Philips Vari-Lite Series 4000 Luminaires Exceed All Expectations on Rush
With more than 40 million records sold worldwide, Rush are one of the most iconic rock bands today and with their latest tour Lighting Designer Howard Ungerleider of Production Design International Toronto was once again charged with creating the lighting spectacle.
After a collaborative process with the production team, Ungerleider turned to Solotech to provide him with the innovative lighting technology to best accentuate the R40 Live tour which included VL4000 BeamWash, VL4000 Spot, VL3500 Wash FX and VL3500 Spot luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.
“Our designs always begin with a full production team collaboration and brainstorming session,” began Ungerleider. “For this particular tour, an evolution concept was conceived about going back in time and deconstructing Rush from their earliest beginnings to present day. With our concept in mind we then turned to Solotech to be our tour provider for lighting and video along with their sister-company 4U2C. Once the backbone was all in play, I started putting my lighting design in place which would be filled primarily by VL4000 Spot and VL4000 BeamWash luminaires.”
Having worked with Rush for over 40 years through 26 tours, Ungerleider knew exactly the type of design that both the band and their passionate fans would want to see. So as he started to look at the automated luminaires to use in the design, he got an intriguing tip that would put in motion the solidification of his Vari-Lite rig.
“I really like to use saturated colours in concert lighting and because of this my programmer Tim Grivas told me I needed to take a look at the new Vari-Lite Series 4000 fixtures,” explained Ungerleider. “Open to the idea of looking at them for this tour, I went to LDI and saw a demo of the fixtures for myself. When I got to see the VL4000 BeamWash and VL4000 Spot, my decision became a no-brainer. These fixtures are truly fantastic because they are multi-faceted and I love their saturated colour.”
Both the VL4000 BeamWash and VL4000 Spot luminaires utilise the patented Infinity Colour Mixing System to provide incredibly smooth colour changes and instantaneous colour snaps. The luminaires also feature dual five-position fixed colour wheels with variable colour correction to further add to their unique colour abilities.
He continued, “To me, the Series 4000 fixtures have the best colour I’ve seen since the early days of Vari-Lite going back to the VL2C which I really loved. I also enjoy the split colors that I can get out of them, and that the colour blending is smooth and vivid. I’m very happy that I gave these fixtures a chance on the Rush R40 Live tour because they have allowed me to create an unbelievable lighting design.”
Without the need to change lenses, the VL4000 BeamWash combines stunning wash capabilities with intense beam functionality and the ability to produce a powerful collimated shaft of light. Producing 43,000 lumens in Standard mode and 35,000 lumens in Studio mode, the VL4000 BeamWash uses a 1200W lamp to provide incredible point-of-source imagery through its 10 inch front lens. When used in Wash mode, the VL4000 BeamWash provides a 10 to 60 degree zoom range. By simply adjusting a DMX value, the luminaire can shift to an intense Beam fixture with an amazing 4 to 40 degree beam angle, or a Shaft fixture for a powerful, collimated ray of light where the 4 degree beam angle can be further reduced to near zero. The luminaire also contains unbelievably smooth dimming flags which when combined with independent shutter blades deliver unmatched dimming and strobing abilities.
“I’m using the VL4000 BeamWash luminaires in the upstage truss for their high impact going in and out of all three modes throughout the entire show,” added Ungerleider. “I also use their animation wheel along with everything else they have inside and they look incredible.”
The 1200W VL4000 Spot luminaire boasts 33,000 lumens of output in Standard mode and 25,000 lumens in Studio mode. 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. Along with mechanical iris, the beam of the VL4000 Spot can be further modified via the precise four-blade shutter system, independent prism with divergence control, and the variable frost. The luminaire also features dual rotating gobo wheels and dual animation wheels to provide dynamic motion effects.
“With the VL4000 Spots, I have a few of them placed in the upstage truss, but then I also have them on automated pods designed to fly over the stage on 5-foot truss pieces. From these positions, the lights give me a ton of options with a lot of versatility and tremendous power.”
To complete his design, Ungerleider chose even more Vari-Lite fixtures with the addition of the wildly popular VL3500 Wash FX luminaires and the industry-standard VL3500 Spot luminaires.
“I am using the VL3500 Wash FX fixtures in the air as key lighting because I love their ability to colour correct. Then I’m using the VL3500 Spots on the floor for their gobo projections from behind the amp line to give us a variation of looks with a lot of silhouettes that continue out into the audience.”
As one of the most celebrated tours in the illustrious history of Rush, the R40 Live tour had its final North American show at The Forum in Los Angeles. Looking back on the performance of the Series 4000 fixtures, Ungerleider is quick to recognise that the VL4000 BeamWash and VL4000 Spot luminaires are something quite unique from Philips Vari-Lite.
“I think the most attractive attribute of the Series 4000 fixtures is a combination of their power and colour,” concluded Ungerleider. “The color coming out of the VL4000 BeamWash and VL4000 Spot is superior to anything that’s been released in the last decade, and their sheer power is amazing. The crispness of their beams is refreshing and lighting designers should give them a look because it’s a new paradigm for Philips Vari-Lite to release fixtures of this nature. This tour was pretty much an all Vari-Lite rig and these lights exceeded all my expectations.”
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