London, UK – Lighting designer James Scott found Vari-Lite’s VLZ Profile luminaires to be a perfect, punchy complement to the video-heavy stage set of hip-hop artist AJ Tracey’s showcase tour finale at London’s famed Brixton Academy. Scott, of design studio Suluko, worked with Production Designer and Creative Director Bronski, and Amber Rimell, of TAWBOX on the tour’s design.
Scott had used four VLZ Profiles on Tracey’s UK tour dates, where limited truck space had meant a minimal fixture count. This was his first experience with the LED profile fixtures, and he was impressed by their power, optics and performance. “The tour only had a small floor package, with the VLZs as the main punchy fixtures,” says Scott. “What we achieved with four VLZ Profiles would have probably required six of any other LED spot on the market.”
On the tour, the VLZs were positioned across the upstage floor, providing a bold, stage-wide backlight. “They gave beautiful gobo looks and strong, open beam, wide zoom, walls of light,” says Scott. “The large aperture lens and high light output, without the heat of the traditional discharge lamp, meant it was perfectly suited for the size of venues.”
For the showcase gig at Brixton, the set would see the addition of three large, portrait LED video panels upstage, against which Scott was briefed to deliver ‘bold, hard looks’. “The UK tour and the Brixton show were two different creatives entirely,” he says. “For the Brixton show, the lighting would be in support of the three large video columns. We really needed a fixture that would cut through against the highly driven video content.”
Confident that the VLZ Profile would hold its own against this bright, dynamic background, Scott stepped up the VLZ Profile count to 14, with cross-stage wash and keylight positions complementing the ‘wall’ of backlight from the upstage row of fixtures. “Together, the lighting and the video created a strong and iconic simplicity,” he continues. “The VLZs had their role to play and they did it perfectly. Clean, cool and crisp optics is a statement this fixture can boast.”
Scott adds, “My Touring Lighting Director, Jake Whittingham, and I both had a real shock when we first turned on the VLZ Profile. We couldn’t believe they were LED source, nor could the local crew. For the smaller shows, we actually ended up inhibiting the intensity of the fixtures to around 60%!”
He concludes, “I’m so glad that Vari-Lite are coming back with fixtures like this . . . I can see that this range and the other current ranges from Vari-Lite will be top of the list for designers worldwide.”