In his first headlining tour, American Country Music Award-winner Luke Bryan is already selling out venues throughout the United States on the “Dirt Road Diaries Tour”. Out on the road with the tour, FadeUp Design Group lighting designer Justin Kitchenman took this opportunity to significantly expand the productions lighting rig and he did so with 60 high-powered VARI-LITE luminaires including the new VL3015LT Spot luminaire from Philips Vari-Lite.
“Luke really wants to be able to see the entire room and the fans when out on stage,” began Kitchenman. “Because we would be headlining in larger venues this year, I knew that our automated lighting would have to have tremendous power and zoom capabilities to cover as much of each venue as possible. One of the things that I love most about VARI-LITE luminaires is that you get incredible zoom ranges along with great intensity, so going into the design process I knew they would be a large portion of our lighting rig.”
As the design got underway, Kitchenman and Luke Bryan production manager, Pete Healey began working together to find the best way to make this inaugural headlining tour a show like never before, while also giving the artist the tour that he likes to see.
“The Dirt Road Diaries Tour was really a design by collaboration. We wanted it to be big but since Luke really interacts with the crowd during his shows we also wanted to try and give it an intimate feel. We knew that we would need a B stage but wanted to avoid the typical detached stage at the mix position. Over the course of the design, we created a cross-shaped thrust that extends nearly halfway into the house with an octagon shaped B stage at the center of it. We then had to figure out how to get light that far out into the house without causing sightline issues or spotlight interference. For this, we came up with a diamond truss configuration. This set-up worked perfect for us because we could now light in any direction without creating any shadows or more importantly blocking any beams.”
With the physical design now in place, Kitchenman had to decide which automated luminaires he would use to bring the design to life. While he knew that he wanted to use VARI-LITE luminaires, he had no idea he was about to be one of the first designers in the world to use the new VL3015LT Spot luminaire.
“Knowing that I am a big fan of the VARI-LITE product line, Thommy Hall came out to a couple of our shows last year and he was telling me about all the new lights that Philips Vari-Lite had planned for release. Because we needed both zoom and intensity, we were initially looking at the VL3500 Wash FX and possibly VL3000 Spots for this tour. That’s when Thommy mentioned that if we liked those two lights we would love the VL3015LT Spot luminaire. As an LD, I can expect to see all the VARI-LITE qualities of great optics and color, but when he started telling me about the insane zoom on the VL3015LT Spot along with its incredible output, I was definitely interested. When I saw the light in person at LDI 2012 with its tight beam shooting the length of the show floor, I could immediately tell how great it was going to look in our show.”
Using the highly reliable 1500W Osram double-ended short arc lamp to produce 41,487 lumens of output, the VL3015LT Spot features 10:1 zoom optics, CYM color mixing, variable CTO wheel, two five-position color wheels, three gobo/effects wheels, a beam size iris, and separate dimmer and ultra-fast strobe mechanisms. While a standard palette of gobos, effects and colors are provided with the fixture, custom gobos, effects, and colors are also available. Additionally, the VL3015LT Spot contains an independent rotating and indexing 3-facet prism as well as an independent frost glass. The zoom range of 6° to 60° allows for use in a multitude of applications from stadiums to arenas or theatres.
Knowing now exactly which lights he wanted to use, Kitchenman had to find a dealer which could not only supply him with 24 new VL3015LT Spot luminaires, but also 24 VL3500 Wash FX and 12 VL3000 Spot luminaires. He found all this with new VARI-LITE Authorized Dealer Elite Multimedia located in Memphis and Nashville, TN.
Kitchenman continued, “Elite Multimedia has been with Luke Bryan from very early in his career, and when we sent the lighting package out to bid we put VL3015LT Spot, VL3500 Wash FX, and VL3000 Spot Luminaires as our main automated lighting. They didn’t even blink when it came to purchasing the gear for the tour and I was blown away by their dedication to supply us with the exact fixtures we wanted.”
“We are very excited to be a new Authorized VARI-LITE Dealer,” said Wade Russell, Elite Multimedia Relationship Manager/Trainer. “We have always enjoyed working with the Luke Bryan tour and when they approached us with the VARI-LITE lighting package for the Dirt Road Diaries Tour, we saw this as not only an opportunity to continue our relationship with the tour, but to also begin a new relationship with Philips Vari-Lite.”
With the lighting gear now in hand, Kitchenman and his crew got to work placing the fixtures in the rig. Hanging in the diamond truss, they are using the VL3015LT Spot luminaires as their primary hard-edge fixture to create powerful aerial beams, but also to supply an even, wide wash when needed. Also hanging in the rig, the VL3500 Wash FX luminaires are the primary wash fixture in the design to cover both the band and the audience in deep, rich color and gobo patterns. Finally, the VL3000 Spot Luminaires were placed on the stage and are used to provide additional aerial beams and gobo breakups from the floor.
“I absolutely love this rig and the VL3015LT Spot luminaire,” concluded Kitchenman. “When I turn them on and open up the shutters, there is a beautiful, tight, beam of light that comes from the VL3015LT Spot and it looks like you could literally walk up to the beam and cut it with a knife. The optics inside the fixture are the best I have seen, the prism feature is very nice, and the gobo selection is outstanding. It has all the functions you would expect from a hard-edge fixture, but it also has the power of a high-output wash light. A lot of lights come from manufacturers who say they are bright, but there is nothing like a VARI-LITE. As a designer and programmer, I think they are top-of-the-line lights and we are very excited to have the VL3015LT Spot out on the open road to really see what it can do.”
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. www.vari-lite.com.
For more information on the new VL3015LT Spot Luminaire, click here.