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LIGHTING Peter Daffarn Managing Director, Photon Beard. DANCE HALL DAYS ARE OVER FOR PROFESSIONAL LIGHTING “WHAT’S THAT, YOU SAY”? invent controllable gas lighting. The upshot is that Photon Beard has been making, controlling, and advancing the technology of lighting fixtures ever since. Well, it’s true. Photon Beard started in 1882 when the founder, R.R. Beard, invented the automatic gas regulator. Yes, the thing that allows you to barbeque that steak in summer sunshine, or any time of year that you fancy grilled food. In the days before R.R. Beard’s invention, a lot of lighting was limelight, which was created when an oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylinder of quicklime (calcium oxide). The light was produced by a combination of incandescence and candoluminescence, which is basically a fancy way of saying “lime burns and gets brighter the hotter it gets.” After 133 years of making lights that work, Photon Beard did not feel immediate pressure to jump into making LEDs that, initially, didn’t work, or at least not very well. Many early LED adopters soon found themselves with piles of lighting fixtures that simply didn’t do what they said on the box, a shortcoming that in some cases was total in that they provided no light at all. And, yes, lime light was used to spotlight solo performers in theatres, the first being Covent Garden Theatre in London, which is the origin of “being in the limelight”. To control brightness a man with an airbag would push harder or softer to make the lime burn brighter or softer as the scene required. This worked fairly well until a troupe of dance hall girls entered stage right and the limelighter would, shall we say, freeze, which exposed the light source’s imitations. It soon became clear that some form of automation was needed to more reliably regulate lighting, so Mr Beard took it upon himself to switch to an alternative source and 48 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 116 AUGUST 2016 We were among the first to start experimenting with LED and our early working prototype was an optically nice unit but these early efforts required a size and associated cost that ultimately ruled out LEDs as a viable product for professional applications. That said, we soon turned to exploring other lighting technologies such as plasma, and eventually produced a near full spectrum, highly efficient spotlight called the Nova 270, which won many awards for innovation in 2013 and 2014. It was, and is, a great light and deserved every award it received, but as can often be the case with new, better ideas, the final product was so expensive to produce that it proved not to be commercially viable. We could have sold them, but turning a fast buck is not what Photon Beard is about. Attention to detail and production of sensible lighting instruments at affordable prices is our