Spot Ones: Variations on a beam for St. Vincent21.12.11
One of the fastest lighting designers out of the blocks when GLP launched its groundbreaking impression Spot One LED head earlier this year was Jason Carroll.
Having had the opportunity to test drive the fixture at a show with Weezer earlier this summer, he has taken five of the fixtures out on tour this Fall with St. Vincent (the name under which talented multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark performs). Playing up to 1200-capacity mostly sold-out venues in the States, in support of the latest album, Strange Mercy, the tour then relocated to the UK and Europe, where Carroll has been able to source the same inventory — and add in some GLP impression 120RZ zooms for good measure.
The Spot One is the first fixture of its kind to be released to the global market. It extends the designer’s potential immeasurably by harnessing the output of multiple LED sources which is then forced through the optical system of a conventional spot chassis to create both an even beam for RGB colour mixing and a focusable area for gobo projections.
“I was immediately impressed that they seemed brighter than the 700W discharge fixture hanging above,”
The touring LD is unquestionably an early adopter. For when the Weezer tour rocked up to an outdoor amphitheatre during the OC Fair in California this summer the venue happened to be beta-testing four of the new fixtures; the house LD willingly let Jason add them to his show, (which he did by placing them on upturned roadcases behind the band).“I was immediately impressed that they seemed brighter than the 700W discharge fixture hanging above,” he said. “They were fast moving, which worked well with a very energetic band like Weezer, and I also liked the fact that they could achieve a very sharp edge focus … and all 14 gobos could rotate.”
Spot Ones thus became a natural choice when the St. Vincent tour set was being conceived by art director, Deborah Johnson. She set out to complement the house rigs, at the same time creating a lighting storyboard for each song, and choosing custom gobos for the Spot Ones and discharge fixtures.
Having worked with the band since 2009, Jason Carroll explained, “Previously I used a multitude of floor based LED par can fixtures to create a ‘technicolor’ stage look. I also had three white rectangle spandex stretchy shapes behind the band, to throw color onto and intentionally cast tall shadows.
“But for the current tour, Annie wanted the lighting to be drastically different, with no backdrop pieces and a color shift to mostly white light, which meant that we needed moving lights instead of LED par cans.”
Thus the touring lighting package became entirely floor based, with many of the moving lights including the Spot Ones, on tipped up roadcases, giving Carroll the flexibility “to do some down positons on the band, and some up positions over the band members’ heads.” Four conventional Profile spots (stage left and right) — replaced in Europe by the GLP 120RZ zooms — along with two strobes on the midstage floor, and six generics (as foot lights for the four piece band) completed a simple, but highly effective set-up.
“The floor package programming was designed to look amazing even without any house systems,” noted Jason. The majority of this programming had been carried out in New York by Ben Stanton and his assistant, Jon Goldman, with Jason Carroll joining the team to provide another layer of input to the process.
While the lighting for the US tour was provided by New York-based See Factor Industries for the European leg, Colour Sound Experiment took over, having recently added a large number of Spot Ones to their own inventory. As for the RZ120’s, there were several reasons for the switch, he informed, notably easier portability, smaller size, lower power consumption, the flexibility to vary between both narrow beams and wide beams — and overall reliability as an LED fixture.
The long tour of duty has given Jason Carroll plenty of opportunity to assess the merits and attributes of GLP’s newest baby — in addition to the effect he can generate from the twin rotating gobo wheels (and three-facet prism effect). “The Spot Ones operate on a 400W RGB chipset, and are incredibly bright for that rating — almost as bright as the 1200W discharge washes that I have them running up against,” he observes. “The colors are very vibrant and I doubt that the untrained eye would notice that I was using two different types of spot fixtures. In fact we received specific comments on how good the Red looks on the Spot One.”
The beam variations, from very wide, right down to a narrow iris beam, and either a soft focus or very sharp edge beam, were further plus points, he noted, since the St. Vincent lighting utilises a lot of the narrow beam feature.
Finally, of course, there are the considerable weight advantages. “This makes set-up and breakdown very fast, which is crucial for a touring lighting package. On top of that the Spot Ones generate almost no heat, so it feels like their internal components will last a lot longer than a typical moving light … and as they are LED, I don’t have to ever worry about a lamp blowing out during a show.”