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“Birdie” Par Lights

Published : 21st November 2003


I was on a set the other day and noticed a fixture I was not familiar with.

Maybe I've been living in a dark hole, but I've never seen them before. These are very small par cans which I believe are called "Birdies" or "Birdie".

A quick search around the net turned up several variations :

Seems to be a Par 16 and Par 20 type which take various bulbs depending on configuration : MR16, E27base, E17base, etc. The have barn door options, gel frames etc.

Several Questions :

Anybody used these and can you comment?

What is the size difference between a birdie Par 16 and Par 20?

Any specific suggestions as to brand?

Seemed to me having a half dozen of these might be a useful thing, especially since they seem to cost around $25-30 bucks w/o bulb.

Comments?

John Roche, gaffer
NYC



I used these a couple of years ago for a big bar scene. I told my Gaffer on the scout that wanted a bunch of small pin spot lights and he showed up with these miniature MR-16 Parcans. Cute little suckers. They weigh very little are stupid bright and are very controllable. A bit of Hampshire Frost or Opal in the gel holder out front helps take the edge off the light. For anyone who likes to use MR-16 lights I highly recommend them. If you'd like I can find out what brand he used. I do recall that he mentioned having to wire them all up the day before, but that may have been by choice to save money.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP


Mitch Gross :


> If you'd like I can find out what brand he used.


That would be appreciated!

Mike Lester
Gourmet Images, Inc.
144 N. 38th Ave.
Omaha, NE 68131-2302



I bought mine from TMB Associates in Sun Valley, CA. They make the ProCan brand of all sizes of par cans, as well as all types of cable and other stuff. A useful resource for many rental houses.

Ted Hayash
CLT
Los Angeles, CA



>If you'd like I can find out what brand he used.
>That would be appreciated!


Just talked to him, but he couldn't remember the brand name. He bought them about five years ago from what was then Production Arts in New Jersey. He simply saw them sitting on a shelf and figured they would be good to have on the truck so he picked up a bunch. Now that facility is Phase Four, so perhaps someone there could help you.

The units only cost about $15-$20 each but needed a switch wired into them. They were available with MR-16 pin sockets or screw-ins. He opted for the pin configuration since those bulbs are so commonplace. He noted that between the switches and the bulbs he probably spent more money than the fixtures themselves.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP

P.S.--I think Phase Four is located in Weehawken.



>He bought them about five years ago from what was then Production >Arts in New Jersey.

Funny, that¹s who I emailed this morning to find out more info. Will post my
findings if and when I hear back from them.

John Roche, gaffer



Now that facility is Phase Four, so perhaps someone there could help you.

Thanks for checking, Mitch...

Mike Lester
Gourmet Images, Inc.
144 N. 38th Ave.
Omaha, NE 68131-2302



Mitch Gross writes :

>For anyone who likes to use MR-16 lights I highly recommend >them……I do recall that he mentioned having to wire them all up the >day before, but that may have been by choice to save money.

If it's the standard 12V birdie, then they come with a short low voltage heat resistant tail. For individual use, they require a small inline transformer to be added, and in the UK this is traditionally a Mode Lighting electronic transformer.

The lights are available with miniature sets of barn doors and there are even version with clip on gobo and lens holders.

But why's it called a Birdie? Because it's one below PAR.

Clive Mitchell
http://www.bigclive.com



> these miniature MR-16 Parcans. Cute little suckers.

I picked up some of these lights from SLD Lighting in NYC :

www.sldlighting.com

I chose the Bi-pin MR-16 version as the lamp sits deeper in the snoot, further from the gel. However, and as I believe has been discussed on this list previously, these bi-pin MR-16 bulbs are much more fragile than the screw-in socket type. Indeed, they seem to fail at the drop of a clothespin, especially when hot behind heavy gel. I recommend the Screw in socket version.

Now what I SHOULD have is a lightweight Parcan style fixture for my 75w. NSP PAR 30 Capslyte bulbs, which are FAR more robust and don't burn up gel.

Has anyone seen anything like this, the smaller the better?

Best,

Alan Jacobsen
DP/Gaffer - NYC



I have always referred to them as mini par-cans. I bought a dozen at Baltimore Stage Lighting.

The mini par-cans are about 4" long and do come with a gel frame but no doors. the short tail came w/an Edison plug. The bale came with a grid clamp that weighed more than the fixture. We tossed the clamp and bolted a #2 spring clip to the "can".

For bar scenes we would screw 10 to a 1x4 10'board slap it up and go to town. The cost is around $20 per.

Josh Spring

Gaffer WDC



Josh Spring wrote:

>The mini par-cans are about 4" long and do come with a gel frame but >no doors.


The ones I saw the barn doors where an optional item. Did you just not go w/
doors? Where they MR16 and what brand?

John Roche, gaffer
NYC



Actually the rental vendor is called Fourth Phase. Rental Salesman four video and film is Colin Brown. A division of Production Resource Group, which is the 800# Gorilla of Tech Theatre Companies. The website is www.PRG.com

I, however, am not a big Birdy fan. Burn hotter than hell. All but untouchable with an MR16 120V. The bulbs are also extremely fragile once hot. I had a lot of them on a studio job years ago. Any time they get tapped, kicked, or whacked in any way the bulbs failed immediately. Sockets also fry pretty quickly because of the heat. They are not very controllable. On the other hand, they are stupid bright and small.

Bill Berner
191 South Broadway
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706



Here's a link to TMB, who manufacture all kinds of par cans :

http://tmb.com/Pdf/MiniPAR-121201.pdf

I find that the JDR (medium screw base) globes are much tougher.

Ted Hayash
CLT
Los Angeles



Bill Berner writes :

>I, however, am not a big Birdy fan. Burn hotter than hell. All but >untouchable with an MR16 120V.

Have you tried using the 12V MR16 versions with in-line dimmable electronic transformer? The low voltage lamps produce a whiter light with less heat, and are very tolerant of rough handling.

Clive Mitchell



Clive -

Actually, I haven't, but it sounds like a good idea.

In my applications, I am usually in a studio with house dimming systems. I'm sure, though, that I could profile a house dimmer "full at 1%, and then use the inline to dim the Birdy.

Thanks for the advice.

Bill Berner
191 South Broadway
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706



Clive Mitchell wrote :

>Have you tried using the 12V MR16 versions with in-line dimmable >electronic transformer?

Where does one find such an item?

John Roche, gaffer



Bill Berner writes :

>In my applications, I am usually in a studio with house dimming >systems. I'm sure, though, that I could profile a house dimmer "full at >1%, and then use the inline to dim the Birdy.

The inline dimmable electronic power supplies can be dimmed directly by the studio dimmers.

Clive Mitchell



John Roche writes :

>Have you tried using the 12V MR16 versions with in-line dimmable >electronic transformer? Where does one find such an item?

All over the place in the UK.

The mains birdies using the GU10 base are relatively new to the UK due to our higher voltage causing problems with small lamps. The traditional birdie MR16 par can is 12V usually with a 50W lamp and the users choice of inline electronic power supply (one of which can power several birdies if desired).

The traditional inline supply in the UK is a Mode Electronics unit, since Mode have been affiliated with the entertainment industry for a long time, and their stuff is designed well. Ultimately you can use whatever electronic halogen transformer brand you desire.

Clive Mitchell



I think you can get electronic wall dimmers that output for 12 volt sources at most electrical supply houses, if not even Home Depot. They are used for dimming low voltage track and wire systems that don't have transformers built in at the fixtures or wall plate.

Bill Berner
191 South Broadway
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706



>I think you can get electronic wall dimmers that output for 12 volt >sources at most electrical supply houses, if not even Home Depot.

I don't know of any regular manufacturer who males such a thing. Also no large manufacturer (Halo, Lutron, etc) makes a low voltage system that is not a transformer type of system. Household in-wall dimmers can not step down voltage safely form 120 volts to 12 volts. You can purchase dimmers specifically meant for low voltage transformers though at electrical stores and home Depots.

The difference in low voltage dimmers such as the ones made by Lutron and sold at electrical stores and The Home Depot is they work with 12volt magnetic ballasts and require connection to both the hot side and need a neutral return from the lamp to work , but the output of these dimmers is 120 volts and Not 12 volts. Some low voltage systems now have electronic ballasts too. You can purchase limited 12volt dimmers made for the boat industry that can pass up to 10 amps (8 normally).

Walter Graff
Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer
HellGate Pictures, Inc.
BlueSky, LLC
www.film-and-video.com