We here at ETC get a lot of questions about which cyc light to choose. (They’re all so great and honestly, it’s like asking to pick our favorite child!) We’ve found that it’s not a simple question to answer because there are a number of factors that play into the decision. It’s about your hanging infrastructure, your color needs, what you are trying to light, and of course, budget.
So we loaded up a truck with a lot of fixtures and put them to the real test. We even brought doughnuts to make it authentic. (Spoiler alert: the pink glaze with sprinkles was the clear winner.)
While the crew was hard at work hanging and testing and recording data, we sat down with Jim Uphoff, Entertainment Fixtures Product Manager to get the inside scoop.
Jim, can you tell us why ETC has so many options when it comes to cyc fixtures?
Well, the easy answer is that no two theatres are the same. Whether we’re talking about stage real estate, cyc dimensions or budget, every venue has its own wants, needs, and limitations. Having one solution that works for everyone is just not practical. We offer multiple options so customers can pick what works best for them.
So as one of these venues, how do I begin to narrow down which fixture will work best for my venue?
We have broken it down into this great system that we like to call, The Three C’s of CYC. The three c’s include color, coverage, and cost. By evaluating these three metrics, you should be able to find a solution that works best for you.
That’s catchy! I guess we should start with color. What’s one of the most important things to consider?
Let’s start with the basics of the different arrays. The ColorSource CYC is a five-color system, the ColorSource Spot is a four-color system and the Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr is a seven-color system.
The need for high-quality color in your fixtures can depend quite a bit on if you’re lighting a white cyclorama or a painted drop. If you’re lighting a fully white surface, you’ll get a lot of bright, punchy color from the ColorSource CYC fixtures and be able to save yourself some money.
If you’re lighting painted surfaces though, you’ll probably be happier with the full x7 color mixing system because you’ll have better, more natural output as well as many more options for nuanced color control. In this case, moving from a ColorSource to the seven-color system of the Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr with CYC Adapter may end up being your best option.
Got it. What about coverage? How do these tiny ColorSource CYC fixtures stack up against the seven color fixtures?
They’re quite impressive, really. We’ve built all of our cyc solutions to be as versatile cost-effective as possible using up to a 2:1 spacing ratio. Meaning, for every 2’ off the cyc, you can space your fixtures 4’ apart. The farther away from the cyc you go, the fewer fixtures you need but you will lose some brightness. There aren’t a whole lot of venues that are able to sacrifice that stage space though but luckily we’ve found that our fixtures tend to do best between 3’-4’ off the cyc.
We do have a couple of lighting apps available for both Apple and Android devices that are incredibly helpful for these types of situations. Right now we have the CYC Tool app that’s just for ETC CYC fixtures, and we’re about to launch the MyETC: Photometrics app that includes all ETC fixtures.
What about top or bottom placement – does it make a difference?
This entirely depends on the installation and your design. Both would only be necessary if you want more light and maximum coverage from the floor to the top of your cyc. More fixtures = more light. While the ColorSource CYC is designed to sit right on the deck of your stage, we do have floor stands available for the ColorSource Spot and Source Four LED fixtures, so as far as ease of installation, we got you covered.
The other thing to note, that’s slightly off topic, is that the ColorSource CYC fixture is fan free. Which is ideal if you need a completely quiet stage during an orchestral performance, or something similar.
Good to know! Alright, on to your final “c” – cost. Give it to me straight, what are we looking when it comes to budget?
We always advise that you talk to your local dealer, but there are a few things to consider. The first is that the farther you spread out your fixtures, the fewer fixtures you need. But the fewer fixtures you have, the less light you get on your cyc. Because it really comes down to preference of brightness, color, and coverage, I highly recommend you check out our app. It does a great job of breaking down how many fixtures you’ll need in order to cover the space you have.
The other important thing to note is that if you already have ColorSource Spot or Source Four LED fixtures in your inventory, you only need to purchase the CYC Adapter. Both ColorSource Spot and Source Four LED Series 2 use their existing light engine for lighting the cyc. You only have to swap the barrel for the Adapter to turn them into cyc fixtures.
Or, if you only light a cyclorama occasionally, you may want to purchase fixtures like ColorSource Spot or Source Four LED Series 2 that can light both a cyc and anything else you put on your stage. But as a general note, if you’re starting from ground zero with no existing fixture inventory, the ColorSource CYC fixture is the most economical, followed by the ColorSource Spot, and finally, the Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr.
But in first place is the pink donut with the sprinkles. This has been great, Jim. Thanks for all of the info!
To watch the rest of the story, and get the nitty gritty visual details, check out the following video.
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