer, dmx, lights, pack | 0 comments | Read more

A Lighting Guide for Your Church on the Go

In the July issue of Church Production Magazine, Greg Persinger wrote on the increasing trend of “mobile campus” churches. These mobile churches require the same excellent lighting as traditional churches but require their lighting systems to be easily transportable. Devising a proper system for a mobile lighting system can be both intimidating and challenging, but hopefully this article will provide you with some ideas on how to get your mobile lighting system rolling. Selecting what you will mount your lighting system on is one of the first decisions you will have to make. In order to decide whether you need a tripod stand or a truss system you will need to figure out how many and what size par cans, ellipsoidals, pin spots, etc. you require for your service. Tripod stands typically come in 9-ft or 10-ft spans with a 30lbs and 100lbs maximum weight load respectively. If your lighting needs exceed the limitations of these stands, then a truss system is most likely for you. In addition to being to bear more weight, trusses come with the added benefit of being able to fly lightweight speakers. Truss systems come in non-crank or crank-up versions. They typically have 10-ft spans with maximum loads of 200lbs to 300lbs. The truss systems themselves weigh around 85lbs.

Another crucial decision you will need to make will regard what type of par cans and other types of lighting you will want to use. The heart of your lighting system will be a combination of PAR cans and/or ellipsoidal lights. For your par cans you will need to select a par can size and bulb and choose an appropriate beam type and wattage for your specific space. 
LED par cans should be seriously considered for your mobile lighting set up. Their energy efficiency will reduce the amount you need. Furthermore, LED par cans have on board dimmers, lighting effects, and color changing abilities which will cut down on the number of dimmer packs, gels and other hardware you would otherwise need. The durability of LEDs makes them ideal for regular transportation. LED par cans are often weatherproof in case you want to bring your worship service out of doors. BulbAmerica sells PAR can packages to help you assemble an appropriate lighting system and choose the specifications that are right for you. Ellipsoidal lights feature an ellipsoidal reflector and often a series of lenses, a lens train, an adjustable barrel for focus, a gel frame, and a slot for gobos.

In order to dim and control your lighting you will need a dimmer pack and a control console. Portable dimmer packs, like those made by Optima, feature an easy to use LCD display and will enable you to control your lighting. You will also need a controller. Controllers can be extremely complex and deserve an article unto themselves, luckily we have one on our blog (see “Taking Control of Your Lighting System”). You’ll want to choose a controller that has controls that will be intuitive and easy to use by the light operator, whether that means selecting a controller that uses primarily sliders or a more computer-like interface. You may want to choose a controller that can save your lighting settings and scenes either on the controller’s hardrive or externally on a thumbdrive or CD. No matter what features you end up choosing, you must ensure that your controller is compact and durable enough to survive constant transportation.

Of course you may have more questions than this article is capable of answering. You should always consult an expert rather than make a decision with limited information. Though your church venue may be temporary, the high quality of your worship service should not be. Our experts would be more than willing to field your questions either through email or over the phone. Safe travels!
By Victor Lopez | | Ellipsoidal, led, lighting, lights, outdoor | 0 comments | Read more

Elation's ELAR TRI EX Flood LED: An Innovative Outdoor Lighting Solution

Elation Professional is typically known for its quality stage and DJ lighting products, however Elation’s new ELAR series LED products feature innovative LED lighting solutions for all sorts of architectural lighting applications. One of my favorite ELAR line products is the ELAR EX TRI Flood LED RGB. The 60w TRI Flood features 15 3w Tri-color LEDs and a 40˚beam angle, which makes the TRI Flood a great choice for color washes. With an IP65 rating and durable die cast aluminum housing, the TRI Flood can withstand the elements and provide you with consistent flood lighting no matter what the weather. This unique outdoor flood unit can be operated in numerous modes, making it very versatile. The TRI Flood can be operated using a DMX controller or can be controlled with the optional remote and IR control set up. Foregoing control altogether is also an option, simply set the TRI Flood to run according to its own internal built-in programs or auto mode and you set this unit and forget it.

Elation’s ELAR EX TRI Flood LED RGB is a truly unique outdoor flood unit. Check out or selection of Elation’s other products in addition to our other outdoor LED products, you won’t be disappointed! As usual, leave a comment or question on our blog or Facebook or call us at 1-877-622-0897.
By Victor Lopez | | color, led, lighting, lights, outdoor | 0 comments | Read more

Elation's ELAR EXFLOOD: A Powerful LED Wash

As LEDs continue to prove themselves in architectural lighting applications, LED wash units continue to multiply. In this article I am going to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and direct your attention to Elation’s ELAR EXFLOOD LED wash unit, an LED wash unit that pacts a brilliant punch. The EXFLOOD is a high output LED color changer, powered by 216 LEDs with a 40˚ beam angle for perfect wall washes. The IP65 rated EXFLOOD features a die-cast aluminum housing to make this unit extremely durable. Controllable via stand alone or a DMX controller, the EXFLOOD lends itself to either architectural applications or theatrical applications. Built in strobing and 0-100% dimming gives you a great deal of versatility in crafting the light right for you. The 10lb EXFLOOD is light and compact enough for easy transportation, making it ideal if you design events and are constantly moving your lighting around. Elation’s ELAR EXFLOOD is a great choice for outdoor architectural or entertainment wall washes. It’s formidable light and nearly infinite color capabilities make a stand out performer.

BulbAmerica has the EXFLOOD and many of Elation’s other products in stock and ready to ship today, so check out what we have to offer. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question on our blog or Facebook or call us at 1-877-622-0897.
By Victor Lopez | | color, led, lighting, lights, outdoor | 0 comments | Read more
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