Selecon's reputation for creating high-performance lighting fixtures is further supported with the introduction of the 45°-75° zoom lens for its Pacific range of ellipsoidals. First launched in June 2004 as a prototype put out to a few users to assess its viability, the overwhelming end-user response sent the wide-angle zoom lens into immediate production. The lens became available in September. October saw its ETS-LDI debut and recognition as the Lighting Product of the Year for 2004. This honor, bestowed on only a few deserving products, has been rightfully given to this revolutionary tool.
IT'S GOT THE LOOK
The 45°-75° is the world's widest zoom ellipsoidal and fits in the Pacific range of fixtures between the mega-wide 90° fixed beam and the standard wide 25°-50° zoom or the 50° fixed beam. Physically, the lens tube is the diameter of the 90°, with a length between that of the 90° and the 25°-50°. It seemingly weighs a little more than the 90°, with Selecon's usual cool touch knobs and smooth focus action. Those unfamiliar with the design of the Pacific line should note the complete 360° continuous rotation of the entire lens tube assembly and the four shaping shutters with enough play in them to make a perfect triangle. The shutter handles have two holes per handle, making them wide and easy to grip while not protruding too far from the body of the light.
All of the Pacifics feature a channeled gobo slot with a round holder. With the channel, wide slot, and round holder, a gobo has a significant amount of left/right rotation adjustment securely in the gate without having to rotate the entire assembly. One can easily get the shutter cuts just so and then orient the gobo, as necessary.
Everything is held in place well, although there is no locking mechanism on the gobo holder or the shutters. The 45°-75° uses an A-size gate and holder; it is key to remember that the pattern sizes vary in the Pacific line despite the holder size remaining consistent. Forward of the gobo slot is a typical iris slot with a cover plate to stop light leak when not in use. The cover plate is held in place with two generously sized Philips head screws, not two thumb screws as seen on other fixtures.
Focusing the 45°-75° provides many options unique to the Pacific Ellipsoidals. With the extreme flexibility in the shutters, continuous 360° rotation of the entire lens assembly (including shutters, gobo, and iris slots), and rotational adjustment of the gobo holder, it is very easy to precisely align the fixture. Weight is balanced, and the locking handles have a positive lock while remaining cool to the touch. The large handle on the rear of the fixture makes for a substantial control point, easily allowing the unit to be held in focus while locking the clamp or clutch.
All of the lamp bases, with the discharge sources being the exception, have smaller color-coded handles. These handles seem to be an attractive way to move or carry the fixture, but they are only intended to provide identification and handling for the lamp base itself. Using the lamp base handle to move the fixture can easily result in the lamp base coming off in your hand, breaking the lamp, and perhaps, causing the fixture to hit the ground. This presents a training issue for the users. This handle is clearly labeled not to be used to move the fixture, and it does uniquely allow an operator to remove a hot lamp base without gloves. Accessories can be easily secured to the fixture's rear-mounted safety ring, a loose ring securely held to the lamp house casting. Because the ring is held loose, single-handedly clipping a safety cable is easily done.
The fixture's ease of use in focusing — next to its performance, of course — is the most important characteristic to note. Once, while designing for The Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center, I had 32 ETC Source Four® 36° units with R77508 Slats templates creating a grid of lines on the floor. They were focused straight down, evenly spaced across the pipe, with half the units running across stage and the other half running upstage/downstage. The resulting effect was paths of lines running in either direction, or a grid. The problem was the focus. The Source Four's gate can only be rotated ±25°, which was not enough to easily align the projected lines. The template would have to be removed while hot, rotated in the holder, and tried again. This was a painstaking focus that would not have been necessary if Pacifics were used.
However, there is a lack of clear reference indicators for focusing the fixture, particularly when the fixture is hanging in the dark. For that matter, I have yet to see a be-all end-all solution for these sorts of indications on many other fixtures.
AN IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE
Turning to the performance of the light, it is nothing short of impressive. At any focal length, a crisp, white light is projected, and both a hard and soft edge can be rendered. As with all Pacifics, the planetary gear drive on the lamp adjustment equates to noticeable lamp adjustments. Often, the case with many fixtures is that little knob on the back is turned, and the result is either light coming out or not, as opposed to a noticeably peaked or flattened field. With the Pacific, and particularly in the wide angles the 45°-75° produces, the difference between peaked and flattened fields is apparent. The obvious lamp adjustments of the Pacific are integral to the proper focusing of the unit because the fine tuning has such great impact on the output. The peaked beam allows the units to blend very evenly when used — for example, for short-throw front light where one desires to see no variation as the subject crosses the paths of a single system of lights.
A decidedly flattened field creates some of the sharpest and most evenly distributed gobo washes I have seen at such wide spreads. I would say the world's widest zoom is capable of projecting sharp patterns in its 45° to 60° zoom range. Wider than that, from 60° to 75°, I find the focusing results to be much like the 90°, with not quite the same amount of distortion around the edges. Those who are familiar with photographic lenses should easily understand the limitations of such wide optics, and a fish-eye or barrel distortion effect becomes apparent from 60° onward, as it does in the 90°. In a way, the effect reminds me of the wide-angle effect lenses in the PANI Projection System. The distortion affects only the projected image and not the halation factor. Halation in the projected image is far superior to any other ellipsoidal I have seen. I always paint my gobos black with high temperature paint, which is effective in any fixture, but the Pacific handles halation domineeringly.
Pattern projection aside, the 45°-75° is very effective for beam shaping and edge control with either a peak or flat field. There are ten lamp choices in four lamp bases for the Pacific line in the Americas, all of which are compatible with the 45°-75°. This gives the user a range from 13,500 to 49,000 lumens, incandescent or discharge, from which to choose.
SO WHAT IS THIS FANTASTIC WIDE-ZOOM FOR?
The application is what makes the fixture so revolutionary. The zoom is wider than that of a fresnel or PAR can, yet it has the shutters and projection capabilities of an ellipsoidal. At a throw of 13', a beam diameter of 10' to 20' is achieved. For me, this fixture rewrites what can be done in small theatre spaces. Washes taking four to six lights can be done with two 45°-75° zooms, and they can be shuttered out of the audience and off the back wall without accessories or mush.
Although short-throw theatre and architecture is where I see the greatest benefits from the 45°-75°, use in long throw situations is also viable. This was the case in my test application: the remount of Trey McIntyre's Peter Pan at Houston Ballet. The full-length ballet premiered two years ago; Selecon's 25°-50° Pacific was used with the MSR575 discharge lamp module to project stars over the scenery and into the audience chamber. This time around, the 45°-75° replaced the narrower zooms, allowing significantly greater coverage for an even more spectacular planetarium effect. The throws of 60' to 80' made for ultra broad beams, but the 49,000-lumen MSR575 sources held up without a huge loss in intensity or field evenness. Six units were all that were needed to convincingly cover the audience and scenery in the voluminous Wortham Theater Center's Brown Theater.
I cannot emphasize just how very exciting it is to have the 45°-75° Pacific available to pacify my need for large, controlled light. As I was beginning to write this review, I had a meeting with choreographer Mario Zambrano, whose world premiere ballet I lit in January. Mario wants four, equally sized, perfect squares projected on the floor. He needs them to be 18' square, and I have a throw of 20' in which to do it. With the 45°-75°, this will be well within its focal range with few other single fixtures able to achieve a similar effect with the 45°-75°'s beautiful quality of light.
Another work I am lighting in February will use six units on a balcony rail doing three template washes with MSR575 discharge sources and Selecon's new dimming shutter in the gate. The three systems of bright, white texture will play together and allow me to add and remove parts of the projected image selectively and on a scale that is the full stage.
I urge everyone to take a moment and consider what an ultra-wide zoom may be able to give in your specific applications. I believe you can not only find great utility from the 45°-75° but also find new ways in which to make use of this newly available tool. I find this light absolutely keen.