Is it a Transporter Beam From Star Trek?
No, it's a Solar Simulator, a long arc, water-cooled Xenon light source used to mimic the effects of the Sun at the Earth's surface.
The challenge of shooting this job were both technical and creative:
the light source is only 8 inches high but had to look heroic;
Xenon light gives off harmful UV radiation so protective clothing had to be worn from head to foot.
We not only wanted to show the light, but also the water cooled tube surrounding it as wall as the background. Due to the extreme brightness of the Simulator it was necessary to use strobe lighting to brighten and balance the foreground and background.
Art Director Gary Ghezzi said,"I liked working with Rich, he is a real collaborator, he really brought something extra to the job."