Moving Right Along
The past year has seen some interesting movement in the world of moving lights.
Review:/ Marcus Pugh
Every year around the times of the LDI, Pro Light +Sound, PLASA and PALME shows, I eagerly trawl the internet for pictures and videos of any new lighting releases. I am a self-confessed lighting nerd and my love of new toys is one of the main reasons I dig the lighting game so much. The past year or so has been a great time for innovation, with each manufacturer releasing different types of moving fixtures, as they strive to get out in front and be the company to bring out the ‘Next Big Product’ in the moving light world.
With the massive number and proliferating genres of lighting devices hitting the market, I had to set myself a few guidelines for this article or it would have ended up occupying half the magazine. I have selected only moving lights and only one unit from any manufacturer. I am not actually reviewing these units as I haven’t yet had the opportunity to play with all of these new toys, much less had a chance to pop the covers and see what’s going on inside, or test them on a gig. What I will do is introduce them to you and give you my user’s-eye view of their main features and selling points.
Let’s kick off with Vari-Lite, just because they were the first company to produce mass market moving lights (even if the VL1s weren’t actually for sale). Vari-Lite have launched the eagerly-anticipated VL4K Spot which is only the third mover release since being acquired by Philips and follows their hugely-popular VL 3500. The VL4K spot is pitched to be an all-in-one spot and they have managed to jam every function under the hood of this one, meaning there is no need to get a different unit if you want shaping shutters or dual rotating gobos or animation wheels.
Starting from the tail the VL4K is driven by a 1200W Philips MSR Gold FastFit lamp before getting to the CMY colour mixing system with a variable CTO. There isn’t just one, but two fixed colour wheels each with five interchangeable colours. There is also a mechanical iris and a four blade shaping-shutter system which can be rotated through 50°. The VL4K also comes with two indexable rotating gobo wheels, each with seven gobos. And just because one of anything isn’t enough, there are two separate animation wheels too, that can take dichroic glass wheels. There is also a three-faceted prism and variable frost, plus separate dimming and strobe mechanics. All this teamed with a 5:1 zoom (9°-47°) and the optics we’ve all come to expect from Vari-Lite.
Main selling point: Every feature in the one fixture
Source: 1200W Philips MSR Gold FastFit
Beam Angle: 9° – 47°
Going from the pioneers of moving lights into the new players – Ayrton, a French based lighting manufacturer, burst onto the scene last year with its Magic Panel which attracted a lot of heat online. The first thing you notice about the Magic Panel as opposed to most of the LED movers, is that it’s square (with good reason). The Magic Panel is a 6×6 grid of 15W RGBW LEDs which can be pixel mapped right from the fixture, that’s right you can display media, thanks to its Arkaos KlingNet protocol or control via DMX. These LEDs also punch out a decent beam effect through haze too.
The Magic Panel also has one other impressive trick up its young sleeve and that is continuous pan and tilt, it can spin and turn all day long without having to go back to home. This ability has already proved a useful tool for LDs and programmers. The Magic Panels have been used to great effect already on Nine Inch Nails latest tour (see the front cover) designed by LeRoy Bennett (recently in Australia for Entech Connect) and Wiz Khalifa’s Under the Influence tour. As seems to be becoming the norm the Ayrton panel also comes with on-board Lumen Radio wireless DMX.
Name: Magic Panel
Main selling point: Pixel mappable, continuous rotation
Source: 36 x 15W RGBW LEDs
Beam Angle: 10°
MAC QUANTUM PROFILE
Since being bought by Harman, Martin Lighting has been maintaining its market dominance (at least here in Australia) with the release of a whole new range of ‘budget’ fixtures in their new Rush Family, but it is the announcement of MAC Quantum Profile that has excited me the most. Whilst we have been promised a LED-based profile or spot moving light for a few years now, the MAC Quantum appears to be the first model with enough kick to replace the MAC 700 profile which has been the industry workhorse for the last five years. It would appear that Martin are taking a measured approach and not rushing to market with this fixture while the MAC Vipers and MACIIIs are still selling in the top end of the market.
The MAC Quantum Profile is driven by a 450W white LED engine which punches out a super white and crisp output and is equipped with all the usual functions for a medium-sized mover, including CMY colour mixing, colour wheel with six slots, six interchangeable rotating gobos and 10 fixed on the second wheel. The MAC Quantum is also kitted with a rotating three-faceted prism, iris, motorised focus, 12°-34° zoom and electronic shutter for strobing. Being a LED-based fixture means the MAC Quantum profile can be electronically dimmed and has four programmable dimmer curves, while also being compact, lightweight and runs significantly cooler than other fixtures with similar output, which will surely mean less frequent maintenance. In conclusion, I think Martin could be onto a winning product if the MAC Quantum has the same build quality that has become synonymous with the Danish manufacturer.
Name: MAC Quantum Profile
Main selling point: Bright LED profile
Source: 430W white LED engine
Beam Angle: 12 -34°
To go from the measured and refined Danes over to the big, brassy and just-a little-bit-nuts Americans. High End have released another creation from the depths of Richard Belliveau‘s mind and they’ve called it the Shapeshifter. There are four different versions on the market, RGB and White LED, in both large and small versions – we’ll focus on the larger RGB version. Just like the Ayrton Magic Panel the Shapeshifter looks a bit like a LED wash fixture without zoom and are more of a beamy effect-light. What makes the Shapeshifter an innovative fixture is that the 126 single-colour LEDs are divided up across seven different modules which all move independently. Plus, it claims to be the brightest LED fixture on the market. To complete the look, the face of the fixture is back lit with blue LEDs from behind the modules.
The Shapeshifter has to be seen to be believed, it has a super-fast pan and tilt and as with all High End fixtures they’re built like a Buick with the rough and tumble of touring in mind. This fixture has me in two minds and will likely give rock and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) LDs a bunch of new looks to play with. Is it different? Yes. Is it inspired? Definitely. Is it practical? Well… that remains to be seen, but all-in-all it did make this lighting nerd sit up and pay attention.
Manufacturer: High End Systems
Main selling point: LEDs that move independently to the fixture
Source: 126 x 3W LEDs
Beam Angle: 10°
High End Systems – SHAPESHIFTER: www.highend.com
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Over to Clay Paky, which I have to put my bias on front street, as I have loved their products ever since the old Goldenscan days and I hire out a lot of their fixtures in my day job as hire manager for Resolution X. Clay Paky has gone from strength to strength, after the Sharpy blew everyone away and became the ‘must have’ item for every tour or event. The Italian manufacturer followed up the Sharpy with the Aleda range including the new K20 B-eye which is redefining the LED wash. Now Clay Paky has announced the Super Sharpy, there are only a couple of pictures and some very impressive demo videos online currently. What I have been able to find is that the new Super Sharpy will be more like a searchlight than just a beam, being four times brighter than the original Sharpy with a 470W arc lamp, it will have a wider 7-inch front aperture, CMY colour mix, plus colour wheel, seven rotating gobos and 20 – yes 20 – fixed gobos on the second wheel, plus a rotating prism and frost. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these and I’m just unsure with that much output how it’s not going to instantly set things on fire.
Manufacturer: Clay Paky
Name: Super Sharpy
Main selling point: Big beam small package
Source: 470W discharge
Beam Angle: 0 – 4°
ROBIN 1000 LEDBEAM
I was spoiled for choice from Robe for this article, as they have a lot units being released in their Robin range which run the entire gamut of fixture types. I eventually settled on the Robin 1000 LEDBeam which is the latest in this range, improving on the already very popular Robin LEDs with 37 x 15W RGBW LED multichips and a whopping 4°-60°(1:15) motorised zoom. The fixture has three separately-controllable rings for those eye-candy effects. You get a whole lot of light and output in a small package that only weighs 17kg. The LEDBeam comes with Lumen Radio wireless DMX as a standard accessory, and is the only unit here that has a touch screen display.
Name: Robin 1000 LED Beam
Main selling point: Super bright LED wash
Source: 37 x 15W RGBW multichips
Beam Angle: 4° – 60°
SGM have been through some big changes in recent years, with a definite re-focussing on innovation. SGM created a stir recently with their X5 LED Strobe and are now making waves with the G-Spot. What does the G-Spot have that all the other fixtures don’t even get close to? It’s water proof – well IP65 rated. This means you can easily sit this mover outside without covers or domes or reaching for the plastic bags every time it threatens to rain. The G-Spot is powered by 850W of RGBY LEDs has two gobos wheels, each with five gobos, two independent effects wheels, iris, strobe, electronic dimming and on-board Lumen Radio wireless DMX. Did I also mention that it’s IP65 rated!? This means all the internals are not only waterproof but also protected from dust which is the bane of any moving light techs existence. While the G-Spot isn’t super-fast or overflowing with features, I think it is beautifully engineered and something that I certainly wasn’t expecting to see in a moving light.
Main selling point: The first IP rated moving light
Source: 850W RGBY
Beam Angle: 8 – 43°
This latest crop of movers means that the lighting buying public and designers are spoiled for choice and the manufacturers should be complimented for their continued innovation and not resting on their laurels. I would like to personally thank them on behalf of lighting nerds everywhere.