Our History

[OPTI] Kinetics is a leading innovator of specialist lighting projection effects and has invented iconic products such as the liquid ‘lava type’ wheel and the Solar and Gobo range of projectors.

Formed in London, England in 1970 by a group of creative lighting effect engineers.

[OPTI] Kinetics products allow users to create effects that are suitable for multiple corporate, healthcare and entertainment applications. 

Pioneers in innovating and creating visual effects since the 70s, an era of explosive creativity in music and art, [OPTI] worked alongside some of the great artists of that time, creating and inspiring a community around its legendary products

Light projection first became popular in modern theatre and dance in the 1950’s and, shortly afterward, experimenting began by the new underground film makers. Extensive use and popularity of lights and light projection techniques came in the late 1950’s with the growing California “psychedelic” movement. This new culture began to spread quickly toward the East, bringing with it, the “light show”. 

In a short time, the concept of the “light show” was changing and its innovators were discovering fascinating new techniques. Nightclubs and rock groups became interested, hoping light would add new appeal to their presentations. 

Today, the lighting technologies created in the psychedelic movement surround us in all our daily lives. Imaginative people have made profound progress in the field of lighting, adding excitement to parties, dances, and shows. 

Back in the heady days of the late 1960s, a group of young visionaries saw science, in the form of light and movement, as a means to enhance the aural experiences of the time. This early collaboration led to Optikinetics Ltd. being formed in 1970. From humble beginnings in a farmhouse on an estate near Hatfield England, Optikinetics became one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of effects lighting and structures. Together the founders of the company shared a vision, to deliver quality and technical excellence through innovation and high standards of customer service.

Wonder how we got our name? Optikinetics is a combination of the Greek words light and movement.

Neil Rice, Keith Canadine, Phil Bunker, John Harding and Nick Turnbull formed Optikinetics on 27th November 1970. 

Harding and Turnbull left after a difference of direction and the others continued together with their wives. The boys made the ‘hardware’ converting slide projectors into effects projectors and the girls made the ‘software’, hand painting rotating moiré effect cassettes. Such was the demand for Liquid Wheels both for their own projectors and for other companies who had joined the bandwagon converting slide projectors that everyone mucked in to keep up production of these.

Optikinetics moved from the farm house into an old hat factory in Luton in late 1972 where its headquarters remain to this day.

Originally like most of the other effects lighting equipment ‘manufacturers’ at the time Optikinetics was converting slide projectors into effects projectors. Slide projector brands bought at the time for conversion was from Rank Aldis in Brentford, Hanimax, London and Gnome Photographic in Cardiff. 

Most business was done with Ranks projectors. After Rank declined to produce a purpose-built effects projector for Optikinetics in 1972 they set about producing their own. The first was the Solar 100.

Then in 1973 the legendary Solar 250 was launched and, with the exception of one year recently when it was withdrawn for redesign to CE compliance, has been in production ever since. Over 70,000 have been produced. The company still also produces its first ever product the Liquid Wheel.

When OPTI Kinetics Effects are combined together spectacular new projected images emerge. From simple distortions to project reflected water effects to mind blowing light shows created by combining effects on multiple OPTI Kinetics Effects Projectors, using different Lenses, Prisms, Mirrors and/or DMX. Then add OPTI Kinetics’ ability to produce custom effects* and the possibilities become almost limitless.



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