Lighting History - first "moving" lights?

MRW Lights

Well-Known Member
Scrolling the social media platforms this morning I came across a video of someone complaining about lighting instruments in period movies/shows... now sure a lot of times those details are missed, but in this case they were arguing that the lighting represented in Bohemian Rhapsody was inaccurate because of silver parcans that looked too "new" and that they had moving lights which have only been around for a "few" years.... *ahem*

Letting those inaccuracies go and listening to my closet of showco's creaking down the hallway... why is it that most programs only teach the history of design and theory, but not the history of the fixtures and development of how those fixtures changed the course of design? Does anyone here teach the history of fixtures?

Bonus points for the first known "moving light", when it was used and the first time you used one... double bonus points for photos.
 

microstar

Well-Known Member
SLD's "PanCan" from 1986 or 87?? The one I have (pictured below) still has the original paint bucket they were shipped in.
 

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Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Used to have a set of units at a rental place I worked. I have no idea what the system was but the control panel looked like a 1980's video game with arcade style buttons an joystick. The cans actually mounted in a yoke which gave them the pan tilt function. Never saw it function, Year after I started we purchased 3/4 of a million $'s in Brand new Martin gear and the yoke thingy's disappeared.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
The owner of our company, Stefan Graf, toured with Grand Funk Railroad, and invented (along with Jim Fackert) the Cyklops moving light in the 70's. There's a nice blurb about it in "Concert Lighting: The Art and Business of Entertainment Lighting".

A couple of them still run, although not completely. I had it running for our 40th anniversary party about 6 years ago.

The green light in the background is a Cyklops with Mark Farner in the front. They also toured with War and quite a few others before Genesis and Vari-lite started up.
 

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JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Then there is this:
Ahem, I still contend that Chip Monck used the first moving mirror lighting in 1972 for The Rolling Stones. :cool:
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Scroll down to the Rolling Stones section here:
This is the tour that was filmed (in 16mm) for Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones.

EDIT:
There were 8 or so Super Troupers upstage behind the band aiming for the mylar mirror contraption which was hung in sort of the FOH 1st beam position. For one song there were a couple of followspots in the house. For one song the mirror thing was motorized and tilted down so the upstage followspots slowly ended up panning the audience while the spots in the arena provided all the front light for the band.
 
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SteveB

Well-Known Member
There have been
Scroll down to the Rolling Stones section here:
This is the tour that was filmed (in 16mm) for Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones.

EDIT:
There were 8 or so Super Troupers upstage behind the band aiming for the mylar mirror contraption which was hung in sort of the FOH 1st beam position. For one song there were a couple of followspots in the house. For one song the mirror thing was motorized and tilted down so the upstage followspots slowly ended up panning the audience while the spots in the arena provided all the front light for the band.

They had this rig at the Wolman skating rink at Central Park, NYC, in the 70's. A 40ft wide or so by 8ft high mylar panels hung out and above the down stage edge as part of the roof above the stage. They then had 5 Super Troopers on a platform behind the backstage. Made for a great front spot angle
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
EDIT: There were 8 or so Super Troupers upstage behind the band aiming for the mylar mirror contraption which was hung in sort of the FOH 1st beam position. For one song there were a couple of followspots in the house. For one song the mirror thing was motorized and tilted down so the upstage followspots slowly ended up panning the audience while the spots in the arena provided all the front light for the band.

Oh, that rig! That was always a super cool one. I would have loved to have seen that in person. I'm not sure that qualifies for @MRW Lights first moving light request.
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Well, you got me there, it wasn't a fixture. But is did involve a moving mirror!
As luck would have it I caught this tour in Texas, the afternoon show and as the Brit's say I was totally gobsmacked.
 

JimmyM

Active Member
I am not sure this was realized, but found this recently while researching a paper.

An Experimental Theatre Author(s): George Izenour Source: Perspecta , 1959, Vol. 5 (1959), pp. 66-72 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta. Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1566882
 

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tladuke

Member
I am not sure you could classify this as a moving light, but I remember working at Disneylands Country Bear Jamboree attraction and there was a very unique ellipsoidal fixture in the show. Teddy Beara, one of the animatronic figures, sat in a swing ring hung over the stage. She swung back and forth singing a song. The original Imagineers wanted a followspot tracking her. It was a totally automated show so no spot operators. Up in the balcony rail was a VERY old Altman base up ellipsoidal. It sat in this franken-yoke contraption that had X and Y axis movement driven by very high end ( for the time) pneumatic cylinders. They had analog feedback and ran on 0-10 vdc signals. It also had an automated iris that allowed the spot to zoom in and out on her. It was surprisingly accurate and dependable. The show went in to Disneyland around 1971. The show was replaced in 1999 and as far as I know, that automated ellipsoidal was still in operation right up to the end. The fixture assembly and design was done by MAPO Manufacturing, the production side of WED Enterprises, Disney's Theme Park Design Division, now call WDI. MAPO was where the Animatronic Figures were designed and built and I guess it made sense to use the same technical approach for the moving light. The assembly was built like a NASA grade piece of aerospace equipment so I am not surprised it lasted so long.
 

coolsvens

Active Member
I would highly suggest listening to this podcast episode about the early days of moving lights.

 

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