Super Trouper (spotlight)
Super Trouper is the registered trademark of a series of follow spotlights manufactured by Ballantyne Strong of Omaha, Nebraska (aka Strong Entertainment Lighting, formerly Strong Electric Corporation of Toledo, Ohio). They provided the inspiration for the hit ABBA song of the same name.
The lights were first manufactured in 1956. Initially, the Super Trouper utilized a high-intensity carbon arc lamp, which produced an almost snow white spot that set the performer apart from ambient stage lighting. In the 1980s and as carbon arc lamps fell into decreasing use, the spotlight began to employ a high-intensity xenon lamp as its light source.
Because of the Super Trouper's brilliant light field, many performers specify it in their technical riders. A large segment of U.S. entertainment venues, including proscenium theaters and arenas, continue to utilize Strong Super Troupers as their primary follow spotlights and it remains the "standard" that all other spotlights are generally judged against.
The Super Trouper line of xenon follow spots is inclusive of four production models: Super Trouper Long Throw, Super Trouper Short Throw, Super Trouper Medium Throw, and Super Trouper II. Each model is available in either a 1600 watt or a 2000 watt variety. As of 2006, Strong has limited production of Super Trouper Short Throws and Medium Throws to special request only.
With very few exceptions Strong has maintained a consistent design on Super Trouper models since the first xenon-type models were introduced in the late 1970s. Initially the reflector unit was composed of electroformed nickel with a rhodium plating. Today Super Trouper follow spots are shipped from the factory with a similarly-designed nickel reflector, though a dichroic coating has supplanted the rhodium coating.
The xenon type Super Troupers had utilized a larger "AC" igniter assembly which had been specially designed to function with the original high-reactance power supplies. As suggested by the name however, Super Troupers were intended for portability and "trouping" and the bulky, two hundred pound plus power supplies were not conducive to a travel environment.
Strong introduced their first version of the solid-state switching 1 kW-3 kW power supply for their xenon follow spots in 1988 without having to engineer any modifications to the Super Trouper's operational design. This new, solid-state power supply unit weighed in at approximately sixty-five pounds, which was roughly one third the weight of its high reactance predecessor.
Strong introduced the Super Trouper II model xenon follow spot in 1995 as the first new follow spot design since the xenon Gladiator III 1983. With it Strong also released a new "DC" ignitor assembly, which was a simpler and more reliable version of its predecessor, the "AC" ignitor. It allowed for a shorter ignition time and required less space than the standard AC ignitors found in standard Super Trouper followspots.
Then, in 1997, with the introduction of Strong's new, compact 1 kW-3 kW switching power supply it became clear that the existing AC ignitor assemblies in the original Super Trouper (and not Super Trouper II's) were not functionally compatible with the new power supplies. Over the next several years DC ignitor assemblies began to gradually replace the older AC ignitors.