Admittedly we are knee-deep in a "beam" fixture swing at the moment, and why shouldn’t we be? As designers, we are tasked with expanding and creating a visual moment, or memory. We, much like musicians, are breathing art and life into mathematics. To accomplish this task, we need tools and lots of them. New and innovative uses of old ideas, forward-thinking ideas, and hopefully the successful merging of both gives us new tools. I, for one, plan on constantly trying to utilize all these new offerings, and the beam fixture is an important part of a tool kit with spots and washes. 

With that being said, what I really want is a light that can play all three roles, or at least two, perfectly. Seeing as we already have some really fantastic spot fixtures on the market and some equally nice wash fixtures, it’s obvious what I really want is a beam fixture that can be a serious wash and maybe pass for a spot from time to time. In my quest for the hybrid fixture of choice, I encountered a lot of beam fixtures. My issue was always the same. The beam is wonderful, inexplicable even, in its ability to fulfill the geometry of amazing looks and the dreams of programmers with large array effects. But can you do a real show with six or even eight? Yes, obviously, but you’re going to run into a serious one-trick-pony issue without some serious forethought. Certain sacrifices have to be made in order to give us these amazing shafts of lights, right? Wrong, kind of!

Martin Professional has released its first offering in its newest line of fixtures, the 1,500W MAC III AirFX. I, like many folks, was really excited to see this beast in action. Even powered down, this thing looks like it means business. Powered up, it’s more than obvious that it does. I was immediately caught off guard by how wide the beam was at medium zoom. Intrigued, I went straight to looking at the zoom. While not insanely quick, it is insanely broad. The AirFX gets really, really wide and then gets really narrow while maintaining an extremely bright beam. When I irised down the fixture and zoomed very narrow, I achieved that super bright, tight, and focused look we designers seek when using beam fixtures.

As with other beam fixtures on the market, the halo of light around the beam is also present on the AirFX, but it definitely has a sweet spot that gives you a really nice crisp beam with some serious throw and brightness that makes it visible with minimal atmosphere, present and strong even when utilizing LED video walls and a great deal easier to focus in outdoor daylight situations.

Where the AirFX differs from other beam fixtures is in its flexible use as both a wash and a spot. Dropping in the frost filter turns this beamy intense fixture into a gorgeous wash without losing a huge amount of output. The beam is sexy soft but still maintains a good tight focus over a sizable distance. This is a wash for the great outdoors type situation. So it’s a beam fixture, and it’s a wash fixture.

I was anxious to check out the gobo wheel and see how it performed as a spot. The unit features four rotating gobos. While not a diverse selection, they are adequately suited for aerial type effects. As I said earlier, a bit of a halo appears in the beam of the fixture, and it’s a bit more apparent when using gobos and when in all white. As a designer, I feel it’s pretty negligible for such a flexible fixture. Martin has chosen gobos that almost work with the halo to create the final look. I spent a long time playing with the gobo wheel and the iris and different zoom and focus combinations and was pretty excited with the various options of aerial beam looks. 

The CMY and color wheel on the fixture are brilliant. The CMY generates excellent deeply saturated colors including a vibrant red, and the indexable color wheel delivers your regular cache of color. What most stood out to me was splitting colors and discovering the nice crisp edge on each color. This looked even more impressive when married with gobos. It even maintained its crisp edge when the frost was on.  

Overall, the MAC III AirFX is a great fixture with a wide range of applications especially in large scale and outdoor productions that require serious fire power and flexibility. In the search for the perfect multipurpose, hybrid fixture, Martin has really taken a solid step forward.