Total Production

Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot Luminaires take on The End Times Tour

September 2015

When The End Times tour kicked-off at the Concord Pavilion in California, it was the first official tour for the Smashing Pumpkins following the release of their latest album Monuments To An Elegy.


As the longtime tour Lighting Designer, Lawrence Upton of UV Lighting was once again designing the lighting rig for the alternative rock band, and the co-headlining line-up with Marilyn Manson presented a unique set of challenges. Working with tour lighting provider DPS, Upton created a festival-type lighting rig complete with 24 VL4000 Spot luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite to give himself the creative freedom needed to surpass those challenges. 


“Anytime you do a co-headlining tour you ramp things up a lot and as you get closer to the event people start to add more and more production elements,” said Upton. 


“In the production design, we ended up with seven layers of fabrics hanging on stage at random widths and depths designed to allow us to create a different stage ambiance between the two headliners. The difficulty with this is that the fabrics blocked a lot of the light, so we had to approach the lighting from a festival-style mindset. We had to make sure we had the lighting capabilities of many types of fixtures throughout the rig and the VL4000 Spot luminaires gave us those capabilities to create the theatrical effects of the show.”


The VL4000 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite includes all the tools needed to create dynamic and useful lighting 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 that outputs 25,000 lumens. Its high resolution optics ensures remarkable centre-to-edge focusing and an unprecedented contrast ratio while a 5:1 zoom covers an amazing 9 to 47° without sacrificing output or clarity.


Upton continued: “I had seen demos of the VL4000 Spot at some of the boutique tradeshows and then I also got to use them when Vari-Lite loaned fixtures to the Merriweather Post Pavilion for the M3 Rock Festival. That was the first time I used them in a real-world situation and there are so many features inside the Series 4000 fixtures that it’s going to be a while before they are fully realized in the market for what they can do. People tend to stick to what they know, but when something comes along like the Vari-Lite Series 4000 fixtures, it’s almost like they’re ahead of their time.” 


Along with the mechanical iris of the VL4000 Spot, the 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.


“DPS did a wonderful job in assisting us with the preparation for the tour and I was very happy working with them,” explained Upton. “Although this was my first time using them as a tour provider, I found it to be a wonderfully old-school, family-type of environment where people truly matter. I was impressed by their shop, their staff and their business philosophy. John Lee was my contact at DPS and he did such a fantastic job that I am working with them again on the current Offspring tour.”


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