Houndstooth and the VL3500 Wash FX at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012
by Philips Vari-Lite

Founded in 2001 by the Austin Film Society (AFS), The Texas Film Hall of Fame honors the very best in Texas film-making and entertainment. Their Hall of Fame Awards benefits their non-profit educational and artistic programs and after 10 years of producing the show in their Austin Studios, event organizers decided it was time to relocate to The Moody Theater. Now needing to increase the production values to complement the new, state-of-the-art facility, the AFS turned to Houndstooth Studio to design the events motion graphics and exterior lighting package, which they did using six VL3500 Wash FX luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.

“Houndstooth’s primary focus is motion graphics design, but we have moved into the event design market as well,” said Executive Producer and Founder David Crumley who is a graduate of the University of Texas Film School with a concentration in lighting design. “We’ve been doing more and more lighting packages for other Austin-based companies so when the AFS contacted us about their motion graphics needs for the awards ceremony, I wanted to find a way to integrate lighting into the event.”

When the decision was made to hold the event at The Moody Theater, the local PBS station also decided to broadcast the event as well. Knowing they would need a large graphics package for both the live event and the broadcast, event organizers contacted Houndstooth who was selected because of their expertise and complete design which matched what the producers wanted to see.

Crumley continued, “Because the theater already has a great house lighting rig, we thought it would be a great idea to bring lighting to the outside of the space to really show off the exterior of the building. Since we are a graphics company, we initially looked at projection mapping one of the main facades, but that was out of the budget. I then thought about using automated fixtures to project patterns and with this being a charity event, I reached out to a few lighting manufacturers to see if they might be interested in helping us out. Philips Vari-Lite quickly got back to me and after discussing with them what we were looking to do, they provided us with six VL3500 Wash FX luminaires.”

With the lights he needed to create his concept, Crumley and his team of Matt Camden, Brad Mathis, and Gideon De Villiers got to work. As they started, their first challenge would be finding a clear line of projection for the lights. The Moody Theater resides on a corner surrounded by City Hall, a hotel, and a few residential complexes. After surveying the area, they decided their best shot would be the 9th floor of an adjacent parking garage over 300 feet away.

“We needed to be able to illuminate a very large area; two of the theatre’s exterior walls, the sidewalk, the street surrounding it, plus the Red Carpet arrival area for the guests of the event. In doing so, we also had to take into consideration that we couldn’t shine into any residential windows, or on the hotel, so finding the right line of sight was crucial. We found it on the roof of a parking garage that was diagonal to the theatre, but it would result in a throw distance of over 300 feet. Knowing we had the VL3500 Wash FX fixtures, that distance wouldn’t be a problem. I love the power of the VL3500 Wash FX. With these lights we were able clearly shoot the 300 feet and cover the entire façade of the theater along with all the other areas needed.”

But not only wanting to illuminate the building with light, Crumley also wanted to have custom gobo projections designed to match the event’s graphics package moving throughout the space as well. With the throw distance no longer an issue, it was the dark exterior of the building itself that caused an additional design challenge.

“Design-wise we wanted to use custom gobo projections for texture on the exterior walls to make the building stand out, and unify the exterior lighting with our graphics but with shooting from so far away and with the color of the exterior walls being a charcoal black, we were worried that we might lose them. But it wasn’t a problem at all. I was really surprised with the clarity and intensity of the gobo projections when using the ultra clear lens. These lights worked perfectly and the images really stood out. I was expecting the patterns to be more useful for aerial beam effects, but I was amazed at how well they looked on the theatre façade. As an added bonus, there was a fine mist in the air from an earlier rainstorm so we got some amazing beam effects that you could see all over downtown.”

The VL3500 Wash FX luminaire features internal zoomable beam optics with either Fresnel or Buxom options, an interchangeable front lens system, and a four-position plus open rotating FX pattern wheel. The fixture also provides CYM color mixing, variable CTO color temperature correction, dual five-position color wheels, a separate dimmer, and an independent dual blade strobe mechanism. In conjunction with its zoomable optics system, the VARI*BRITE mode can be engaged to offer a tight column of remarkably intense light making the VL3500 Wash FX the most versatile wash luminaire on the market.

Crumley concluded, “My favorite aspect is their pure power. We were projecting patterns on a black surface from over 300 feet and there simply aren’t many fixtures out there with over 50,000 lumens that can do pattern projections like this. We were blown away by the performance of the VL3500 Wash FX. This year the producers really wanted to draw focus to the outside of the event, and with these lights that is exactly what we did, we created drama in downtown Austin.”

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