Inside performance venues around the world, production teams must be able to not only adapt to a wide array of performance genres and private events, they must also be able to provide their clients with the latest in production technology equipment. After the Hard Rock Live Orlando was originally built in 2001, the production team operated over the next 11 years without a lighting system upgrade. So in order to bring the venue up-to-date and make the lighting system more conducive to the needs of potential clients, Production Manager Brian Mandigo and Lighting Director Mark Tringali received approval for a full system upgrade consisting of Philips Vari-Lite VL880 Spot and VLX Wash luminaires supplied by Zenith Lighting.
“One of the original reasons Hard Rock Live was built was to do a lot of TV production plus the live events,” began Mandigo. “As the venue operated over the first 11 years without a lighting upgrade we needed to become more technically up-to-date so Mark and I started working with Zenith Lighting to put together a new lighting package which ended up consisting of 18 VL880 Spots and 18 VLX Wash luminaires.”
“We needed a lighting rig with more intensity that packs a punch and has crisp gobo projections for texturing and color mixing,” added Tringali. “Color temperature is also very important and I have always been a big fan of the color mixing capabilities and the color temperature of VARI-LITE fixtures, so after working with Zenith Lighting we knew the VLX Wash and the VL880 Spots would work perfect for us.”
“We bought into the VL880 Spots when they first came out and when speaking with Brian and Mark about their needs, we thought the output of the 800 watt lamp inside the VL880 along with its outstanding color temperature control would work perfect for them,” said Adam Vidaurri, Zenith Lighting. “Plus we felt the punch of the VL880 gave them the perfect complement to the VLX Wash and once they saw the lights in action they decided to go with a complete VARI-LITE package for the install.”
With a production calendar that operates year around and encompasses everything from concerts, to comedy shows, to private corporate events, Mandigo and Tringali needed to the lighting system to not only be powerful, but it also had to be flexible and provide a multitude of capabilities.
Mandigo explained further, “At the Hard Rock Live we not only do public shows, but we also do a lot of private corporate events that keep us busy all year around with not much slow down at all. During the busiest times we average about 5-6 shows per week so we are incredibly busy. The theatre-style venue is extremely versatile with no permanent seating giving us the flexibility to turn the space into basically any configuration we need from General Admission concerts to the private seated events, and the lighting system has to be just as versatile.”
Tringali agreed, “Our lighting fixtures have to be very flexible. All of our trusses are on motor controls so that the room can handle the needs of any client during our day-to-day operations. With the VL880 Spots and the VLX Wash fixtures we have now, clients often come in and decide they don’t actually need to bring any additional lighting and that is a very nice feeling.”
Inside the Hard Rock Live Orlando the trim height from the stage deck to the steel is set at 44 feet and the trim trusses at 25-30 feet off the deck. So in order to get the maximum use out of their new fixtures Mandigo and Tringali hung 16 VLX Wash luminaires in the front of house truss for a front beautiful and even wash, while also placing 12 VL880 Spots in the truss and then four on the stage deck to take full advantage of their power and gobo capabilities. The result, a new lighting system that has given them everything they need an a bit more.
Mandigo continued, “The VL880 Spots and VLX Wash fixtures crush the room as far as intensity and it looks great. We actually did our own corporate event not too long ago with the fixtures and it was just stunning. Our corporate IT manager and CEO were absolutely blown away and for them to notice is a big deal because they typically don’t notice the lighting.”
Said Tringali, “I love the zoom, color temperature and color mix of the VLX Wash. The fact that you can go from tungsten all the way out to a 5600K color temperature is unbelievable. With the VL880 Spots, they sort of speak for themselves. With the power of the 800 watt lamp, their stock gobo patterns are awesome and their color mixing is simply beautiful.”
“When we first got them all in the air and turned them on they put so much energy and excitement into the room,” added Mandigo. “Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the correct descriptive words for something like this, but for us it was just a sense of pure excitement and we couldn’t believe this was our new rig. From a production stand point what Philips Vari-Lite has done with the VL880 Spot is taken a medium-sized fixture and packed a lot of power and flexibility into it. I think it’s incredibly important with the way video is playing such a powerful role in not only concert settings but all types of events, you need this type of fixture that can do it all for you.”
With the new lighting rig up and running, the Hard Rock Live Orlando production team is extremely pleased with the performance of not only their new automated luminaires, but also with the support they received from Zenith Lighting who ensured they ended up with the exact lighting rig needed to further the venues future booking potential as well.
“We all have vendors we like to use, but with Zenith they really care about the relationship and they are very thorough,” admitted Mandigo. “They spent the time to educate us on what fixtures were available instead of just trying to make a sale and they’re always here for us in every capacity which is why we have, and always will, continue to partner with them.”
Vidaurri added, “The VLX is one of my favorite wash fixtures on the market today and when we paired the VLX and the VL880 together we knew that was the way to go. Brian and Mark have an awesome rig hanging in the Hard Rock Live now and we are all very happy with the way it turned out.”
Mandigo concluded, “In the end it always comes down to money and if we are spending a lot money on labor cost to set up a show that is the wrong way to approach new clients. Having the VL880 Spot and VLX Wash fixtures cuts that time dramatically and they are major game-changers with how we operate day-to-day. When we have potential clients bring in their technical directors they see what we have and what we can do, and their first comment is most always ‘wow this will save us a lot of time and money’. This was a powerful investment for us because that’s what our clients want. They want to come in and do their show for as low of a cost as possible, but also have the best looking final product they can and that’s exactly what the VARI-LITE fixtures allow us to 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.