My first lighting job in theatre was as a followspot operator. Back in the day, I started out on a huge carbon arc unit, where I spent more time worrying about the trim on the carbon rods than the operation of the light. I went on to operate a lot of different followspots and have seen them get a lot better and certainly less stressful to use. The Robert Juliat line of followspots and luminaires has been a leading contributor to the improvements in both features and the much-improved optics. I'm sure I would have welcomed a Juliat spot in my operator days. The mechanical design is superb and is in keeping with the company's well-earned reputation for renowned optical design. Here, we'll take a look at the Robert Juliat Super Korrigan followspot, which was recently awarded a Live Design International Product of the Year Award at LDI 2006.

What It Does

The Super Korrigan from Robert Juliat is a replacement for the 1,200W HMI Korrigan followspot. It incorporates a new double-condenser optical system that produces 25% more light than the older model. “The Super Korrigan is a punchy, midrange followspot,” says Fred Lindauer of Robert Juliat USA. “There are actually two products in the family that use the same lamp house with a different zoom range: the Super Korrigan and the Lucy. The Lucy was introduced later, but they really work together as a team. The Super Korrigan has a zoom range from 7° to 14°, while the Lucy has a zoom range of 13° to 24°. Otherwise, the units are identical.”

Lindauer explains the Juliat philosophy: “We ensure the consistent quality of light in all of our products, from a 1kW tungsten to a 4kW HMI. They all have the same quality of light in that it is a flat field — no hotspot — and doesn't require any technician to adjust the lamp within the reflector or the lamp house. It is always going to be fixed and flat.”

Standard features of the Super Korrigan include flat field, hot re-strike, a fully closing iris in a removable cassette, a 100% closing dimming shutter (a DMX-dimming shutter is optional), and a six-frame color changer that incorporates the popular fingertip shutter controls that were first introduced in the Topaze/Manon models. There are two types of color changers available. The Super Korrigan comes with a boomerang, but there is an optional push/pull, which is the silent-acting, side-mounted color changer. “The Lucy comes standard with the side, silent push/pull color changer, and the boomerang is an option,” comments Lindauer. “This is because the Lucy is conceived as a truss spot, and on a truss, when you are pointing at a very steep angle and if the frames came out at the bottom, the steel of the catwalk might interfere with the frames. A lot of people have been ordering the Super Korrigan with the push/pull changers because they like the function and the silent operation.” Both units come standard with an A-size gobo holder, removable gel frames, frost, lamp access panels with kill switch, modular reflector and condenser lens assemblies, hinged barrel cover for ease of maintenance, and a large ergonomic wraparound handle. The unit is well-balanced and easily moves on the tripod.

How It Came To Be

The Super Korrigan, introduced at LDI 2005, traces its lineage back to the Topaze. “We have a product called the Topaze, which is also a 1,200W unit,” says Lindauer. “It has the same zoom range but uses a different lamp. Designers loved the Topaze but wanted something a little bit punchier, as well as with DMX and hot re-strike. Moving from the Topaze to the Super Korrigan was a natural progression, but it's not just that it's brighter because they are both 1,200W. The Topaze uses a single-ended lamp; the Super Korrigan uses a double-ended HMI lamp, and that lamp has a hot re-strike capability, so the ballast provides for hot re-strike and can also be set up with a DMX-controllable dimmable shutter. That's where it deviates from the Topaze.”

What's Next

Juliat is working on a new range of followspots (medium and short throw) in the format of the 1,200W Super Korrigan and Lucy but with the output of a 2,500W unit. The new optical system will also be adapted to a new range of profiles using the same type of new discharge lamp. “I have seen the first prototypes at the factory, and I can tell you that we are preparing a new hit for the middle of 2007,” says Lindauer. “The output is so great that it is hard to believe it can come from a unit this compact.”

Robert Juliat takes its time to make sure that the product is complete and ready to go before launching. Lindauer discusses this company philosophy: “We won't release a product until it is 100% ready, so it may take a little longer before it goes to the market, but we want to make sure it is right.”

What End-Users Have To Say

BSL Productions in Halethorpe, MD, provided Super Korrigans to the Kennedy Center. Sales director Ransom Cooke shares his thoughts about this followspot. “The Kennedy Center requested the Super Korrigans,'' he says. “On the other hand, had they not requested it, it would have been absolutely, definitely the one that I would have thrown at them, just because of the fact that all of the Robert Juliat products have fantastic optics. You get such a lovely field of light out of these fixtures. They are easy to maintain, they are very user-friendly, and they are extremely easy to use for the followspot operator.” When asked about the one thing that he likes about the unit, Korrigans replies, “The optics — the light output is just superior. Its extremely crisp, very even field is easily manipulated if you want to use a hotspot or an even field.”

Vivien Leone, associate lighting designer for Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular at the Venetian, discusses why she likes the Juliat Super Korrigan followspots: “I chose them because I find them to be incredibly beautiful; a nice even field and I can get a low level. I can control it in terms of edge and intensity without losing the person's face. A lot of times when you soften out a spot, you get a lot of flare, and the light goes everywhere. I find that I am able to control my edge and the intensity; I can get down very low and very tight without having to sacrifice anything. A lot of times, especially when you have frost in and you iris down to a headshot, you have to open up a little more than you want to because you are just losing too much. I find that the Juliat line is just a whole lot easier to control, especially when you are dealing with shows like Phantom of the Opera, where the low end — trying to make a followspot not look like a followspot — creates some challenges.”

Amanda Sanchez is one of the followspot operators for Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular. The thing she likes most about the unit is the movement, the fluidity of the pan and tilt. She has several good things to say about the Super Korrigan but also feels that there are a few points that could use some improvements. “The douser parts need to be more robust. The douser's control belt easily stretches and needs to be adjusted or replaced. Also, the software for the automated douser needs to be worked on. We replaced them with the manual dousers because the operators did not have enough control over low levels.” Sanchez also points out that the iris control can be difficult for the operators to access.

Lighting designer Howell Binkley specified three Super Korrigan followspots for his design of Avenue Q in London. “I chose the units for two reasons,” says Binkley. “Number one, because they fit in the space, but more importantly, number two was the brightness. The intensity of the Super Korrigans really carved through the automated lighting and the conventional lighting. I think that they are terrific units, and I had no problems whatsoever with them.”

For additional information, visit www.robertjuliatamerica.com.