Theatrical lighting designers who complain that there's no new gear for them out there had better take a look at the five outstanding new products on these pages. From a deceptively simple remote dimmer to a do-it-all lighting console to refinements in existing moving lights, this year's group of lighting product honorees, picked by a tireless panel of working designers and technicians, are all designed to make working in the theatre just a little bit easier. Hey, if it was too easy then it wouldn't be any fun!

Dimming System I

There are a number of wireless DMX systems on the market, but the City Theatrical Wireless Dimming System is one of the first to add a 15A dimmer. The WDS System is compact, durable, flexible, economical, and simple to use. Now you can have a remote dimmer on a wagon, in a prop, or in a costume. You can also add a controllable light wherever you need it. The system utilizes a wireless DMX transmitter and one or more receivers to transmit one full universe of 512 channels of DMX data without the need for data cable. This, combined with a battery-operated 15A dimmer, allows dimming to occur in places where it is impossible or inconvenient to obtain mains power. The WDS can also feed DMX to automated luminaires or DMX effects. The judges felt that the WDS adds a very useful tool to the lighting designer's burgeoning toolbox by allowing you to add a controllable light wherever you need it.
City Theatrical Inc.

Dimming System II

Entertainment Technology first gave us the IPS dimmer in a bar form, distributing the dimming in the stage or studio and obviating the need for a dimmer room. Some people never liked the fact that you could only get six 1.2kW or three 2.4kW dimmers in a bar and wanted more in a package. Well, ET, now a part of the Genlyte Thomas Group, listened to the requests. They have gotten rid of the venerable connector strip with its Intelligent Raceway dimming system. Now you can have what looks like a standard connector strip, up to 100' in length with up to 96 2.4kW dimmers. In another innovative twist, there are two outlets for each dimmer that handle a total of 2.4kW; if one outlet uses 2kW, then you only get 400W on the other receptacle. In these days of the ubiquitous 575W luminaire, this arrangement makes a lot of sense. The judges were very favorably impressed with the design and layout that also incorporates DMX and Ethernet distribution as well.
Entertainment Technology, a Genlyte Thomas Group company

Control System

For a number of years, designers and lighting technicians have dreamed of a one-stop computer that could handle all their lighting control needs in a simple package. ETC's Emphasis control system is a paradigm shift in lighting control. By combining its very popular Expression/Express console range with a computer that houses Cast Lighting's WYSIWYG, you can now previsualize, design, patch, program, run, edit, and control your lighting from one control system. The face panel is a standard console (the Emphasis will retrofit to some of ETC's previous Expression/Express consoles) and an outboard computer to handle the processing overhead that WYSIWYG requires. Emphasis promises to make an impact at all levels of lighting, especially at the educational level, where new designers can use previsualization to explore ideas and methods in a safe and easy-to-use manner.
Electronic Theatre Controls

Intelligent Luminaire I

The Martin MAC 2000 series of automated luminaires has been winning over designers and technicians in droves for the past few years. The Performance is a welcome addition to the MAC 2000 line, and has opened more market niches, such as in theatre and television. With its framing shutters and animation effects, the Performance is, in one judge's words, “damn bright, bulletproof, and the pattern animation is stupid simple.” What more can a designer ask for? In the automated profile niche, you can have repeatable shutter performance but at slow speed, or fast shutters with little repeatability; with the Performance, there is a good mix of fast speed and repeatable shutters. New to the MAC 2000 Performance is a gobo animation wheel useful for special theatrical effects such as fire, sky, and water imaging. The entire wheel can be swiveled for flexible position control and includes five constant rotation, indexable gobos.
Martin Professional

Intelligent Luminaire II

With the VL1000 ERS luminaire, Vari-Lite introduced a very different automated luminaire, one that combines the functionality of one of the most popular conventional lighting tools — the ellipsoidal reflector spotlight — with the versatility of an automated luminaire. The judges praised Vari-Lite's engineers, saying they are the first to make this bright of a luminaire with a tungsten source that is still quiet enough for theatrical uses. Being able to mix well with 3200K sources as well as its accurate shutters have allowed it to play well with other theatrical fixtures. It has been appearing on more and more Broadway and West End shows, proving that it fits into the theatre and television markets very well. A long-life arc source is also available for the luminaire for those that want to mix with other arc source automated luminaires.
Vari-Lite Inc., a Genlyte Thomas Group company