Lighting Designer Al Crawford works with 4Wall Entertainment to light the NJPAC 2014 Gala
Published Friday, December 19, 2014
by Philips Vari-Lite

At the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) 2014 Spotlight Gala presented by The Women’s Association, attendees would be treated to a night of Tony Award-winners in a production entitled “Nothin’ Like A Dame”. Behind the scenes, lighting designer Al Crawford of Arc3design was asked to create a complete lighting design that captured the full spirit of the leading ladies of Broadway. To do this, Crawford needed a lighting instrument that could offer him a wide array of performance capabilities so he turned to 4Wall New York who supplied him with VL4000 Spot luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.

“This was my 8th year with the event and every year is a new story to tell,” began Crawford. “When looking at the lighting tools to use, I first look at each event space and how to best tell this story through light. For the evening’s performance, I needed a fixture that could truly function in a variety of ways. I wanted it to act as a full stage wash in some of the softer moments, but then also have strong beam capability that could cut through a large rig for moments that needed more of an edge. When I saw the VL4000 Spot at a 4Wall demo a few weeks prior to the event, I knew it would be the ideal solution.”

With his decision made, 4Wall New York provided Crawford with 11 VL4000 Spot luminaires. Throughout the week of load in and programming with the new 1200W fixtures, the VL4000 Spots continued to surprise him with each passing day.

Crawford explained, “One of the biggest challenges I often see with contemporary automated fixtures is there always seems to be an optical place of perfection and when you attempt things such as a zoom out or drop in a gobo you often lose the ideal optics. What I was surprised most by with the VL4000 Spot was that even zoomed-out with dark colors and texture, I was still able to maintain a great output. These fixtures had some serious headroom that I was able to call upon for a few ‘wow’ moments.”

The VL4000 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite includes all the tools needed to create dynamic and useful lighting on any stage as every aspect of the luminaire has been designed with performance in mind. The 1200W VL4000 Spot boasts 33,000 lumens as well as a quiet Studio mode which outputs 25,000 lumens. Its high resolution optics ensure remarkable center-to-edge focusing and an unprecedented contrast ratio while a 5:1 zoom covers an amazing 9 to 47 degrees without sacrificing output or clarity.

“While I would primarily be using the VL4000 Spots for their optics, power and zoom, I also knew there would be times when I needed to frame-down on an artist as well,” said Crawford. “Often with moving lights, when you’re trying to choose a fixture that can serve multiple purposes, you most likely lose the option of framing shutters. To have a really capable fixture from the effects standpoint that still maintains the framing shutters and power to cut through a large rig is a no compromises experience indeed. The VL4000 Spot truly gave me the flexibility to do everything I needed to do.”

Along with the precise four-blade shutter system of the VL4000 Spot, its beam can be further modified via the mechanical iris, independent prism with divergence control, and the variable frost. The Infinity Color Mix System offers CYM color mixing along with variable CTO color temperature correction and dual five-position color wheels. The VL4000 Spot luminaire also features dual rotating gobo wheels with a remarkable new collection of optimized gobo patterns for both aerial and projected imagery, and its dual animation wheels provide dynamic motion effects such as the chromatically tuned Dichro*Fusion effect.

Crawford added, “The night of the show everything ran great and the rig performed flawlessly. One of the things I enjoyed most about the VL4000 Spot fixtures was that there were many moments where I actually needed to dial them back a bit so that they would better match the layering of the other fixtures. This left me the option to have the remaining 25% of output for when I wanted to open them up for a special effect. This gave me a reserve of sort for those special moments when I wanted the light to really push through. Often we have to run fixtures at full and don’t have this last percentage in our pocket. It’s an invaluable design tool”

At the conclusion of the 2014 NJPAC Gala, Crawford and the event producers were extremely pleased with the performance of the VL4000 Spot luminaires. Through its numerous practical applications and variety of performance characteristics, Crawford successfully captured the full spirit of the leading ladies of Broadway just as he was asked to do.

“As designers, we often choose fixtures that are great at a specific purpose, but it’s really only useful for just that,” concluded Crawford. “With the VL4000 Spot, you have a fixture that can really give you dynamic creative freedom. It has two animation wheels, frost, framing shutters, gobos, a great zoom range, bright beams; and it’s well under 100 lbs. I do a significant number of projects a year with 4Wall and they always come through with the forefront of technology. When I need the right tools for the job, they always provide me with the right solution which in this case was the VL4000 Spot. Simply put, the VL4000 Spot is a great fixture that does just about everything and does it all very well.”

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