Lighting Design 101 part 3 “Equipment”

Now that you know the basics of lighting design. You next need to know about lighting equipment and what it does. In theatre you have a wide range of light equipment types.  Once you know what are the properties of the various pieces of lighting equipment it will give you an idea where you can use them in your lighting design.

Profiles or Ellipsoidal Profiles

These are a precise optical lantern. The main feature of a profile are ;

  1. Plano Convex lens
  2. The beam of light has cleanly defined edges. By moving the lens back and forwards (focussing) it is possible to vary the beam quality from soft to hard
  3. Has shutters to adjust the shape of the beam. You can alsao insert an iris to control the beam size, or you can insert a deckle or gobo to give a pattern to the beam of light
  4. Uses  –  front of house lighting, that is light that illuminates the performers from the front
    side light, used in dance to model the dancer’s bodies
    anywhere that a tightly controlled beam of light is required
  5. Variations –  Bi-focal profile, these have 2 sets of shutters, one soft and one hard
    Zoom profile, these have a second lens closer to the lamp source.By moving the lens within the lens barrel you can vary the beam angle.
Simple profile cross-section

Simple profile cross-section


If you look a the lens of this lantern you will notice concentric rings that are stepped. The lens of this lantern produces a wider, soft-edged beam of light, which is commonly used for stage washes, back light and top light.

Fresnels are not very efficient. The reflector cannot be larger than the lens aperture, and thus all the radiated light that is neither redirected forward by the spherical reflector behind the bulb nor emitted directly through the lens is absorbed by the casing as waste heat.

The degree to which the lamp may be focused is limited by the length of the housing. To reduce the width of the beam, the lamp and reflector are moved further back from the lens (spot focus). However, the farther back in the housing the lamp is placed, the more light is wasted in the housing.

So the main features are:

  1. Stepped lens
  2. The beam of light has soft edges, this makes joins in the beams of light to less noticeable
  3. You can vary the beam size by moving the lamp and reflector assembly back and forwards in relation to the lens
  4. To vary the shape of the beam you can place barndoors in the light beam. These are metal doors that can be moved to shape the beam.
Fresnel Cross-section

Fresnel Cross-section


The beam shape and size from a flood light is fixed. There are no adjustments available on a flood. These sought of lights are used for lighting cycs and scenery. They are not selective enough for lighting performers.

  1. Uncontrolled spread of light
  2. Used for lighting cycs and scenery
  3. A batten is many floods put together in a row to make one unit
  4. Floods are rarely used to light performers
Flood Cross-section

Flood Cross-section

Beamlights or Parcans

PAR cans, are used when a substantial amount of flat lighting is required for a scene. A PAR can is a sealed beam PAR lamp housed in a simple can-like unit. Like an old-fashioned automotive headlight the reflector is integral to the lamp and the beam spread of the unit is not adjustable except by changing the lamp. They produce an oval shaped beam of light and to change the orientation of the beam you rotate the lamp in the housing. They are similar to the flood in a way


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