A new ProLight+Sound arrives…

pls2016_f_2With all my respects to other big tradeshows, it’s becoming more and more clear that ProLight+Sound show in Frankfurt is actually the most important event for our industry. First, there are several big manufacturers in Europe, and it is much easier for them to show all their real potential in Germany than in the States, Australia or China. Second, Germany is a key market for Europe and it is also “the capital” of the European Union. Third, it is very interesting for a rental company or a production manager to see many different products in the same tradeshow, and that is exactly the big deal in PL+S: you have lighting, but also video, sound and backline. Fourth, we are in a global industry where flight tickets are very cheap compared to the old times. Since PLASA has decreased in audience, Frankfurt seems the only fair that can really make the difference for lighting crews. And it’s coming next week…

ProLight+Sound is huge. Many different halls, many different manufacturers, many different interesting products. So which is the best way to take benefit from the fair? Well, I really don’t know. The only recomendation I can give you is to clearly mark what you really need to see, depending on your next tour, your next installation or the next type of fixture you want to buy. However, if you ask me what I would do in the tradeshow, I can give you my vision.

What I really like to do in a global tradeshow like this is just “hunting”. Why? Because this is the perfect place for the innovation. If you know how to search, you are going to see wonderful ideas, tremendous tools and many ways to make your stage tasks easier. But if you want to see everything, it’s going to take some time. I assume that is impossible for me to see every single booth in the tradeshow. If I see them all, I will lose time instead of going deeply into the good products I’m interested in.

So, how I usually hunt? Well, unless I’m looking for something in particular, made by a very unknown or small company (which sometimes happens with media servers, controllers or lighting emulation), I invest most of the time with the big manufacturers. Why? Because they invest a lot of money in R&D, so they have more chances to release big improvements. However, it’s very important to maintain your skeptical spirit. A big name does not mean nothing but credibility and more opportunities to release an impressive and unique tool.

Let’s imagine you are in a booth. What to do? Well, if you are interested in a particular product, search for a specialist in the booth. They know everything about the products. I think it is a clear mistake to avoid sales people. They can really help you in a few minutes. You can ask whatever question you want to ask and you save a lot of time. If they don’t know something, they will find an answer ten times faster than you. And if you lose interest in a particular product, you can kindly leave booth to the next one.

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This year I’ll be present once again. It will be a pleasure to be part of the SGM booth, stands B14 and C14 on Hall 4.0. If you want to pay us a visit, you are more than welcome. A final recomendation: if you have some time, go to PRG’s FestHalle and enjoy their wonderful time-coded lighting show. It is huge, beautiful and very inspiring. And guess which luminaires are rigged… More than 1,000 SGM fixtures!

Enjoy…

“Decalogue to avoid getting lost in the lighting industry”

In January 28th 2016, the lighting webpage instalia.eu published one of my favourites articles about the lighting industry. I wrote the text exclusively for them, after a very kind offer by instalia.eu’s director Antonio. According to Antonio’s word, this article is one of the most successful articles ever published by this specialized web magazine.

For those of you speaking spanish, please check the full article in here: “Decálogo para no perderse en la industria de la iluminación”.

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In case you are not able to read spanish, I’m adding to this post the decalogue, just to let you know a little bit more about the article.

1. Forget about “good”, “bad”, “right” and “wrong”

2. Change your language: adapt yourself to different idioms, cultures and contexts.

3. Be loyal and honest instead of speculating.

4. Understand the cycles of each product.

5. Analyze profoundly the numbers, with everything involved.

6. Invest in quality, specify top brands and say NO to copies.

7. Follow the trends established by the big lighting professionals, maintaining a critical attitude.

8. Submit yourself to controlled risks.

9. Give your priorities to versatile products instead of focusing on specialized ones.

10. Perfect solutions do not exist, but custom solutions do.

 

SGM Tech Blog #5: “Let’s talk about color”

Since this post had a huge impact worldwide, I decided to reproduce it entirely in here, including photos. As you probably remember, I was present in London during a public shootout organized by LD Tim Routledge. We saw very impressive comparisons in that shootout, especially in colors. But I don’t want to tell you what to think, so please make your own conclusions after the reading, and enjoy!

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Color is the most intangible of all our tools. It is a mix between physics, psychology, semantics and even spirituality. We don’t even know what a Lighting Designer means when he’s talking about giving “more warmth to the light”. We can understand that he wants to “heat up” the light source, and therefore, to lower its color temperature or to absorb long wavelengths, typically considered as “cold”. But some lighting guys will translate “morewarmth” as giving “more quality” to a specific light, using diffusers or different accessories. And some might simply refer to emotional concepts, difficult to understand for a lighting mate waiting for precise commands.

 
If Newton and Goethe already confronted very different ideas of color, what more can I say? It’s easier to face the fact that our way of understanding color as Lighting Designers contain many different shades and some of them are more complex than they appear, especially when our vision needs to interpret what audience perceives – either through their eyes or camera lenses.

 
Traditionally, white (or the addition of all frequencies) is the color (or rather “no color”) that we all use the most. Why? Apart from its neutrality or versatility, the reason is evident: nothing is brighter than white, especially if your lamp outputs “white” light and you need to filter it (losing light) in order to get colors. All the subtractive mixing, including all CMY systems which discharge lamps are based in, work under that premise, suffering all the inherent disadvantages. In summary: do you want power? Use white.

 
When we talk about LED technology, it’s necessary to choose between a white light source and a color mix; in both cases the space is limited. The versatility given by the mix is juxtaposed with the better output of white sources. Manufacturers like SGM offer both options in most of their products (Q-7 RGBW to work with the whole color palette or Q-7 W for a brighter output in white, for instance). However, it seems reasonable to use a white light source for creating visual impacts and not a wide range of temperatures, tones and hues. That’s why SGM offers a white LED source in the G-1 Beam: a compact and lightweight moving head designed to build specific effects. By using a white LED you can increase the efficacy (maximum output but low power consumption), and that’s a key factor for a battery-driven luminaire.

 
But when it comes to a Spot moving head, things are different. Let us be honest: we abuse of white because we like to use gobos or prisms, and colors through CMY mixing do not allow us to get the appropriate intensity. The additive mixing (RGB) used in LED-based big spots is changing the way the game is played. It’s enough to see a SGM G-Spot in red to understand that you need more than just a gobo, a prism or a frost to kill its output. Suddenly, the chromatic intensity appears, with deep saturates and high contrast. It is something that we cannot recall: we have never seen something like this before, and that’s why we used to choose white for our effects.

 
To have a better comprehension of this, I should like to tell you a story. In July 2015, I was invited to a fantastic public shootout in London, where 200 Lighting Designers could see, for the very first time, the best spot moving heads of this industry operating together. Most prestigious brands in the market took their most powerful products directly from the factory, in the best possible conditions. So we could compare all of them 25 meters away from us, over a black wall: it couldn’t be more crystal clear.

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What we all saw in there publicly confirmed what SGM has been talking about for a long time: There is not a single spot moving head in the market capable of G-Spot colors. Such important colors as saturated red, full green, deep blue or even magenta were shown in the G-Spot as never before, overcoming lamps up to 1700w with 18 bit operation. G-Spot not only was the best in color intensity (say goodbye to subtractive mixing), it was the only one with a flat and even footprint as well (say goodbye to beam hotspots), the highest in color saturation (say goodbye to washed colors), the widest in contrast ratio (say goodbye to weak colors) and the most accurate in color changing (say goodbye to the disadvantages of dichroic palettes), since it was the fastest in color switch but also the smoothest in slow transitions, and even the widest in dimmer’s dynamic range performing a fade in and a fade out.

 
The question then arises: Is RGB mixing capable of providing a good white? G-Spot’s proposal is interesting. Thanks to an extra channel not accessible via DMX (called Y for Yellow), the SGM G-Spot adds different shades to RGB mixing creating a calibration mode (or CTC mode) that offers something we have never seen before in a luminaire: lineal color correction from 2,000K to 10,000K. Now we can correct a moving head’s white to match high pressure sodium lamps, a fluorescent or the average color temperature in a cloudy day, in addition to 3200K, 5600K and 6500K white balances.

 
This not only prevents from using CTO or CTB filters. Since G-Spot’s white is created by RGBY mixing through a mathematic algorithm over the CIE color space, it can be recalibrated over time, compensating the natural LED decay. Considering that discharge lamps’ color temperature is highly unstable and changes within hours, this is a big achievement. After recalibration, G-Spot colors will remain pure without compromising an accurate and adaptable white thanks to its CTC channel (DMX channel 6 in standard mode or 10 in extended mode). We don’t even need to worry about this mode in the lighting console, since G-Spot automatically deactivates the calibration when we use pure colors, reverting to the previous state when swapping to white.

 
Personally, I appreciate G-Spot’s RGBY mixing since it gives me more pastel colors, which are softer and warmer than RGBW palette. Yes, I said “warmer”… Warmth will always be our hidden joker until we all agree about its meaning!

This post has been published originally in the SGM Tech Blog, but the especialized website Ziogiorgio.com decided to publish it as well: http://ziogiorgio.com/2016/01/18/sgm-g-spot-outperforms-competition-at-public-shootout/

In addition, you can read the article in spanish: http://sgmlight.com/news/tech-blog-spanish/2016/january/hablemos-de-color/

SGM Tech Blog #4: “T.V.: Time and Versatility”

THIS IS A EXTRACT FROM SGM TECH BLOG. READ HERE THE FULL POST.

As Directors of Photography, we’re used to hear two common requests when renewing a season in a TV show: “do it faster, and use what you have”. Apart from new sets and new artists, budgets in TV never tend to increase for the second season. And if the producers are prepared to increase the budget line on lighting and video, this will be at the expense of demanding a better use of the equipment they already bought or hired. Have you heard about it before?

Regarding the savings, the following analysis is required: which are the greatest costs when illuminating a TV set, and what is avoidable? My experience has taught me that 50% of the additional costs derive from the time factor and all that implies: more working days, more extra hours, more rental weeks, more human resources… The more complex a setting is, the more time is needed for installation. And the more time invested in shootings, the less productive crews are. 25% will be spent in consumables and maintenance, including lamps, filters and replacement of fixtures, cleaning expenses or technical service. The remaining 25% will be lost in the only thing we cannot quantify – under-utilized equipment. Hold on. Can we?

To save time, the P series, based on SGM’s LED technology, is particularly attractive. The use of complex cutting tools are reduced to a bare minimum because of their barndoors, color frames and 3 types of lenses (15º, 21º and 43º), and a lot of time is saved by their “clip-on” omega brackets. Because of their low-profile design, compact size and lightweight enclosures, the P range is much more manageable than those huge conventional lighting fixtures. In addition, you can avoid the need for correction filters or tube replacement using the SGM P-5 Tunable White and its adjustable color temperature feature via DMX.

The IP65 rating of P-5 and Q-7 only adds more arguments for a change, since it eliminates the need of the so useful periodic cleanings in fixtures hung season after season. In essence, that’s what we all want, right? More free time and less problems.

 

SGM TECH BLOG #3: “LIGHTING DESIGNERS OR COOLHUNTERS?”

THIS IS A EXTRACT FROM SGM TECH BLOG. READ HERE THE FULL POST.

If you analyze the lighting market for the last 35 years, you can notice only a few big innovations. Beyond LED appearance, we still use four classic optical systems (fresnel, PC, ERS and PAR), plus some relatively modern inventions like color washes, strobe lights or the big three moving head standards on the market (spot, wash and beam). Everything else in between, gone. So why do we need to read infinite catalogs from manufacturers who are basically offering the same piece of candy with different flavors?

I know a brand that today is selling 35 different moving heads; they’ve discontinued another 51. Does it make sense to test 86 different moving heads from one single manufacturer in less than 20 years? I thought we were Lighting Designers instead of Coolhunters. And I assume – taking into account the pricing of fixtures – a customer will prefer to invest in products ready for the years to come, instead of constantly renewing his pool based on the prevailing fashion.

The world of lighting is full of options, which is very beneficial for those of us working with lights. However, we need reference guides. The easiest thing today is to get lost among thousands of fixtures with exotic names we’ll never see on stage. I miss those standards, which let us know what to expect.

To read the SGM Tech Blog in spanish, please access here: http://sgmlight.com/news/tech-blog-spanish/

SGM Tech Blog #2: “Learning from Audio”

THIS IS A EXTRACT FROM SGM TECH BLOG. READ HERE THE FULL POST.

I must confess a secret: I like sound engineers. Even when I’m aware of the traditional battle between sound and lighting technicians – and I can’t say I never made jokes about my honorable stage partners, – we really need each other. The audio professionals are usually methodical, efficient and objective, and that often generates smart, practical and innovative designs. And if they’ve been taking advantage from our trusses for years, why shouldn’t we improve our technology with their advances?

[…]

Imitating the line array rigging systems does not only allow the location of multiple lights in just one point. It also permits us to aim the beam angles at our convenience, increasing the brightness of an effect, using several projectors as a single light source. In a wider context, it improves our designs with the possibility of creating “light walls” in three dimensions.

[…]

For once, it seems fair to accept sound engineers beat us in something. As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. In the end, to adapt the techniques, which work best, is one small step for a technician, but one giant leap for the industry.

To read the SGM Tech Blog in spanish, please access here: http://sgmlight.com/news/tech-blog-spanish/

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Premiere: The SGM Tech Blog

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Is there anything more interesting than sharing ideas with your colleagues? That is the reason to have this blog and now it’s also the reason to start a collaborative environment with SGM for a new Tech Blog in their website.

Manufacturers and Lighting Designers work for the same industry, but there’s a disconnection sometimes about the way we see the light. I always thought this was a mistake. We really need to encourage each other in order to reach a better development for this beautiful profession. And part of that development is to give what it was given to you. In this massive encyclopedia called internet, it’s easy to find lots of useful information, but it’s quite difficult to achieve what you’re really looking for. So knowledge, confidence and understanding are concepts very valuable online.

Since Peter Johansen is there, SGM has the most interesting tools I’ve ever seen. They are not the only ones releasing good products; there are many more and that’s wonderful. However, the ideas build our designs; tools are here just to support them. And even when this technology goes too fast, we really need to establish some points with the aim of upgrade (but not cannibalize) our techniques and vision.

So I’m pretty glad to accept the challenge and get the best from this new door SGM is opening, giving resources and perspective to all the technicians out there. We released this week our first post. Do you want to check it out?

THIS IS A EXTRACT FROM SGM TECH BLOG. READ HERE THE FULL POST.

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We’ve changed a lot… And that makes us better.

I remember those years when a good show was not possible without a bunch ofscanners at your disposal. The SGM Galileo IV, for instance. I remember those talks where many claimed the moving heads would never succeed, because they wereslower than a mirror. It seemed unthinkable, but yokes came; the revolutionary technologies always prevail. I remember those never-ending spinning chases with all the colours and gobos in the wheel. But those were other times, times to experiment.

[…]

There are people who say big spots are too slow. However, the best scanners at that time were much faster than today’s moving heads. There are always advantages and disadvantages for each technology, because perfect fixtures don’t exist. At the end of the day, it’s the Lighting Designer who puts the lights on, and his success depends on having different tools to work with. The biggest issue for a creative mind is to stay without resources to innovate, but technological innovation is what allows us to improve the techniques we control.

To read the SGM Tech Blog in spanish, please access here: http://sgmlight.com/news/tech-blog-spanish/

The SGM G-Spot IP65 moving head

Interview at “Musica & Mercado”

In the latest number of latin american magazine “Musica y Mercado“, Paola Abregu kindly wrote an extense report about the presence of SGM in the region, including some words I said during an interview with her at Sound:Check 2015, in Mexico City.

Articulo Musica & Mercado Agosto 2015

You can find the full report in pages 38 and 39, through the following link: http://www.calameo.com/read/00411748134139fdb45d4

LD’s Summer Shootout in London

11330000_1125589587456968_6280242367396758624_nAs an initiative by Lighting Designer Tim Routledge, a big shootout is taking place next monday 27 at LH2 rehearsal space, in London (UK). In this demo event, 150 lighting designers from different sides of the globe will have the chance to review by themselves the new generation spot moving heads from SGM, Philips VariLite, Martin by Harman, Osram Clay Paky, PRG, Barco High End and Robe, plus several LED strobes from SGM, Philips VariLite, Osram Clay Paky, Robe and TMB. Attendants will be able to operate 4 different consoles provided by MA Lighting, Avolites, Hog and Martin by Harman in order to review all the different features offered by these professional fixtures.

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to represent SGM at this LD Summer Shootout, along with my colleague Ian Kirby from SGM UK. We’ll be showing our IP65 moving heads SGM G-Spot (PLASA Innovation Award in 2013) and SGM G-Profile, but also the PL+S PIPA Product of the year in 2015, our SGM Q-7 RGBW and SGM Q-7 White blind/flood/strobes.

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WYSIWYG & SGM, united in Mexico

For the very first time in Mexico, SGM invites  Lighting Designers from LatAm to a special technical seminar in spanish, covering W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. software and the new SGM product range.

SGM & WYSIWYG Training Seminar in Mexico City (Aug. 2015)
SGM & WYSIWYG Training Seminar in Mexico City (Aug. 2015)

The seminar will take place in Mexico City, August 24th to 28th. All atendants will receive a WYSIWYG certification, and will also test the different SGM products including P-5 washes, Q-7 blind/flood/strobes and G-Spot LED moving heads, among other fixtures.

Representaciones de Audio, SGM exclusive partner for Mexico, organizes the training.

Bookings are welcome at jcedillo@repdeaudio.com.mx

More information at SGM América Latina facebook page.

Ben Diaz is a visual designer and lighting operator. He worked in 24 countries as a crew member, including Europe, America and Asia.

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