Bob Dylan hits the road with TMS and Philips Vari-Lite
Published Thursday, December 9, 2010
by Philips Vari-Lite

When production meetings began for the Bob Dylan Fall Tour, a few challenges for the lighting design would become evident. First, the tour would be playing venues that varied greatly in size and location; and second, at a Bob Dylan show one thing is clear; itís all about the music. While many tours may rely heavily on color changes, strobe effects, columns of light or intense video, this tour would rely on the opposite, simplicity. To overcome these challenges, the production team turned to their longtime tour provider TMS who brought in 35 VARI*LITE luminaires.

This design would need to be filled with delicate lighting consisting of smooth white transitions. There would be no Ďflashí or intense light movement, and because they would not be using actual color in the beams, color temperature control became even more important. The fixtures chosen would have to maintain their temperature consistency across their beam, no matter what size the venue or location. One night the tour would be playing an arena, and the next night at an outdoor festival. Because of these varying sizes and configurations, the automated lighting needed great intensity control and a broad zoom range to adjust for throw distances. Shuttering capabilities would also be primary to adjust to any difficult angles created night after night.

Fully understanding the necessities for this design, TMS began working with the design team to provide the ideal lighting tools. All the theatrical elements from lighting, sound, and video would have to work in perfect balance with no one part being greater than the other. The best in zoom range, color temperature consistency, and intensity control would be essential for the automated lighting instruments chosen. These necessary characteristics led the tour to VARI*LITE luminaires, and therefore the design team decided to use 21 VL3000 Spot, six VL3500 Wash, and eight VL3500 Spot fixtures.

Now on the road, the VL3000 Spot luminaires are being used for key light on the band, gobo breakups to give the design texture, and for the zoom range necessary to make sure the band is lit from all distances. Next, the VL3500 Wash luminaires are used as back light on the band with warm color temperatures, and if needed, they provide a bump in intensity to adjust the general stage wash brightness. And finally, the VL3500 Spot luminaires provide their unique four-plane shuttering capabilities to adjust for the tight corners and awkward angles.

As the tour continues through November 27, 2010, the consistent performance of all the VARI*LITE luminaires is an indispensable contribution to the perfect balance of the theatrical elements on the tour. A design team walks a fine line when lighting without color and without using the tricks typically seen in other concerts. By using VARI*LITE luminaires, the Bob Dylan design team was able to keep it simple so that in the end, itís all about the music.

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