Understanding Fiber Optic Curtains
A star is actually a fiber point, or the tip of a polymer fiber strand, which is manually inserted through the face fabric and secured with a strong adhesive. The intensity of a star is controlled by its size. A single fiber point with a 0.75 mm diameter is standard, but the size can range up to five fibers per point. For a standard star drop the fiber points are usually randomly distributed over the entire drop at a density of 3.125 points per square foot. A greater or lesser number of points should only be considered when a custom design or layout applies.
Individual fiber strands are gathered in bundles that terminate usually at the top or bottom of the drop. Each bundle is 7′ long from the termination point. It has a fitting or ferrule that connects to the illuminator. The maximum number of fibers that different ferrules can accommodate varies. We figure an average of 400 and a maximum of 900 strands per bundle. The total number of stars directly relates to the number of illuminators required to light the drop.
Star Drop Size is 30′ x 20′
600 sqft x 3.125 points per sqft = 1875 points
1875 points / max. 900 fibers per bundle = 2
This drop requires a minimum of 2 illuminators. With a smaller bundle size, more illuminators will be needed.
Illuminators can be simple stand-alone units for a limited pre-set number of effects but uncomplicated operation, or DMX controllable for a greater variety and quick changes of effects. They come equipped with a color wheel for color changes, and a twinkle wheel to provide twinkle effects.
Handling and Durability
Fiber optic curtains can be folded and stored in hampers just like other theatrical curtains. The fibers points are flush with the fabric surface and do not protrude. They are attached with a very durable adhesive and will not come loose given proper handling. We recommend folding the star drop with the liner still attached for added protection.
Zone and Circuit
All the fiber points in any one fiber bundle are connected to the same illuminator. They will light up at the same time and are controlled together. Larger star drops requiring more than one illuminator are usually divided into two or more zones. Each zone is controlled separately and may contain one or more illuminators. The bundles or illuminators in each zone are referred to as circuits.
Zones and circuits become important when various areas of a drop need to light up at different times or be controlled in different ways. For instance, if you have a star drop with a fiber optic logo in the center you may want to light the stars and logo at different times, or you may want the logo in steady colors and the stars to twinkle clear. You may want some stars to fade away while the remaining stars are concentrated in only one specific area. The possibilities are endless…
In these custom designed cases pre-determined fiber bundling becomes crucial.
This type of designated star layout in specific zones and circuits is more time consuming and therefore costlier than a random star spread.