Stage lighting instrument


Stage lighting instrument

Stage lighting instruments are used in stage lighting to illuminate theatrical productions, rock concerts and other performances taking place in live performance venues. They are also used to light television studios and sound stages.

Terminology is different between the USA and UK for many stagecraft terms. In the USA, lighting fixtures are called "instruments" or "units." In the UK, they are called "lanterns" or "luminaires". This article mainly uses terms common to the USA.

Components of Lighting Instruments

:"See the picture at top right for physical location of most components"Although lighting instruments may look and operate differently, they all have the following components:

Box/Housing/Can/Case

A metal or plastic container to house the whole instrument and prevent light from spilling in unwanted directions. This comprises all of the exterior of the fixture except for the lens or opening. The housing may be designed with specific elements that help reduce heat and increase the efficiency of a lamp. Older instruments were made from rolled and machined steel or aluminum; however, with the advent of the Source Four, many lighting instruments are being made from die-cast metal. Die-casting allows for one single, light-weight piece that is more economical to produce and use. Some instruments are made from plastic, such as the Selecon Pacific.

Lens or opening

The gap in the housing where the light is intended to come out. Many fixtures use a lens to help control the beam of light, though some, such as Parcans and border/cyclorama lights, do not have any lenses, or optics other than the reflector. The lens and the reflector, along with other beam altering devices are part of the optics system.

Reflector

This affects the quality and directionality of the light output. An Ellipsoidal Reflector has a lamp set at one foci of an ellipse, bouncing the light and focusing it at the second foci of the ellipse. This allows the light to spot. A Parabolic Reflector has a lamp at the focus of a parabola, bouncing the light in parallel lines away from the reflector. There is no point at which the light converges, leaving an unfocusable light, causing the more flood characteristics. A reflector is located behind or around the light source in such a way as to direct more light towards the lens or opening. Each unit has a characteristic reflector, used in conjunction with the lens (or lack there of) to create the light that a designer may use.

Yoke

Most instruments are suspended or supported by a "U" shaped yoke, fixed to the sides of the instrument providing an axis of rotation. The yoke is connected to the pipe or batten by one of the clamps mentioned below; it may also be affixed to the deck with floor mounts, or attached to the set with a stage screw.

C-clamp or Hook Clamp

A C-Clamp utilizes a threaded bolt to prevent the clamp falling off the bar and also to prevent the clamp from moving. In Europe, a hook clamp is used. The shape of the hook clamp prevents it from falling off; the bolt stops the clamp from moving. The bolt is hand tightened, and then tightened one or two rounds with a wrench. Once secured, the fixture can be panned and tilted using tension adjustment knobs on the yoke and clamp. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 57-70
date = 2003
] In addition, safety cables, a loop of aircraft cable terminated with carabiners, are used to support the lighting instrument in case the clamp fails.A side arm is a longer arm attached to the light fixture with a C Clamp on the end. This enables the light to be hung to the side of an electric as opposed to below it.

Lamp or arc source

Most theatrical light bulbs (or "lamps", the term usually preferred) are tungsten-halogen (or quartz-halogen), an improvement on the original incandescent design that uses halogen gas instead of an inert gas to increase lamp life and output. Fluorescent lights are rarely used other than as work lights (see below) because, although they are far more efficient, they cannot be "dimmed" (run at less than full power) without using specialized dimmers and they will not dim to very low levels. They also do not produce light from a single point or easily concentrated area and have a warm-up period, during which they emit no light or do so intermittently. High-intensity discharge lamps (or HID lamps), however, are now common where a very bright light output is required — for example in large follow spots, HMI (hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide) floods, and modern automated fixtures. When dimming is required, it is done by mechanical dousers or shutters, as these types of lamps cannot be electrically dimmed. Some specially designed fittings now use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as a light source. LEDs are ideal where an intense but unfocused light source is required, such as for lighting a Cyclorama. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 47-49, 295
date = 2003
]

Accessories

Conventional (non-intelligent lighting) fixtures are designed to accept a number of different accessories intended to assist in the modification of the output. The most common, found on almost all stage lights, is the gel frame holder. The gel frame holder is intended to hold gel, mounted in cardboard or metallic gel frames. Other common accessories include gobo holders or rotators, iris holders, donuts, Barn doors and color scrollers

=Types of instruments=Lighting instruments can be broadly separated into two categories: "floodlights", which illuminate a wide area, and "spotlights" (sometimes known as 'Profiles'), which produce a narrower, more controllable light beam. The distinction has to do with the quality of the light produced by the instrument, with spotlights being a potentially tightly focused light, and floodlights being diffuse light. Instruments that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum can be classified as either a spot or a flood, depending on the type of instrument and how it is used. [ [http://www.theatrecrafts.com/lx_lanterns.html Lighting - Types of Lantern - www.theatrecrafts.com ] ]

Floodlights

PAR lights

Parabolic Aluminized Reflector lights, or PAR lights, or PAR cans, are used when a substantial amount of flat lighting is required for a scene. A PAR can is literally a lamp within a can, as the lamp selected regulates type of light produced. There are no lenses, the reflector is internal to the lamp, and the lamp may be replaced at any hardware store. PAR lights have seen heavy use in rock and roll shows, especially those with smaller budgets, due to their low cost, light weight, easy maintenance, and high durability. [ cite book | last = Parker | first = W. Oren | title = Scene Design and Stage Lighting | id = ISBN 0-03-028777-4 | publisher = Holt, Rinehart and Winston | pages = 459 | date = 1990 ] They are often used in combination with smoke or haze machines which make the path of the beam visible. They are also often used as top or side lights in the theatre and for special effects.

All PAR lamps produce an intense oval pool of light, some with fixed focus and soft edges. [ cite book | last = Parker | first = W. Oren | title = Scene Design and Stage Lighting | id = ISBN 0-03-028777-4 | publisher = Holt, Rinehart and Winston | pages = 459 | date = 1990 ] The way to adjust the orientation of the oval is to rotate the lamp/lens. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 56
date = 2003
]

The "number" associated with a PAR light (e.g: Par 64, Par 36, Par 16) indicates the diameter of the lamp in 8ths of an inch.cite news
url=http://www.gweep.net/~prefect/pubs/iqp/node63.html
publisher=Prefect's WPI Technical Theatre handbook
title=Par Cans
date=October 2006
]

4 different beam angles can be obtained on the PAR-64. The beam angle is determined by the lamp. Lamps come in "very narrow" (6° x 12°), "narrow" (7° x 14°), "medium" (12° x 28°), and "wide" (24° x 48°). Each angle has two numerical values since the beams are elliptical rather than circular.

PAR 16s are referred to as "birdies".

PAR-bars are aluminum pipes with par cans permanently attached and circuited through the pipe. Par-bars with 4 instruments are often referred to as 4-bars, and par-bars with 6 instruments are referred to as 6-bars.

In 1995 Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) introduced the Source Four PAR as an alternative to PARcans cite news
url=http://www.etcconnect.com/minisite/sourcefour/history.html
publisher=Electronic Theatre Controls
title=Source Four History
date=October 2006
] [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup
id = ISBN 0-07-256262-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 362
date = November 10 2004
] . The Source Four PAR uses a lamp separate from the lens and reflector assemblies.

Strip lights

main|Striplight

Strip lights, also known as cyclorama or (Cyc) lights (thus referred to because they are good for lighting the cyclorama, a curtain at the back of the stage), border lights or by the brand name codas, are long housings typically containing multiple lamps arranged along the length of the instrument and emitting light perpendicular to its length. Lamps are often covered with individual gels of multiple colors (often Red, Green, and Blue, which, in theory, allow almost any color to be "dialed up") with each color controlled by a separate electrical dimmer circuit. Many striplights use round pieces of glass (called "roundels") rather than plastic gels for color. "Roundels" can sustain heavy use for a long time and are often found in more permanent installations. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 67-68
date = 2003
] Varying the intensity of the different colors enables the lighting designer to establish mood or time of day.

"See also: Cyclorama (theater)"

Scoop lights

Ellipsoidal Reflector Floodlights, better known as Scoop lights or scoops are circular fixtures that do not have any lenses. They have a reflector at the back of the fixture that directs the light out of the fixture. Since they do not have any sort of lens system they are cheaper than other fixtures. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 69
date = 2003
] However, the downside of this is that the light cannot be focused at all (even PARs allow more control than scoops). Scoops are most often used to flood the stage with light from above, or to light backdrops. [ cite book | last = Parker | first = W. Oren | title = Scene Design and Stage Lighting | id = ISBN 0-03-028777-4 | publisher = Holt, Rinehart and Winston | pages = 460 | date = 1990 ] Scoops can have gels affixed. Occasionally they are used as worklights, which are lights used during non-tech rehearsals and during set work.

House lights and worklights

House lights are generally incandescent lights, however fluorescent lights may be used in some instances. House lights provide light for the audience before and after performances and during intermissions. "Worklights" provide general lighting backstage, or in the house and are often fluorescent fixtures. House lights are often controlled by dimmers, but are sometimes on simple switches. Work lights are almost always switched only. House and work lights are usually off during performances but are occasionally included in the lighting design to establish focus or emphasize plot elements. It should be noted that when the house lights are not on a dimmer, the switch is usually under the control of the stage manager. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 84
date = 2003
]

potlights

A spotlight is general term for any lighting instrument used in theatre to create a pool of light on the stage. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 57
date = 2003
] There are many different types of spotlight which break down into three general areas:
* Fresnel lanterns or Fresnels (US) are small fixtures giving a soft-edged spot or pool of light. Their name comes from the distinctive ridged Fresnel lens used on the front
* "Profile spots (UK)" or ellipsoidal reflector spotlights (US) tend to be longer fixtures containing convex lenses and having a "gate" at their focal point which enables the insertion of "gobos" or "irises" to shape the beam of light. They give a hard edged beam most often associated in the public mind with 'spotlights'. Large versions are operated by a technician as a 'followspot' to pick out performers on the stage.
* Pebble Convex lanterns (or "PCs") are similar to Fresnels, but use a plano-convex lens with a pebbled effect on the planar (flat) side, resulting in less "spill" outside the main beam. [ cite book | last = Parker | first = W. Oren | title = Scene Design and Stage Lighting | id = ISBN 0-03-028777-4 | publisher = Holt, Rinehart and Winston | pages = 456 | date = 1990 ] They are used much more widely in Europe than North America. [ [http://www.theatrecrafts.com/lx_lanterns.html Theatrecrafts.co.uk - types of lantern] . Retrieved 22 Oct 2006.]

Fresnel lantern

A Fresnel lantern (UK), or simply Fresnel (US), employs a Fresnel lens to wash light over an area of the stage. The lens is named after French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, and consequently pronounced with a silent "s". The distinctive lens has a 'stepped' appearance instead of the 'full' or 'smooth' appearance of those used in other lanterns. (it was actually built this way so that lighthouses could throw light farther) The resulting beam of light is wide and soft-edged, creating soft shadows, and is commonly used for back light and side light. Another method of controlling the spread of light is to use either a snoot (also referred to as a top hat), which generally limits the light coming out, or a barn door, which allows the flaps to work as though they were shutters on an ERS. (shown on the right) These methods limit light output and keep excess light from spilling into the eyes of audience members.

Fresnels use a spherical reflector, with the lamp at the focus. The lamp and reflector remain a fixed unit inside the housing, and are moved back and forth to focus the light. This is done by a slider on the bottom or side of the lantern, or by a worm track. At very tight focus, the lanterns are the least efficient, as the least light can escape the housing. Therefore Fresnels are not good for tight focus on small areas. They are most often used at medium distances from the stage for area lighting. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 64-66
date = 2003
]

Recently, ETC introduced a new lighting fixture, the Source Four PARNel, which joined the ideas of the PAR fixture and that of Fresnels. The fixture is more versatile, allowing for a flood or a softer spot.cite news
url=http://www.etcconnect.com/minisite/sourcefour/history.html
publisher=Electronic Theatre Controls
title=Source Four History
date=October 2006
]

Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight

The Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight or ERS is the most abundant and (arguably) important instrument type currently in theatrical use. The flexibility of the ERS allows it to fulfill the bulk of lighting roles in the theatre, from broad "area lighting" to tight "specials"; from long throws from the back of the auditorium to "shin kickers" on the stage. They are sometimes known as a Profile Spotlight (in Europe) or by their brand names, especially the "Source Four" (a popular lantern from ETC) and the "Leko" (short for "Lekolite", from Strand lighting).cite news
url=http://www.etcconnect.com/minisite/sourcefour/index.html
publisher=Electronic Theatre Controls
title=Source Four
date=October 2006
] Although the Source 4 dominates the plots of well-funded theaters, the Altman 360Q and other "Lekos" are still commonly found in many theaters.

The major parts of an ERS light are the casing (what holds it all. Most of what is seen of the finished product), the lamp which is located in the back of the casing, an ellipsoidal reflector branching out from near the lamp (for which it is named), a dual plano-convex lens (two plano-convex lenses facing each other in the barrel), and at the end there's a gel frame which holds the color gel. The light from the lamp is reflected out of the lens by the ellipsoidal reflector.

as part of their "Pacific" range of products. Since its introduction many other manufacturers have introduced their own 90-degree barrels. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup
id = ISBN 0-07-256262-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 365
date = November 10 2004
] There are also 5° and 10° lenses available for many ERS instruments. The beauty of ERS instruments, especially ETC's Source Four line, is that many different "lens tubes" can be used with the same body. This makes them more efficient, since a venue can purchase varying degrees of lenses, while not buying as many bodies. Many manufacturers also produce zooms which offer the ability to change the beam degree, however, with the added zoom lens, the optics are not as high quality, making them difficult to use for gobos, since the image most likely can not be as sharp as with a fixed angle light. The Selecon Pacific ERS is another innovative ERS. It has an irregular shape, which is because it is designed to reflect light off of a dichroic cold mirror, which has a heat sink to draw heat out of the instrument. This improves shutter, gobo and color gel life, and also can improve the temperature on stage. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup
id = ISBN 0-07-256262-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 365
date = November 10 2004
]

In the UK and Australia, the term ERS is not often used. Instead, an ERS is is known by its brand name, or called a "profile spot" (after its ability to project the silhouette or profile of anything put in the gate).

Field angle

Field angle is the angle of the beam of light where it reaches 10% of the intensity of the center of the beam. Most manufacturers now use field angle to indicate the spread that the fixture has. However older fixtures are described by the "width of the lens" x "focal length of the instrument". For example, a 6x9 ellipsoidal would have a 6" lens and a focal length of 9". This nomenclature was used because traditionally, the larger the lens, the more light output, however this is no longer true so most manufacturers now identify their fixtures by beam angle and light output. 6x9 Instruments have a field angle of approximately 37°. 6x12 instruments have a field angle of approximately 26°. As the field angle narrows, the instrument can be used further from the stage. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 60
date = 2003
]

Beam projector

A beam projector is a lensless instrument with very little beam spread. [ cite book | last = Parker | first = W. Oren | title = Scene Design and Stage Lighting | id = ISBN 0-03-028777-4 | publisher = Holt, Rinehart and Winston | pages = 457-458 | date = 1990 ] It uses two reflectors. The primary reflector is a parabolic reflector and the secondary reflector is a spherical reflector. The parabolic reflector organizes the light into nearly parallel beams, and the spherical reflector is placed in front of the lamp to reflect light from the lamp back to the parabolic reflector, which reduces spill. The result is an intense shaft of light that cannot be easily controlled or modified. The beam projector no longer is used to the extent that it once was, as newer fixtures and PAR lamps have created easier ways to produce the effect. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 70
date = 2003
]

Followspot

The followspot (also called a trackspot or dome) is a lighting instrument that is moved, by an operator or by DMX control, to emphasize or provide extra illumination and usually to 'follow' a specific performer, especially when he or she is moving around the stage. When most people use the term "spotlight" they are referring to the follow spot. Follow spots are commonly used in musical theatre and opera to highlight the stars of a performance, but might find use in a drama to briefly focus the audience's attention on a hand-motion or a prop; such as in a murder mystery or thriller. They are also used in sports venues, as well as many other applications. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 71
date = 2003
]

These lighting instruments come in a variety of sizes with light sources ranging from low power incandescent light bulbs to very powerful xenon arc lamps. Carbon arc lamp spots were common until the 1990s, using the arc between carbon rods as their light source. These follow spots required special installations that include high volume ventilation due to the hazardous fumes produced by the carbon arc. The current generation, xenon, has extremely high internal pressure in the lamp and thus has its own safety concerns. [ cite book
last = Gillette
first = J. Michael
title = Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, Fourth Edition"
id = ISBN 0-7674-2733-5
publisher = McGraw Hill
pages = 72
date = 2003
]

Followspots contain a variety of operator-controlled optical mechanisms. They may include mechanical shutters, which allow the light to be doused without turning off the lamp, lenses to control and focus beam width, and internal color gels, which may be blended and swapped relatively easily to provide unique color combinations.

Intelligent lights

Moving lights or Intelligent fixtures began to gain widespread acceptance in the concert industry in the early 1980s. As the digital age progressed, the cost of these fixtures reduced, and they are currently used in almost all major theatrical productions.

Their principal feature is the ability to remotely control the movement and characteristics of the output beam of light. This is achieved by either moving a mirror which reflects the beam, or by moving the entire fixture, which can pan and tilt by means of a motorized yoke. Usually they also contain other controls to shape, texture and color the light, such as gobo wheels. This ability to precisely, and repeatedly set the position of the fixture allows one light to perform many functions, lighting multiple different areas in different ways. They can also move 'live' (i.e. while on), to achieve many of the spectacular effects used in modern productions.

The majority of intelligent fixtures employ arc lamps as a light source, and therefore use a variety of mechanical methods to achieve the effect of dimming. Some fixtures typically employ standard halogen lamps. Mechanically, stepper motors connected to various internal optical devices (such as gobos and color wheels) manipulate the light before it escapes the fixture's front lens.

Moving light programs are often much more complex than that of stationary instruments, requiring use of special lighting consoles and programs to set up. Typically this draws on a WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") virtual program that allows designers to select lights by location rather than channel number. [ [http://www.onstagelighting.co.uk/learn-stage-lighting/moving-light-control-basics-groups/ Moving Light Control - Groups – Lighting Desk Basics 3 | On Stage Lighting - Stage Lighting Information, Articles and Help ] ]

Intelligent lights are used heavily in very large shows, like events in stadiums, where it is very difficult to reach lighting trusses for manual focusing. Although the fixtures may not be moved during the run of the show, they are focused remotely.

Intelligent lights can be controlled from the light board. With the use of some dials and a trackball, their color, pattern, and several other features can be controlled. However, they can require a significant investment in pre-programming time.

HMIs

Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lamps, designed initially for use in film are now seen commonly on stage. These instruments produce light with a color temperature equivalent to that of sunlight. HMI fresnels are most common, but HMI PARs are also alvailable. These instruments typically require a large amount of power (between 2 kW and 12 kW) and are most often not dimmable. An electronic dowser used with these instruments to simulate dimming.

References

External links

* [http://www.gweep.net/~prefect/pubs/iqp/node60.html Page on lighting instruments]
* [http://www.strandarchive.co.uk Strand Archive. Information on old lighting instruments]


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