What’s your personal wish list?
1. Shadowless followspot (back to Icon M again, eh?)
2. Proper real-time Internet-based control systems.
3. A head electrician that can hand me that patch correct the first time. (This is not necessarily an ACN innuendo.)
Wish list? Too long to mention, but see the movie Minority Report and you’ll know what I want.
Christopher H. Beck
I wish there was a lighting lab that professionals could rent for playing around with lighting. Many schools do have this kind of facility available but it would be wonderful if we working designers could have the opportunity to continuously experiment.
A Source Four fixture where the shutters are in separate planes so they do not run into each other when doing extremely angled cuts. I know that this creates a physics problem relating to keeping a sharp focus on all four shutters, but you asked! I would also like to see an Obsession-style console with joystick operation for moving light programming.
Simple, cheap, workable lighting design software, integrated to the console.
More products that utilize daylight in new building construction to make it easier for architects to think about harnessing and using this essential resource in designing buildings. Also, sales reps that respect and support "specification integrity" as defined in the IALD/LIRC guidelines, and a consciousness by persons designing buildings about sustainable design issues. It’s time for a shift in our thinking on this topic if we are to survive as a species through the next millennium.
Light without heat, heat without fans, fans without noise, because the most crucial element in the theatre is sound. From the dawn of time, we sat in the dark, expectant, a human voice pierced the silence to tell us what we hope will be a life-changing story. If there is no silence how do we pierce it? If the voice is no longer human, how do we know the tale is about us? If the story is not in some way life-changing, why did we spend our resources and leave our own shelter to hear it? So, what I really want for the American theatre has nothing to do with equipment. What I hope for is intelligent and courageous producers, inventive directors, challenging scripts, and an audience who goes to the theatre to participate in a live event that they understand is linked to a millennium’s worth of events.
Wendall K. Harrington
I would like to see a stronger profile fixture and the use of stronger-output fixtures generally in the United States. I work in Europe a great deal, and watching large houses rep huge operas on a daily basis, using a tenth of the fixtures in US theatres, simply makes sense to me. It’s a waste to hang 10 Source Four fixtures, with all the dimming, cabling, and color changers with control required, not to mention the space on battens and the manpower time to mount and focus them, when one [Lighting Innovations] Inno Four 575W HMI could do the job of all of them. I find it shortsighted to see the cost of one large output fixture and opt for the cheaper, smaller light.
The continuing development of instruments which blend lighting and projection technology. The prototype LSD fixture [Icon M], for example, could be as revolutionary in what we expect to be able to do and see from theatrical lighting as the Vari*Lite 100 series was when it first appeared.
Abigail Rosen Holmes
My technology wish list includes a use for all those warehouses full of Vari*Lite moving mirrors, the VLM. I see a future of lightweight truss with many moving mirrors on them and all the light projectors on the ground. Brilliant collimated beams like large lasers, but not eye-piercing, or light pipes would be on the ground splitting beams onto all the overhead mirrors. This would make load-ins a snap with virtually no cable and troubleshooting would involve standing on the ground working on a lamp.
Open architecture: When developing a product, why do so many companies have to suffer the same mistakes getting it off the ground in the name of "competition"? We are too small a marketplace and our scarce R&D resources are squandered by overzealous managers. Why do two major manufacturers have two different Ethernet standards when we all know there will only be one in a matter of time? Why do I have to move data around in the most cumbersome manner between my notes, the script, the hook-up, the plot, and then all the production personnel? Open architecture and interoperability is the key to these woes and I hope we all move toward that soon!
1. More interesting small lights, especially for architectural projects. A framing projector with the intensity of a Source Four but in a package half the size of current architectural MR-16s.
2. A tiny little light I can hide on tables and behind props onstage, with the light of a GAM Stick-Up but smaller, directional, and without the heat.
3. A modern version of the "Colibri," a great little MR-16 moving light we used in Tokyo discos back in the 80s. Three colors plus clear, quick and tiny. Terrific!
4. A successor to the Light Palette and the Obsession that would not only handle conventional and moving lights with equal aplomb, but would also be available in a junior version at a price point that designers just entering the business could afford. Ditto for moving lights. Designers and electricians need to start learning how to use these tools well before they get their first Broadway show.
5. A swimming pool and a winning lottery ticket.
I wish MSR-based fixtures had less of the green tint associated with the optics and lamps, and were more consistently white, fixture to fixture. I wish we could get on ACN or Ethernet, so DMX universes were no longer a restriction.
1. I wish that the NEA and other funding sources would provide more money for the arts so that people I work for could increase their lighting budgets and I could actually use more of the equipment that is already readily available.
2. The next-generation unit after the Source Four, with even better optics, better adjustment between soft and hard focus, less burning of gels, and caps that are easier to repair.
3. This sounds like going backwards but I’d like to see ETC come out with a new small, cheap, portable board, like the MicroVision FX with a few more subs. I don’t know if anyone else ever has a need for such a small, compact, portable, easily stored board, but I love it. I love the wheel (I find trackpads irritating) and that you can use the master to reduce all light levels and record the reduced cue.
4. Quieter fog machines. I’d like to hear the "ooohs" at the (hopefully) incredible beauty or mystery of the scene with no chuckles at the sound of the puffs.
Software that helps me work out 3D lighting problems on the computer screen more easily, like, can I shoot over this piece of scenery from this position, etc., without me having to learn a complex AutoCAD, VectorWorks, or WYSIWYG program. BeamWright helps a little, but doesn’t answer all the lighting position vs. scenery problems that crop up.
Tops on my wish list is the next generation of lighting and video integrated controllers. One person with a vision should be able to express all visual aspects connected with a show—lighting, projection, and video—and be able to run it all with ease.
The top of my wish list is, I’m sure, an impossible dream—to have a maintenance-free, reliable automated fixture that also has lots of programmable attributes. A more realistic list would include more energy-efficient high-output fixtures.
Intelligent trussing that is truly easy to work with and isn’t as time-consuming as standard trussing. Better packaging for automated luminaires.
Sharon Stancavage, freelance lighting technician, concert editor, Lighting Dimensions
Cold fusion to allow for wireless lighting. Just pour seawater into the back of a PAR can once a week.
1. Reliable data networking that works wirelessly within a performance space to control all of the intelligent luminaires and accessories without having to run a data line to each luminaire.
2. Designer remote interface boxes that serve fast Internet access to the design desk over standard non-proprietary Ethernet networks. Hey, its my office during the tech of the show and the Internet has become an essential tool for all of us; we’re running Ethernet anyway, why not serve IP over it?
3. Manufacturer websites that contain complete specifications and user manuals to every product they have ever sold. Have you ever been in Jakarta lighting a show and had to try and figure out how to run the new Australian console that doesn’t have a manual and doesn’t really work like anything else you’ve ever seen? I have and it’s not really that fun.
4. Safe personnel lifts that are simpler to use and move around with fewer people. The outrigger system that is used today in most lifts slows down the focus tremendously. I would like a machine that (a) can be driven by the operator, (b) has a very small footprint, (c) is electric and rechargeable, (d) doesn’t require outriggers for safe operation, (e) can right itself on raked stages, and (f) allows the operator to be in line with at least two outer planes of the machine, so that one could move alongside a backdrop and focus the electric that is 9" away or get right alongside scenery. In many cases now, a ladder is more practical than available lifts, and recently, I found myself "bounce focusing" (point the lights while the pipe is lowered to the stage deck, fly it out to see results, repeat as necessary) an entire show because we didn’t have time to focus with the available lift on the raked stage deck (set it up under a light, screw down the outriggers, focus the light, bring the operator down, move the lift to the next light, repeat).
5. Marley dance floor tape that I can’t see from the audience!
6. Glow tape that is invisible from the audience but brightly lit to those onstage. I hate when there is a blackout and the stage looks like a landing strip!
7. US-available PC (plano-convex) luminaires. These luminaires got a bad reputation in the US and fell out of use in favor of the ellipsoidal, but current models available in Europe are beautiful and useful in many situations that our available instruments don’t quite fit. Faster to focus than a zoom ellipsoidal and potentially brighter than a similarly powered ellipsoidal because of the simpler lens/mirror configuration, PCs are great for soft washes, with a variable choice of beam angle that maintains an even field of light no matter what size is chosen. The beam is also shapeable with barn doors. I wish that I could easily get them here.
8. Video projectors that actually fade to true black, preferably via a DMX interface.
9. Remote focus units that (a) have lighted buttons, (b) are wireless, (c) are rechargeable, and (d) have an integrated clipboard for paperwork. We always need to have our paperwork with us in the dark while we are bringing up a channel, why not just put it all together?
10. Followspots with DMX-controlled, continuously variable dichroic color-mixing built into the luminaire. It always seems to be the last thing that gets done before the tech starts, cutting and loading the color for the frontlight. Also, I want very much to do color fades with those followspots.
11. Fixed-focus Source Fours with DMX-controlled continuously variable dichroic color-mixing built into the luminaire as standard equipment.
12. Consoles that output and input ASCII standard cue and patch files. This is invaluable for touring shows, and any venue that presents touring shows should absolutely insist upon this feature in any console that they purchase, whether for moving or conventional lights.
13. A new console that better controls the entire range of available lights and accessories. The moving light consoles all need to be better at controlling conventional lights and the so-called conventional consoles need to be better at controlling moving lights. We’re definitely not there yet in terms of integration and software interface design.
To see fiber optics take the next step and miniaturize the hardware and fixtures.