What Is ERS Lighting?

What Is ERS Lighting?

When deciding how to best light performances, many lighting directors and designers turn to ERS lights. Because of their versatility and various accessories, ERS lights are a popular choice that gives performances customized touches. Discover why so many people prefer ERS tech lights with our comprehensive guide to lighting with ERS.

What Is ERS Lighting?

What Is an Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight?

An ellipsoidal reflector spotlight (ERS) is a type of light typically used for stage performances to create very specific light features. ERS lights have many functions, including spotlights for individual performers or backlights to highlight a group of performers or set design. These are powerful light sources that can become highly focused with sharp edges or blurred for a softer spotlight.

Because they are so powerful, you can use them to light places that other light sources have a challenging time reaching. By placing reflective plates in strategic positions, you can bounce light rays to particular spaces for the exact look you want for your lighting. ERS lights can create very specific, controlled light beams, so you can continue to direct your light’s location, size and shape.

ERS lighting has multiple names that you may see used throughout the industry. Specifically, Leko lighting and Source Four are popular brands that have become colloquial terms for ERS lights. Some people just call them ellipse lights, and Europeans tend to refer to them as Profile Spotlights because of how you can adjust the shape to best fit someone’s profile.

What Is ERS Lighting?

Parts of Ellipsoidal Lighting

Manufacturers developed ERS lights to give stage performances access to highly specialized light sources that can provide different functions on stage. This lighting’s features include:

  • Light bulb and ellipsoidal reflector: Starting at the back of the ERS, the light bulb is the light source. It projects light forward out onto the stage. Many ERS work with LED lights, creating powerful lighting you can use to illuminate your stage projects. ERS lights have two optic points where the light converges, and the light source and ellipsoidal make up the first optic point.
  • Gate: Also called the focal point, the gate is the second optic point and is the location where you can control and customize your light. At the gate, you can create a circular or square light beam shape. Additionally, you can use custom features at the gate to further customize your light’s shape for a distinct look.
  • Plano-convex (PC) lenses: After passing through the gate, the light reaches two lenses that face each other, which control the size and focus of your light. ERS lights can work for very small spotlights or more significant light sources, and you can determine what you want by adjusting how close the lenses are to the reflector. Then, you can also decide whether you want a crisp or soft beam focus.

ERS lights are customizable light options. With ERS spotlights, you can create specific lighting effects using go-between, or gobo, and color-gel holders. 

What Is ERS Lighting?


A gobo sits within the gate in the spotlight, causing the light to pass through it to go between the reflector and the lenses. With the gobo, you can display highly specific shapes and patterns with light, like logos or symbols. Plus, you can create detailed effects, like stimulating light passing through a crack in the door.

Alternatively, color-gel holders let you control the light’s color by allowing you to insert gel frames in front of the light. Most include two spaces for gel holders, so you can create particular colors to match the mood and environment you want on stage. Their placement at the end of the light allows you to maintain color while controlling the amount of light, like dimming.

With both features, ERS lets you customize your lighting to create the perfect lighting for your production.

5 Benefits of Using Ellipsoidal Lights

Whether you need them to provide several functions or foster creativity on set, ERS lights can provide your performance with exceptional benefits:

1. Includes Many Functions

The primary purpose of ERS lights is to illuminate the stage and allow the audience to view characters effectively. However, lighting can also play a key role in holding the audience’s attention to one character or helping them see important parts of the set. Because you can adjust the size of the beam, you can illuminate different aspects, from individual actors to larger groups of people and pieces of the set.

With features like gobos and color holders, your lighting can serve additional purposes than just lighting. Displaying various colors can help you convey a certain time, season or emotion. Using shapes lets you add to your set design to develop details like window shutters or rain, which can create even more detail and function for your lighting and set designs.

2. Allows Custom Designs

Both gobos and color holders allow you to use custom designs that your team created specifically for your show. Whether you need to display a specific logo on stage with a gobo insert or want a unique shape for a particular mood or setting, you have the freedom to create and test out your designs and discover what works best for your show. Further, since numerous ERS lights include two color-gel slots, you can combine colors to create the exact hue you want to portray on stage.

3. Supports Creativity

When you use ERS lights for your stage performance, you can channel your creativity to create a stunning performance that pushes conventions and tests limitations. There are different ways to use ERS lights and customization options, so you can try new angles, gobo inserts and colors to create other effects on stage.

Many successful shows and movies have used creative solutions with ERS lights. While lighting is necessary for watchers to successfully view characters on the stage, you can experiment with lighting to add to other elements of the storyline and the set design for unique and effective visuals. In many ways, lighting is an extra layer of the story.

4. Controls Light

ERS lighting gives you solid control over your lighting. While you can already customize and adjust the effects to match your needs precisely, you can also control your direction and beam. Because ERS lights are so strong, you can place them in any location and bounce them off reflectors to reach more challenging locations that other lights can’t, all without sacrificing light quality. This method is beneficial for lighting in tight spaces to create bright light sources in small areas. 

Further, ERS lights can give you control over size and focus. While some other lights only work for one kind of lighting, you can use ERS lights to light up individual people or larger spaces on your set. These lights will give you more control over how you light things, letting you maintain your show’s aesthetic by creating crisp hard beam edges or softer ones after blurring, without any light spilling from the beam.

5. Aids Storytelling

While lighting is essential for letting your audience see your stage performance, you can also use it to help them better understand unsaid details. With lighting, you can portray changes in time or weather, highlight movement and add to the set.

Using various colors can help you stimulate sunlight at different points in the day, and you can change the color throughout the performance to signify the passage of time. With the addition of shapes, you can create the shape of the sun itself to make it a narrative feature in the performance or add stars to a night scene.

Additionally, gobos and colors can let you “change” the weather. With custom patterns, you can visually represent weather features like rain. Plus, you can even create flashes of lightning or use gray colors to represent a cloudy, gloomy day.

Further, you can use moving or flashing lights to represent a character moving faster than the actor can move, like on public transit.

How to Determine Field Angle

In addition to the gobos and color-gel holders, you can attach different lenses to the front of your ERS lights to create stronger, more specified beams that have longer reaches. The field angle refers to the beam’s angle within the light that allows the light to reach a certain intensity. It’s easy to change lenses so you can attach and replace lenses without the need for specialized tools or training.

Field angles come in four common lenses at 19-, 26-, 36- and 50-degree angles. Smaller angles will have stronger, more intense beams that can reach longer distances, whereas larger degrees will be broader and softer in intensity. Some people may need lenses stronger than the four standard options, so they can explore specialized options at 5- and 10-degrees, which are incredibly tight beams that can reach very long distances.

How Are ERS Lights Used in Stage Performances?

ERS lights play a significant role in stage performances. First, they allow the audience to view the characters of the performance by illuminating their faces while minimizing shadows. Your audience will be able to clearly see their facial expressions, costumes and even set details with the intense light and careful beam direction provided by ERS tech lighting.

Because ERS lights are compatible with multiple accessories, you can use them for other purposes on the stage. Use different angles to create small spotlights that feature specific characters, so your audience knows who to focus on. Add a gobo to create a pattern and help the audience understand more about the setting or time. Color-gel holders let you control your show by allowing your project colors to represent certain times or emotions.

Many lighting designers for stage performances experiment with other tools to create unique and functional lighting effects that add to the performance’s story and provide light for the audiences. Use everyday items to absorb or reflect light to try new effects and create specific aesthetics.

What Is ERS Lighting?

Other Stage Lights Used in Performances

While ERS tech lights are excellent choices for stage performances, you may only have a limited number of them. There are several types of stage lights you can use to best illuminate your performances. Some other examples of stage lights include:

  • Parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) lights: While ERS lights can cast different beam shapes, PAR lights specifically create oval beams on stage. They cover larger areas, making them an excellent choice for lighting up groups of people or sets with more generalized light options.
  • Fresnel lights: Using a unique Fresnel lens, Fresnel lights create specific soft-edged beams for gentler, delicate lighting options. While you can use ERS lights to create softer beams, Fresnel lights provide a different alternative and allow you to use your ERS lights for other purposes.
  • Followspots: Like ERS lights, Followspots are incredibly powerful spotlights, but they are exclusively for circular, individual spotlights. You can use these to help your actors stand out on stage. You must operate them manually, so you will need stagehands to stay with them, but this can allow your actors to move across the stage while staying under the light.

Regardless of what you are looking for to light your stage performance, there are plenty of lights to consider. You can find numerous light choices that can provide specific functions to meet all of your performance needs. 

What Is ERS Lighting?

Learn More About Stage Lighting From Illuminated Integration

ERS lights are powerful light sources that play essential roles in lighting stay performances. With their various functions and accessories, ERS lights allow lighting designers to express their creativity and develop the perfect lighting solutions for their shows. Among the numerous lighting options available on the market, ERS lighting is must to have for any stage set.

At Illuminated Integration, you can receive even more customized lighting care with our unique designs. We treat each client with an individualized approach, so every design is distinct and will perfectly meet your needs. Regardless of your project size or complexity, we strive to meet your standards to give you the best care. 

Contact Illuminated Integration today to discover how we can assist you with your next lighting project.

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