Shakespeare in a new light with flat, brushless motors

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Audiences will soon see plays in a whole new light after a literally revolutionary development in theatre lighting with flat, brushless motors playing a leading role.

Motors & Drives

Shakespeare in a new light with flat, brushless motors
Shakespeare in a new light with flat, brushless motors

Audiences will soon see plays in a whole new light after a literally revolutionary development in theatre lighting… with flat, brushless motors playing a leading role.

The RSC Lightlock was developed by VinceHerbert, head of the Royal ShakespeareCompany’s Lighting Department, toaddress a problem that has plagued lightingdesigners for years – the momentum ofheavy, remote-controlled spotlights.

Until now using flexible, lightweight support structures for these lights was out of the question, since attempting to stop would set the whole gantry swinging after each motorised movement, sending spotlights all over the stage and ruining the performance.

The only way to use large moving lights was to hang them from heavy-duty mounting infrastructures – which made accessing the lights a lengthy, dangerous and costly process, severely restricting directors’ choices when deciding how to stage a production.

The RSC Lightlock prevents unwanted oscillation on light weight structures by invoking Newton’s third law of motion – the law of reciprocal actions. When the light needs to stop moving, a counter weight on an internal disc swings in the opposite direction to its movement, nullifying the momentum.

Incredibly, the heavy counterweight necessary is rotated by a flat, brushless maxon motor just 90mm in diameter. It is irreplaceable in the role, as maxon seniorsales engineer Paul Williams explains: “The EC90 Flat was selected because the Lightlockrequires something small, high performance– and above all – precise. If the disc is rotatedeven slightly too little or too much, thewhole principle that makes the Lightlock sosuccessful goes out the window.”

The small motor operates with such speedand exactitude that even with sudden, dramatic movements, the Lightlock can cancel out all unwanted motion in under two seconds.

The RSC Lightlock won a Gold Award for innovation on its public debut at PLASA 08, and the units will now be incorporated into the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the RSC’s Stratford-Upon-Avon home, scheduled to re-open later this year.

Mervyn Thomas, director of Lightlock Ltd, the company engaged to produce the RSC Lightlock, says: “The RSC Lightlock allows greater freedom of stage lighting creativity, which could mean we see entirely new slants on old plays. It allows simpler and safer rigging opportunities because the moving light fixture can be now rigged from simplecable suspensions, meaning the crew can maintain and rig the fixture at floor level andsimply raise it the desired working position.“

The principle behind it is blindingly simple; the design involved is extremely clever. With over a thousand theatre enthusiasts in the house, the technology powering the RSC Lightlock has towork perfectly, every time. That’s why we chose maxon.” Mr Williams adds.

Posted on April 5, 2010 - (461 views)
maxon motor ag
Brünigstrasse 220
6072 Sachseln - Switzerland
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maxon motor is the world's leading supplier of high-precision drive systems. More than 40 years' experience, constant innovation, top-quality products and competent customer service make maxon motor a reliable partner in the drive technology sector.

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