Features

VL4000 Spot Luminaires take on “The End Times” Tour
Lighting designer Lawrence Upton enjoys the creative freedom offered by the multifaceted 1200W luminaire
 
Published Monday, August 31, 2015
by Philips Vari-Lite

When “The End Times” tour kicked-off at the Concord Pavilion in California, it was the first official tour for the Smashing Pumpkins following the release of their latest album Monuments To An Elegy. As the longtime tour lighting designer, Lawrence Upton of UV Lighting (www.uvl2.com) was once again designing the lighting rig for the alternative rock band and the co-headlining line-up with Marilyn Manson presented a unique set of challenges. So working with tour lighting provider DPS, Upton created a festival-type lighting rig complete with 24 VL4000 Spot luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite to give himself the creative freedom needed to surpass those challenges.

“Anytime you do a co-headlining tour you ramp things up a lot and as you get closer to the event people start to add more and more production elements,” began Upton. “In the production design, we ended up with 7-layers of fabrics hanging on stage at random widths and depths designed to allow us to create a different stage ambiance between the two headliners. The difficulty with this is that the fabrics blocked a lot of the light, so we had to approach the lighting from a festival-style mindset. We had to make sure we had the lighting capabilities of many types of fixtures throughout the rig and the VL4000 Spot luminaires gave us those capabilities to create the theatrical effects of the show.”

The VL4000 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite includes all the tools needed to create dynamic and useful lighting 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.


Upton continued, “I had seen demos of the VL4000 Spot at some of the boutique tradeshows and then I also got to use them when Vari-Lite loaned fixtures to the Merriweather Post Pavilion for the M3 Rock Festival. That was the first time I used them in a real-world situation and there are so many features inside the Series 4000 fixtures that it’s going to be a while before they are fully realized in the market for what they can do. People tend to stick to what they know, but when something comes along like the Vari-Lite Series 4000 fixtures, it’s almost like they’re ahead of their time.”

Along with the mechanical iris of the VL4000 Spot, the beam can be further modified via the precise four-blade shutter system, 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.

“It’s obvious that a lot of intellectual thought went into the design of the VL4000 Spot and it’s a very useful tool,” added Upton. “It allows a designer to push themselves creatively and in the end that’s really what this business is all about.”


No matter which lighting gear is used for a tour, it is often the support received from the tour provider that attributes greatly to the success of a production. Working with Authorized Vari-Lite Dealer DPS for the first time in his career, Upton is quick to note that they were truly a top-notch provider and he is excited to continue working with them as well.

“DPS did a wonderful job in assisting us with the preparation for the tour and I was very happy working with them,” explained Upton. “Although this was my first time using them as a tour provider, I found it to be a wonderfully old-school, family-type of environment where people truly matter. I was impressed by their shop, their staff and their business philosophy. John Lee was my contact at DPS and he did such a fantastic job that I am working with them again on the current Offspring tour.”

As “The End Times” tour played its final show in August, Upton was not only impressed by the support he received from DPS, he was also impressed by the performance of the VL4000 Spot luminaire. With its multitude of features and capabilities, Upton offered up a final bit of advice for lighting designers who have not had a chance to experience the VL4000 Spot for themselves.

“I think designers really just need to take the time to sit with the VL4000 Spot and really experience all that it can do because there are a number of really cool features in the light,” concluded Upton. “They need to take the time to really experiment with the instrument because you could take four or more designers with the same light and they could do four or more different things with it. That’s the true beauty of what we do and the true beauty of the VL4000 Spot.”

As a leading designer and manufacturer of premiere automated lighting systems, Philips Vari-Lite provides equipment and services to the entertainment industry, serving such markets as concert touring, theatre, television, film, cruise lines, houses-of-worship, and corporate events. Vari-Lite automated lighting systems are available through a worldwide network of independent professional dealers. For more information follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or watch us on YouTube.


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