The White Stripes "Icky Thump" Tour Gets A Little Brighter
Lighting and Production Designer Susanne Sasic implements the VL3500™ Wash Luminaire
Published Monday, July 23, 2007
by Bryan Matthews

On June 22, 2007, while in Vancouver touring with the popular alternative band The White Stripes, Lighting and Production Designer Susanne Sasic received her much-anticipated new road mates. Those new additions to the worldwide "Icky Thump Tour" were nine VL3500™ Wash luminaires, supplied by PRG.

"For this tour, I designed an all red set," began Sasic, "and in the lighting design, I needed a bright wash light that won't be totally consumed. There is no video or LED in this production so the tour relies heavily on lighting for all the visual elements. I need the most power from the fewest fixtures."

As Sasic was looking for fixtures that would be able to fulfill her design needs, she began looking at wash lights. When she was first introduced to the VL3500 Wash luminaire, she was informed that the fixture would not be available for the European leg of the tour, but could be delivered shortly thereafter. So until she could get the fixtures delivered, she improvised.

Sasic continued, "I wanted a large scale wash light for the design originally, but the VL3500 luminaire wasn't ready when the tour began, so I used spot fixtures. Then as I received the fixtures, I redesigned the rig for the North American tour. I did so by replacing some of the spot fixtures and implementing the VL3500 Wash fixtures into the design to provide a full stage wash, along with a full audience wash."

With her new luminaires in place, Sasic's design began to take on a slightly different look. The VL3500 Wash luminaire was providing a few extra lighting design effects that she had not counted on, but which were a pleasant surprise.

"What will surprise most lighting designers about the VL3500 Wash are the brightness and the beam width. The beam spreader, or VARI*BRITE™ mode, gives the fixture the ability to go from a tight beam column to a wide spread very quickly. It's a nice effect and it gives off some great beam shapes. It has given us a very nice, yet unexpected, trick."

Throughout their history, The White Stripes have prided themselves on maintaining an exclusive and effective color scheme of red, white, and black. When confronted with designing a tour around this color scheme, where a lighting designer is only allowed one true color, the fixtures chosen must be able to not only produce that color, but the color must match from fixture to fixture.

Sasic explains, "For this design, color mixing is indeed the biggest concern. If I can only use red as the one true color, it better be a good solid deep red, without loosing any output. The color repeatability of the VL3500 Wash is great and the repeatability of all the VARI*LITE® luminaires is phenomenal."

The remaining VARI*LITE luminaires in Sasic's design includes 19 VL3000 Spot and four VL500 Wash luminaires, also supplied by PRG. She has specific design requirements for each fixture and she is enhancing her design by capitalizing on their best attributes.

"The VL3000™ Spots are located on the floor and up in the overhead truss. The floor fixtures are used to cast shadows on the backdrop behind the band, and the fixtures hung in the truss are providing large groups of specials for each band member, along with creating gobo patterns on the backdrop where I am able to use the incredible wide zoom feature. The VL500 fixtures are hung on low stage right side truss providing a deep and rich red side wash."

Looking back on her design for the "Icky Thump" tour, both before and after the arrival of the VL3500 Wash luminaires, Sasic was struck by two distinct advantages that the latest product offering from Vari-Lite offered to all lighting designers, the beam column and the size.

She concluded, "The column-shaped beam is a great look compared to the other wash lights on the market. And since the profile of the VL3500 Wash is the same as the VL3000 Spot, they are not difficult to fit in the rig. With all that output, they are not as big and involved as a Syncrolite, and they fit easily into the truss. It's a great wash light."

With 20 years of experience in lighting design, Susanne Sasic previously designed the The White Stripes 2003 tour, and she has also designed tours for REM, Beck, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and David Byrne, along with many others.

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