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Author Topic: narrowest possible spot beam  (Read 1032 times)

Ethan Rose

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narrowest possible spot beam
« on: April 05, 2019, 02:57:46 am »

I am a bit of a newbie in regards to lighting so any help is welcome.  I am working on a project that requires the narrowest spotlight beam possible.  Ideally it would be a dmx controllable LED.  I purchased the adj saber spot rgbw which has a 5 degree throw, and it still too wide a throw for my purposes.  Is it possible to get less then 5 degrees with a spotlight?  Or if less than 5 degrees is not possible with an existing product, can I use a mask or gobo to narrow a beam further?  If I could use a laser I would, but this will be pointing at people as part of an interactive art piece, so lasers are out of the question for safety purposes...
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2019, 04:42:55 am »

I am a bit of a newbie in regards to lighting so any help is welcome.  I am working on a project that requires the narrowest spotlight beam possible.  Ideally it would be a dmx controllable LED.  I purchased the adj saber spot rgbw which has a 5 degree throw, and it still too wide a throw for my purposes.  Is it possible to get less then 5 degrees with a spotlight?  Or if less than 5 degrees is not possible with an existing product, can I use a mask or gobo to narrow a beam further?  If I could use a laser I would, but this will be pointing at people as part of an interactive art piece, so lasers are out of the question for safety purposes...
The category of light you are probably looking for are beam fixtures.  Many of them are in the 0-5 degree range.  Keep in mind that professional beam fixtures arenít really designed to be pointed at people either - Clay Paky Sharpys and their clones are known to set fire to things, which would include retinas.

You may be able to use an iris to further reduce the beam angle of a more conventional light, but the practicality of this depends on how much light you want or if you need to vary your beam width.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2019, 08:13:31 am »

Hi Ethan, as TJ mentioned, the correct definition for what you're looking to use is a beam fixture.  Higher end units such as those offered by Clay Paky can do a true 0-degree beam, whereas more budget friendly units are often in the 1.5-3 degree range.  While you can tighten up a beam with a small gobo or iris, you're also masking the light's output so your brightness will decrease as well.  Again, it all comes down to what will work for your application.

One specialty unit to consider is the Elation Sniper.  Both a 2R and Pro version exist.  I own a half-dozen of the Sniper Pros myself and is what I'd personally call upon for something needing a tight punchy beam if a moving head beam isn't appropriate.  Though the Sniper Pro uses a powerful 14R lamp, its optics are such that it doesn't create the same fire hazard as Sharpys or other true beam lights.  While I wouldn't stare into it, it's safe for audience scanning and won't burn holes in the wall.  It's also quite amusing to watch a 14R beam zip around so fast!  Hope this helps!   

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Ethan Rose

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2019, 12:52:04 pm »

Thanks for this info!  I will look at the Clay Paky and Elation Snipers - but I think those both might be too intense.  Perhaps a slightly more detailed description would help.  I'm hoping to mount the fixture at waist height or below - perhaps even just shooting across the floor at peoples feet.  I am planning on putting a proximity sensor essentially at the same location as the light.  Then when people approach the light it will change colors or perhaps flash etc. based on their proximity.  A stable fixture is preferred over a moving fixture in this case.  Also, we can put this in a light controlled space and use fog to make the beams more visible.   Lastly we want to do many of these all in a row.  Imagine ten rows of lights/sensors.  You could approach them or move from beam to beam triggering different colors.  Perhaps the room is 30-40 long so the beams would need to reach at least that far.  So, all that said - any further recommends?  Is there an existing product that would let us accomplish this, or something we could mod?  Ideally cheaper is better, but budget is not a huge issue.    Thanks again!
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2019, 01:32:04 pm »

Thanks for this info!  I will look at the Clay Paky and Elation Snipers - but I think those both might be too intense.  Perhaps a slightly more detailed description would help.  I'm hoping to mount the fixture at waist height or below - perhaps even just shooting across the floor at peoples feet.  I am planning on putting a proximity sensor essentially at the same location as the light.  Then when people approach the light it will change colors or perhaps flash etc. based on their proximity.  A stable fixture is preferred over a moving fixture in this case.  Also, we can put this in a light controlled space and use fog to make the beams more visible.   Lastly we want to do many of these all in a row.  Imagine ten rows of lights/sensors.  You could approach them or move from beam to beam triggering different colors.  Perhaps the room is 30-40 long so the beams would need to reach at least that far.  So, all that said - any further recommends?  Is there an existing product that would let us accomplish this, or something we could mod?  Ideally cheaper is better, but budget is not a huge issue.    Thanks again!
The Science Museum of Minnesota has something like this done with motion sensors that trigger conventional source four fixtures.  ETC makes Source Fours with lens tubes as narrow as 10į which you could then reduce with an iris.  They have LED versions of the fixtures that would do multiple colors.  Definitely not the cheapest solution out there, but industrial-grade and used in many installations like this and would have a very long service life.  If you are looking for "light saber" beams, then you need a true 0į fixture.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2019, 10:17:09 pm »

I will look at the Clay Paky and Elation Snipers - but I think those both might be too intense. 

You'd have to try them and see.  Intense isn't a bad thing, especially if it's razor-thin beam that needs to contend with some amount of ambient light.  Controlling the room lighting would be important as you mention, but for safety you wouldn't be able to make it completely dark with people running around.  All of that said, the Sniper 2R or ADJ Ricochet might be more suitable.  The Ricochet is LED, so that alleviates the cost of running discharge lamps. 

This sounds like a fun project though!  It'd be neat to use the CMY on the Sniper Pro to lighten or darken a color as people move further or closer to the unit.  TJ brings up a good point for consideration though - many fixtures aren't really intended for the extreme duty cycles needed for installations like this.  All of the units I mentioned have moving parts.  Undoubtedly kids will want to make the lights "go nuts", so it's asking a lot of a fixture to aggressively spin its color wheel all day everyday.  The Snipers use the "flags on a clothesline" mechanism for CMY mixing too, and while none of mine have broken yet I trust that far less than spinning wheels. 

I think you were on the right track with something LED.  No moving parts and theoretically no real limit to run time.  ETC does appear to sell a 5 degree lens tube as well, so while not a true beam I think you could massage a workable solution into place with creative use of a gobo or iris.  One upside to an ETC solution is that you should have no difficulty renting in the hardware needed to do a proof of concept before spending any real money.  Hope this helps!
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Don T. Williams

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2019, 03:50:51 pm »

Ethan, I'm certain you may have already considered Lasers.  Obviously you don't want people staring into the beams, but some of the color mixing "fat beam" units might work.  Again, especially with lasers, but with any light make certain the light intensity won't damage peoples eyes.  Narrow beam instruments using arc (discharge) lamps really can start fires!  They get VERY HOT.  Look for LED fixtures. 

One other suggestion:  use a hase machine!  The beams will be visible that way.  5 minutes of haze from some units (Reel EFX DF50 as an example) can hang in the air for more than an hour.  Most have timer or remotes control capabilities.  Radiant hazers come highly recommended and use non-toxic water based haze, but nothing I have found beats the hang time and dispersion of the oil based DF50.  I have some of both units.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2019, 09:29:09 pm »

Need a high end emulator.   Too bad they arenít made anymore...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Tim Weaver

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2019, 09:34:29 am »

Need a high end emulator.   Too bad they arenít made anymore...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That is essentially what the Elation Sniper is. Except about 1/5th of the weight and 1/4 the size.
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Ethan Rose

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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 12:15:11 pm »

Thanks everyone - I will do some more research based on all your recommendations and post what we end up doing for this.  Really appreciate all the feedback!
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Re: narrowest possible spot beam
¬ę Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 12:15:11 pm ¬Ľ


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