I would like to preface my thoughts by saying that with the current economic instability, any company that invests in research and development must be considered brave. Selecon New Zealand had an idea, and felt strong enough about it to put its money where its mouth is.
The company's forward-thinking attitude toward manufacturing, research, and development has brought about a new era in lighting instrument manufacturing in New Zealand, and a wish to share this with the world.
I am the head lighting technician for three major centers in New Zealand which encompass nine performance venues. When I was faced with replacing a large group of profiles, I contacted Selecon to determine what they had to offer. This was my first contact with the Pacific Cool Light (pictured), albeit an artistic rendering at that time. I looked at the rendering as the companyexplained the theory behind the project. I thought, "This looks just like an upside-down Strand 264." It all sounded a little hard to believe, but I was impressed enough to delay any decisions for six months to allow time to get a prototype.
Test day. . . the prototype arrived. We use zoom spot profiles in our facilities. Selecon manufactures a 12-28-degree zoom and a 23-50-degree zoom, as well as 20, 30, 40, and 50-degree fixed beams. Next month it plans to release a Super Wide 90-degree version. Selecon sent us a 600W 12-28-degree zoom Pacific Cool to test around the center. We set it up as sidelight, overstage, box booms, FOH bridge 1, and FOH bridge 2. We were testing against the 1,200W Selecon medium zoom spot, which was the instrument it would be replacing. From side, overstage, and box boom positions the output more than tripled. For the FOH positions, we were testing the unit against the Selecon 2,000W zoom profile narrow. From bridge 1, a 15m (49.5') throw, the Pacific Cool output was 85% brighter than the 2,000W profile. Also, the Pacific Cool 600W is hotter in the center, which allows for overlaying in a wash situation. From bridge 2, a 20m (66') throw, the Cool's output was down 5% on the 2kW profile.
Then I asked about testing a prototype of the 1,000W Pacific Cool. I was told to wait one minute--off came the 600W base and on went the 1,000W base, in less than that. The output difference between the 600W and the 1,000W was about 10%, but the field difference was noticeable: the field of the 1,000W was very flat and even, perfect for patterns and specials. A good bit of the credit for the beautiful, even beam goes to the Selecon-designed lenses, which hold focus across the complete beam width. The lenses are also coated to assist the projection quality.
After analyzing the test results, we placed an order for the 1,000W Cool because it met the criteria for the best results for our venue. The 1,000W lamp we are using is the Blue Pinch from Philips, a compact filament similar in size to the 600W lamp. The lamp derives from the original 1,000W lamp that Philips developed for the Vari*Lite(R) VL5(TM) wash luminaire, but this is only one of a current choice of four lamps that can be used in the Cool. [The others are the 575W 115V/600W 240V compact filament tungsten halogen, 575W MSR, and the 150W or 70W CDM. The LDI Award-winning MasterColor CDM lamp is a compact arc metal halide lamp of 9,000-hour duration for architectural applications. The MSR is the short arc version used in the Martin MAC 500 and 600, providing a huge amount of light from very small instruments.]
This choice of four lamps all in the one instrument is made possible by different lamp modules. These modules include the required lamp base that is spring-mounted to reduce vibration, the wiring, and microswitch, which disconnects the power as the module is removed. Peak/flat adjustments are simple using a planetary gear recessed into the bottom of the module, which is fast to operate--and keeps cool.
OK, so it has more light for less power, but what about the features?
One of the first things you notice about the Pacific Cool is the 2kg (4.4lb) aluminum heat sink sitting at a 45-degree angle at the bend. The cold mirror transmits most of the heat from the lamp bubble onto this heat sink, leaving the body of the instrument as cool as our South Pacific Ocean. In fact, the instrument is so cool that the body is made of carbon plastic, which makes it very lightweight.
Whatever you do, however, don't be fooled by the coolness of the lamp house body. Complacency could lead to touching the heat sink, but you probably wouldn't do it again. The surface temperature is very similar to other instruments of the same wattage, but you might forget about this when using the cool controls.
The base-down arrangement of the lamp keeps the base and wiring out of the heat, which has to help my maintenance budget. The light is collected in an ellipsoidal aluminum faceted reflector, directed onto the flat cold mirror, then reflected down the lens tube.
When mounting the unit in the box booms, I particularly like the rotating barrel, allowing good shutter lines across the front of stage, or any obtuse angle you might run across. Also, no matter which way the barrel is turned, the shutters can't fall out. There are two pattern slots on either side of the shutters, allowing for two static patterns, or the front slot will take a pattern rotator.
The Cool is 120mm shorter than the 1,200W profile. It will fit into smaller hanging positions, like enclosed circle and balcony rails, box booms, or orchestra pit rails.
We received our consignment of 1,000W Pacific Cools only late last year, so not everyone has had an opportunity to try them out. The Royal New Zealand Ballet's La Sylphide was the first touring company to use them and they were impressed, but the first real workout the Cool received was from Opera New Zealand's Macbeth. The Australian lighting designer appreciated the clean white beams and beautiful shutter lines.
All my technicians really like working with the unit. As for me, I look forward to our board of directors giving me the opportunity to save on power charges and reduce my maintenance bill by replacing more of my older instruments with the lighter--and cooler--Pacific Cool.
Clint Buel is the head lighting technician for The Edge, the operational group for The Aotea Centre, Town Hall, and Civic Theatre in New Zealand.