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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stage Lighting Instruments Used in The Wits Theatres

          Most of the theatre lighting technology at Wits is from Europe, with a small number of ETC Source Four Zooms from the United States. The lighting consoles include a Strand series 200 (manual, 24 Channel, 2-Preset) and a Strand series 300 (programmable). The software for these has been discontinued, so as they fail they must be replaced.
Julian, the head of lighting here has been trying out an ETC ION and a Grand MA. ETC unfortunately as yet does not have the support back-up necessary to really land a sale, yet, but I know the groundwork is being made with certain vendors here. The Grand MA Ultra, seems to be the current choice of replacement console for the main theatre. Most everyone here relies upon Strand equipment.

          (The theatre on the education campus has a Strand MX with 48 channels. This theatre, called the “Space Frame” is certainly an interesting reconfigurable theatre which I will address in another blogpost.)

Theatre Lighting at Wits…

To begin, while the stage pin connector is a standard 2P&G, it is rated for 16 amps at 250 volts, and looks triangular.

There is a great safety item in all modern household circuits here as well as on all of the circuits you’d plug stage instruments into: each circuit has its own switch!
Circuit # 102 has its own 2 pin and ground outlet, complete with rocker switch to turn the circuit on or off. It also has a masking tape label for what gets circuited when the plot is restored to the standard plot.
In the above picture you can see the end of one of the stage electrics, with its top batten, electrical raceway, and bottom hanging batten. If the instrument doesn’t work after you’ve hung and circuited it for show, part of the trouble-shooting includes seeing if the damned switch was turned on!! ALL circuits have this safety item whether they are standard wall outlets or stage circuits.
This is a Harmony Profile 22/40 Zoom 
One of the well-used instruments here is the Harmony 22/40 degree beam angle zoom and it’s narrower brother, the Harmony 15/22 degree beam angle zoom. These were manufactured by Strand in 1981, and have been  steadfast performers. They are an ellipsoidal spotlight, shutterable, accept gobos, and work very well at hard focus or soft focus. Here is a link to the historic Rank Strand instrument archive featuring these babies:

This is a Harmony PC instrument.
The Harmony PC is the most interesting instrument because it is not shutterable and it’s beam quality lies somewhere between that of an ellipsoidal and a Fresnel. It has a single adjustment (knob is featured in the picture below) for a diffused beam variable from a very tight spot, similar to a beamlight, to a wide angle flood. The beam edge quality, which is free from colouration, is similar to a soft-focused ellipsoidal spot, but much tighter than that of a Fresnel.

The underside of a Harmony PC.
In the above picture showing the bottom of the Harmony PC you can see the round black knob that you loosen to slide the lamp/reflector sled assembly forwards or backwards in the slot. This particular instrument has the lamp/reflector close to the lens for a wide beam. (Instrument is pointing downwards to the stage floor)  Here is the link to the historic document from the Strand Archives about the Harmony PC:

Checking the circuit to a Quattro Pro.
In this photo above, the student lighting technician is turning on the circuit to a Strand Quattro PM Fixed Angle profile (650w)... and apparently held together by black gaffer tape, as identified by Julian. Behind her head is one of the Harmony Fresnels. Here's the link to the Harmony Fresnel:

The beautiful tin ceiling of this theatre has been painted black, of course. This picture was taken in The Nunnery Theatre at Wits during the lighting design class final exam.

More lighting instrument stories are planned...including dimmable fluorescents and Fresnels that look like metal eggs!


  1. This particular instrument we have used additional use...

    Telescopic Boom Design

  2. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include.
    Pendant Lights

    1. Hi Harry Son. I did the post while I was working there. Glad you liked it.