Philip Norfolk Ambersphere; David Turner, tech manager London Palladium; Mark Smith, head of electrics London Palladium; Ruari Cormack, business development manager SLX, and Phoebe Currie, sustainability and social values manager SLX
UK - Bristol-based production and rental company SLX has invested in a comprehensive stock of Ayrton lighting fixtures as part of its new focus on environmental sustainability. The fixtures, which include Ayrton Diablo, Mistral, Eurus, Perseo, Karif and Cobra, were supplied by Ayrton’s exclusive distributor for the UK, Ambersphere Solutions. The choice was made on shared philosophies as much as on the practical and technical suitability of the products.
SLX used the hiatus of the pandemic to reassess and reset its aims, choosing to focus on environmental and social sustainability, as CEO Alastair Currie explains: “We examined how we operate within a circular economy, what we expect from our manufacturers and suppliers in terms of sustainability, and aim to give opportunities for minority and disadvantaged groups to work within the industry. We set out our goals leading up to 2030, running alongside the Bristol Sustainability Agenda, before relaunching as a new brand with a new focus in 2021.
“Part of this reassessment included updating our stock in accordance with the lines we had laid down, and we found Ayrton sat very well with where we saw ourselves, both in their product range and their clear road map for the future. They have a wonderful range of equipment which we have now invested in heavily and will continue to invest in further.”
Ayrton’s road map lays out a structured plan to produce a comprehensive series of fixtures to suit every size of venue and project application. All products include signature features that are synonymous with the Ayrton name: accuracy of movement, lightweight and compact form, phenomenal output, innovative optics and colour management, feature-rich lights that belie the size of each fixture, next-generation cooling systems and boundary-pushing graphical effects.
Russell Payne, MD at SLX, explains some of the reasons behind the decision to move to Ayrton: “Our assessment showed we stocked too many lighting fixtures within similar ‘groups’ from different manufacturers, which had a costly and inconvenient knock-on effect in spare parts, stock levels and maintenance. Also, the improvement in the quality of LEDs has made the transition from traditional to LED sources a much more viable option.
“We decided therefore to streamline this by investing in one fixture for each ‘group’, and found Ayrton’s range covered all the bases. Their fixture Series’ are designed to cover every throw distance and application and can fit into all our markets: film, television, theatre, live events.
“Ayrton products have superb optics which deliver a lot more light per watt and are very controllable, with revolutionary heat management. The source is completely flicker-free which is vital: media is consumed in so many different ways - filming in up to 8K is not unusual on the Olympics for example - so not only the amount of light, but also the speed, is important when filming with ultra-slow motion cameras.”
SLX also produces its own projects for which it designs the lighting solutions and provides the fixtures: “so having a manufacturing partner you can work with whom you know can deliver the high standards demanded by broadcast lighting is great,” confirms Payne. “One of their great strengths is that their IP-rated fixtures are identical in terms of features - and with no loss of output - to their non-IP rated fixtures, meaning we are able to mix IP and non-IP fixtures easily. That’s invaluable to a rental house. With moving lights replacing generic profiles we no longer need to work at heights which is especially valuable for sporting events, especially when rigging over swimming pools.”
Payne and the team were also impressed by the quality of the Ayrton build which benefits maintenance. “A look inside an Ayrton fixture shows they are so well made. The result is we are not seeing them in our workshops for repair and maintenance, which means we can keep the equipment available and it is not costing us anything in lost revenue on the repair bench or on the shelf.
“All of this has been facilitated and compounded by our relationship with Ambersphere whom we’ve known very well for a long time, and trust their expertise. I am so pleased Ambersphere’s information about the quality of the Ayrton equipment has proved to be so accurate. Having the Ayrton brand supported in the UK by Ambersphere made for a very easy transaction.”
To date, SLX has invested in substantial quantities of Ayrton Diablo, Mistral, Eurus, Perseo, Karif and Cobra and intends to purchase more in future: “A lot of time was spent making sure we made the right decision - choosing to have one manufacturer that can cover all aspects - but once the decision was made, life has become easier at every point,” says Payne. “It has given us an inventory of lights which is flexible yet harmonious with each other. We can even use fixtures from higher up the range if need be.”
Projects to already feel the benefit of SLX’s stock of Ayrton fixtures include some long-term hire of Diablo and Eurus to the flagship venue, the London Palladium; the hit television programme, The Great British Bake Off which SLX has worked with since its inception, helping to significantly reduce its carbon footprint in the process; and the 2023 Commonwealth Games which was won on SLX’s approach to sustainability.

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