VL4000 Spot And VL3500 Wash FX Luminaires Take The Stage At Ultra Miami
Lighting designer Stephen Lieberman uses Philips Vari-Lite luminaires provided by Solotech for the world’s largest electronic music festival.
With festivals on five continents, the Ultra Music Festival is the world’s most recognised electronic music festival today, and this year Ultra Miami offered a one-of-a-kind experience at the outdoor festival that featured over 150 DJ’s on seven stages at Bayfront Park. Working with Creative Director Richard Millstein and Production Manager Ray Steinman, it was Lighting Designer Stephen Lieberman who needed to create a lighting design that could stand up to the intensity of the three-day festival and he did so using Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot and VL3500 Wash FX luminaires provided by Solotech.
“I’ve been involved with the Ultra Music Festival since 2000, and when I start putting the designs together, I first look at where the stage is located and what the size of the performance area will be to give me a foundation to build upon,” began Lieberman. “Next I look at the artist agreements to see if we need to install any certain lighting gear based on artist riders, and then after that we apply the general rules of stage lighting to make sure we have all the creative elements to give us the aggressive design style needed for this type of show. When we put together the Miami stage, we knew Solotech had the VL4000 Spots and we were very interested in trying them out.”
The VL4000 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite includes all the tools needed to create dynamic and useful lighting on any stage as every aspect of the luminaire has been designed with performance in mind. The 1200W VL4000 Spot boasts 33,000 lumens as well as a quiet Studio mode which outputs 25,000 lumens. Its high resolution optics ensure remarkable centre-to-edge focusing and an unprecedented contrast ratio while a 5:1 zoom covers an amazing 9 to 47 degrees without sacrificing output or clarity.
Lieberman continued, “We like to look at things in layers because there are certain effects we need in order to layer and stack the show. Foundationally, we need moving lights with a suitable output to provide our spot, wash, and beam capabilities, and at the same time we are running a show for 12 straight hours so we need all these layers to keep it fresh and interesting for the audience. In the stage design, we had the VL4000 Spots everywhere. We used them inside the box for the performance area and we also used them for our audience effects to give us the big, bold looks. I evenly dispersed them throughout the rig so that if we ever wanted to do a certain look, it would evenly cover the entire performance area.”
Along with the mechanical iris of the VL4000 Spot, its beam can be further modified via the precise four-blade shutter system, independent prism with divergence control, and the variable frost. The Infinity Color Mix System offers CYM colour mixing along with variable CTO colour temperature correction and dual five-position colour wheels. The VL4000 Spot luminaire also features dual rotating gobo wheels with a remarkable new collection of optimised gobo patterns for both aerial and projected imagery, and its dual animation wheels provide dynamic motion effects such as the chromatically tuned Dichro Fusion effect.
“Optically, the VL4000 Spot is clean and bright across the entire field which is very important when looking at the edge focus and doing aerial effects,” added Lieberman. “I don’t want hot or brown spots in my output especially when I have a lot of a single fixture in the rig. In an environment like this when I only have about two hours to program, I can grab all the VL4000 Spots at once, put a pattern in, run my edge focus and get it pretty spot on without having to touch every lamp. It’s an optically clean fixture and we were extremely pleased with its power and performance.”
When it came to deciding which wash fixtures to use in the lighting rig, Lieberman knew the fixtures had to be powerful enough to cut through the myriad of high-powered spot and beam fixtures to make sure the stage was lit beautifully from every angle and in every shot.
He explained further, “For the VL3500 Wash FX fixtures, we kept those mostly inside the box because we use these to basically wash out the stage. I need my wash fixtures to be efficient and bright, and I need them to be able to hold up against all the other big powerful looks that are out there today. The VL3500 Wash FX is a big, bad-ass wash light with a powerful output and great colour-mixing that is extremely reliable. Since we have HD cameras shooting everything, drones now flying overhead taking video, and people holding up their cell phones, we want to make sure everything is very well lit and the VL3500 Wash FX cuts through all the other lighting elements to make sure our stage has the fill we need.”
With an output that exceeds 70,000 lumens, the VL3500 Wash FX features internal zoomable beam optics, an interchangeable front lens system, CYM colour mixing, variable CTO colour temperature correction, dual five-position colour wheels, a separate dimmer, and an independent dual blade strobe mechanism. The VARI*BRITE mode allows the VL3500 Wash FX to create a tight column of remarkably intense light, plus designers can harness the tremendous intensity of the luminaire to project effects patterns through a pattern wheel that provides four rotatable and indexable positions in addition to open.
Lieberman concluded, “The Ultra Music Fest is not about doing mild shows. When we start, the lights are continually moving, strobing, and changing colours so we are really putting them through their paces without any rest. Solotech did a great job providing us with gear that was up to the challenge and they are a very organised company who pays attention to the details. In a show like this we need a vendor who doesn’t leave anything to be decided on site and after the show all of the guest LD’s had nothing but great things to say about the VL4000 Spots. These are harsh tropical conditions in South Florida in May, and the VL4000 Spots really outperformed other fixtures that we have put up there in the past.”
As a leading designer and manufacturer of premiere automated lighting systems, Philips Vari-Lite provides equipment and services to the entertainment industry, serving such markets as concert touring, theatre, television, film, cruise lines, houses-of-worship, and corporate events. Vari-Lite automated lighting systems are available through a worldwide network of independent professional dealers.
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