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Choosing the Right Fixture

Posted by Gregory Becker on 12/16/2014

The first decision you will need to make is whether you are looking for focused lighting or wash lighting. Most shows will incorporate a mixture of the two. 

Focused lighting produces a hard edged beam which is more controllable. Fixtures of this type frequently have shutters which allow for creating straight edges to the pool of light. They commonly take gobos and other projection accessories. The most common type of focused fixture is the Leko (a brand name of Strand Lighting) or Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight (ERS). These fixtures come in a variety of focal lengths depending on the size of the stage and the distance the lights are from the target. Follow Spots are also chosen because of their intensity, beam angle, and estimated throw distance. 

Wash lighting is a little bit more broad in scope either referring to a wall wash or area wash. Area wash fixtures are used to illuminate with a soft edge to the beam. Common wash units are Fresnels and Par Cans. Fresnels use a stepped lens and by sliding the lamp housing back and forth in the fixture, the beam is adjusted from spot to flood. Par Cans, the workhorse of the Rock and Roll world, are reminiscent of the old "lights in a tin can". The size and shape of the beam is a factor of which lamp (or bulb) you choose to install. The newer generation of pars, such as the Altman StarPar, use the same lamp as many common ERS lights and have interchangeable lens sets to achieve the versatility of the traditional Par Can. External barn doors can be added to shape the beams of the Fresnel and Par Can.

Wall Wash fixtures produce an even field of light over a flat plane. Fixtures of this type include theatrical Cyc, Scoop and Borderlights.

Intelligent lighting adds another dimension to the mix, with the ability to remotely control individual attributes of a fixture. In some cases this is as simple as a spinning mars light, but can be as complex as a fully digital moving head LCD projector. Originally developed by Vari-Lite the moving light has become a staple of our industry showing up in schools, worship centers and all levels of performance spaces.

Effects lighting is used when you are looking for a light which produces a specific reaction from people such as a rotating Mars light, a flashing strobe light or blacklights.

LED or solid state lighting is rapidly becoming the industry standard.  All of the fixture types described above are available in both incandescent and LED versions.

Sound complicated? Well it's not. Give our sales staff a call with your particular needs and we can help get you going on the right path. 


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