The Elation Design Spot 1200C

Copyright Lighting&Sound America November 2009
Elation Design Spot 1200C
By Mike Wood
Figure 1 - Unit as tested.
It seems like I’ve been looking at LEDs
a lot recently. While LEDs grab all the
green headlines, we shouldn’t forget
there’s still a solid base of automated
lights out there using discharge lamp
technology that, in many, cases are
just as energy-efficient as LEDs, if not
more so. Of course, many manufacturers make both kinds of product; the
company we are looking at in this
review is one of those. Elation is a
well-known manufacturer, which has
moved upmarket from its beginnings
as a club-gear supplier to products
aimed at every sector of the market
place. So let’s step back from solidstate lighting briefly and take a look at
one of Elation’s latest “conventional”
moving lights: the Design Spot 1200C.
(Isn’t it odd that “conventional” used
to mean a non-automated light but
now is increasingly used to refer to
any light source that isn’t solid-state?)
As its name suggests, the Design
Spot 1200C (Figure 1) is a spot automated light using a 1,200W lamp and
providing a good range of features,
making it comparable with many other
fixtures on the market—but how does
it perform in practice? As usual, the
review will lead us from the lamp to
the final output lens, providing as
many actual measurements as I can to
106 • November 2009 • Lighting&Sound America
allow you to make your own informed
decision. The data presented here is
based on readings that I take when
testing a single unit supplied to me by
the manufacturer. I trust that the unit
supplied is typical and representative
of the product; however, it is likely that
production units will vary slightly.
Starting with the power input, the
Design Spot 1200C is rated for operation at various voltages ranging
between 208V to 240V at 50 or 60Hz.
There are no instructions in the manual
as to how to change these settings, so
I assume it is not user-selectable. The
unit supplied and tested was a 208V,
60Hz unit designed for operation in the
U.S. across two phases. Elsewhere in
the world, the other available voltages
are normal single-phase voltages.
The Design Spot 1200C uses the
Philips MSR 1200/2 SA/DE doubleended lamp. (The manual incorrectly
states that it uses a 1200 FastFit lamp;
however, Elation tells me this is being
corrected.) This is a double-ended version of the more familiar single-ended
MSR short-arc lamps, and has a good
track record. Access to the lamp (Fig.
2) is through four captive screws and a
drop-down rear plate (Fig. 3), which
also provides the lamp-adjustment
screws. As can be seen in Figure 2,
the lamp change is very easy—
release the two spring clips and snap
a new lamp into place. Figure 4 shows
a view of the entire assembly and
lamp house, including the rear of the
glass, cold-mirror-coated, faceted
Figure 2 - Lamp.
Figure 3 - Lamp Plate.
reflector. You can also see that Elation
has applied reflective aluminum to the
inside of the lamp house metalwork to
minimize local heating from light
escaping through the large cut-out in
the reflector. As is common in automated light design these days, the
lamp house is maintained as a sealed
compartment with its own cooling
fans, keeping as much heat as possi-
Figure 4 - Lamp house.
ble out of the downstream optical train
and electronics. I examined the lamp
both before and after testing, and saw
no signs of overheating or poor cooling. Capping the output of the lamp
house is a hot mirror, reflecting heat
back and keeping it out of the optical
train. This can be seen in the view
through the reflector shown in Figure
5. Lamp power is supplied from an
electronic ballast, mounted in the top
box, and a high-voltage ignitor in one
of the yoke arms.
Color Mixing
Magenta Yellow
Color change speed – worst case
Figure 5 - Reflector.
Color mixing
Next in the optical train, after the hot
mirror, is the color-mixing system.
This uses four pairs (cyan, magenta,
yellow, and CTO) of transverseetched dichroic filters that move in
linear fashion across the aperture on
tracks, like pairs of curtains. Each filter is rectangular in profile, but has an
etched “fingers” pattern to provide
variable density of the filter. The fingers are offset from each other on
opposite sides so that the system
avoids moiré or interference aberrations. Figure 6 shows the slightly
0.5 sec
very saturated dichroics in its flags to
facilitate mixing some very deep colors—that choice often makes pastels
tough to mix evenly.
As we have seen with previous
Elation luminaires, the blues in particular are very deep (and thus fairly
low output at 0.3%) and can almost
be used as a Congo Blue; the same
applies to red, where the low output
of the MSR lamp compounds the
issues and results in a red that leans
towards amber. All manufacturers
suffer from this problem—they want
the punchy output and lack of “red
ring” that a high-color-temperature
discharge lamp can give, but that
inevitably results in lower performance in the reds. An awful lot of
engineering and product development involves balancing this kind of
compromise to get a result that
works well and is acceptable to the
end user.
sawtooth-edged flags to provide full
field dimming and strobing. Dimming
is good down to about 10%, but
gets very steppy, with a lot of visible
artifacts in the beam below that
down to blackout. The dimmer curve
from this system is a somewhat
unusual shape (Fig. 7). Very little
happens in the flat top portion until
you get down to about 50%; then it’s
a good straight line down to 10%,
when we get into the steppy region
mentioned above. The flat top to this
curve means that effectively we lose
half the resolution of the dimming
system. On the positive side, Elation
does offer a 16-bit control mode
option for dimming, which would
help a lot with both the loss of resolution and the low-end steppiness.
The same system also provides the
strobe function, thus running pretty
quickly for what are fairly large flags
with a measured range from 1.65Hz up
to 11Hz.
Dimmer and strobe
Color wheel
Next in line is the dimmer/shutter
system. This uses a pair of linked
Sandwiching the shutter system on
mmer Curve
Design Spot
Figure 6 - Color mix.
n Spo
ot 1200C
e Law
unusual etched pattern with the addition of some circumferential arcs, as
well as the fingers. Presumably, this
aids the smoothness of the mixing.
For me, the color mixing is one of the
highlights of the Design Spot 1200C.
Elation has done an excellent job
here; the colors were uniform and
smooth over just about the whole
range. If I’m being very critical; I
could just see a little visible color
banding when mixing a couple of
pastel colors, but absolutely nothing
that would be a problem. This is particularly impressive, as Elation uses
D X Input
Figure 7 - Dimmer curve. • November 2009 • 107
Animation wheel
Figure 8 - Color.
the other side is the fixed color wheel,
with eight interchangeable trapezoidal
colors (Fig. 8). The dichroic wedges
are attached to aluminum clips, which
snap into receptacles on the wheel. I
found them very easy to change.
Mounted just before the gobo systems
is what in the manual is variously
called either an animation wheel or fire
wheel. Actually, it isn’t a wheel at all,
but is instead two half wheels. It’s a
clever system that uses two 180°
semi-circular plates—each with its
own motor—that can either be rotated
together as if they were a single disc,
or separated to provide a gap between
the plates when you want to get the
wheel out of the path. Figures 9 and
10 show what’s going on. Figure 9
shows the gate with just one of the
semi-circular plates in view on the left,
while Figure 10 shows the same gate
with the other plate also rotated into
position. Once aligned like this, the
two plates can be rotated together to
act like a single large disk with an off-
Fixed Color Wheel
Red Blue Green Amber Red
Transmission 4.2% 19% 21% 51%
This wheel provides a good range
of static colors to both complement
and work with the color-mixing system. Again, there are some very deep
saturates with correspondingly low
output and, because of the lamp spectrum, the red is very much on the
orange side.
The color-change speed was very
quick for a 1,200W unit and, in wheelrotate mode, capable of good half-colors, albeit at a slight angle. The color
wheel, like all the wheels in the Design
Spot 1200C, uses a quick-path algorithm so that moves are always made
in the shortest possible time.
Color Wheel
Color change speed – <0.2 sec
Color change speed – 0.4 sec
worst case
Maximum wheel
0.55 sec/rev
spin speed
= 109 rpm
Minimum wheel
140 sec/rev
spin speed
= 0.43 rpm
A very positive feature is that rotations and moves were very smooth,
even at the slowest speeds.
108 • November 2009 • Lighting&Sound America
system separates the two plates
again, opening up a gap between
them over the gate, and effectively
removing it from the path. It’s a neat
idea, and it worked well.
Animation Wheel
Time to insert
0.5 sec
into optical path
Time to remove
0.9 sec
from optical path
Maximum wheel
0.87 sec/rev
spin speed
= 69 rpm
Minimum wheel
72 sec/rev
spin speed
= 0.83 rpm
The Design Spot 1200C has two identical gobo wheels, each fitted with six
replaceable rotating/indexing gobos.
Figure 11 - Gobo module.
Figure 9 - Animation Wheel 1.
Figure 11 shows an overall view of the
gobo module when it is removed from
the luminaire, where you can clearly
see the two adjacent rotating gobo
wheels on the front of the assembly,
just above the animation wheel system. Gobos are retained in a carrier,
Figure 10 - Animation Wheel 2.
center axis. The pattern in the plates is
a linear break-up that may be added
on top of any other patterns and
effects to give some motion to the
image. When you don’t want to use
the animation effect any longer, the
Figure 12 - Gobo.
movement; when using the pre-programmed pulse patterns, it opens or
closes in less than 0.2 seconds. I’m
not sure why Elation doesn’t give the
user direct access to this fast speed
(Fig. 14).
Gobo positioning and rotation
speeds were very good, as was the
accuracy of indexing position with a
measured hysteresis error of 0.11°,
which is about 0.5" at a 20' throw. As
mentioned earlier with the color wheel,
movement was also very smooth, with
almost no visible steps even at the
slowest speeds. It is possible to get
some morphing effects between the
two gobo wheels; however, as with
many moving lights, the depth of field
of the output lens system is really too
short to get both gobos close to sharp
focus at the same time.
which also includes the planetary gear
for that gobo, and are easily removed
by lifting the carrier slightly and pulling
out the assembly from the central
retaining clip. Figure 12 shows a gobo
in its carrier after removal from the
wheel. Reassembly is just as easy—
slide into position and it clicks into
The frost filter on the Elation Design
Spot 1200C is a single frost flag,
which is either in or out of the beam—
there is no variable control. It can be
inserted or removed in about 0.2 seconds and fully diffuses the beam so
that gobo patterns are not visible at
all. It’s a pretty dense filter; output with
the frost inserted is reduced to about
35% of its unfrosted level.
The iris is the last item in the image
section of the optical train, positioned
just before the frost filter and the first
output lens. It has a good range, taking the full beam down to 18% of its
size when fully closed. This equates to
a field angle of 2.9° at minimum zoom
and 7.9° at maximum zoom. The time
from fully open to fully closed using
the normal iris control channel was a
fairly slow 0.9 seconds—however, the
system is capable of much quicker
Figure 13 - Gobo change.
place. Figure 13 shows a close-up of
the gobos when in position and
engaged with the central sun gear.
Rotating Gobos
(both wheels the same)
Gobo change time,
0.4 sec
adjacent apertures
Gobo change time,
0.8 sec
max (Gobo 0 to 3)
Maximum gobo
0.36 sec/rev
rotate speed
= 166 rpm
Minimum gobo
94 sec/rev
rotate speed
= 0.64 rpm
Maximum wheel
1.7 sec/rev
spin speed
= 35 rpm
Minimum wheel
64 sec/rev
spin speed
= 0.9 rpm
Beam Profile - Maximum Zoom
Design Spot
Lumens at Min Zoom:
Min Zoom Hor
Min Zoom Ver
0 000
Figure 15 - Beam profile minimum zoom.
Lumens at Max Zoom:
Max Zoom Hor
Max Zoom Ver
0 000
The output lens system used in the
Design Spot 1200C is the standard
three-group system used in nearly
every current automated lighting unit.
Two groups move for zoom and focus;
the final, stationary, group is the static
front lens. The focus quality was very
acceptable throughout the zoom
range, with no objectionable chromatic
or spherical aberrations, the latter of
which show up as edge-to-center
focus difference. The time for fullrange movement of the lenses was 0.7
seconds for zoom and 0.9 seconds for
zoom, both of which are very good for
this size of unit.
The measured zoom range ran from
a minimum field angle of 16° to a maximum of 43.5° (2.7:1) with a total
Figure 14 - Iris.
Beam Profile - Minimum Zoom
Design Spot
Lenses and output
Figure 16 - Beam profile maximum zoom. • November 2009 • 109
lumen output ranging from 14,700
lumens in narrow to 15,500 lumens in
wide. I’d say this was about average
for this class of fixture—not the highest output on the market, but by no
means the lowest either. The output
was fairly flat and quite smooth, certainly very usable (Figs. 15 and 16).
overshadowed by the bounce exhibited by both axes; it’s particularly
noticeable in pan, at the end of a
move. A rapid move was followed by
four or five seconds of extensive wobbling before the fixture finally came to
rest. The user can mitigate the problem to some extent by using slower
moves and controlling the deceleration; however, I’d suggest this is a
weak point of the luminaire that Elation
may wish to address.
Figure 17 - Prisms.
There are two prisms mounted
between the two moving lens groups.
Each is placed on its own arm and can
be swung into position across the
beam, where they engage and are
then rotated by a common central
gear (Fig. 17). As supplied, the Design
Spot 1200C is fitted with a three-facet
prism and what Elation call a “3-D”
prism, which provides multiple, closely
spaced, images in a single direction.
It’s a difficult effect to describe in
words, but it does add depth to many
gobo images. The time to insert either
prism was around 0.8 seconds and it
took 1.8 seconds to swap from one to
the other. The rotation speed was variable from 0/8 sec/rev (75rpm) down to
180 sec/rev (0.33rpm).
Pan and tilt
The Design Spot 1200C has a full pan
range of 540° and a tilt range of 265°.
A full-range pan move was measured
at four seconds, while a more typical
180° move took two seconds. For the
tilt axis, the corresponding results were
2.5 seconds for the full range, and,
again, two seconds for the 180° move.
The measured hysteresis was good
at 0.1° for both pan and tilt axes,
which equates to about 0.5" at a 20'
throw. However, this was somewhat
110 • November 2009 • Lighting&Sound America
The noisiest parts of the Design Spot
1200C are definitely the fans. They
tend to overshadow any noise from
the motors, so many of the figures
below look to be the same. I ran the
fans in “auto” mode, where the fan
speed is temperature-controlled, but, if
their noise is a problem, you might
want to try out the “low” speed option.
Sound Levels
<35 dBA at 1m
56.5 dBA at 1m
Homing/Initialization 57.7 dBA at 1m
57.5 dBA at 1m
57.1 dBA at 1m
56.5 dBA at 1m
Color Mix
56.5 dBA at 1m
56.5 dBA at 1m
Gobo rotate
56.5 dBA at 1m
Gobo select
56.5 dBA at 1m
56.7 dBA at 1m
56.7 dBA at 1m
56.7 dBA at 1m
Anim Wheel
56.7 dBA at 1m
service and replacement (Figs. 18 and
19). I tried this by removing the gobo
module, and found that the ease of
removal of modules was somewhat
marred by the necessity to unplug—
and replug on reassembly, of course—
eight unlabeled cables from an interconnect board before the module
could be lifted out. This was somewhat irritating, but it was still a fairly
straightforward process.
One nice feature of the conventional menu and control system offered for
setting operational parameters was the
addition of an internal battery that
allows you to set the DMX512 start
address—and anything else you need
to change—while the fixture is unpowered or in its road case. A small switch
on the front panel controls this feature
(Fig. 20). Another unusual feature you
can see in Figure 20 is the wireless
DMX antenna on the left of the photo.
The Design Spot 1200C comes with
an integrated wireless DMX512 link as
Electronics and control
In common with its siblings, the
Design Spot 1200C has a distributed
electronics system where motor drivers are mounted in various places
within the system. Figure 18 shows a
view of the head with the top cover
removed; you can see a couple of
those boards in close-up in Figure 19.
Others are mounted on the other side
of the head and in the top box. Most
axes are homed silently, using magnetic sensors, and a cold system reset
took 37 seconds to complete. The
modular construction facilitates complete assemblies to be removed for
Figure 18 - Head.
Figure 19 - Drivers.
just above the menu system itself as
shown in Figure 21.
Finally, unlike other Elation units I’ve
seen, I was also delighted to see both
standard five-pin XLR connectors as well
as the non-standard three-pin variety.
Figure 20 - Display
Construction and
Figure 21 - Legend.
standard, designed to work with the
company’s wireless DMX System. I
had no corresponding transmitter, so
was unable to test this; however, other
users tell me it works well. One small
point, which seems trivial but might
actually be very useful, is the screen
printing of the menu map on the unit
As mentioned above, the optical system is constructed around two main
modules—one containing the colormixing system and the other the gobos
and iris systems. Figure 22 shows the
reverse side of the gobo module, which
also includes the dimmer flag pair. You
can also see the two thumb screws
that retain the module in the chassis.
Everything else in the construction will
be recognizable to any competent service tech, and I don’t envisage any serious problems in maintaining the unit.
One constructional point I should make
is that the Design Spot 1200C is relatively small, closer to the normal size for
a 700W unit.
Figure 22 - Gobo Module 2.
Well, we’ve reached the output
lens and thus the end of this review.
Is the Elation Design Spot 1200C the
unit for you? I hope I’ve given you
enough information to help you
decide that for yourself. As always,
you get to decide...
Mike Wood provides technical,
design and intellectual property consulting services to the entertainment technology industry. He can be contacted at
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• Multiply and animate your image with variable speed
• Fits ellipsoidal spotlights with 6.25 inch frame
• Speed range from 0.875 to 8.0 rpm
• Supplied with either 3 or 5 facet prism
• Create multi-colored images
• 120v or 230v models
• Designed for continuous duty cycle
See it in motion at
New at