Stage/Theater Safety Tips

It was more than 34 years ago that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was the victim of one of the most calamitous events ever to befall an entertainer on stage. For those of you too young to remember, Jackson was filming a Pepsi commercial onstage when some of the pyrotechnics near him ignited his hair. Jackson was rushed immediately to the hospital where part of his treatment necessitated that he use prescription painkillers. The pop star would eventually become addicted to these painkillers. In 2009 he died from an overdose of painkillers. The point is, although most people see the stage as a place of enjoyment, it can be a dangerous place as well. Here are some general safety guidelines for those of you in the production end of the theater.

  • Dimmer rooms and boards: Only qualified and trained employers should operate and maintain dimmers and light boards. Follow all instructions in any manual you receive with our equipment. Also, as a practice never store flammable or combustible equipment near dimmers, dimmer packs or other lighting equipment. Finally, be sure to keep open containers of liquid away from all electronics.
  • Cables: In some respects cables are going the way of the dinosaur in our business. However, they are still useful in some instances. Where they do exist, make sure your technicians handle them with care. Use best practices such as: Never wrap cables around support beams or catwalk quad-rails, provide sufficient slack for tethered equipment that may need to be moved, etc.
  • Safety equipment: Wear special work clothes when necessary. For example, hard hats should be worn when handling lighting equipment that is being rigged overhead. Also, make sure that workers wear knee pads, non-skids shoes, etc, when moving heavy equipment or when bending.
  • Ladders: Never move ladders when people are actually working on them. Moreover, be sure that all ladders are constructed of electrically non-conductive materials. Finally, be sure that there is no horseplay near or on ladders. stage
  • Pyrotechnics: Make sure that all fireworks meet state requirements and that only trained personnel handle such items. Also, make sure that you follow all fire codes. Finally, be sure that you have a diagram showing where each device is located, its fallout radius, when it is to be fired, etc.

Finally, the theater should be a place of wonder, entertainment and enlightenment. It should never be a place where workers, theater goers or actors have to worry about their safety. By following these rules, and others, you can make it a fun place for everyone.

Secrets Every Stage Manager Should Know

Stage managers are a lot like orchestra conductors. Each must strive to make sure that the vast array of components that they work with flow together. Further, they must do so in a manner that is outwardly imperceptible to their audiences but that make a huge difference in the overall productions. In other words, stage management is no easy task. It takes education, skill and experience to pull off this coordination of many separate pieces to form a whole unit. It’s a challenge, but here are a few tips to make it easier

  • Set hard deadlines: Otherwise you may end up falling short on the debut night. Set expectations of stage and crew and make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them and that they fall in line with the dates you set up.
  • Listen: Make sure to listen to what everyone directly associated with the production is saying. This includes actors, playwrights, costume designers and of course light and sound engineers.
  • Don’t ignore the tech: Find out early if there are any technical issues that may become a problem later. Know what you will need and what the budget calls for in terms of sound and lighting equipment. Finally, make sure that you develop cues for sound and light engineers and that they know what they are. Have rehearsals to practice communicating those cues.
  • Know the tech: Closely related to the above tip, all stage managers should know something about how to operate the tech behind their productions. This will help you to be able to communicate more effectively with the experts in those roles.
  • Be a people person: Managing a stage production involves communicating with a lot of people who each have a different skills set. Be sure to be respectful of everyone involved in the production. This will help the play come off better and it will also help your career.stage manager

In short, the job of a stage manager is difficult but can be immensely satisfying. Successful stage managers are individuals who care deeply about their job and can view the production from the eyes of the public. They strive to make everyone work together as a whole and above all they remember to have fun. At Ratpac Dimmers we also enjoy our work with professional in the lighting business. We have Strand dimmer repair and dimmer rental services that help stage managers excel in their profession.

Tips and Tricks for Filming at Night

Nighttime shoots can pose special challenges for movie makers. Lighting directors and cinematographers require the use of powerful lights (and generators) to illuminate certain scenes but they never want to lose the atmospherics that only nighttime can create. It takes experience to be able to strike this balance. As you struggle with this dilemma, here are some tips from the experts on how to shoot effective nighttime scenes.

  • Shoot at a wide angle: A wider iris lets more light come into the camera. This helps capture the details of the scene you are filming. When objects and people are seen clearly during an otherwise dark night scene it can be far more impactful to the viewer.
  • Use Snow: If you are on a low budget try using snow as a natural reflector for the light. Of course, man-made reflectors are more effective for this purpose, but the virtue of snow is that it is free.

·         Wet the ground: Wet pavement is another natural reflector that can provide a moderate level of illumination. Additionally, using streetlights, neon signs, etc. can add to the         ambiance of certain scenes.

  • Shoot at dusk or twilight: Dusk and dawn can create excellent low light conditions that are soft and natural but that still allow viewers to see what is happening.
  • Use reflectors and white cards: White cards and reflectors can not only help to illuminate your production, they can also help bring out certain colors in your scene. They create a soft, warm feeling that is less harsh than direct lights.
  • Stick with a manual focus: Do not rely on auto-focus too much when filming night scenes. Doing so will cause the camera to switch back and forth between objects.
  • Highlight only a few small areas: Rather than trying to illuminate every object and person in a scene, focus instead on certain items in a shot.
  • Do a test before the actual shoot: Finally, don’t leave it to chance that all your brilliant strategies will work exactly the way they should. Test different scenes with different light setups. Keep testing as long as it takes to achieve the ideal at night

To summarize, use every resource at your disposal when shooting nights scenes and realize that they are different than shooting in the daytime or when shooting indoors. Also, know that night scenes can be more expensive since they require special equipment and take extra steps. One way to save is by using a dimmer rental from our site. We have wireless DMX also that will make your production come off the way you desire.

Benefits of LED Lighting for Industrial Usage

In 1962, the scientist Nick Holonyak, Jr., created the first practical visible light-emitting diode. Since then it has grown in popularity and has many industrial applications in the entertainment industry. What is it about LED that makes it so attractive to lighting directors and business owners? Well, LEDs are more durable, reliable, and do not need much maintenance unlike other lighting technologies. There are many other advantages to using LEDs that only someone who is far behind the technology would miss. Here are a few.

  • LED is more energy efficient: Some studies show that LEDs use 40% to 70% less electricity than traditional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen lights. Moreover, LED fixtures can be aimed at specific a direction which is helpful when being used in theatrical lighting.
  • LED lights require less maintenance: The servicing of fluorescent or HID lights and the servicing of magnetic ballasts can be quite expensive. In contrast, because LEDs use electronic drivers they allow manufacturers the opportunity to integrate into this technology with features such as sensing, instant on/off functions, etc. Our Strand Dimmers also work well with this technology.
  • No IR or UV Emissions: We all know that incandescent lamps emit a great deal of heat. Well, that is not the only thing they emit. They also emit IR and UV rays. In contrast, LEDs do not. They emit no heat and are more reliable than fluorescent and incandescent light.
  • LEDs are more durability: LED systems are tougher than other lighting solutions. This is because they don’t have filaments or glass enclosures which make them less susceptible to breakage. This also makes them perfect for use in outdoor lighting applications.
  • LEDs are more cost effective: Lighting costs can be a huge part of any theatrical production. LEDs provide a great ROI for your production since they are more efficient and durable. These features save managers money. Another way lighting designers can save money is by using dimmer rental for our products.led lighting

In short, many industries including the entertainment industry have long seen the advantages to LEDs over incandescent, fluorescent and halogen solutions. These technologies still have their use and our equipment can work with a variety of technologies, but more and more people are turning away from these lighting solutions in favor of LEDs.

5 Horror Movies with Excellent Cinematography

More than nearly any other film genre, lighting is a crucial aid in creating mood in horror movies. Often, light is used in close- up shots to heighten emotions, show the possible importance of objects or people and to create an atmosphere of fear or impending doom. An excellent example of this is the famous poster for William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. This iconic poster shows the image of a priest standing before the home he is about to enter illuminated by light shining from a window. Cinematographer Owen Roizman knew a great deal about light as it relates to the horror genre and expertly demonstrates this knowledge in this classic movie. What are other movies in this genre that make excellent use of lighting? Here are a few of our choices.

  • The Phantom Carriage (dir. Victor Sjöström, 1921): Even without the aid of modern technologies like wireless DMX, this Swedish movie directly influenced the Seventh Seal and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. This movie creates the illusion of wandering ghosts by using superimposition and doubled exposures long before CGI was invented.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (dir. Robert Wiene, 1920): A German Expressionist classic, Dr. Caligari adeptly uses light to illuminate twisted cityscapes, spiraling streets, and nightmarish forms.
  • Nosferatu (dir. F.W. Murnau, 1922): This groundbreaking horror film was made in the silent era and has built a cult following. The film utilizes natural lighting to illustrate the case, landscape and other objects. Cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner also used stop-motion photography and other techniques to create the feeling of dread.
  • Psycho (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960): The famous shower scene featuring Janet Leigh is said to have required 78 camera setups and seven days to film. The film’s cinematographer – John L. Russell – used fast motion and reverse shots to simulate the knife piercing Leigh’s abdomen.pscyho
  • The Shining (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980): Cinematographer John Alcott used low-angle points of view to emphasize the main character’s feelings of isolation and paranoia. He also borrowed from the aforementioned The Phantom Carriage.

There are many other excellent examples of how cinematographers must adapt according to the genre in which they are working. Horror is among the most emotive of all genres. Today, cinematographers and theater lighting directors have at their disposal sophisticated technologies such as Strand dimmers to help them. However, the goal remains the same – to engage the viewer using lighting techniques that also propel the story and the characters.

5 Theater Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

Every lighting designer aspires to provide excellent lighting for the theater going public. The degree to which they accomplish this varies based on experience and education. However, the wise lighting designer knows that learning to do so is a never-ending journey. After all, one should always strive for perfection even if he/she knows that it can never be reached. He or she also knows that poor lighting can ruin an otherwise wonderful production. Here are 5 common mistakes made by rookie lighting designers.

  • Writing too many light cues: Too many light cues can cause the theatergoer to become distracted and thus diverted away from the main story. Be selective in how often you choose to use light as a cue to characters, settings, etc. Use only enough lighting cues that are necessary to tell the story.
  • Eyesore color flashes: Along with too many light cues are inappropriately intense light bursts. The audience can become overwhelmed by bright lights stabbing at them intermittently. This too can not only be a distraction, it can also be painful for theater patrons to endure.
  • Exceeding Your Limitations: Be sure to know what your limitations are in terms of time, budget, equipment and labor. This will give you a better chance of being able to meet the needs of the production.
  • Bad budgeting: Lighting designers who underestimate their budget can negatively affect the overall stage production. When it comes to producing perfect lighting for your event, you should budget everything as carefully as possible. Moreover, once your budget has been determined you should buy or rent the best equipment available. Our Strand dimmer packs can be rented or purchased. Moreover, we also provide Strand dimmer
  • Using Over-Saturated Colors: The proper use of color is critical to stage lighting. However, over-saturating the audience with too much color can cause the actor’s features to become difficult to distinguish.

Finally, it all comes down to careful preparation. Moreover, if you are a rookie use the skills you have been taught but also be open to suggestions by people who have been in the business for some time. By keeping errors to a minimum, you will increase the enjoyment of the theater going public and at the same time experience a sense of professional satisfaction.

Cine Gear Expo 2018: Moving Technology Forward

In order for technology to move forward in our field it takes an army of professionals in many areas to meet at times in order to exchange ideas. Opportunities like this may seem to the public as a chance to simply sell product but for us they mean a lot more. Technology drives the lighting industry and events like Cine Gear Expo 2018 are necessary so that we too can meet and discuss trends and innovations with our peers. That is why we support this year’s expo and are proud to be one of its many exhibitors. This year’s Cine Gear Expo will be held from May 31 – June 3, 2018 amidst some of the most important and innovative companies and leaders in the fields of Digital Media, Film, Entertainment, Post Production, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Government and Military, Sports and Live Events

Exhibition Details

  • 300 exhibits of new products and services
  • 30+ free complimentary seminars including several master classes
  • 16,000 professionals from more than 60 countries
  • Location: The Studios at Paramount, Hollywood, CA 90038

The Exhibitors


As we said we will be among some of the leading innovators in our field bringing with us our tech such as our dimmers. (We also do Strand dimmer repair.) Some of the other exhibitors in attendance will be:


  • Ratpac Dimmers: Leaders in the manufacture and rental of lighting products such as the PDB 6 Socapex, the 24K single channel dimmer and other devices that make wireless control of lighting hardware easier and more seamless. This year we will be focusing on our 12×200 reverse phase dimmer created to control LED Tubes with a smooth dim curve down to 1% as well as the integration of our products with mobile devices.2018-05-07_1425
  • AbelCine: A company that provides products and services that are used in the broadcast and new media industries.
  • Zhengzhou Generalink Lighting Equipment Co., Ltd: G&L Lighting manufactures LED lighting for broadcasting, filmmaking, photography, video and studio fields. They have been around since 2010 and their products are used in Europe, America and Southeast Asia.
  • Sony: The Sony Corporation is known throughout the world for its products and properties. It will exhibit its digital motion picture cameras, R7 portable memory recorder capturing 4K at 120fps and other innovative entertainment products.
  • Panasonic Cinema: This leading supplier of 4k cinematography gear will display products such as its 4K VariCam PURE with Codex VRAW 2.0 Recorder and well as its LUMIX GH5.


To receive alerts about the exposition follow this link. See you there.

The Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibit: Embracing Changes

Established in 1995, the Guangzhou international Lighting Exhibition is perhaps the most influential and comprehensive lighting exhibition in all of Asia. That is why we support it and the theme of this year’s event which is ‘embracing change.’ This year’s exhibition will be held from 9 to 12 June 2018 amidst some of the most important thought leaders in the field of lighting. However, as the theme of this year’s event suggest, the exhibition is about more than vendors putting their products out in front of the public. It is about giving leaders in the industry a look at what others in our field are doing and perhaps learning to grow from those ideas and products. That is what embracing change is all about.

Exhibition Details

2,428 exhibitors from 21 countries and regions

180,000 gross sqm spanning 17 halls

100+ quality special programs

Over 156,000 visitors* from 134 countries and regions

The Exhibitors

Who are some of these thought leaders and what ideas do they bring to the table? Some of the exhibitors in attendance will be:lighting exhibit

  • Shenzhen Dark Energy Power Supply Co., Ltd: The company has obtained a number of patents involving electric vehicle intelligent drive and automobile charging pile system design, intelligent home and mechanical automation production control drive and of course LED lighting.
  • GD Han’s Yueming Laser Group Co., LTD: Professionally dedicated to industrial laser equipment R&D, manufacturing, owns Yueming Laser Group facilities in Guangdong, Shanghai and Jiangsu.
  • Shenzhen Lepower Opto Electronics Corp. Ltd: Listed among the top 100 Companies in China LED Lighting application industry, Shenzhen Lepower Opto Electronics Corp specializes in high power led encapsulation, optic design and LED lamp development.
  • Guangdong OML Technology CO. LTD: Founded in 2004 Guangdong OML Technology CO. LTD, specializes in LED research.

As anyone in our industry knows, technology is never static for long. Innovation arrives, rest but a short time and then is replaced by newer innovations. This point is important for all of us to embrace and we do at Ratpac Dimmers. Our Strand Dimmers have evolved just as the rest of our technologies continue to do so. We also offer dimmer rental for companies who wish to avail themselves of the latest in wireless lighting technology.

6 Lighting Industry Blogs to Follow

The lighting industry is constantly evolving as new technologies emerge. What was impossible from a technogical standpoint only a few years ago is now reality. That is why it is so important for experts in our field to be aware of all the news that surrounds our industry. So, whether the knowledge you seek falls under the category of general info, news, or in-depth and technical LED information, here are some excellent sources for following developments in lighting technology.

  • LEDS Magazine: This well-designed digital magazine is truly comprehensive. It provides information on current developments in the field of lighting. It also covers information about symposiums, tradeshows, etc. LEDs Magazine is part of the LEDs & Lighting media group and is focused on all developments in the field of lighting.
  • 1000Bulbs: This blog provides weekly stories that cover the latest trends in light technology. It is owned and operated by their marketing team and helps lighting designers and end-users both stay informed.
  • Electronics Weekly: This digital magazine provides up-to-date information about LEDs and the technology behind it. The only downside to the blog is that it does not update daily.
  • Lighting Trends Blog: Lighting Trend covers industry trends including but not limited to: eco-friendly lighting, indoor & outdoor lighting, home decorating ideas, art & sculpture, etc. The articles there are well written and the blog spotlights some of the leading designers and figures in the lighting industrylighting
  • The Lighting reSOURCE: This website contains original content from industry professionals, new technological innovations and even features a lighting design image gallery. If you want current information on lighting trends, this is the site to visit as it contains a news feed of industry happenings.
  • LightNOW Blog: This blog keeps visitors current on the latest conferences, news and trade shows. The information it provides is up to date and practical and is read by lighting professionals around the world.

There you have it. These are just a few of the resources that are available for professionals in the field of lighting. They will keep you apprised of the development of technologies such as our wireless DMX and dimmer packs.

All About Sports Venue lighting

It is a fact that more than 80 percent of Major League Baseball (MLB) games are played at night, under the lights. Lights make every play visible to fans, players and coaches and the TV audience at home. However, when you think about it, sports lighting is more than just about being able to see the game clearly. Different shades and intensity of light elicit emotions from us all. What is already an emotional occasion – a sporting event – becomes even more engaging when we not only see but experience light whether it is through its changing intensity or it’s rhythmic synchronicity with music and sound. That is where technologies such as our wireless dimmers come into play. So let’s take a moment to look at the role lighting plays in illuminating sporting events.
The History of Sports Lighting

One lasting symbol of the ancient Olympic is the famous torch that has for generations marked the opening of each series of games. However, the torch alone did not illustrate those early games. The games are illuminated with the help of strategically placed parabolic mirrors. During the night, the games were halted due to lack of visibility. Not until Edison invented the carbon-thread incandescent bulb in 1879 were sports fans able to view night games. This was followed by floodlights capable of producing light on the magnitude of tens of thousands of candle power. Today, we have LED lighting, wireless and the Internet to profusely illustrate games and to make them truly come alive.

Tips for Lighting Sporting Eventssports venue lighting

In 2013 there was a blackout during the Super Bowl which lasted for 34 minutes. This occurred while the San Francisco 49ers were mounting a rally against the Baltimore Ravens. This event naturally infuriated spectators and illustrated the importance of lighting at sporting venues. However, as we have already stated, visibility is just one requirement of lighting at such events. Here are some tips for experts who will be using lighting equipment at sporting events.

  • Proper placement: The hardware must be placed in a manner that makes it accessible to lighting experts.
  • Knowledge of available resources: Experts should know ahead of time which electrical energy transmission systems, batteries, fuel cells, generators, alternators, dimmer packs, etc they will be using.
  • Experts should put lighting in the proper context: As we said, lighting is not simply about making things visible. Light helps create shadows and texture. Moreover, it reveals and accentuates the beauty of the venue itself.

In short, lighting is as important as any other aspect of sporting venues. Indeed, it is more important than most. Without it games would not be visible, crowds would not be energized and the beauty of the venue would go underappreciated.