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A Guide to Framing Light with the Phantom Contour Projector

Shaping the beam to the subject is a powerful technique when executed correctly. The idea is to keep the beam from illuminating the wall around the subject, producing a high level of contrast between the subject and its surroundings. This creates a backlit effect that is rarely found, even in professional settings. In your home, it will make for an instant conversation piece. While it seems like it might be a complicated process, shaping the light from a Phantom Projector to the contours of your art is easy with our unique masking methods.

The ability to shape the light to the contours of your art is what makes Phantom the best option on the market today for fine art lighting!


What exactly do you mean by “framing the light?”

If you’ve never seen a Phantom Contour Projector in action, you might be having a hard time understanding how drastic the results can be. This photo does a great job illustrating the difference between a framing light with the Phantom contour projector (like the picture above the fireplace) and the arc of light (cast around the other paintings) that comes from standard art lighting options.

Phantom Projectors eliminate light spillage on the walls around your art.

It’s also worth noting that this photo was taken at a home on the Isle of Jura in Scotland! Phantom is headquartered in Texas, but our products can be found in homes and businesses around the world!

Framing light with the Phantom contour projector is all about the optics.

Unlike traditional adjustable accent lights, the Contour Projector has a series of condensing lenses that magnify the light and focal lenses the allow the light to be shaped once masked. Standard accent lights cast a wide, unfocused beam of light across wall-hung works of art. Thanks to Phantom’s variable optics system, we can focus the light and shape it to fit any object. Traditional accent lights rely on the light bulb to do the work, so customers purchase them based on the beam pattern and spread.

With Phantom’s LED light engine, the light can be manipulated with a series of lenses so that one light source can provide a variety of beam spreads. Combined with our three masking methods, which we will discuss in detail below, our optical framing projector allows for the most customization and high-quality end results on the market today.

Phantom Projector Masking Methods

All art projectors work by shining a tightly focused beam directly onto a painting or sculpture. This enables collectors to spotlight individual works and create their own lighting themes. However, mainstream art projector equipment can spotlight a work too intensely, casting illumination past the piece itself onto the surrounding walls and floors. This side effect is known as “spill light” and creates a distraction in the overall aesthetic of the showing. Phantom art projectors eliminate spill light and unsightly shadows with proprietary technology developed in our Houston factory.

Our projector technology allows collectors to have greater control of their lighting theme and a more refined presentation of the artwork itself because of its three unique light masking methods:

Adjustable Aluminum Shutters – For square or rectangular pieces of art, use our adjustable aluminum shutters to mask the light. Each projector comes with 4 sets of adjustable shutters with a variety of beam spreads. You’ll notice that the bottom edges of the shutters are slightly curved, but this creates a straight line around the art once they’re properly engaged. You can store the extra shutters inside the housing using a paperclip in case you ever change the art on display. Experiment with the adjustable shutters by moving them in and out until the light perfectly contours to the edge of your art piece.

Click here to view a detailed guide on how to use our aluminum shutters for framing light with the Phantom contour projector .

Hand-cut Brass Templates – Our hand-cut brass template masking method is what really sets the Phantom Contour Projector apart from the competition. Perfect for irregularly-shaped works of art or for lighting multiple pieces at once, the brass template method is completely customizable and allows you to hand-cut the light to the shape of your art. This method offers some of the most drastic visual results in terms of art appearing to glow from within because there is no light spilled onto the wall around the edges of an irregularly-shaped piece. Click here to view a detailed guide on how to use our hand-cut brass templates.

Patterned Gobos – Another unique feature of framing light with the Phantom contour projector is its ability to utilize steel gobos to create complex, theatrical light patterns. These Type M gobos are made by a company called Rosco and come in a huge variety of patterns, shapes, and custom logos. This masking method is most commonly used by commercial entities, like cruise ships and theme parks, but can easily be incorporated into any residential setting as well. Click here to view the Rosco catalog of gobo designs.


Lighting Multiple Objects Using a Single Phantom Projector

A major selling-point of our hand-cut brass template masking method is the ability to illuminate multiple objects using only one projector. This is especially useful for lighting groupings of art because it eliminates the visual clutter in the ceiling that is present when multiple light sources are required in close proximity.

The photos to the right show a hand-cut brass template used to illuminate the grouping of art by framing light with the Phantom contour projector to all three without light between or around the art on the wall.


Lighting Oversized Objects Using Multiple Projectors

If a collector is looking to illuminate a piece of art that is too large to be covered by one projector, it’s easy to use two, working in tandem, to get the job done. Start by directing the unmasked light from both projectors onto the piece so that it is fully illuminated. Next, experiment with the adjustable shutters in each of the projectors until the light is only on the art itself and not on the wall around it.

image of lighting oversized art with multiple framing projectors

The Phantom Projector does not detract from the design of your home!

All of our housing models, with the exception of the Surface Mount model, are recessed into the ceiling so as not to draw attention away from your art. With our Float Finish model, the unique two-part cover plate is patched and painted to fit seamlessly into the ceiling, delivering a zero sightline result. Only a small cover plate is visible on the other housing models, and it can also be painted to better blend into a ceiling that isn’t white. Our motto at Phantom is “see the light, not the fixture,” and our line of recessed LED projector housings does exactly that! By framing light with the Phantom contour projector you can expect the very best in art illumination.

Phantom Contour LED Projectors
Float Finish | Remodeler | New Construction | Top Access | Surface Mount

Additional Projector Documents
Projector Supplement | Shutter Instructions | Template Instructions

If you still have questions about why the Phantom Contour Optical Framing Projector is the best option on the market for fine art lighting, give us a call toll-free at 800-863-1184. Our lighting experts would be happy to talk to you about framing light with the Phantom contour projector and how they can enhance your home or business. If you’re ready to get started on your fine art lighting project, request a quote using our online form. Or if you prefer, sign up for our monthly newsletter and we will keep you up-to-date on new product launches, resources, and more.

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