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Understanding the Jargon

In order to be able to further explain the concept of lighting, it is first important to understand the terms that are used.

Basic Lighting Terms

Barndoors: with a similar purpose to that of shutters (but used on Fresnels and PARs), these are attachable metal pieces that have hinged panels that can mask the light out of certain areas.

Color frame: two connected square pieces of metal or cardboard with a hollowed circle in the center; this frame holds the gel in front of the fixture.

Cyclorama: also known as cyc; a curved piece of cloth or wall that serves as a back drop; may be painted scenery or plain in order to project light and/or images onto it.

Diffusion: similar to gel, these sheets are used to diffuse, or soften the beam of light and don't usually change the color of the light (unless it is colored diffusion).

Gel: also known as color media, filter; the plastic film placed in front of lights to change the color of the beam of light.

Intensity: the level of light output coming from the fixture (usually measured in percentages on a control board); the brightness of the light.

Lamps: lightbulbs (the equipment they are used in are referred to as "fixtures").

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Open-face fixture: any lighting fixture that has no lens.

Pattern holder: a rectangular, metal frame with a circular hole in the center. This piece holds a pattern and slides into a slot in an ellipsoidal fixture.

Patterns: also known as gobos; thin, steel, circular pieces with a design cut-out; when placed into a slot in the ellipsoidal, these project patterns of light onto the stage.

Shutters: a moveable piece within the ellipsoidal that can shut out part or all of the light coming out of a fixture.

Snoot: also known as top hat; an attachable accessory with a long cylindrical tube used to reduce flare (stray light beams) from lighting fixtures.

For more information on lighting terminology visit our Glossary of Terms page.