Ways to Determine Fixture Angles, Throw
Distances, and Light Pool Diameters as
Correlate to Any Stage Lighting Fixture
THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED
WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR ©
|Definitions The Factors Factor Chart|
Examples Summary Precision
Throughout the lesson that follows the definition section,
the most important terms will be first-letter capitalised.
The chart displayed below gives the multiplication/division Factor
corresponding to a fixture's Field Angle. Use this number to calculate:
(1) The dimension(s) of the area covered by the light emitted
by a fixture with a given Field Angle at a given distance.
(2) The Throw Distance needed to create a pool of light
of a specified dimension using the Field Angle of a given fixture.
These Chart Factors are very accurate for fixtures that produce an even amount of light and are shining straight on to a wall, or straight down to a floor. If the fixture is tilted or panned, the light will spread out making a larger (and also dimmer) pool of light; so the results of using these Factors become less accurate as a fixture tilts or pans away from straight on. They are also less accurate for fixtures that project an uneven light.
Even when accurate though, other criteria come into play such as ill-defined Light Pool edges, and spill coming from the fixture itself. Another is that some Light Pools will be wider than desired because the actual edges fall outside the 10% threshold used by manufacturers when determining the Field Angle specification. The latter is most often seen with the PAR lamp and fresnel fixture. The perimeter of light that falls below 10% becomes most noticeable when only one fixture is used, and it's classed as "spill" when it is unwanted.
ANGLE: 5° 10° 15° 20° 25° FACTOR: .09 .18 .27 .36 .45 ANGLE: 30° 35° 40° 45° 50° FACTOR: .54 .63 .72 .81 .90 ANGLE: 55° 60° 65° 70° 75° FACTOR: .99 1.08 1.17 1.26 1.35 ANGLE: 80° 85° 90° 95° 100° FACTOR: 1.44 1.53 1.62 1.71 1.80
Directly Proportional: Studying the chart above will show that the relationships among the Factors are in direct proportion. So if one doubles the Fixture Angle, the Factor also doubles, and vice versa. This also means that for the same Throw Distance, the Light Pool doubles in dimension(s) every time the Fixture Angle doubles. In addition, with a given Fixture Angle, doubling the Throw Distance results in a Light Pool that also doubles in dimension(s).
Options: So if one needs to illuminate a space with twice the dimension(s), one can either double the Throw Distance by moving the same fixture farther away, or keep the fixture's position the same, but exchange it for one rated at double the angle.
Lower Light Levels: Related to the above, it should be realised that when doubling the Light Pool dimension(s), the area covered will quadruple. As an example, 2 X 2 metres encompasses 4 square metres; doubling this to 4 X 4 metres will then encompass 16 square metres. Four times the area now covered means that the light intensity will be reduced to 1/4. This is because the same amount of light projected by a given fixture will be spread out to take up four times the space.
Light Pool Diameter: To find what the diameter of the light
projected will be at a distance of 5 metres when shining a 25-degree
ellipsoidal straight on to a surface:
5 X .45 = 2.25 metres
The Light Pool in this instance will be 2.25 metres wide. This figure is derived by using the Factor taken from the chart for a fixture with a 25-degree angle. The Throw Distance has been multiplied by this Factor to get the Light Pool dimension.
To find out the approximate dimensions of an oval projected by a PAR
64 `FFR' lamp at the same distance, one must use two Factors because the
PAR lamp light output is not round. From the Field Angle specifications for
this lamp (21 X 44 Degrees), and assuming that the barrel of the PAR
fixture does not compromise the light emanating from it by cutting off
part of that light:
5 X .36 = 1.80 metres
5 X .81 = 4.05 metres
This time, the Factors taken from the chart are for the Field Angles closest to the FFR lamp's specified angles of 21 and 44 degrees. Thus, the Chart Factors associated with `20' and `45' degrees were used to get the approximate oval dimensions projected by an FFR lamp at a 5-metre Throw Distance.
Throw Distance: At what point will a 25-degree fixture project a
2.25-metre Light Pool diameter?
2.25 ÷ .45 = 5 metres
Here, the desired Light Pool dimension is divided by the Factor for a 25-degree fixture. This is to calculate at what Throw Distance the fixture will need to be positioned to achieve that 2.25-metre Light Pool.
Fixture Light Angle: What happens if you know the Throw Distance
and Light Pool dimensions, and want to know which fixture to employ?
Using the same 2.25-metre diameter Light Pool projected from the same
five-metre Distance, as in the first example, this formula will answer the
2.25 ÷ 5 = .45 factor
Referring to the Chart shows that Factor `.45' corresponds to a 25-degree fixture.
Now, it may be important for some to have accuracy for the fixtures in
their inventories that have angles which lie between the Fixture Angle
numbers shown on the chart. One can calculate the Factors for such
fixtures by doing the following:
Fixture Degrees ÷ 10 X .18
Thus, for a fixture with a manufacturer's stated
angle of 36 degrees, the Factor will be:
36 ÷ 10 X .18 = .648 factor
Notice that this result falls between the Factors shown on the chart for 35- and 40-degree fixtures, as it should. Factors for which Field Angles are not represented could be calculated and then added, but a better method is to print out only the Factors for fixtures in one's own inventory. This could be posted wherever it might be needed. A further improvement would be to also show Light Pool diameters for each fixture at a range of Throw Distances typical for that fixture. This would eliminate the calculation step each time.
The preceding works with any stage lighting fixture regardless
of type, manufacturer or model -- as long as the field angle
of the fixture is known. Using the knowledge gained from
reading this article will save trial & error when ordering,
hanging, or designing with, any lighting instrument.
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