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    Moving Heads or Simply Head Aches? On Moving Heads and HOW Lighting

    In the summer issue of Worship AVL: Asia, Mark Johnson wrote a nice article on moving heads and house of worship lighting which got me thinking about the topic as well. There are certainly a lot of moving heads to choose today, and if you are designing the lighting for HOW lighting, you’ve got to wonder how these luminaires fit into this specific lighting situation. Moving heads generally provide specific types of light. Spot and wash lights are the most common light beams provided by moving heads and are useful for HOW lighting. A spot beam is a hard edged, narrow beam while a wash provides a soft edged and more diffuse beam. For general lighting and color you may choose a wash moving head while for more specific dramatic moments you may want to accent them using darting beams or something of that sort. These two different light sources do not necessarily mean you need to get different moving heads for each. Some manufacturers, such as Elation, offer hybrid beam moving head such as Elation Design Beam heads, which allow you to adjust your beam type. The choice between a wash and a spot moving head is often more straight forward than choosing between incandescent, LED, and HID moving heads.

    LEDs are a compelling option for HOWs because they are incredibly efficient, require little maintenance, and are durable. LEDs however, do suffer some drawbacks. LEDs can produce excellent saturated deeper colors, but struggle to produce sufficiently bright and saturated light for colors approaching white. An additional problem surrounding LEDs has to do with the way they appear when they are lit. When an LED fixture is on its bulbs are not uniformly colored, rather the bulbs are colored individually and mixed to produce the desired color. For LED wash fixtures in particular, this can be an annoying or distracting sight if the luminaire is facing the audience, and thus detract from the service. It is in these capacities that LED moving heads fall short and incandescent and HID are attractive options. Incandescent moving heads are a great option, especially if you are looking for bright white light. Like all incandescent lamps, however, incandescent moving heads suffer from being inefficient. HIDs match the light quality of incandescent bulbs and have much improved efficiency. A HID lamp compared with an incandescent lamp of identical wattage will be brighter and have better luminous efficacy. HID lamps, however, cannot be dimmed because of the manner in which the bulb lights and the extended period of time it takes to achieve full luminosity. HID moving heads therefore use a shutter or douser to dim. This can prove wasteful because HIDs must therefore be on all the time while LEDs and incandescent lamps can be raised and lowered, thus somewhat compromising the efficiency of HID moving lamps.


    Don’t forget that many moving heads are decked out with effects like gobos and prism effects that you may or may not want for your HOW service. Remember that either way, whether you want or not you want the built in effects, you are paying for them when you buy a moving head. Lastly, and importantly, moving heads require more DMX channels devoted to them than conventional luminaires. If you don’t have a controller built specifically for intelligent lights, you will find yourself running out of channels very quickly. Therefore remember that installing moving heads may also mean installing a new controller too if you don’t already have one.

    BulbAmerica can take care of all your moving head needs and answer any more questions you may have. Check out what moving heads and controllers we have to offer you. And don’t forget to contact us with any questions you may have, we are here to help!
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