Clouds Across America

White Light’s ever-popular VSFX optical effect system has long been the system of choice for British lighting designers wanting moving clouds, flickering flames, rippling water or numerous other effects for their shows. Now, increasingly, VSFX is appearing on shows around the world – most recently with three new productions in the US.

For the new New York production of Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Ashley Judd, Jason Patrick and Ned Beatty, lighting designer Howard Harrison is using four VSFX storm cloud discs to create menacing clouds around the curved cyclorama of Maria Björnson’s set. VSFX units were also used in the London production of the show, for which White Light supplied the entire lighting rig in 2001.

On tour around the US is the new Cameron Mackintosh production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver!. Lighting designer Jenny Kagan is using VSFX cloud discs to bring life to set designer Adrian Vaux’s cyclorama. VSFX cloud and snow disks have also been used on previous versions of this show at the London Palladium and on tour around the UK and in Canada (all three productions using rigs from White Light) as well as in Australia and Singapore.

Currently setting up for a new US tour is Oklahoma!, adapted from the production which played to huge acclaim at the National Theatre, in the West End and then in New York – lighting designer David Hersey receiving a Tony Award nomination for the New York version of the show. The New York production used ten VSFX disks, a mixture of storm clouds and the Cirrus cloud disk created by DHA Lighting, across Anthony Ward’s dramatic curved cyclorama. For the tour, lighting designer Ted Mather, adapting Hersey’s design for the road, has reduced the number to five. He has also opted to use the ETC Source Four Par MCM as the lightsource in place of the traditional effects projector to reduce the size and weight of the touring rig.

For all three productions, the VSFX units and the FX/DMX DMX adaptor that adds DMX control of speed and direction, were supplied by Fourth Phase in New Jersey, with White Light USA supplying the Source Four PAR adaptor plates required by Oklahoma!

Further information about the VSFX system, including full details of the wide range of effects discs, can be found at the White Light website,; the site also includes details of WaveFX, a variant of the VSFX system where linear water and ripple style effects are required.

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