Featuring competition in 36 different sporting events, the 22nd Central American and Caribbean Games were recently held at the Estadio Luis “Pirata” Fuente in Veracruz, Mexico. As with any international sporting event, the opening and closing ceremonies of the games were expected to be the engaging and entertaining bookends of the production. To oversee the lighting design for the opening and closing ceremonies, lighting designer David Grill was brought on board and he brought with him a high-powered rig filled with 126 VL4000 Spot, 150 VL3500 Wash, and 50 VL3500 Wash FX luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite, supplied by Solotech.
“When setting up this type of lighting design you really have to be aware of your position and fixture choices,” began Grill. “While the physical set-up of the stadium and the realities of lighting an outdoor event will dictate these choices to some extent, you really have to make sure you choose the right manufacturer’s fixture for each position and purpose. I have worked with Vari-Lite luminaires for a number of years and know their equipment very well as a go-to for these types of applications.”
Having worked with the event producers previously on other large scale events, this was the first time Grill had worked on the Central American and Caribbean Games. At the Estadio Luis “Pirata” Fuente, he would have to not only overcome the enormous throw distances that ranged from 400-500 feet, but he would also have to find a way to do it while creatively layering light over the projection.
He continued, “The initial production design starts with the emotion of the creative. From there you look at the stadium to figure out how that emotion can be achieved with the resources you have and the physical layout of the venue. As part of the ceremonies there are several different segments of the show and the event producers wanted to incorporate a large amount of projection into the show. The main challenge was then how do we use projection as a cyc element with performers in front it, and light the performers from 450 feet away without eradicating the projections.”
As he got to work choosing the best instruments for the design, he knew his spot fixtures would have to be both powerful and full of performance capabilities. When he was invited to a demo in New York City of the VL4000 Spot luminaire, Grill was immediately impressed and wanted the fixtures in his rig.
“For the spots, I looked at a number of fixtures that were on the market and actually had another fixture originally specified for the project until I saw the VL4000 Spot at the demo event,” admitted Grill. “I instantly loved the animation wheels and knew they would fit perfectly into what I wanted to do creatively with the projection elements of show. After seeing them, I contacted the vendors for the event and said I needed VL4000 Spots. When Solotech responded back that they could do it, we were all set so I placed 96 of the VL4000 Spots on the outer towers of the stadium, which is the longest possible throw distance, and then 30 units were suspended 75 feet in the air on 50 foot truss to the left and right of the stage.”
The VL4000 Spot from Philips Vari-Lite includes all the tools needed to create dynamic and useful lighting on any stage 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 which outputs 25,000 lumens. Its high resolution optics ensure remarkable center-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.
“The thing I was really thrilled to see in the VL4000 Spot was the iris. To have that along with all the other elements is sort of a rarity. Typically when you get into multiple shutter blades, color wheels, animation wheels, and gobo wheels your focal point gets so packed you wouldn’t think an iris would be possible but it is with the way Vari-Lite constructed the optics. When my programmer Paul Sonnleitner and I dropped in a gobo while in the 5 degree iris position and it read beautifully from 450 feet away, we knew this was going to be a fun light.”
Along with the mechanical iris of the VL4000 Spot, its 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 color mixing along with variable CTO color temperature correction and dual five-position color wheels. The VL4000 Spot luminaire also features dual rotating gobo wheels with a remarkable new collection of optimized 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.
“For my wash fixtures, I wanted to go with the VL3500 Wash and Wash FX luminaires because from these distances they are my go-to wash light,” continued Grill. “Our outer tower rigs consisted only of the 150 VL3500 Wash and 96 of the VL4000 spot luminaires because they are both so powerful. Additionally 50 VL3500 Wash FX units were spaced on the ground to give us their great aerial patterns. I love the large and chunky beams of the VL3500 Wash and Wash FX plus they hold up outdoors very well, have a great zoom, and put out a lot of beautiful light.”
With an output that exceeds 70,000 lumens, the VL3500 Wash and Wash FX feature internal zoomable beam optics, an interchangeable front lens system, CYM color mixing, variable CTO color temperature correction, dual five-position color wheels, a separate dimmer, and an independent dual blade strobe mechanism. The VARI*BRITE mode also allows each luminaire to create a tight column of remarkably intense light. The Wash FX model allows users to harness the tremendous intensity of the luminaire to project effects patterns through a pattern wheel that provides four rotatable and indexable positions in addition to open.
Grill concluded, “Heading into those moments right before the start of each show, I was confident that all the Vari-Lite luminaires would perform exactly as needed, but with the VL4000 Spot being a newer fixture there was a small bit of wonder. While it was the animation wheel that initially peaked my interest, I still needed traditional spot fixture elements such as shutters, gobos, and color mixing. With the VL4000 Spot, I got it all. It really delivered everything I needed plus several other exciting options as well.”
As a leading designer and manufacturer of premiere automated lighting systems, Philips Vari-Lite provides equipment and services to the entertainment industry, serving such markets as concert touring, theatre, television, film, cruise lines, houses-of-worship, and corporate events. Vari-Lite automated lighting systems are available through a worldwide network of independent professional dealers.