Viva the VARI-LITE VLX!
Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Last month Richard Neville of Mandylights was lucky enough to be flown by a ‘never-to-be-disclosed-Australian-client’ to Las Vegas in order to light their half-yearly northern hemisphere meeting.
Held at the Sands Expo Centre, the event included a day of conference, a gala opening and a concluding party. Being a great fan of VARI-LITEs meant that Richard naturally opted for a VARI-LITE rig and his luck continued when he was offered the chance to use the new VLX Wash by local production supply company Cinelease. The VLX Wash offers all the benefits of LED technology and the best visual performance characteristics of traditional automated luminaires.
“I understand that Cinelease bought the first 24 VLX fixtures that VARI-LITE sold and we were the second show to use them,” revealed Richard. “Originally I asked for VL2500 Washes to accompany the 26 VL3000 Profiles and 16 VL500 Washes in the rig, but Cinelease had bought the VLX Washes about four weeks before this show, so they suggested I use them. In fact, they offered them at a lower price than the VL2500 Washes because they’re basically a cheaper unit to run due to fewer lamp replacement costs.”
So not only did Richard get to used one of the most talked about lighting fixtures on the market, he saved some money too! According to Richard, the VLX Washes and the VL3000 Profiles worked brilliantly together.
“The VLX Washes are really bright and the colours are fantastic,” he reported. “In my opinion it’s the first LED fixture that you can take seriously as a moving light. You can get really nice pastel colours out of it as well as strong saturated colours. It has a really cool deep blue that compliments the VL3000 Profile’s congo colour well. The zoom is incredibly even and at no point does the beam deliver any kind of colour shadow. It’s just a perfectly uniform beam.”
Richard found he could do some fabulous zoom chases with the VLX Washes as it only takes about half a second to move the zoom from fully narrowed to fully flooded.
“The zoom goes from super-narrow where you can get a really solid narrow beam – which is great for all your ballyhoos and that sort of thing – to a full wide flood as well,” said Richard. “It looks like the same zoom range as a VL2500, which has a great zoom range, but is obviously faster. The VLX Wash incorporates everything that is great about all the other VARI-LITE fixtures and a whole lot more.”
Richard believes that VARI-LITE is the first lighting manufacturer to put some serious thought into what happens to the LED fixture 50,000 hours down the track as the LED’s age. Not only have VARI-LITE looked at how to replace the LEDs but they also have an ingenious colour calibration system in place.
“The VLX Washes have these really nifty colour calibration discs which are like sensors that they put on top of the unit and it can calibrate it against other fixtures,” explained Richard. “So if a couple of years down the track you sub-hire some VLX Washes that are newer than yours, you can calibrate them really easily across the range, so that they colour match themselves.
“The VLX Wash has a really even dimming curve, although I did find a little bit of muddiness when it’s down really dim, but apparently that’s getting fixed. What else – they’re quiet, they don’t get hot and they’re incredibly light! The colour mixing, the speed of the colour mixing and the fantastic colours themselves…I’d happily put them on a theatre show as the pastels, like roses and salmons, that you can get out of them are great. They really hold their own; you can treat them as a real moving light as they’re not a gimmick or eye candy.”
Richard is so certain in the abilities of the VLX Wash he has specified them for a couple of touring shows next year as he is confident Australian production companies will be purchasing them.
“The VLX Wash is exactly like all the other VARI-LITE fixtures; it’s not full of macros that make it do stupid things, it’s just a good, solid moving light,” he concluded. “I really couldn’t fault it and it’s the first fixture in a long time that I’ve been able to say that about.”