Ask Alfred: Back To The Future

July 2, 2010 by Mobile Beat

Ask Alfred

Back To The Future

A forward-looking guy, Alfred Gonzales has played a key role in keeping ADJ and our customers on the cutting edge of lighting technology. Still, Alfred knows from personal experience as a DJ that there are gigs to be had (and more money to be made) by expanding your lighting repertoire to include some retro effects. Giving a nod to the past, doesn’t mean sacrificing cutting edge technology either, according to American DJ’s National Sales Manager. Thanks to a new generation of ADJ products, you can have the best of the past, present and future in one awesome light show.

Why do you think it’s a good idea for DJs include some retro looks in their lighting arsenal?

“There are several good reasons; for one thing, it expands the creative scope of what you can do as an entertainer. There’s something nice too about really being able to transition your light show with the different music you play.”

Can you elaborate on that last point?

“Sure, you go to most weddings or events today and the DJ will play a mix of music; something from the psychedelic sixties, the disco seventies, the New Wave eighties, Indie 90s and so forth. It adds to the performance when you can adjust your light show to coordinate with the different lights from the period. Doing this makes for a better show; plus I think that in the long run, it results in more gigs.”

How does it lead to more gigs?

“There are always people who are having themed parties and events. Then there are all the class reunions; when the class of 1978 has reunion, it wants a disco themed party. The DJ that can deliver this in the most convincing way is the one who gets the gig. Personally, I think that DJs who promote the fact that they can create moods for different eras will expand their own businesses.

Ok, so we see why it makes sense to add some retro elements to your overall creative tool chest. It that’s the case, how do we get started? What’s the most important thing to keep in mind about creating a retro look?

“A common misconception that I would like to address is that creating a retro look means using old equipment – it doesn’t. You want to evoke some retro images, but you want to do it with state of the art gear that meets the expectations that audiences have for lighting today.”

Any examples?

“There are many examples. A couple that come to mind are the Fantasy 250 and the Fantasy Scan. These are two high-powered 250 watt discharge projectors that produce multi-colored 3D patterns that you can spin forward and backward. You can use these lights very effectively to create a psychedelic Sixties effect, but they’re DMX controllable lights with features that you wouldn’t find in older lighting. Then there’s our H20 LED, a 10 watt LED effect that simulates water flowing to create a Sixties look, but it’s a thoroughly modern LED effect.”

Moving ahead a decade to the 70s, the mirror ball evokes strong images of that decade. Have mirror balls changed over the years?

“Absolutely – The American DJ MB DMX II provides a perfect example of this change. This is a heavy duty mirror ball motor with two DMX channels, one to adjust the speed and direction of the mirror ball, and the other to turn pinspots on and off. This is a DMX 512 controllable product, and it has 3-prong Edison sockets to power pinspots. You can daisy chain up to four of this units together in Master/Slave control to create an impressive visual effect. So you can see, this is not your father’s mirror ball type product.”

There are also LED fixtures that can be used to simulate a mirror ball effect right?

“Correct – Our Sunray LED produces 34 bright color beams that can look similar to a mirror ball. We also have the Sunray Tri LED DMX and the Starball LED DMX, which produces bright white beams in a mirror ball pattern. The way you use this lights can be very contemporary, but you can also use them to evoke a retro image. Of course, this versatility enhances the value that the fixture brings to your table.”

Any other advice on creating a retro mood?

“Yes don’t overlook the importance of themed gobos or messages written in light to enhance your retro mood. For example, if you have the American DJ LED Messenger Moonflower, you can project some evocative words and phrases from the era on walls. If you were doing a Sixties themed party, your audience would probably say this idea was absolutely ‘groovy!’”

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This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


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