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What is intelligent lighting?

Some stage lighting fixtures are often referred to as intelligent lighting but what does this mean and what’s the alternative?

To answer this lets consider traditional stage lighting fixtures first.  These fixtures, often referred to as generic fixtures, usually housed an incandescent lamp and were controlled by a dimmer located separately from the light itself.  These lights were limited in their functions as the only attribute that could be controlled remotely was the intensity of the light by the use of the dimmer unless another accessory such as a scroller was added to allow the beam colour to be changed remotely.  Depending on the lighting fixture the beam shape maybe controllable by a set of shutters or barn doors but this would have to be done by physically moving the shutter.

In contrast intelligent fixtures as the name suggests have a degree of intelligence or control built into them however most of the intelligence is actually in the operator!  In its most basic form an intelligent light may allow you to change the colour and position of the beam via a suitable lighting desk sited remotely from the fixture.  At the other end of the scale the light may allow the control of attributes such as colour, beam shape, position, gobos, prisms, intensity, frost, iris and more.

Most intelligent lighting is controlled via a DMX controller (see our article on DMX for more about this) although as intelligent fixtures get more and more complex the need for higher channel counts and more control have led to the introduction of new control systems including sACN and ArtNET.

Intelligent lighting is often referred to as moving lights or ‘movers’


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