REVIEWED: CHAUVET DJ ILS Eco System
For many companies quick and easy lighting control for mobile DJs has been the focus for a long, long time. But there is usually a catch. Any new system usually falls short in some way. So, is this latest attempt from CHAUVET DJ the Holy Grail we’ve all been waiting for?
Let me take you back to the golden olden days when you’d rock up with your light boxes and traffic lights, plug in Bulgin leads, connect your Ryger lighting controller, select a pattern and speed, and let everything do its job. Things were a lot simpler back then.
Fast forward 40 odd years and things are a whole lot different.
We want so much more from our lighting these days. For example, we want to force moving heads to face forwards (I don’t see the point in that myself, as surely the beauty of a moving head is that it can spin around all over the place?). We want smooth colour fades from wash lights and different colours on mood lights. We want our Freedom Sticks pulsing slowly.
To some, those requirements are very easy to sort out. With a fancy DMX desk and an hour’s programming time, many DJs can achieve this setup to complete perfection. But for many others it can be a struggle to navigate the menu system on the lights, let alone program them. It’s no wonder that simple lighting controllers exist to make our lives much easier.
But what if you still find that confusing, or it’s too much work to handle? Wouldn’t it be great if there was something so simple that a two-year-old could set it up? And what if that something was so easy to use, the only complicated bit was plugging the wires in?
Well, it’s here, in the form of the CHAUVET DJ Integrated Lighting System (ILS). Chauvet DJ have created an easy to use, advanced lighting system that co-ordinates perfectly across multiple different fixtures. I know we already have that functionality – kind of – with master/slave, but that only really works with similar fixtures, perhaps four moving heads or four wash lights. The ILS works across different fixture types, so you can have coordinated shows utilising moving heads, pars, derbies, etc. And that’s pretty cool.
At the heart of this new system is an upgraded GigBAR Move + ILS. At first glance it looks like the old GigBAR Move we all love, but on closer inspection it’s actually very different. As well as containing their new ILS technology, Chauvet DJ has upgraded the moving heads to match the output of the Chauvet DJ Intimidator Spot 160 – a massive upgrade from 10W to 32W!
The moving heads’ housing now matches that of the Spot 160s, so they look the same. The pars are now HEX colour instead of RGB+UV, enabling a much wider choice of colours. Chauvet DJ has also upgraded the derbies from RGB to RGBW and increased the output, whilst the laser is RGB instead of just red and green. And finally, the strobes are now 5W cool-white and with a bigger lens that creates a tighter, brighter beam. These will look awesome during dance sets, for example.
Meanwhile, the hand-held remote control gains its own set of new superpowers. The remote is now RF (radio frequency) instead of IR (infrared). This means you don’t need to stand directly in front of the GigBAR, pointing the remote at the light, in order to control it. Because it’s RF and paired with the unit, you can stand anywhere in a function room and still control the output. All things considered, the new remote is a bit of a beast!
So, onto the ILS system itself. The GigBAR Move + ILS is the ‘brain’ – you must have one at the heart of your lighting rig. Setting it up is simple: head to the menu, activate ILS, choose a wireless channel to transmit on, and that’s it. Incidentally, you don’t need to do this wirelessly, you can still use conventional DMX cables if you want.
At this point it’s important to mention that the ILS system will only work with other Chauvet DJ ILS products. Your existing Chauvet DJ products are unlikely to be ILS, so you may need to upgrade your old lights in order to use this new system (I checked out the usual big-name retailers online and they’re already selling the newer ILS units).
To use ILS wirelessly with additional lights, you’ll also need to buy D-Fi USB sticks at around £40 each, an added expense to bear in mind. I’d have preferred to see the D-Fi system built in to all new ILS-compatible units. This would’ve brought an immediate improvement, as the USBs are another thing you need to remember to plug in and then remove at the end of the night. So, once you’ve connected everything to the ‘brain’, all you need to do is select one of the four ILS modes on the fixture. Imagine a function room with your GigBAR Move + ILS placed in the centre behind you, with a couple of moving heads on your booth, and uplighting spread around the room.
Modes 1 and 3 work with the left-hand side of the GigBAR and modes 2 and 4 work with the right side. The reason for this is that some of the built-in programs work in opposites, so you can create some cool colour and moving effects just by having your lighting react differently on each side of the room. If both sides of the GigBAR are doing the same thing, all the other fixtures in the room will either follow, or will compliment depending on which mode has been chosen. The moving heads will match the moving heads on the GigBAR Move; the derbies, wash effects, strobe and laser will match or complement too.
You control everything with the easy-to-use RF remote or the wireless foot switch. The system is so simple to operate and is split into different sections for easy control over the different fixtures. For example, with the moving heads you can very easily choose a built-in program and adjust the movement speed, colour and gobo. It’s the same with the pars and derbies: choose a program or a static colour and the GigBAR Move will match any other connected units and create a great lightshow!
If you don’t want individual control over the different fixture types, you can just switch the whole system to auto mode and choose between different built-in programs. If you don’t want the moving heads on at all, you can easily turn them off at the press of a button and the rest of your fixtures will work as normal.
Perhaps in the future, Chauvet DJ could include the ability to save programs, so we could quickly recall a first dance sequence or several different party shows?
I only used the GigBAR Move + ILS (together with a selection of ILS-compatible products) for a couple of days, but I can tell you that if DMX isn’t for you, or you just want a system which works together across different fixture types with minimal effort, this is the next best thing.
GigBARs are the subject of much debate amongst the DJ community, but nobody can disagree that they’re an incredibly popular product. For some DJs, the fact you must have a GigBAR at the heart of your lighting in order to use ILS is a tough ask. But the tradeoff is that you get a smart lighting system that you can easily control with minimal effort. You’ll also be pleased to know that the case included with the GigBAR MOVE + ILS has space to store the XLR receivers and USB keys, so it keeps everything nicely together!
I do feel Chauvet DJ have done brilliantly with ILS – it’s a very well-developed and thought out system. Various ILS-compatible units have been released already, with Chauvet DJ adding more all the time. As for it being the Holy Grail? It’s certainly a big step forward. With a few refinements here and there, it will be simply amazing.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 114, Pages 72-74.