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The VL880 Spot Packs a Punch on Neon Trees

The VL880 Spot Packs a Punch on Neon Trees
The VL880 Spot Packs a Punch on Neon Trees

When the alternative rock band Neon Trees first burst onto the music scene, the four member band had no idea how quickly their lives would change. In February 2013, the group launched their most expansive North American tour opening for Maroon 5, with multiple tour dates across the globe set to follow immediately after. So as the production team prepared to bring the group’s latest album Picture Show to life, lighting designer Matt Guminski would be inheriting part of the largest moving light rig they had ever used and they would capitalise on this by using the power and performance of the VL880 Spot luminaire from Philips Vari-Lite.

“I’ve been out with Neon Trees since May of last year when I joined them during the middle of their previous tour,” began Guminski. “On that tour we really only had a ground package with small moving lights and strobes but for this tour we grew to seven trusses which included using a number of high-powered moving lights. Because of this, the band wanted the show to pop more than it did previously and be more dynamic. While they liked the floor package they had last tour, this time around I had to find new fixtures which would allow me to be more creative and make it more unique. That’s why I chose VL880 Spot luminaires.”

As Guminski received the set up of the Maroon 5 tour, he was shown a stage shaped as a giant “M” with truss shaped the same hanging in the air loaded with high-powered moving lights and strobe fixtures. Two additional sticks of truss were set downstage full of VL3500 Wash FX luminaires, and then upstage there was another stick of truss full of even more VL3500 Wash FX fixtures. While he was grateful that he would be able to design looks for his show using these high-powered and full performance automated luminaires, he also knew that finding the right lights for his new ground package just got a little more difficult.

Guminski explained, “Neon Trees is very much a rock & roll band and they like to have a rock & roll show. They want to be able to see and interact with the audience and design-wise, they like for the production to be a little edgy, but they do not want it to be static. Very rarely will you see one of our lights parked in one position for a large amount of time. They want movement, sharp angles and texture. I knew that I would be able to get that out of the lights hanging above, but when it came to my ground row package I had to find lights that could compete with all the power in the air. The VL880 Spots are incredibly punchy and they not only compete against the hanging rig, they cut right through it. I am very happy with these fixtures. Their small, they have fantastic optics, and they have an incredible punch.”

The VL880 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite is a compact automated luminaire loaded with powerful and useful features to provide lighting designers with effective and creative tools for any venue or production size. It comes complete with all of the optical quality and functionality designers have come to expect from Philips Vari-Lite with a 800-watt MSR Platinum 35 lamp, very impressive lumen output, a zoom range from 15º -36º, and a mechanical iris for continuous beam control. A drop in frost glass assembly allows users to soften the overall beam for additional beam control, and the VL880 Spot luminaire provides brilliant colour mixing with its three-wheel CYM colour assembly. When combined with eight standard colours on a fixed wheel, the colour options are practically limitless. For image projection, the fixture has one gobo wheel with seven rotatable and indexable positions and a second gobo wheel with ten fixed positions.

Guminski continued: “When I was looking for the right light for our ground row package, I remembered a festival we did last year in Wisconsin where we got our hands on a VL880 Spot luminaire. I loved how compact it is with the amount of punch that is has, plus all the features and Vari-Lite optics. It seems that great optics are always the trademark of a Vari-Lite luminaire. The VL880 Spots have amazing beams, zoom capabilities, and precise gobo images without losing any punch.”

So with his decision made, Guminski contacted tour provider DSS who worked with Clearwing Productions to sub-rent the VL880 Spot luminaires. He then placed one VL880 Spot in front of the bass rig, another next to the drum riser, a third VL880 Spot right of centre stage, and the final VL880 Spot in front of the guitar rig. From these four positions Guminski was then able to create all the aerial beam effects he would need, plus their zoom capabilities would allow him to open their beams up and illuminate the entire audience.

He concluded: “I really like this automated luminaire. The fact that an 800-watt fixture can punch through all of these high-powered moving lights and strobes is pretty outstanding, and the lights have given us no issues. The VL880 Spots are road-tough and the lamp output is incredibly bright which is exactly what I needed to compete against the Maroon 5 rig that is a combination of 1200 and 1000-watt fixtures. Plus, the zoom and the optics are amazing. They are fast and the colours are superb with rich blues, deep greens, soft ambers; the VL880 Spot luminaire is simply amazing.”

2nd May 2013

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