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  • Writer's pictureAlan Dail

The Spin - October 2018

In the September issue, we started covering special effects and options that as an entertainment company we provide to our clients.  It's rare that we find a customer that wants it all, but it's very common to have one, two or even three compliments to the audio system that really gets the crowd going.  Last edition we covered three ways to achieve fog, how each works, and the effect it produces.  This edition we'll take a look at  ambient lighting, specifically uplighting. 

Part 2 - Uplighting

One of the easiest ways to add elegance to any event is to lower the room lighting and add a generous splash of color.  You've likely seen this before at a wedding, corporate event, or even a good sized private party.  The most common form of uplighting is a series of lamps placed just off the base of walls pointed upward forming columns of light against the walls and ceilings.  Placement of fixtures varies, but the intent is to provide the best illumination for a given space, and to compliment focal points such as wedding head tables.  Fixtures are varied, and before stable LED technology came along you either dealt with very cumbersome and somewhat dangerous halogen lamps that emit a high level of heat, or used traditional element lamps that had to be used in quantity to get the desired effect.  That all changed with high output LEDs. 

Weddings are a prime event for uplighting

LEDs - or Light Emitting Diodes - are capable of tremendous luminosity in a very small space using a fraction of the power.  A 100 watt incandescent bulb's output is around 1300 lumens, and LEDs can achieve that same output using only 18 watts.  That is an 82 percent decrease in power consumption!  Where this makes a difference in uplighting is the amount of heat.  Today's high-output LED fixtures remain cool to the touch, eliminating the dangers of burns.

Pancake Style - Chauvet EZ-Par 56 & SlimPAR Pro H

Types of Diodes

Common configurations of today's LEDs come in a few formats.  You have the industry standard of RGB which is an inter-twined array of diodes, with each diode capable of displaying one of the primary colors of Red, Green, or Blue.  As each diode achieves 0-100% in power, you have color combinations in visible light.  All on at 100% gives you white light, 100% red and 100% blue gives you purple.  So on and so forth.  Some fixtures also have an amber that allows for vibrant pastels, and even more advanced, and expensive, chip-on-board (COB) units combine red, green, blue, amber, white and ultraviolet (RGBAW-UV).  These units are commonly referred to as HEX as they can achieve nearly any color in the spectrum including the staple of a glow party - Blacklight.

Sweet 16 party with black light wash and uplighting

Types of Fixtures

The size of the fixture, lumen output, power source, water resistance, and portability all play a factor when an entertainment company is deciding on which to use and how much to charge for rental fees.  Plug-in RGB fixtures while less expensive, require wall power and extension cords.  In a small grouping this isn't much of an issue, but lighting up an entire venue this way takes time.  Battery operated fixtures are much more flexible, but expensive to purchase.  Then you have the static colors versus dynamic colors, even remote control programming of wireless products.  The new HEX fixtures commonly use an add-on controller that allows wireless control from both android and apple operating systems and can produce a vibrant and thrilling show of color, even with the beat of the music.

Canister Style - Chauvet Par Hex-4 and ADJ Element Hex IP

This is likely more than you'll ever need to know about uplighting, but I wanted to give you insight into what goes into providing this service so when you get quotes you have some understanding.  Tu-Can Jamz uses AC powered pancake RGB, battery operated pancake RGB, and battery operated canister HEX.  

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