The Different Types of Theater Spot Lights

The Different Types of Theater Spot Lights

A spotlight flashes on stage right and all eyes are riveted. A musician steps into the light and plays, the audience captivated.

This is the basic principle of theater lighting – how you illuminate a character or scene to create the right impression and atmosphere. There are many different ways to do this.


Anyone who has attended a rock concert, an award ceremony or a theatre performance will have seen the illuminating effects of spotlights. Spotlights are light sources that send out a defined cone of light or volume and are used to highlight objects within this volume. There are seven different types of spotlights: followspot, fresnel spot, PAR pin, ellipsoidal, plano convex, ring spot and beam projector.

A follow-spot is a type of spotlight that can be controlled by a person and is used to follow an actor on stage. It is commonly used in musicals, theaters and operas to highlight a single actor or group of actors as they move around the stage.

Another popular type of spotlight is the ERS. This is a spotlight that can shine splashes of color or unique shapes onto the stage and can be used to add dimension to the lighting design. Other equipment like gobos can be used with spotlights to create patterns and textures that enhance the scenery and performers on stage.

To be a successful spotlight operator, you will need to work closely with the lighting designer and understand the setup of the show before it starts. Then, you will need to test the lights, clean them and fix any equipment if needed. Whether you operate the spotlight manually or use gamer-like joysticks to maneuver it, you will need to be able to handle it in a variety of ways to achieve the desired effect.

Follow Spots

Follow spots are a vital part of any Theatre spot light rig and Stage Lighting Supplier can be used to highlight specific performers in a powerful circle of light. These lights can create a sense of magic by “traveling” with the performer and can be used to bring out emotion in the performance or simply to focus the audiences attention on a certain action or character. Followspots are often used to spotlight a singer or actor in a musical but can be used in other shows to help make the audience feel more connected to the characters onstage.

When selecting a followspot the designer will need to consider the throw distance of the spot, how much power they want it to have (this is usually specified in footcandles) and what color temperature they need it to be. The lighting designer may also need to think about whether they are going to use the follow spot for a single show or will it be used throughout all productions.

Most modern follow spots are designed so that the operator can be comfortable operating them while standing on a yoke (usually mounted on the back of the spot). They generally have a number of handles at the top of the fixture which control the zoom, iris, shutter and douser. The tallest portion of the spot contains a series of manual gel frames referred to as a boomerang.

Fresnel Spots

The Fresnel spotlight is an extremely versatile theater lighting tool that you’ve probably seen in action in the film industry. It was designed in the 1820s by Augustin Jean Fresnel as a way to improve lighthouses, but has since become a staple of both theatre and film.

Fresnel lights have a unique lens that channels a soft-edged beam of light. This allows them to zoom in and out of focus by changing the relationship between the lamp and interior reflector. This gives you much more control over the angle of your light than floods or profiles can offer. They can also be shaped with a rotatable ‘barndoor’ that blocks off any unwanted light from the sides of the lantern.

Unlike spotlights, which can be used to highlight a single object on stage, a Fresnel light shines a wider beam of light that can illuminate a larger area. They are commonly used as a back or top light in theatre productions, especially at medium throw distances.

A wide variety of Fresnel lights are available from various manufacturers, including Arri, ETC, ADJ, Highlite and more. Some companies even manufacture LED versions of these traditional lamp spotlights to help you save energy and stay eco-friendly.

To create the perfect lighting rig for your next production, take a look at the different types of spots that are available to you and talk to a professional stage lighting hire company about what would be best for your show. Be sure to have the throw distances and required beam sizes of your lighting ready, so they can help you choose exactly which lights you need.

Moving Lights

A moving light is a powerful stage lighting instrument that can create a variety of visual effects. It has a high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp, a reflector and lens, and a set of motors and gears that allow the light to move in different directions. The light can also be adjusted in color, intensity, and pattern by a computer system.

In a show, the lights can be dimmer (or “dipped”) during scene LED Strobe Mobile Light changes, usually when the lights on the rig are dimmed to a predetermined value and the blue backlights (or ‘house lights’) are turned on. This is called a fade to blue, and it’s better for the audience than a sudden blackout.

There are a number of different types of moving lights available. Some are “wash” lights that wash large areas of the stage or the audience, while others have a smaller beam that can highlight certain parts of the performance or add visual accents. Some can even create a “beam” of light that is very sharp and bright.

All moving lights require a control system to send signals to the motors and gears that make them move, adjusting their color, intensity, pattern, and direction of movement. There are a few different types of controllers that can be used, but a dedicated moving-light console is generally the best choice. The console tells the fixture what channel to use, what color to be in that channel, and how much intensity to use in that channel, among other things.

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