Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 BeamWash Luminaires Take It Outside At Jimmy Kimmel Live

Photo of One Direction by Randy Holmes

Behind the scenes at the Emmy-nominated Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lighting Designer Christian Hibbard was busy bringing the shows musical performances to life.

With two outdoor stages that hosted the hottest musical acts from around the world, Hibbard was asked to create the ideal lighting environment that best personifies the varying musicality of each artist. Understanding these challenges, Hibbard needed lighting instruments with a number of quality capabilities, which he said he found in the VL4000 BeamWash luminaire from Philips Vari-Lite.

“I’ve been at Jimmy Kimmel Live since the beginning and we’ve been doing the outdoor concert series since the inaugural episode where we featured Coldplay,” began Hibbard. “The lighting rig is different every time depending upon the band performing as each artist will have a look that’s appropriate for their style of music. In this environment where we have a lot of different bands and need a lot of options for our lighting designs, the VL4000 BeamWash is an ideal fixture choice because it can do so many things, and it does them all very well.”

Without the need to change a front lens, the VL4000 BeamWash combines stunning wash capabilities with intense beam functionality and the ability to produce a powerful collimated shaft of light. Producing 43,000 lumens in Standard mode (35,000 Studio mode), the VL4000 BeamWash uses a Philips 1200W lamp to provide incredible point-of-source imagery through its 10-inch front lens.

“I first saw the VL4000 BeamWash in online demos where I was also able to review its technical specifications,” continued Hibbard. “As the word-of-mouth reports started to spread, my interest in using the VL4000 BeamWash began to grow as well because it really is the ‘Swiss army knife’ of lights. It’s a wash, a beam, a shaft, it has gobos, colour changing, animation, and the list goes on and on.”

When used in wash mode, the VL4000 BeamWash provides a 10 to 60 degree zoom range. By simply adjusting a DMX value, the luminaire can shift to an intense Beam fixture with an amazing four to 40 degree beam angle, or a shaft fixture for a powerful, collimated ray of light where the four degree beam angle can be further reduced to near zero. Whether used as a wash, beam or shaft luminaire, the VL4000 BeamWash includes the Infinity Color Mix system providing incredibly smooth colour changes and instantaneous snaps.

Two five-position fixed colour wheels and variable colour correction further add to the colour abilities, and the luminaire also contains unbelievably smooth dimming flags which when combined with independent shutter blades deliver unmatched dimming and strobing abilities.

“On our show, I have currently used the VL4000 BeamWash luminaires for about 12 different bands, with 12 very different lighting designs,” Hibbard added. “Since the light can do so many things, I really like to use the full gamut of what it can do. Recently for One Direction, I used them as a conventional, hard-edged light source to really capitalise on its gobo package and solid beams in the air.

“Later on the festival stage, I used them as a cross-light on the bands for a wide stage wash. I also use them for strobing, colour changing, and animation, and it’s really nice to not have to rent different lights to do the job of one. With the VL4000 BeamWash I can use one light for so many different applications.”

While the production team at Jimmy Kimmel Live was not only faced with the challenges of lighting a multitude of musical artists, there were also challenges with lighting these performances shot during the daylight hours. This is where the power behind the VL4000 BeamWash continues to truly separate it from other fixtures on the market.

Hibbard explained further: “For the Hollywood Boulevard series we wait for dark to shoot, but on the festival stage we typically shoot earlier. Competing with 100 footcandles of daylight, the power behind the VL4000 BeamWash, combined with its 10-inch front aperture, allows us to easily read the light on camera which is a significant advantage. The brightness of the VL4000 BeamWash is extremely important to us and although you don’t necessarily see the beam during the daylight shoots, you definitely see the light source itself.”

As Jimmy Kimmel Live continues to enter homes around the world every weeknight, Hibbard continues to explore the functionality of the VL4000 BeamWash luminaire. Knowing that whichever application is needed, he has the right light to face it, the VL4000 BeamWash not only provides Hibbard with a sense of design comfort, it also provides the production team with a budgetary relief as well.

“I really enjoy the VL4000 BeamWash because of its simple power and versatility,” concluded Hibbard. “If you have one band that needs it to be the primary wash light, it can create a giant, soft wash. If the next band needs a hard-edge fixture, the VL4000 BeamWash provides you with a solid, column of light. Because the VL4000 BeamWash is so versatile and so bright, it actually allows me to rent less fixtures, while at the same time gain more capabilities to create unique lighting designs night-after-night.”