In fall 2022, the University of Houston became the latest educational facility to benefit from the Vari-Lite University Outreach Program. This initiative is an ongoing project allowing talented students to use Vari-Lite luminaires in a real-world environment, with training and support from Bobby Harrell, Vari-Lite Sales and Applications Specialist at Signify. The Program allows educational design programs to connect with Vari-Lite technology and staff to explore design solutions that are often only available to professionals.
One of the first students to benefit from the Program was Andrew Archer, who is undertaking a BFA in Technical Theatre Production. He was creating an inspired design for the play The Learned Ladies, using six VL2600 SPOT fixtures. Archer rigged the VL2600 SPOT luminaires in the Front of House box boom positions, on a three-left and three-right formation to allow for a typical ‘near, mid, far’ system. The overall look of the show was warm and vibrant, with Archer choosing to highlight the actors with pink and purple tones, while neutral warm and lavender cools filled in their features. The New Orleans two-story house set, which featured soaring 20-foot walls, was framed with a range of colors and broken up with clever placements of light.
“The VL2600s were key to punching through the color and providing clarity and definition to the actors’ faces,” says Archer. “The variable frost was a very helpful feature of the instrument in allowing the light to better blend in on a scene-by-scene basis, as well as the tight zoom range which allowed for great flexibility and great specificity. The ‘90s were a very vibrant and colorful period and I wanted to beam rich colors to mirror the life and energy of the family living within the home. Creatively, it was about designing an interesting piece of art across the whole medium. Objectively, it was about sculpting the action and blending it into the massive scale of the space.”
Archer also notes that he was very impressed by the programming responsiveness of the VL2600 SPOT: “There wasn’t a delay when programming pan/tilt, zoom and other features, which I have experienced with other fixtures in the past. I was also very impressed by the output of the fixture. The VL2600’s LED engine provides a great comparative statistic to arc-sources, but the comparison is even greater in practicality.”
Harrell adds: “We love engaging with universities for these opportunities as it not only allows us to put the latest technology into the hands of the next generation of professional designers, but it also fosters the relationship between the lighting designer and Vari-Lite. It’s a great program for everyone involved.”