Rich Locklin and Steve Fallon achieve balance with VARI*LITE luminaires
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:00 am
by Philips Vari-Lite

While many concert tours rely on large lighting rigs that showcase extreme lighting displays, some are more about the experience of the music than the production behind it. Such was the case for lighting designer Rich Locklin and lighting director Steve Fallon who have recently completed work on the latest Paul Simon tour. Tasked with creating a design that worked in harmony with the music instead of overpowering it, Locklin and Fallon teamed with Authorized Dealer TMS who supplied them with VARI*LITE luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.

“This show is not about lighting,” began Locklin. “You close your eyes and listen to the music and when you open them again you’re not looking to be shocked into the moment, lighting has to be about supporting the artist and the music.”

With a stage set up that consisted of four risers with nine key lighting areas, and a 48’ high gray scrim for the projection, Locklin and Fallon knew that in order to achieve the ideal balance, the fixtures chosen would have to provide them with rich colors at varying intensities, and full color temperature control. It was the matching of these criteria that led them to select VARI*LITE luminaires.

Fallon explained, “In this design the lights had to be able to blend with the projection. We are projecting onto a grey surface so that the background of the show is more conducive to being just that, a background, instead of an omnipresent image. Therefore, in order to get the perfect blend between lighting and projection, we have to go though consistent yet varying degrees zoom, intensity, and color.”

“I knew we had to have the VARI*LITE beam spreads where we could go from a tight beam to a wide, soft wash,” said Locklin. “We would be using the fixtures to mainly lig and the ht the band, color wash the stage, and then give some texture on the projection backdrop. With VARI*LITE luminaires I have the ability to develop more of a softness where it is not all about beams or ‘in your face’ lighting, but more about the unity of light and sound.”

“To get the looks required for this show, VARI*LITE fixtures were the only lights that would work,” added Fallon. “Because we are not looking to do a lot of ‘flash and trash’, because we had to be able to pull off huge color shifts that are smooth and even, and because we had to have complete color temperature control, we had to have VARI*LITE.”

To fill their lighting rig, Locklin and Fallon used ten (10) VL1100 ERS luminaires for front key lighting, 14 VL3000 Spot luminaires for general stage wash and backlight color blending, and then eight (8) VL3500 Wash FX luminaires for slight texture on the projection screen along with additional backlight color blending. While some revel in the power of the VL3000 Spot and VL3500 Wash FX, Locklin and Fallon touched on the more subtle and creative features of the lights, along with the versatility of the VL1100 ERS.

Fallon continued, “While we have fewer lights than most tours, I feel we have more impact because of the wide coverage we get. This show has a big look that’s dictated mostly by the projection, so the lights have to blend with smooth and consistent color shifts instead of strobing or fast movement.”

“In this design, I loved working with the VL1100 ERS the most,” admitted Locklin. “I was a big fan of its predecessor the VL1000, and it’s great that the light has been brought up-to-date. It’s a fantastic key light that has beautiful color, great shutters, and a wide zoom that gives it the ability to work as a wash or spot fixture.”

“I love the ability to blend all the colors of the VARI*LITE luminaires,” said Fallon. “For example, in one look, we are using the VL3000 Spot fixtures for a wash in one color palette, and then key lighting the band members within the same color spectrum but on a slightly different range within the 3K color palette. So it’s giving us a fantastic, multi-dimensional look which would not be possible with a standard wash or spot light.”

With their design complete, it was time to hit the road on an international tour that would play two continents and many different venues. Since there would not be a consistent lighting grid from venue-to-venue, the lighting instruments traveled individually and had to be re-hung each night. Being on the road for 10 months naturally takes its toll on any lighting instrument, but not VARI*LITE luminaires.

“Since the footprint of our lighting rig changed every day from arena to theatre, we had to do an individual hang each night because the venue dictates the lighting placements. During this time, we had zero failures from the VARI*LITE luminaires. When we went to Europe we had to supplement parts of the rig with other lighting instruments which had failures almost every day, but not with VARI*LITE. They were rock-solid and we couldn’t have asked for more.”

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