Theatrical Lighting Fixture Terminology

Ellipsoidals are generally fixed focus spotlights that produce a round, hard edged beam of light. The ellipsoidal shaped reflector, in combination with lenses sized from 3 to 8 inches, establish the various focal lengths. The fixture incorporates the use of shutters that can shape the beam of light. Ellipsoidals are also used for pattern or gobo projection. These fixtures are most often used for front of house and special lighting.

  Fresnels are spotlights that produce a variable round, soft edged beam of light. This fixture can be focused from "Spot" to "Flood". Fresnels are most often used on stage for back, side or down lighting. The fixture will accept a wide range of lamps and accessories.

PAR fixtures are steel hoods which hold sealed beam lamps, producing an oval soft edged pool of light. PAR fixtures uses various type lamps that produce different beam shapes. PARS are one of the most cost efficient lighting fixtures in terms of multiple uses. There is no focusing adjustment on the PAR fixture. PAR fixtures are often used instead of fresnels and for broad color washes.

  Scoop fixtures are large floodlights that produce a wide, diffused wash of light. Normal uses include large area color washes, general illumination and cyclorama lighting. The scoop has a matte finish ellipsoidal-shaped reflector and no lens.

The Striplight is a multi-lamp fixture designed for even colored lighting on a stage or cyclorama. This fixture is normally wired in 3 or 4 circuits with one color per circuit often using permanent glass color filters called roundels. Roundels are available in red, blue, green, amber and pink. Cyc Lights are the modern improvement of the striplight. The cyc light has a special shaped reflector which produces a smooth field of light from top to bottom of the cyclorama. Cyc lights are available in one, two, three or four "cell" units designed to be installed overhead or free standing on the stage floor.

  Automated lighting fixtures are commonly called moving lights, automated lighting and intelligent lights. By definition, all moving lights contain some method of animating the beam of light on x and y axis. This is accomplished by either a "moving mirror" design, in which a mirror at the end of the optical train moves to these x and y coordinates, or the "moving yoke," where the entire head of the fixture moves. All moving lights allow the color and beam definition to be altered electronically. Moving lights operate under USITT DMX512 control protocol and can be operated by any theatrical console utilizing DMX512.

Followspots are manually operated lighting fixtures with a sharp movable beam of light used to follow a performer on stage. Followspots produce a beam of light similar to ellipsoidals. Followspots are equipped with color changers, iris (for varying the size of the spot) and dowser.

  A color scroller allows a conventional lighting fixture to provide a variety of colors

Photometric data on all lighting fixtures is available by going to Links and following links to the manufacturers' web sites.