Spotlights come in numerous types, shapes and sizes, depending on their intended applications. Handheld, rugged LED spotlight is mostly used for outdoor activities, such as hunting or inspections. Although useful, such luminaries are not suitable for illumination in theatrical settings. For stage lighting, a different type of spotlight is used: an ellipsoidal reflector spotlight (or ERS). Read on to learn more about the lamp’s characteristics and its applications in filmmaking and performance art.
ERS Mechanisms and Features
Ellipsoidal spotlights are extremely common in stage lighting systems. The units take on a cylindrical-like shape, typically mounted on a long horizontal pole hanging down while providing elevated illumination. During operation, the theatrical spotlights utilize an ellipsoidal reflector (hence, the name) to focus and manipulate light beams.
Generally speaking, the luminary is capable of providing a sharp, circular light beam. It can also be equipped with different types of accessories to change the unit’s characteristics. For example, one could install shutters or barn doors over the lens for focused light distribution, providing soft-edge illumination. The lamps also accept diffused covers and colored gels or films.
Design Upgrades and Lighting Angles
Over the years, stage lighting manufacturers have rolled out several upgrades for ERS. To improve illumination, some designs incorporate more than one filament (up to four). Because the luminaries are often used with accessories, new ERS include slots at the lens to facilitate quick swapping of covers.
The application of different types of lenses on the ERS allows the spotlight to cater to lighting angles between 5 and 90 degrees. Spotlights are preferred light sources over floodlights in theatrical environments because the lights can be setup at a distance from the stage with minimal light spillage. Operators can simply cut the light to ensure stray beams do not disrupt elements outside of the stage, such as an orchestra or audience.