Martin Sceptrons deliver the The X Factor

Posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

The Australian production of The X Factor is currently being filmed at Sydney’s Fox Studios and aired on Channel 7. Lighting designer Ian Anderson has lit every one of the six seasons and this year he has a special new product to set the studio alight – Martin’s VDO Sceptron 10!

For the past few years Barco MiSTRIP has been used within the stage floor, initially chosen as it was the only long, robust video strip on the market.

“We were replicating the productions overseas and they used it so we basically did the same,” commented Ian. “It was literally the only strip on the market and every year we would have to import some from an overseas hire company as there were not enough in Australia.”

Then Martin produced the VDO Sceptron 10, a linear outdoor-rated LED video fixture with 10 mm pixel pitch and an extensive range of optical accessories for a wide variety of looks. The fixture is a single strip of LEDs built into a 1 metre sturdy aluminum frame. Ian and his crew were very impressed and not just by the Sceptron’s incredible brightness and vivid colours.

“The Martin Sceptron has so many more benefits compared to the MiSTRIP,” he said. “It can not only replicate it but also Versatubes with a variety of covers that make them look quite different. They offer a multitude of different uses and the fact that they are 1 metre in length, as opposed to some random measurement, is awesome. You can design them very easily into things and their mounting brackets are great, letting you stick them anywhere! However, on X Factor we have them inserted into custom slots on the stage.”

As mentioned, there are an extensive range of field-exchangeable optical accessories for a wide variety of looks. Optical extras include Open Front, Flat Diffuser, Flat Smoked Diffuser, Round Diffuser, Round Smoked Diffuser, Square Diffuser, Square Smoked Diffuser, Tube Diffuser, and Tube Smoked Diffuser. Many scenic designers dislike the look of the white diffuser covers on other products when the LEDs are turned off. Martin has aided them by offering the diffusers in a smoky colour as well so they are not as noticeable when not in use.

Clearly the Sceptrons were too enticing and so after discussions with local hire company Chameleon Touring Systems, the purchase was made!

“With the amount of money needed to import the extra MiSTRIP we decided it made sense to start changing over the entire stage to the Sceptrons,” added Ian. “The Sceptrons are a lot brighter than the MiSTRIP and although they don’t match perfectly, they’re matching well enough.”

The VDO Sceptron 10 is driven by the Martin P3 System Controller family for easy configuration, mapping and setup, and is also backwards compatible with DMX for smaller setups. The integrated power and data cabling allows for long daisy-chains with many fixtures per cable-run, while the power supply can be located backstage (up to 50 m away) for a clean setup avoiding messy cabling and several driver boxes.

“I’m a big fan of the Martin P3 system controllers so in the future we could add more product and map it all very easily,” said Ian.

The rig contains more Martin product in the form of MAC Viper Profiles, MAC Viper Performances, Viper DX Washes, and MAC TW1’s. Added to that are Clay Paky A.leda B-EYE, Alpha Beam 700’s, Sharpys and Mythos.

Every week extra product, such as GLP impression X4 Bar 20, are added to the above main rig for special performances. Four Robert Juliat Ginger follow spots are located out front.

Control is by four MA2 consoles, four NPU’s, and five NSP’s all running the lighting systems, the coolux tracking system and some of the coolux Pandora’s Box.