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  • Episode 14 – Moving Lights – When and Why Should You Use Them?

 May 1

by David

Lighting News!

This week we have no updates as the NAB and Pro Light and Sound Trade Shows ended last week and took all the thunder!

Main Segment

Moving Lights are often referred as “Automated Lights” which is a light that you are able to remotely control with a DMX.

Along with the ability to move, these lights also have features such as color mixing, color wheel, shutters, gobos, frost, focus, zoom, and anything that you would want could be packed into a moving light.

Do You Need Moving Lights?

Moving lights can be a great feature in your lighting, but do you actually need them?

If you’re looking for an active light on you stage then this would be an obvious yes! However, these lights can also be used if you need a light that is not moving, but changes colors, gobos, or needs to be in multiple positions over the course of a show or service.

The Cons of Moving Lights

While moving lights are great to have there are some things you should consider.

If you have a DMX Controller that isn’t able to handle the functions of a moving light then you may want to upgrade your controller.

Personally, I recommend checking to see if your controller was designed to work with moving lights in mind.

If you’re not sure I would recommend checking on Learn Stage Lighting, YouTube, or check forums to see what others may be saying.

The Cost Aspect of Moving Lights

Originally, most moving lights were discharge moving lights.

A discharge moving light has a lot of great features but the downside is the discharge lamp. The discharge lamps have a limited life (often 750, 1000, or 1500 hours) and will need to be replaced as they hit their hours.  These lamps are also quite expensive (generally $100-$300).

Many newer moving lights have LED sources.

If you’re purchasing a new moving light I highly recommend getting a LED fixture.  With the exemption of the brightest needs, most are going with LED.

LED spot fixtures still carry a slightly higher price than their discharge counterparts, but over the long haul, it’s worth it.

The benefit of LED is a long life on the light engine, which will significantly outlast your lamp.

Another benefit is that the LED actually runs a lot cooler. Heat can really cause stress to your equipment. LEDs do cost more up front BUT long term they will help save you money.

Moving Lights Will Break

Every moving light will break at some point.

They do have moving parts that will eventually need maintenance.

With a lot of use, the moving lights over time need to be repaired so this is something to keep in mind before investing in these types of lights.

Fan Noise

Lastly, something to keep in mind is the fan noise.

For some, the less expensive lights are the way to go but do expect louder fans. If the environment is a church, theater, or any quiet setting it is important to consider the fan noise.

The more expensive fans are generally much quieter and the same would go for the motors.

Moving lights can be a great addition to your stage but the most important piece of advice I can recommend is really considering the cost. I found a great article that helps you with what to expect cost wise:



If you’re new to lighting and looking to learn quickly about what you can do with lights be sure to check out the link below.

You’ll get access to step by step videos as well as access to forums where you can work with others who are doing the same.

Learn Stage Lighting Labs: https://lp.learnstagelighting.com/learn-stage-lighting-labs/

Tyler: I am currently in the beginning stages of building a synchronized light show for my band. What program can I use to run my click track as well as synchronizing the lights with it?

The best way to approach this is to figure out what you want to do with your audio. As far as programming and what you want to do I feel that Show Buddy will be able to do everything you need.

In Show Buddy, you can drag your music into the program. Organize your timeline and playback your audio with your lights. Be sure to check out the demo download below.

Show Buddy demo download: https://www.dmxis.com/show-buddy/

If you don’t think that Show Buddy will be the best for you have a couple more options to get DMXis control from inside of DAW.

The first option is if the DAW has a VST Plugin you can use the DMXis as a VST Plugin. You would open the DMXis and program all the scenes you want for your songs.

Then you would close the DMXis and open your DAW. You will then need to program your music to the scenes you programmed on the DMXis.

The second option is if your DAW doesn’t have a VST Plugin you would open your DMXis and send mini signals to it from your DAW on channels 15 and 16. Then you would be able to trigger the scenes in the DMXis.

New to DMXis?  Learn more about DMXis by clicking here!

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