PLASA 2012: Philips Vari-Lite celebrates 30 years

Thursday, 30 August 2012

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UK - It's been 30 years since the first ever Vari-Lite luminaires hit the world's stages. This year, PLASA 2012 (Earls Court, 9-12 September) will see the Philips Entertainment brand Vari-Lite mark three decades of moving light development.

"Live entertainment has changed dramatically since Showco (the company set up by Rusty Brutsché and Jack Maxson in 1970 and which subsequently became Vari-Lite) pioneered the first moving and colour changing fixtures," explains vice president of worldwide sales & marketing for Philips Vari-Lite, Bob Schacherl. "It's hard to imagine that before Vari-Lite, concerts typically demanded up to 3,000 fixtures, each of which had to be manually focused and coloured."

It all began back in the 70s when Showco engineers looked to develop an integral colour changer for a lighting fixture. This resulted in the use of internal dichroic-coated glass filters and metal halide bulbs. Then came the idea of adding two extra motors to automate the fixture's movement. This 'eureka' moment facilitated an all-out bid to develop a fully automated lighting system. The result? The now infamous VL Zero prototype; launched in December 1980.

The engineering team then travelled to London to show the prototype to Showco client, Genesis, a band renowned for being at the forefront of cutting-edge performance technology.

Genesis immediately agreed to invest in developing the luminaire and 30 years ago, on the opening night of the Abacab tour in a bullring in Barcelona, Genesis wowed spectators with the first Vari-Lite Series 100 system, which comprised: 50 VL1 luminaires and a computerised control console. That demonstration heralded the 'genesis' of a brand new company - Vari-Lite - coined from a suggestion by Genesis' manager, Tony Smith.

The 2012 PLASA show will also see Vari-Lite show off the latest VL3015, VL3015LT, and VL3515 Spot luminaires. Built on the product features that made the VL3000 Spot and VL3500 Spot two of the most in-demand luminaires in the history of automated lighting, the new VL3015, VL3015LT and VL3515 Spot luminaires use the high output, double-ended 1500W lamp to deliver sharp, clean beams and easy, precise focusing, the company says.

(Jim Evans)

Philips Vari-Lite at PLASA - Stand 1-F50


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