A busy start to the summer season for Philips Vari-Lite fixtures

Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

As the big international acts start to head downunder for the busy summer season there is one thing most of them have in common: lots of lovely Vari-Lites!

Elton John‘s lighting designer Kevin ‘Stick’ Bye, a former Vari-Lite technician, naturally prefers to use Vari-Lites and for this run he preferred to have around fifty-two VL3000  and twelve VL2000 washes. Lighting was supplied by PRG.

Nickleback‘s lighting designer Butch Allen also used PRG’s Vari-Lite 3000 fixtures as well as six VL2500 washes with Chris Maeder in control.

The most talked about concert was Coldplay‘s Mylo Xyloto World Tour where lighting designer Paul Normandale used Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX units to create a unique lighting experience to perfectly complement the band’s ultraviolet spectacular.

” The band wanted a vivid ultraviolet feel, with a sphere of energy that could transform from small to massive,” explained Paul.

To create the right look, Paul used Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX units, which feature an output that exceeds 50,000 lumens, as well as varied new options for colour and beam control.

“The 3500 allows me to use just one light with where I would normally have to use two,” commented Paul.

The 3500 FX was the back bone of the stadium show, with 34 units including 12 on the upper concourses of the stadiums. As Paul said: “Few lights have the power to cut through from so far away.”

The band had its own strong vision for its live performances. At each gig, fans were asked to wear a radio-controlled lighting device wristband that omitted either blue, white, pink, or yellow on cue to music, turning the entire stadium into a sea of dancing orbs.

“Coldplay is all about live audience interaction, the OED wristbands were given free to every member of the crowd and interact with the lighting and performance, basically it is 60,000 people of pixels,” said Paul.

Lighting was supplied by Chameleon Touring  Systems who are also providing the lighting for Jennifer Lopez who will be playing arenas later this month with a Vari-Lite dominated rig designed by Sean Burke.

Sean has created an energetic and dramatic design using a battery of VL3500 Wash FX and VL3000 Spot luminaires .

“The lighting workhorses for this show are definitely the wash lights,” says Sean. “I’ve been using the VL3500 Wash fixtures for a while now and I really like them. They’re extremely flexible fixtures and do something that no other lights on the market can do.”

Aside from Lopez’s band and dancers, the huge stage measuring 62′ wide x 48′ deep is filled with a backdrop of powerful LED video screens.

“The VL3500 Wash fixtures are the perfect weapon to combat high-powered video walls, but now when I add in the FX unit I get two bangs for my buck,” continues Burke. “I have the ability to use gobo patterns in addition to a really wide wash that’s incredibly bright and can zoom down into a pencil beam. It’s an incredible fixture.”

Burke also required a powerful spot luminaire to complement the VL3500 Wash FX, and that’s where the VL3000 Spots step in.

“The VL3000 Spots are extremely versatile fixtures. The bright beams go from narrow to wide with consistently smooth operation and are the perfect complement to the VL3500 Wash FX. Plus, it makes it easier on the crew when all the lights in the rig are consistent. Given that the VL3500 Wash FX and VL3000 Spot do everything I required for this show, there was no need to mix them up with other fixtures.”

Elton John and Coldplay Photos: Troy Constable