Stepping back into history, the first way to accomplish this effect was the ACL lamp bar – 4 solid, thin beams of light that shot for many feet.
Then we modernized a little, and a number of really, really large lights came about to shoot huge beams in the air. An improvement, but also very power-consuming and heavy – so they couldn’t move too fast.
And then came the light that changed it all – the Sharpy – ushering in a new age of awesome beams!
The Beam Fixture
The beam fixture is a cool, new breed of lighting fixture that has a near-zero degree beam of light output from it’s large diameter lens.
Not only does it throw far, but it is also small and lightweight – which means it can move very, very fast. If you’ve watched any concert in the last few years, there is a good chance you’ve seen these fixtures in action.
One of the biggest pluses with these fixtures is that you are able to see the beam of light without any atmosphere like haze in the room. This is a big help in venues that don’t allow or are costly to add atmosphere.
What can you expect to see inside these fixtures?
While every brand and model of fixture does vary, the basics include a few gobos, color wheels and a dimmer. Some units are also hybrids, allowing the light to no longer be a one-trick pony.
As moving light technology continues to improve and change, one of the great improvements is the ability for a fixture to function as a hybrid wash, spot and beam fixture. Most of these hybrids combine 2 of the fixture types, but some are now beginning to combine all 3.
For example, the Chauvet Rogue RH1 allows you to switch between a beam and spot mode interchangeably.
Another great example is the Varilite VL3500 Wash FX – this unit switches between beam and wash mode smoothly, and is a lot of fun to play with!
These modern hybrid fixtures are a big improvement to early hybrid fixtures that weren’t really good at either of the functions that they tried to be! They’re fun to play with, and can provide great effects for bands, churches, corporate events and even theatre!
And did I mention that they’re really fun to play with?
How to Use Beam Fixtures In Your Lighting
Beam fixtures really thrive when you use them to add dynamics to your show. (Learn more about adding dynamics to your show right here – and double your lighting’s effectiveness today)
Their unique gifting is to cut through everything else on stage and bring fresh energy to a look that is already maxed out.
Or, if it’s completely dark, you can cut on your beam fixtures to create incredible awe and surprise the crowd with the cutting beam.
In addition to moving, sweeping and multiplying the energy of the band, you can also use your beam fixtures to highlight soloists on stage and other moments that you want to highlight.
This is especially helpful on a faster song, where you may have all of your other lights up bright.
In this situation, simply taking your spot fixtures and using them to highlight the soloist won’t do much good – they won’t cut through the wash! But your beam fixtures will…