21 Nov 2019

Back to Lighting

by Julius Grafton

I now remember why I got out of lighting in 1980 and switched to audio. The tedium, first in and last out, and the waiting. The dirty cables and rusty metal, hot in the sun, and continually bending shutters, coaxing gel frames, and energetically coaxing three-phase plugs into sockets.

Not to mention the endless list of cables, hooks, stands, gobos, holders, spares and bits. The tool you need that you don’t have, the adapt on the fly – the three-phase plug doesn’t fit through the gap so you take it off and put it back on. That’s another 20 minutes you didn’t plan for.


Since my era of lighting which started 47 years ago, the digital revolution has arrived. At my gig this week it slowed us down as we addressed each LED profile and learned the quirks. Do we want 1 channel or 3 channel mode? If any were on 3 channel mode – and some were – it messed up the DMX chain. Go back and check status on each device.

Then when addressed, the only way to turn them on and focus was to find them on a digital lighting desk. These things are alien to me. My era was a fader for a light. Channel 23 was dimmer 23. I’d focus easy. Now I need a lighting guy to peck away and find the light and bring it up.

I wanted a Solar 250 oil wheel, but these don’t exist anymore, or at least the rental co doesn’t have any. Nothing today can do that job. The LED profiles are just 40 watts and run cool. The old Par 56s seem way hotter than they ever were. The bolts seem tighter, the cables more of a pain and less of a pain because each LED has power plus DMX.

Anyway, it’ll all be worth it tonight when the old Glass House outside Balmain Town Hall lights up. Everything is tucked inside, including my creative director’s laptop and a remarkable super wide throw Epson projector we are trying out (Thanks, Epson!)

The Mayor presses the button at sunset, and our five minute video, audio and lighting spectacular rolls on a loop until 11 PM. Each night until Sunday. Come have a look!


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