SES boosts its lighting inventory with big purchase of Ayrton fixtures and commitment to Ayrton product line

Special Event Services (SES) expands its Ayrton lighting inventory with additional purchases of Domino LT, Bora S, and Khamsin fixtures and large first-time investments in Perseo Beam, Diablo, and Zonda 9 FX lights. Photo: Rebekah Carney

Special Event Services (SES) has significantly expanded its Ayrton lighting inventory with additional purchases of Domino LT, Bora S, and Khamsin fixtures and further committed to the product line with large first-time investments in Perseo Beam, Diablo, and Zonda 9 FX lights. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton products in North America.

Headquartered in Mocksville, North Carolina, SES offers audio, lighting, design, video, staging, and live event production to a wide array of clients. The company has closely watched the growth of LED technology and set a goal of getting its lighting inventory as close to 100 percent LED as possible. While SES offers LED fixtures from several different manufacturers it has kept an eye on Ayrton and its new LED offerings.

“Ayrton became very attractive to us because, within one company, small to large size LED fixtures were available with features that fit several needs,” says Lighting Designer Jeff Cranfill, one of the Founding Partners and Vice President of SES. “We realized that our earlier model of purchasing fixtures involved buying from many different manufacturers based on requests we received from various lighting designs. Now we can find what we need for most designs from the complete Ayrton product line.”

“During the COVID shutdown, Michael Brammer and I had time to closely analyze our inventory of LED and arc fixtures from various companies. We concluded that most of them could be substituted with a fixture from the Ayrton line. So, we decided to set a goal of making the majority of our inventory Ayrton fixtures when we got back to work. As a lighting designer, I am personally very happy to have the Ayrton product line to choose from, and I like to think most other designers would agree with me that you can find what you need for most applications with Ayrton.

I know many designers choose certain fixtures that have specific features that only that light can do and I agree with that philosophy when creating a design that has very specific details to achieve the desired creative look, but choosing from the Ayrton line for your main fixture selection of spot, beam, and wash needs makes everything easier to manage for us as a production provider and from a creative viewpoint I feel it makes you better at being creative if you are well educated on what the fixture can do for you. The fact that all Ayrton fixtures match so well with their flat field, beam shape, colour mixing, colour filters, and gobos gives you a big advantage in creating consistent looks on a small to large scale which I believe helps you maintain the creative vision no matter what size venue you are performing in. This helps meet everyone’s expectations and makes you better educated on the fixture’s possibilities.”

Cranfill also notes that “over the years we have received great service from ACT and had no regrets with equipment ACT Entertainment distributes. We knew we could trust that their decision to distribute the Ayrton product line was a great choice.

“As we worked toward our goal of increased Ayrton inventory, ACT provided us with demo fixtures, and when we went back to work in 2022 the Ayrton fixtures we had on the road were the stars of the show every day. We are very excited to start 2023 with a great selection of primarily Ayrton fixtures in our many systems for our large format one-offs, festivals, and tours.”

SES added 34 more Domino LTs to its previous inventory of 12. “They are very good automated follow spots with incredibly bold aerial effects – we’ve had great results with them,” Cranfill reports. “We had Domino LTs on the Joyce Meyer Ministries 2022 Women’s Conference at The Dome at America’s Center in St Louis to provide broadcast key lighting for the main stage. Additionally, Domino LTs were used for Luke Comb’s 2022 tour at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as FOH follow spots. We also used these fixtures as automated follow spots and as main stage wash for the LCMS Gathering 2022 event at Minute Maid Park in Houston. In all three cases, the lights averaged a 275-foot throw and provided plenty of light for a great show look while being camera friendly at all times.”

Cranfill is delighted that the Dominos and new Perseo Beams are also IP65 rated. “We do a lot of outdoor work and are excited to be adding more IP65 fixtures,” he noted. “We hope our maintenance needs will be reduced and that we increase dependability by having IP65 protection on the fixtures.”

Sixteen “very beautiful, broadcast-friendly” Bora S fixtures joined the already 40+ Bora S fixtures in the SES inventory. These fixtures provided broadcast key lighting for the Joyce Meyer Ministries Conference 2022 Tour. Bora S fixtures served as truss spots and aerial wash fixtures for the Rod Stewart 2022 tour and the Luke Combs 2022 tour.

An addition of 101 Khamsins will replace older, large-format spots that have been touring. The first Khamsins at SES have already been on the road with Luke Combs and Glass Animals. “They are wonderful looking spot fixtures that outperform the arc spot fixtures that were also in these tour systems by delivering more output, a beautiful flat field, and optics that produce a lovely and perfectly shaped beam from soft to hard edge.”

Cranfill admits that he didn’t know much about Perseo Beams until some demos enabled him to experiment with their options and lensing. He discovered that Perso Beams have a unique appearance compared to any conventional moving light and was impressed enough to order 96. “We will be adding Perseo Beams as a substitute for our beam effects and hybrid style fixture needs,” said Cranfill.

SES also added 96 versatile Diablo fixtures to their inventory. “Diablos will not only replace our medium-sized spots for most applications but also compete with our larger-sized spots because the Diablo has a strong output coupled with the small body size making it fit in many spaces where you have limited room to place fixtures,” Cranfill points out. “When we were out with the 2022 Joe Bonamassa European tour, most of the fixtures in the rig were Diablos, and they were a perfect fit for venues like the Royal Albert Hall. At this time, I had not worked with Diablo so I had hoped that my US lighting design would clone well to them, but I didn’t expect it to look better! I realized quickly that Diablo could fill a lot of needs for clients whose tours range from arenas and amphitheaters to mobile stages. Ayrton hit a home run with the Diablo’s small footprint and great output.”

Rounding out SES’s new purchases are 48 Zonda 9 FX lights. “My first impression of the Zonda 9 FX over other multi-lens LED washes is the big look you get from the head, the strong output, and their impressive zoom range,” says Cranfill. “Also, the more we observed the Zonda at LDI, the more we felt the FX portion had more to offer with creativity than some other singular-style FX fixtures. Because we do so much broadcast work, I found the Zonda colour mixing to be very camera-friendly. You can easily achieve great looking white light colour temps as well as heavily saturated colours.”

SES also has installed Ayrton Levante fixtures in their SES Integration division. “The fixtures are working out great. We are very impressed with their performance and practical size for our integration projects,” said Cranfill.

“We estimate it will take until the start of 2024 to get all of our inventory updated to reach our current goal, but along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to introduce a lot of clients and artists to our new Ayrton offerings,” Cranfill reports.

“It’s wonderful and a little mind-blowing to see how SES has been evolving from my early years of big, heavy power-hungry tour systems to today’s lean and mean LED rigs with reduced cabling and power consumption while gaining brighter fixtures with more helpful creative features. I know the industry will see more companies like ours making similar fixture updates, and for SES, Ayrton is helping to lead the way.”

“It’s gratifying to be able to work closely with Jeff Cranfill and Michael Brammer plus the whole team at SES. They believe in ACT and Ayrton, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them and working toward meeting their goals. Ayrton has continued to push the envelope in the marketplace, and we’re confident the lineup SES has invested in will meet and exceed their goals,” concluded Bradley Cronenwett, ACT Regional Sales.