Equipment Catalog

Matthews Pole (Spanner)

The Matthews Pole — also known as a spanner — is a piece of grip equipment used to suspend and position lighting instruments overhead without the use of lighting stands. They come in a variety of sizes to meet the specific needs of the situation. As an intermediate to advanced piece of Support Lighting equipment, access to the Matthews Poles are restricted to Studio and some Workshop courses, and must be reserved via the Equipment Loan Reservation System (ELRS) used by the F&DM Equipment Checkout Lab.

Matthews Poles are essentially expanding pipes, which lock into place horizontally between two opposite-facing stationary vertical surfaces by applying positive pressure (e.g. pushes against two walls facing one another). Great care should be taken to ensure that the Matthews Pole is properly positioned and locked into place before attempting to mount a lighting instrument, as there is nothing keeping the Matthews Pole up if one or both of the ends slip from the mounting surface.

Matthews Poles are properly used in tandem with a Matthews Clamp, which are specially-designed for mounting lighting instruments onto a Matthews Pole — the only means by which a lighting instrument should be mounted.

The primary advantage of the Matthews Pole is that it eliminates the presence of lighting stands from view at eye-level. With proper concealment of lighting instrument power cords, it would allow a 360° panning angle for cameras — as no stands would come into view.

Please note that when positioning lighting instruments overhead, via Matthews Poles, that care should be taken to allow enough ceiling-space for the instrument to properly ventilate. Placing lighting instruments too close to a ceiling risks possible heat- or even fire-damage.

Also note that there is a maximum allowable load for a Matthews Pole, which is inversely proportional to how far it is extended — the longer the pole is extended, the less weight it can reliably support. Moreover, mounting heavier-weight or multiple lighting instruments on the same Matthews Pole is strongly discouraged, for this reason.

Users should be aware that the rubber end-caps that the Matthews Pole uses to grip its mount-point may leave black marks. If this is a concern, it is recommended to use Gaff or paper Masking Tape to cover the mounting surface to protect it from being marked by the end-caps.

One example of the best use of the Matthews Pole is to suspend Lowel Tota lighting instruments overhead, and bounce their light off of the ceiling. This raises the overall illumination level of the space, generally without appearing unnatural.

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Access, Instruction, and Support

The Matthews Pole (Spanner) is provided for F&DM production students upon enrollment in one of the F&DM Department's production courses.

Access to the Matthews Pole (Spanner), like all of the department's A/V production equipment, is mediated through the Equipment Checkout Lab in accordance with course allocation assignments, and granted on an individual basis upon meeting specific criteria.

Any and all problems experienced with the Matthews Pole (Spanner) should be reported to the Equipment Checkout Lab Specialist immediately; do not wait until returning the equipment to notify the Lab Specialist or Lab staff (See: Statement of Policies).