News About LED Uplights

This was actually a response to a question that a user asked in the comment section of my post about the NAMM show. It seemed to warrant its own post, so here it is. Manny asked me if there were any new developments in the lighting department. Here's my response...

Yes, there were two very important developments in lighting for Mobile DJs. Both having to do with the LED par can fixtures we use for up lighting. Many mobile DJs jumped on the LED band wagon because they are very light-weight (no heavy transformer needed) they never need their bulbs replaced, and because they can achieve many colors without color gels. There were two huge problems with this technology early on though. First, LED fixtures make colors by mixing red, green and blue LEDs, just like the old projection TVs with 3 lenses. The problem comes when you try to make white. This is simple for a halogen fixture, just don't use a color gel. But with LED, how do you get white from red, blue and green? Theoretically, you just turn all three colors up to equal intensity. But most fixtures were not capable of precisely matching the intensity of of all 3 colors. The result was a blueish beam, with an intensely blue halo around the beam. To really achieve white, you had to go back to the old school halogen fixtures. I saw an impressive demonstration in the Community booth. They set all their LED fixtures to white, and the light they cast on the wall was actually white. Other companies, like Color Key Creative Lighting, list "Balanced White" as a feature of their fixtures on their brochures. The industry seems to have caught on that this was a problem, and they responded.

The other problem with LED fixtures has been the effect they have on video. Many weddings have a professional videographer to capture the events of the day. Most LED fixtures cycle at a rate the human eye can't perceive, similar to a TV. Also similar to a TV, they flash when filmed. When viewing the playback of a video of a wedding where LED up lights have been used to accent the room, the beams of light from the fixture appear to be strobing and changing colors. It simply makes the video look terrible. One would also get the impression from watching the video that the DJ was using an inappropriate lighting effect throughout the whole night. They seem to have solved this problem by increasing the speed of the cycles, probably from about 60Hz to 120Hz or more. Some fixtures are now advertised as "Video Friendly."

Posted on January 18, 2010 and filed under DJ Industry.