First Impression of VARI*LITE VL880
Good things come to those who wait, goes the old adage. That fits with us in the case of receiving our new VARI*LITE VL880 Spots. A few issues aside, we’re impressed with the fixture.
I first saw it at Event Live Expo in Los Angeles in 2011. Realizing the 880 would fill a void we had in moving light rental stock, I made my case to James and Daniel (who didn’t get a chance to see it). They bought in. And we bought — or so we thought — VL880s. Turns out, the fixture wouldn’t be ready to ship a year later. Fast forward a year…
This shipment arrived at our Glendale facility the first week of January 2012. The lights arrived in cardboard boxes which were printed to look like flight cases. Cute. We powered them up and only 1 unit didn’t strike. After Erick, our senior tech, fiddled with it, all units were fired up.
The first thing we noticed was how bright the Philips Platinum 35 lamp is. Coupled with Vari-lite optics, the VL880 is damn bright (Vari-lite measures output at 19,000 lumens, per their spec sheets). Flat field performance is great. And the gobo selection is better than most. With 2 gobo wheels, you’re able to achieve some really nice texture and motion effects. The other plus with the stock gobos is how well they work for beam effects, too: Tunnel, check. Flat plane, check. Leafy breakup, check. Circles in triangular formation, check.
The fixture’s color-mixing system consists of Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta wheels for seamless blending options, augmented with a dicroic, indexable wheel. This type of setup has been standard fare for years, allowing designer to have seamless mixing and the ability to pop to hard-to-mix colors on the fixed wheel, but Vari-lite has been widely praised for it’s color mixing, a feature the VL880 inherits.
Vari-lite did a great job with the form factor, too. The VL880 housing is sleek and compact (for an 800w-source fixture). Let’s face it, there are some great moving lights out there packaged in some ugly housings. And while this may not be the most important factor in a moving light, we are in a business that’s all about pretty visuals (and as Steve Jobs proved, the beauty of every detail, not matter how small, matters). The 880 weighs in at 56lbs. (without clamps), a manageable figure for a fixture that can hold its own against the big guns.
It’s also worth mentioning the VL880 features auto-voltage switching. This is huge for a lighting rental company. This means we can send the fixture out with L620 connectors and if a user wants to run the units at 120v, they simply connect adapters and go. No fuses to fuss with!
We just used the light on a gig for the first time the response was great. Our crew especially liked the unit. We look forward to getting them out on many more.