Lighting designer Herrick Goldman used Elation Professional’s Artiste DaVinci™ LED moving head spot for colour and visual effects on a Syracuse Stage production of “The Wizard of Oz’ and praised the award-winning luminaire as a flexible workhorse that performed a number of duties throughout the show. “The DaVinci took so much of the workload I could have saved the time and energy of hanging 25% of the light plot.’ the LD exclaimed.

The musical, which runs from November 29th to January 7th and is directed by Donna Drake, is Syracuse Stage’s holiday co-production with the Syracuse University Department of Drama. It is the story you know well but is told in a new way with tumbling, and flying elements from acrobats turned actors from New York’s 2 Ring Circus.

Creative colour and effects

Although the Syracuse Stage theatre houses 100s of conventional fixtures along with some older moving heads, a fantasy production like “The Wizard of Oz’ gives ample opportunity for creative use of colour and effects, so Goldman sought a more state-of-the-art fixture that would give him those possibilities. “I wanted a fixture that would help tell the story while shining new light on a familiar tale,’ he said. “A creative production like this lends itself well to a theatrical fixture like the Artiste DaVinci. I’d been looking for a good replacement fixture for a 700W discharge fixture I’ve used in the past, and this fills the gap.’

The Artiste DaVinci is an energy efficient CMY and graphics luminaire with a 300W LED engine and 7° to 48° motorised zoom that powers out over 13,000 lumens. Nine units were placed on electrics and used for colour and texture wash from virtually all positions –downlight, sidelight, backlight and frontlight. “I love the lights,’ the LD stated, explaining that when zoomed out the fixtures cover the entire 36’ wide by 25’ deep stage. “They are still bright enough to compete with the other lighting, and their gobos lend themselves well.’

Goldman incorporated patterns from the fixture’s two gobo wheels in several scenes, for example, a leaf breakup for the forest scene, a spots breakup in the poppy scene, a spiral gobo on the ground, and a construction breakup. He also used the fixture’s built-in animation wheel in the Jitterbug scene (not in the movie), in the tornado scenes and in the Emerald City to highlight the gates and give them motion. “I also used the prism and the effects wheel a lot,’ he adds. “When we put in all these effects, or when employing the animation wheel, the fixture was still bright.’

Flexibility of colour

While the pre-Oz scenes were kept bereft of colour as in the famous 1939 movie, the production’s set was otherwise awash in colour, often blue and gold. “We used cool white tones in the Kansas scenes and then as the story moves on the looks get more colourful, culminating when the characters reach the Emerald City,’ the designer explains. “There is real flexibility of colour with the DaVinci,’ which he calls a solid colour mixing fixture. “When using as a face light I could find the right tonality and create palettes using the CTO – we found face colours that suited us well, even the green onto the witch.’

Goldman used Wizard of Oz colour illustrations by fantasy and science fiction artists, the Brothers Hildebrandt, as his inspiration for the lighting design and colour. “They use light so beautifully,’ he said, adding that projection designer Kate Freer used some of the illustrations as inspiration as well.

The lighting designer also placed two Artiste DaVinci fixtures on the deck, downstage left and right, to light the 2 Ring Circus aerialists and their cirque-like feats. “We created some fantastic enhanced shadows from there and up onto the ceiling, which made for a very unique effect. We use the fixtures often in the play, and they really add visual excitement to the show.’ Goldman also likes the fixture’s small size. “When on stage you may have dancers dancing around them and need all the space you can get,’ he said.

Lighting and Projections Coordinator at Syracuse Stage, David Bowman, worked with the fixtures from day one and was so pleased with their performance he is hoping to add some to the venue’s permanent rig. “The Elation Artiste DaVinci units were amazing right out of the box,’ he commented. “From the instant-on and punch of the LED engine to the overall range of motion, beam, and effects, we couldn’t be more pleased with them. I’m looking forward to adding a bunch of these to my in-house inventory and making them available to not only my professional LD’s at Syracuse Stage, but the student LD’s of Syracuse University Drama as well.’

The DaVinci’s are crucial up until the very end of the play when in the “There’s no place like home’ scene the LD warmly zooms in on Dorothy in an ever tighter circle of light that eventually disappears. A total of eleven Artiste DaVinci fixtures were used in the production with an extra tucked away just in case. “We do have a spare but we haven’t had to use it several weeks into the run, and I don’t expect we’ll have to,’ Goldman concludes.