The humble audience blinder has been a mainstay of concert production since forever. Commonly found on front trusses, rear trusses, and scattered around stages, the tungsten blinder has certainly found a place in the world. But it’s not without some problems…
A standard Molefay Duet uses a pair of 650W 120V Par 36 DWE lamps. These lamps have a very quick rise time, which is a great visual effect but takes a toll in the form of reducing the lifespan of the bubble. Lamp life is a mere 100 hours continuous use, but because the fixtures are constantly flashing on and off typical lamp life is usually much shorter. The lamps run in series too, so if you lose one bubble its partner in crime also stops working. Once they’re hot, the filaments become more fragile and more prone to failure if knocked. If you’re actually getting 100 hours out of your blinders you should be cheering.
Two DWE lamps total 1300W, which is just enough to make inefficient use of a standard 10A dimmer channel. Two pairs of lamps would be the next step up, but at 2600W would pop a breaker (or melt a lead, or start a fire). So to run a four pot blinder you need two dimmer channels.
Talking of melting things, that’s the other problem with a traditional tungsten blinder. They put out a lot of heat. I suspect many a drummer out there would still have a healthy head of hair had they not spent so many years toiling away beneath racks of blinders. Or maybe not, but in any case they do generate a lot of heat.
Elation have come up with a solution to all these problems with their Cuepix Blinder WW4. From the front it looks a lot like a normal blinder – four lenses, light sources behind. From 10m below you wouldn’t pick it for anything special. Looking on the back panel, some differences start to become apparent. It has DMX connectors, and PowerCon connectors, and an LCD menu system.
Behind each lens on the Cuepix WW4 sits a 100W warm white COB LED, with an average life span of 100,000 hours. You’ll never need to change a bubble in this fixture. Ever. Physically the fixture feels solid, with nice sturdy yoke locking clamps and a very serious safety wire attachment point. The menu system is fairly straightforward and allows for some standalone operation modes, as well as DMX control using between 1 and 9 channels.
LED dims in a very linear manner, and while this “digital” kind of look can be a cool effect, it doesn’t look anything like a tungsten dimming curve. Elation has included a selection of five different dimming curves, each with different rise and fall times. The quickest is the ‘stage” curve, at 780mS /1100mS (up/down), while the “theatre” curve is roughly half this speed (1580/1940mS). Linear dimming is possible too using the “standard” mode, and importantly the dimming curve can be changed via DMX – this allows you to achieve multiple looks from one fixture. The higher channel count modes allow individual intensity control over each COB LED module, as well as macro and strobe functions.
Beam angle on the WW4 is 62 degrees, however for practical purposes the field angle of 100 degrees is probably a better indicator of what to expect of the unit. All up the Cuepix Blinder WW4 is a clever little fixture, and could well be destined to make stages safer and more comfortable for performers. At 427W maximum power consumption, it’s also a bit kinder to the environment.
- Brand: Elation
- Model: Cuepix Blinder WW4
- RRP: 1559.95 USD
- Product Info: www.elationlighting.com
First published in CX Magazine (December, 2015)
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