“I know something you don’t know. Nah nah nah nah naaaahhhhh nahhh!”

While hearing this normally invokes a backhanded wallop across the face of the 12 year-old saying it, no more charming a tune could ever be heard when it comes to new toys in the lighting and video pipeline. So it is with great pleasure that I’d like to introduce you to a few brand new offerings from our friends at Clay Paky.

Truth be told, the cat is out of the bag on the A.leda range of fixtures, although not all of them are currently shipping just yet. However, this does give you the opportunity to be one of the first in line as they become available to the market and shown at LDI this fall.

A.leda is a new range moving head LED fixtures from Clay Paky. The haters of the lighting world will undoubtedly be shrugging their shoulders asking, “Aren’t they a little late to the LED market, and aren’t they just copying what’s already been done?” And one could mistakenly agree. However, in true Clay Paky fashion, the company’s supposed tardiness has given them license for some great innovation, having allowed the market to experience the pros and cons, and respond with some truly feature-rich instruments that will freshen up what seems to be a stale marketplace full of copycats. The three models of the A.leda range share some distinct traits, and there’s definitely something in there to make every member of the production team happy.

The introduction and subsequent success of Clay Paky’s Sharpy is a definitive indication as to where the company is heading in terms of moving heads. All three A.leda are lightning fast, with a range of 540 degrees of pan and 270 degrees of tilt. Think of it: wash lights that match the speed of their Sharpy brethren. What could be better? Bringing moving mirrors back? Hmmmmmm...

All three models have a rather impressive digital display for easy access to all functions, allowing the user to set DMX addresses, modes, and other attributes quickly and easily. One of the most impressive features for moving light technicians is the ability of the units to accept a firmware update, even when they’re not connected to a power supply. Taking that notion one step farther is the ability upload firmware from one fixture to another. If you think that this isn’t a big deal, then you have never had to deal with a large rig of multiple units that have been delivered from various rental houses.

The models share the same type of 15W LED light sources, just in a different quantity and configuration on each. Power for these bright RGBW LEDs comes in the form of an auto-sensing module that accepts power ranges from 100-240V at 50/60Hz. This is sure to put a grin on the faces of our head electricians as they plan their looms and breakouts.

To keep the programmers happy, the line comes with a host of pre-programmed (and actually useful) functions to take advantage of its interesting LED arrays even when being used in the most channel-saving of modes. Pre-built macros abound in terms of color matching and pixel effects.

The video boys and girls haven’t escaped the eyes of the fixture architects either, as the current plan is to release all of the units with the ability to control each homogenized LED group as individual units, thus allowing for some very interesting pixel-mapping.

Since the units will never see the plot unless the designers are happy, Clay Paky has been gracious enough to not just produce a technical achievement but a range of fixtures whose quality of light output look great, too. At their core, the units all basically do the same thing, but they span a range of sizes and outputs that adds an impressive palette to the designer’s toolset.

The K5 is the smallest of the group in terms of size, but it spits out an impressive 100W of light from its 6 degree beam aperture. Next up is the K10, which does not suffer from middle child syndrome. It kicks out 300W and wrangles its output through a 14-70 degree zoom lens. Last, but absolutely not least, is the biggest sibling, the K20. This guy is the one we’ve all been waiting for in the LED world, and it is definitely the bully of the bunch.

Like its middle brother, the K20 also has a 14-70 degree variable beam angle, but what it adds is a whopping 600W of light output. Sounds good on paper doesn’t it, but what does that really mean to us? Well on a recent trip to visit the Clay Paky showroom at their headquarters in Bergamo, Italy, I took a cheap shot and put it up against some competing 1,500W discharge sourced moving head units. I was getting the proverbial “horns” from the Italians in the room as they saw what I was doing, until they saw what they had actually created.

Understand that this outcome is not just to do with the fact that the unit has impressive output but also the basic science of how these units work in terms of subtractive color-mixing in a gas discharge light versus the additive process from LED sources. When putting the two units up on a cyc and in color, the K20 was significantly brighter than the 1,500W discharge units. A 1,500W moving light is nothing to ignore, and to see a homogenized LED source do that to its competition was pretty inspiring.

Now let’s be realistic. In open white, there was no contest for the K20, as raw white light coming out of a 1,500W unit decimated it, but when I think of how much of my shows are done in color versus open white, it quickly became apparent that we were looking at the true, near future of automated lighting. It appears that this new range may be doing the backhanded walloping come this fall as Clay Paky brings its A-game to the industry trade shows.