Filters & Patterns Questions
Lamps, Cables & Connectors Questions
A wireless microphone system includes a minimum of two or three components:
You can buy or rent wireless systems from PNTA. To purchase or get a quote call our specialists at (206) 622-7850. Please note that there's a heavy demand for wireless systems in December; reserve your gear early!
A wireless microphone system may also contain the following components:
Running multiple wireless systems requires careful frequency coordination to avoid interference. Please contact us for assistance with this process.
You need an intercom system and we’re the people to talk to. PNTA offers a wide range of intercom equipment by Clear-Com, RTS, Telex and Anchor.
A basic intercom system includes a power supply connected by microphone cables to remote stations which usually have headsets. This type of system allows full-duplex communications; anyone can talk and everyone can hear.
Wireless intercom systems use the same basic components as wired systems, but the signal is transmitted between the remote stations and the main station by radio instead of by cables, allowing greater mobility and portability. Usable range for these is 200-1000 feet, dependent on operating environment. Since this is a full-duplex system, you can hear when you are losing connection and move to compensate.
Portable radios (walkie-talkies) can be interfaced to a wired system for a range of up to a mile or more, but allow only half-duplex communications. The wired system users press and hold the call button on their station to transmit to the portable radio user. The portable uses the press-to-talk switch to speak to the wired system.
Mostly. Most full-size headsets with a four-pin female XLR type connector will work with Clear-Com, Telex, HME and Anchor stations, both wired and wireless, that have a matching connector. Some stations that have been used with lightweight headsets that have electret mics may need a minor modification for proper operation. Some new lightweight headsets may require mic power which limits the selection of beltpacks that can support them.
Unless you need the mobility of a wireless mic, stay with wired. The initial cost is much lower, they require less maintenance and you don't have to keep buying batteries.
We've not had success with rechargeable "9 volt" batteries. They just don't have the capacity needed to run a transmitter for more than about an hour. For systems using AAs, the NiMH batteries used for digital cameras can work well. If you use rechargeable batteries, avoid surprises in the middle of a show by keeping battery sets matched and by tracking usage. This is important because a simple voltage check won't tell you how much capacity is left, as it will with conventional batteries.
A few systems are designed to use rechargeables. Please call for further information.
We sure do. Actually, this is a common problem. Singers and actors work hard under hot stage lights. They sweat and when the moisture gets into a belt pack, it fails. We carry non-lubricated latex pouches called body pack covers, available individually or in bulk. For best results, hang the pack with the opening in the cover pointing down, so moisture won't roll in.
It's important to keep the microphone out of the coverage pattern of the speakers. You want to set up the system so the speaker energy goes out to the audience, not back into the microphone.
A basic rule of sound systems is get the speakers up, preferably at least three feet above audience head height. This ensures the sound will get to the audience members at the rear and doesn’t blast out the people in front.
Set up the system so the speakers are in front of the microphone. The mic should not be pointing at the speakers. Don’t walk right in front of the speakers with an open mic.
Also, avoid using too much gain. If you find that you're holding the mic over a foot from your mouth, reduce the system gain and work six inches or less from the mic.
Probably not. After about ten years, the flame-retardant chemical and the cotton fabric itself start to deteriorate. Cleaning and re-flame-treating may be possible, but they're expensive. Our drapery staff will be happy to work with you to evaluate the condition of your stage soft goods and determine the best solution for your space and budget. The good news is that new polyester fabrics are inherently flame-retardant and offer a fine range of color choices, so it may be more cost-effective for you to replace your drapes.
For an evaluation of your old drapes and/or a quote for new drapes, call Silas at (800) 622-7850 Ext 123.
Yes, subject to their age and condition, but in some cases replacing them is more cost-effective. We can work with you to compare the costs of repair and replacement.
Call Silas at (800) 622-7850 Ext 123 to make arrangements for evaluating your drapes for repair.
Whatever the problem, we have the experience to make your drapes fly smoothly. Solutions can span the spectrum from a new cord to a new hardware system. You can schedule an appointment with a PNTA technician who'll come to your site, survey your system and work with you to determine the most practical options.
Talk with Silas at (800) 622-7850 Ext 123 to see what kind of repair work and replacement may be needed.
The standard for both is medium-weight muslin which you can get flame-treated or untreated. We carry this universal theatrical material in both forms and in numerous widths from 80" to 197" (that's over 16 feet wide without a seam). Need something wider? We can get it.
Call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to order your scenic muslin.
Yes. Painting or dying unstretched muslin will cause shrinkage and untreated (not flame-retardant) muslin will shrink more than drops made with flame-treated fabric. For best results, drops should be stretched on a frame or fastened to the floor before painting, allowing some slack for the shrinkage.
Muslin drops are made from 100% cotton, medium-weight muslin. These drops have horizontal seams, 2" side hems and a 6" bottom hem with 4" pipe/chain pocket. The top is backed by 3-1/2" jute webbing. Grommets are spaced evenly across the top, approximately 12" on center. Each grommet is threaded with a 36" tie line.
Scrims are made the same way. The difference between drops and scrims is the fabric. Scrim fabric can be chosen for the desired degree of opacity.
Sharkstooth, a ladder-weave cotton, is the most common and least expensive option. Sharkstooth scrims are versatile and you can create different effects with them through tight control of your stage lighting. Lit from the front, the scrim will appear solid, but lit from the rear, it will appear transparent. By crossfading the light, it's possible to "dissolve" from one scene to another without interruption. White scrims are used when adding color with light or dyes. Black scrims "disappear" better than white scrims.
PNTA’s Counter Staff can help you determine the best choice for your purposes. Call them at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0.
In addition to the muslin, we stock canvas, velour, scrim, theatrical gauze, cheesecloth, denim, commando cloth, erosion cloth and more! Also, we're always glad to help you special order to meet your custom needs.
Call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to find out exactly what’s in stock and what we can get for you.
No. Thread counts, widths, bolt lengths and dye lots may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. They may be used interchangeably in some situations, such as painted flats and scenery, panels mounted to different walls, backyard productions and costume construction.
Talk with our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 about your particular situation to see whether you can use fabric from different bolts.
Yes! Remnants are ends that measure three yards or less, and we always have them in muslin, velour, scrim and other fabrics just waiting for the right person to come along and put them to use. We also have grab bags, which are clear 13-gallon trash bags packed with pieces of muslin, velour, commando cloth and vinyl. Every bag is different, and at $5 a bag, they're a great value for costumers, quilters and crafters!
Call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to find out what we have.
A hazer fills a room with long-lasting, even mist or haze for atmospheric effects that enhance the visibility of shafts of light. With haze, you can turn your dance floor into a 3-D canvas for moving lights and lasers. Hazers use low heat and very little fluid and they produce a dry, odorless haze.
You can rent most of the special effects equipment featured at PNTA’s Online Store—mirror ball and pinspots, foggers, hazers, bubble machines, cobweb machines, blacklights, strobe lights, police beacons, confetti cannons and more. Visit our Rental RFQ Page to submit a request or call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 for more information.
Dry ice fog hugs the ground, dissipating relatively quickly. Chemical fog floats and disperses in the air, taking a longer time to dissipate.
Use a mirror ball and motor (to make the ball turn) suspended from the ceiling and lit by pin spots—the more, the merrier!
Demand for effects equipment is particularly high around holidays. We often run out of bubble machines for June weddings, cobweb machines for Halloween haunted houses and fog machines for church Christmas pageants. Please be sure to look ahead on your calendar so you can be sure of getting everything you need in one quick stop.
Call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 as early as possible to reserve the gear you need.
Use vulcanizing fluid—available from PNTA—and have at it! Spiders not included. We also carry fog fluid, hazing fluid, gels for coloring lights, FX film, gobos, confetti and all of the other supplies and accessories you'll need to make your production or party a success.
Try to get the bubble machine off the floor for a more graceful cascade of bubbles. Be careful not to get it close to your wedding dress; bubble fluid will stain silk and satin. Keep it away from the dance floor—bubbles can make uncarpeted floors slippery.
No. They're made of plastic resin, so don't eat the shards! Also, remember to treat them like your favorite dog in the car—on hot days, they'll melt if left in a closed car in the sun.
Filters are used for a variety of effects:
Yes—and more! We have free swatchbooks for Roscolux, Rosco Designer products (like mirrors, diffractions and Sparklene), Rosco E-Colour, Rosco Cinegel, GamColor and Lee Filters.
The basic size is 20" x 24" which gives you a variety of cutting options. To save you time when you need to cut a lot of color, we can also special order color in rolls which come in 25-foot lengths at varied widths, ranging from 6-1/4" to 46". They're available in every color and we can have them on your doorstep the next day if you phone in your order by 12 noon.
To special order rolls of color, call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0.
Basic theatre colors are amber, blue and neutral. To get an attractive wash of light, aim amber from one side of the stage, blue from the other side and neutral straight on. Colors currently most used for lighting productions are Bastard Amber, Surprise Pink and No Color Blue. If you want to keep a variety of colors on hand, check out PNTA color packs for theatre, party or film. They give you a convenient mix of colors in pre-cut sheets.
The easiest way to create these effects is to use a GAM FX Film Wheel with a fire, rain or snow film roll. You can also pair the snow effect with stage snow, re-usable shredded plastic pieces that fall realistically to simulate snowfall.
You can rent an FX Film Wheel and buy your film roll and stage snow at PNTA. Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to place your order.
It's easy! An e-mailable (jpg, pdf or gif) version of your logo and a quick phone call to our Counter Staff will get your logo on the wall in 6-10 days. You have two options, metal or glass. For the best quality, a litho pattern on a glass slide provides photo-quality definition, though at a higher price.
You'll also need a light source to project your logo. If you're certain you want to go with permanent installation of the logo, buying makes sense. If you just want to try it out, consider renting equipment while you decide on the best application for your space.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to order your custom pattern and talk about the best light source for your needs.
Yes, you can. To figure out which lamps you can use for any instrument, call our Counter Staff and tell them what kind of base your lamp has (use diagrams at left) and what the rating for your particular instrument is. Any lamp with the same base, bulb and MOL as your 750 watt lamp will fit your instrument and the rating will determine what wattage you can use. For example, you can use a 500 watt lamp in your 65Q, but you can't use a 1000 watt lamp, even though it has the same base, bulb and MOL as your 750.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to order replacement lamps to fit your particular needs and budget. Ask about case discounts!
We can think of five reasons right off hand:
The lighting cables we sell are made specifically to connect lighting instruments to a power source (wall outlet or dimmer pack). All are manufactured with black 12/3 SOOW (waterproof SO) cable. For ease of use and storage, they're labeled to indicate cable length. We stock open cable that can be cut to any length and a range of adapters. We offer the service of making custom cables in any length and with any adapters you need.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 with your cable and adapter needs.
Edisons (PBGs) are the standard three-pin household plug. Twist-lock connectors (TLGs) have three pins arranged in a circle. Stage pin connectors (GSPs) are flat with pins arranged in a row.
If your twist-lock connector has different coloring, call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 for instructions.
Yes, and it’s easy! Just order the Super Reflector Kit and an HX601 lamp which is a 575 watt lamp that gives 1000 watt output. This will vastly improve the instrument's optical performance. You can even go a step farther and replace the back cap with a Speed Cap which will make lamp alignment faster and easier. All of these items are available via a quick call to our Counter Staff and from our Online Store.
Call our Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to upgrade your 360Q quickly and easily!
That’s going to depend on your lighting plan, but it’s helpful to think of lighting instruments in four main categories: focused, wash, intelligent and specialty/task.
Ellipsoidal, reflector-based instruments, such as the ETC Source Four™, Altman 360 series, Altman Shakespeare and Strand SL allow a focused or purposely unfocused light to illuminate a specific area. Shutters allow you to “frame” the beam down to a defined area. This is the main tool of the stage lighting designer. “Mini” or “baby” ellipsoidals serve the same task on a smaller scale. A tight beam can be used for a special and a broad beam can wash an entire area. Zoom ellipsoidals offer even more flexibility.
Fresnel instruments are most useful for short throw, small area lighting and have a soft-edged beam.
PARs are little more than a housing for a lamp and clips for a color frame; the housing reduces light spill. Their job is to add color and light to specific areas of the stage.
Followspots, while perhaps deserving of their own category, are essentially an ellipsoidal on a stand with handles added to control everything.
Scoops, borders and cyc lights are all intended to cover large areas with light. Scoops provide a wide-spread, soft-edged beam of flat, even light. Border and cyc lights are good for down-lighting and for drops; they can also be used on the floor. Often they are multiple-lamp units, available in various lengths and circuit configurations. They provide soft, even light and very wide coverage.
These instruments perform a wide variety of tasks, including pan and tilt, color change, focus and iris, all controllable from a lighting console to preclude the need for multiple instruments to perform a set of different tasks.
Specialty and Task Lighting
This category includes music stand lights, Littlites and a wide variety of work lights for lighting everything from a sound console in the back of a dark theatre to placing a gobo or other image in the exact place you need it.
You can calculate the coverage from any throw distance with the following formula:
Multiplying Factor X Throw Distance = Diameter of Area Covered
(MF x T = D)
The MF (Multiplying Factor) is specified by the manufacturer and is available in standard product information.
Sorry, no. Trying to dim arc-source fixtures will damage the ballast electronics. Dimming incandescent-source followspots can damage the fan motor, warp reflectors, shorten bulb life and even damage the lenses.
Yes. Retrofits like this are a PNTA specialty. Here are some examples of what’s possible:
The difference in light output between older and newer is clearly visible. Adding new instruments by pairs into an existing system makes the difference less noticeable and is a great way to upgrade any system economically.
This will depend on your budget, space and usage. Lighting control covers a wide range of options, from simple, self-contained dimmers to computer-controlled consoles running remote dimmers in multiple locations. PNTA's factory-trained staff has installed and used them all in venues ranging from Tops (Elementary) School in Seattle to Kent Covenant Church, from Whitman College in Walla Walla to the renovated McCaw Performance Hall, home of Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet. They'd love to discuss which system would work best for your application.
Call Sheldon at (800) 622-7850 Ext 140 to schedule a consultation or demo.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to place your makeup order.
Theatrical make-up kits offer outstanding value, especially for students and schools. They cost about half what it would cost to buy all the contents individually and come with a great array of extras, such as brushes, spirit gum and make-up remover. Color selections for foundations and liners are based on popular choices for the designated skin tones.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 to order your makeup kits.
Your foundation should be slightly darker than your skin tone in order to counteract the effects of stage lighting. The best way to test is to apply a patch of foundation to your inner forearm, just below the elbow.
We have tester boards in our showroom for most of the make-up we carry. We can also send you a Ben Nye catalog which contains color chips.
Just call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit PNTA’s showroom at 2414 SW Andover Street in Seattle to test make-up colors.
Scars are made with liquid latex or with nose and scar wax. For a more realistic look, you can add Ben Nye Fresh Scab or Thick Blood. Ben Nye also makes a Gel Wound Kit that is available at PNTA’s Online Store and Seattle showroom. It has everything you need, including detailed instructions.
Try using small balloons, condoms, heat-sealed sandwich bags or zipper-locking plastic bags to hold the blood. You can also use the latex covers we sell for microphone body packs. A ring rigged with milliner's wire can puncture the blood sac as the actor clutches the wound.
Yes! Buy kits and assign each actor his/her own kit. When actors do share makeup, they should always use clean applicators and be conscientious about hand-washing. This prevents the spread of bacteria.
We’re going to need a large amount of body makeup for some of the characters in our school production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We have a “recipe” for body makeup. Do you have the ingredients we need to make our own?
We applaud the drive and determination of youth but caution you against creating your own makeup. Chemicals listed in “recipes” for home-made makeup can cause skin irritation. Ben Nye and Krylon have put their makeup products through years of testing to make sure they’re safe and effective.
That said, here’s a “recipe” for painting someone gold (like an Oscar award statuette), courtesy of our makeup specialist, Dante. You can adapt this to your needs by substituting different colors, such as copper or Plains Dust, for the gold powder. For example, for the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, you can use Silver Lumiere powder. You can mix tiny batches to test colors and color combinations until you find the right mix for each of your characters.
Pour some Liquiset into the mixing container (a bowl or Tupperware container will do). A little goes a long way and it’s better to make a few batches than just dumping everything in at once. Otherwise, it’s art and not an exact science. Start pouring some powder into the Liquiset and mix it as you add it. Keep pouring and mixing until you end up with something that looks like gold paint.
Fill a small spray bottle with Final Seal. Spray every part of the body that will have makeup applied to it. (This will help seal off the pores, keep the body from beginning to absorb the makeup and keep the paint from looking splotchy.) Please note that you want to be careful around the eyes. Final Seal is okay for use there, but it’s alcohol-based and might burn if you get it in the eyes.
Stir the “paint” again a little just to get a good mixture of liquid and particles. Then, paint away. It’s easiest if you paint in parts. For example, start with the face and move your way down. When starting on the face, do the forehead, then the cheeks, nose, etc. This will make it LOTS easier to make it look even. Plus, by the time you start getting tired, you’ll be at the lower part of the body and it’s less noticeable than the face!
Once the body is done, re-spray all the skin covered with makeup with Final Seal. This will help protect the makeup from wiping off and getting on clothing and props.
Try to do a small square on your hand a day or so before so that you have an idea of what you’re facing, what you're going to do and how long it will take. It’ll make the process a lot easier.
Another option is to use the MagiColor liquid paint, also made by Ben Nye. If you spray Final Seal over that, you are even able to scratch at it once everything has dried. It stands up to rubbing and scratching, but comes off with soap and water. So just don’t get it wet!
You can use household latex paint, but paint formulated for the stage works better for four reasons:
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to order paint and accessories for your next production.
Good question—the four types of stage paints we carry do vary in application and use.
Rosco and Sculptural Arts both make test kits that include 1-ounce samples of the colors they make. Rosco offers a Scenic Paint Kit Sampler, Off-Broadway Kit, Iddings Deep Color Kit, Supersaturated Kit and Vivid FX Special Effects Kit. Sculptural Arts offers a Starter Kit for their Artist's Choice line.
Call the Counter Staff at (800) 622-7850 Ext 0 to order your test kits.
Be sure to read through all of our tips on painting for information about priming, sealing, flame-treating and more. For further information, check out our book collection in our online store or in our showroom at 2414 SW Andover Street in Seattle. The books give detailed instructions for basic and faux painting techniques, marbling and other effects.
You’ll need a check roller and graining combs which are available separately or in a four-piece grain combing set. We like the Symphony faux finishing tools and we're very excited to offer such fine-quality tools to our customers.
You can, but you’ll be replacing them constantly and the bristles will end up in your paint and on your set pieces. The brushes and painting tools PNTA sells are high-quality and made to last through years of heavy use with proper care.