Thursday, August 5, 2010

Martin Lighting Roadshow Hosted by Dynamite FX

On July 20th I had the pleasure of attending the Martin Lighting roadshow hosted by Dynamite FX (DFX, in West Berlin, NJ. DFX was originally a mobile DJ company, and later expanded into audio and lighting installation. DFX understands the needs of the working mobile DJ. The staff from DFX was very gracious, and gave me a tour of their expansive warehouse, which featured a well-organized inventory of sound equipment, lighting, video components and screens, trussing, and wiring. The rental prices are very reasonable, and DFX generally gives the renter about a week to return the item. One of the most impressive rental items was a wireless uplighting system with a controller. DFX can also provide turnkey intelligent lighting shows.

As pictured above, Martin's showroom was found inside a large trailer. The showroom was tricked out with the company's latest products, and numerous demonstrations were conducted. Martin's products include a highly impressive line of moving heads and color washes. Their gear is extremely well-engineered and produces dazzling light shows. Martin's products are often found in concert halls and high-end clubs. I have also seen Martin fixtures in the mobile DJ world, although less frequently.

As a mobile DJ owner, tricky questions to answer about intelligent lighting include:

1) should I offer an intelligent lighting show?
2) If so, what effects and lighting brands should be in the show, and what grade of truss will be required?
3) To what extent do our clients (such as brides or corporations) appreciate the difference in a Martin fixture versus a mass market fixture?
4) Does the lighting show truly pack a "WOW Factor" wallop, or is it just pumping out a bunch of light beams?
5) Will a large vehicle be required to carry the lighting gear and truss? Will additional staff members be required? Are there additional insurance requirements?
6) Based on the above purchasing and staffing decisions, what do I need to charge in order to earn a profit based on an assumed number of intelligent lighting shows per year?
7) How do I effectively market lighting versus music/entertainment services?
8) Would it be better off to outsource intelligent lighting to a third party specialist firm, foregoing both the capital expense and potential profits? In this scenario, the DJ could continue to focus on his core competencies of music and entertainment.

It should come as no surprise that mobile DJ companies offering high-end lighting will charge $500 to $2,000 and up to bring out intelligent lighting shows and plasma televisions. A significant upcharge is definitely warranted. I have attended weddings with intelligent lighting shows featuring Martin scanners, and been blown away by the quality of the effects that look particularly awesome in large, majestic ballrooms. My favorite effect was a pink and yellow, swirled, rotating "lollipop" that was brightly lit onto a dark marble dancefloor.

One image that remains seared into my memory about the potential negative nature of intelligent lighting stems from a performance several years ago at the Martinsville Inn. I DJ'd in the smaller ballroom, while another DJ company worked a retirement company in the large ballroom, and had three plasmas on a big truss. While I was loading out and getting ready to leave, I observed the other DJ and his assistant loading big road cases into a box truck - they were stripped down to their tee-shirts and sweating profusely. They exhibited surly facial expressions.

On August 16-19th, Ambient DJ will attend the International DJ Expo at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. I am particularly interested in checking out the latest lighting gear in the massive exhibits hall, and also attending seminars about lighting presented by some of the industry's best!



  1. Great job Greg! You really captured the essence of the day in an informative and concise article! Well done! We hope to see you soon!

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