Automated Fixtures Help settle a bet about Vari-lite gear?

Joined
Jun 13, 2010
Location
Dallas
So, a friend and I were having a discussion about the rise and fall of Vari-lite, and got to the question of what happened to all the original gear? There were hundreds of VL-1s, and probably thousands of 200 and 300 series fixtures. Are they being used anywhere? My buddy says that without a source for parts nobody would want them. I think that as many as there were, it wouldn't be too hard to keep a system running for years by cannibalizing downed units. Some of the larger leased systems, (in Las Vegas for example) could surely still be running somewhere in a reduced capacity. The Mirage practically had their own parts department.

I guess my question is, Who's using them (if anybody), and how are they dealing with the parts issue?
 

Footer

Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
The bigger issue is not parts but control. None of those fixtures were DMX 512. They all used weird power supplies and data. Consoles were proprietary. I am sure there is a few piles of them scattered in backrooms accross the country however I don't think any are still in use on a new show. It would not suprise me if their are a few hanging in musuems or installed shows but I sure would not want one on a show. Hell, x-spots and studio colors are getting to the point of death.
 

soundman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2003
Location
Nashville TN
I know Epic was looking to sell off a bunch of old varilights. I also know PRG keeps the series 300 fixtures in active rental as of two years ago. There is a module to get DMX into the distro rack.
 

wakkoroti

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2006
Location
Orange County, CA
Some of the VL1's were sold off years ago but they're probably all dead by now.

Series 300 are still used quite a bit, and there is a lot of it especially in LA (VL5's and 5A's mostly) on TV gigs. All of the series 300 stuff easily switches over to DMX mode via the power supplies (repeaters). It has been several years since I had a 2c on a show, or have seen them on a show though.
 

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Location
Las Vegas, NV, USA
... Some of the larger leased systems, (in Las Vegas for example) could surely still be running somewhere in a reduced capacity. ...
When two of the largest Las Vegas shows closed, Vari-Lite did not want the Series 200 and 300 fixtures back. The Series 200 fixtures were scrapped, and the Series 300s sold off. I don't know of any extant Series 200 fixtures in Las Vegas. I'm sure there are some Series 300s still installed, but I can't think of any, except those owned by PRG. I last rented VL2Cs in 2001, I think. Used some 5As and 6s in May of this year.

So You Think You Can Dance has quite a large assortment of VL5s, VL5As, and VL6Cs, and they look great.
Justin Timberlake's most recent tour (2-3 years ago?) used a boatload of VL4s.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Chris Cotter

jxgriffi

Active Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Location
Orange County, CA
Disneyland has VL5's and VL6's (various b's and c's). I also know of a church out in Vegas that has a rig of about 20-30 VL2C's running off Roadhog Full Boars.
 

GEMVL

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2010
Location
Dallas, Texas
Hey Folks: George Masek from VL here. After 20 years with the company, I should be able to add a little to this...

The quick answer is that some of the gear was scrapped, some was stored, and some is still in use. There are a couple of devices we made that allow the operation of Series 100 (VL1's) and Series 200 (VL2's and VL4's) off of DMX control. One of the respondants was correct in mentioning that there were VL4's used in this fashion on Justin Timberlake. Barry Manilow also did a tour not too many years ago that heavily utilized VL2C's and VL6C's I believe. Seth Jackson was the Lighting Designer.

The biggest issue is obtaining parts for some of these older luminaires, especially the Series 100 and 200 fixtures. Driver chips, processors, etc, are harder and harder to find. Additionally, some lamps are no longer made. Even the Series 300 units are getting tough to find parts for, but there are still MANY of those in use. Not bad for automated fixtures that are all about 15 years old.

That said, the VL2C and the VL4 are still capable of some looks and optical quirks that make them quite unique, which is probably why certain designers still ask about their availability.

Cheers,
GEM
 

DELO72

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2007
Location
New Hampshire
Justin Timberlake's most recent tour (2-3 years ago?) used a boatload of VL4s.
Some of these fixtures have been retired as a result of the lamps no longer being available. I know for instance on the VL4, only Disney was using it (in the Lion King I think), and then it got spec'd into the J.T. tour. Problem is that we were in the process of phasing out the 600W lamp for it, so we gave them a last chance production run, and once those lamps are gone I suspect the fixtures will be retired or perhaps they could be retrofitted/upgraded to take another lamp. It is (as they say in The Lion King), "The Circle of Life...."
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

WooferHound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
Huntsville Alabama U.S.A.
Way back in another life, I was talking to a VariLite operator that was running one of those huge consoles. She told me that the Scene Data was stored onboard the fixture and the console just sent GoTo Scene XXX information to the light during a running show. This would make DMX operation interesting.

I was also talking to another VariLite operator that was running the show where the Atlanta Park Bombing incident occurred. They were telling me about pieces/bits that blew holes all the way through one of those big consoles. They said that they had evacuated the FOH tower already.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2010
Location
Dallas
Way back in another life, I was talking to a VariLite operator that was running one of those huge consoles. She told me that the Scene Data was stored onboard the fixture and the console just sent GoTo Scene XXX information to the light during a running show. This would make DMX operation interesting.

I was also talking to another VariLite operator that was running the show where the Atlanta Park Bombing incident occurred. They were telling me about pieces/bits that blew holes all the way through one of those big consoles. They said that they had evacuated the FOH tower already.
The 200 series fixtures held their cue data individually, and the 300 series held it (for up to 6 lights) in the Smart Repeater. That is not a barrier to DMX control. Each parameter of each light is controlled by a DMX channel, but the light is never told to store a cue. As long as the light acts on the DMX signal smoothly and quickly, you'll never notice a difference.
 

lightingdoc

Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2010
Location
California
The 200 series fixtures held their cue data individually, and the 300 series held it (for up to 6 lights) in the Smart Repeater. That is not a barrier to DMX control. Each parameter of each light is controlled by a DMX channel, but the light is never told to store a cue. As long as the light acts on the DMX signal smoothly and quickly, you'll never notice a difference.
Hello All, I currently have 45 VL4s and 32 VL2-cs working and being used on several shows. Some are located in a semi permanent venue and others are used on several one off shows. They were used recently on Berlin, Moon Alice, English Beat etc. All on DMX and all on a console of the same vintage (Animator 72) the lights have performed very well once they were referbished if you will. It is ironic that I have these lights as I designed the SummaHTI moving head fixture to compete with the VL2. It is even stranger because I have 6 Summa HTI's that go out on the shows with the VL2's and VL4s. So to answer the question there is a system working atleast three nights a week and a couple of travelling systems working at least once or twice a month.

The VL2 is still very bright and has very fast color. I have relamped the Vl4's with the HTI 405 to get a cheaper bulb and one thats available. very straight forward mod.

I welcome any questions or comments.
Kind regards,
Rick Romano
OldSkool Lighting
 

jamstage

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2011
Location
Midwest
I also have a VL200 system I bought from a guy in Vegas in '04 or '05
20 VL2C's (3 are parts units)
18 VL4's ( 2 parts units)
2 ACS racks (1 standard, 1 backup)
2 DMX200's
box full of trunk cables, repeaters, lamp cables, clamps, baffles, etc.

I have found/generated complete schematics for most everything.

The 2c's are a bit loud for theatre use, but I did just use them on a production of 'Hairspray'

The VL4's had some broken magenta filters...had some replacements made by Highend systems.

Keeping the APS's going is the toughest part...that and finding HT600 single ended lamps!
Email me for more info..!

Thanks,
jam



Hello All, I currently have 45 VL4s and 32 VL2-cs working and being used on several shows. Some are located in a semi permanent venue and others are used on several one off shows. They were used recently on Berlin, Moon Alice, English Beat etc. All on DMX and all on a console of the same vintage (Animator 72) the lights have performed very well once they were referbished if you will. It is ironic that I have these lights as I designed the SummaHTI moving head fixture to compete with the VL2. It is even stranger because I have 6 Summa HTI's that go out on the shows with the VL2's and VL4s. So to answer the question there is a system working atleast three nights a week and a couple of travelling systems working at least once or twice a month.

The VL2 is still very bright and has very fast color. I have relamped the Vl4's with the HTI 405 to get a cheaper bulb and one thats available. very straight forward mod.

I welcome any questions or comments.
Kind regards,
Rick Romano
OldSkool Lighting
 
Last edited:

Chris Cotter

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Location
Portsmouth UK
Do you have any bulbs for the SERIES 200 VL2C ?
I am also looking for a Series 200 DMX-200 data converter ?
ACS MiniRack ?
Series 200 12' Lamp cable
Series 200 MiniRack schematic
Any SERIES 200 schematics, diagrams, info etc.

Thanks Chris Cotter
[email protected]
 

Chris Pflieger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2016
Location
Indiana
That was the guy's only single post on the Control Booth, and that was seven years ago.

I doubt he'll come through with parts for you.
 

Chris Cotter

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Location
Portsmouth UK
I did not even notice the posting date. I am desperately looking for a DMX200 Interface for SERIES 200.
Also looking for one ACS MiniRack.
I am asking everyone. Please forgive my periodic postings.
Thanks Chris Cotter
[email protected]
 

Chris Cotter

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Location
Portsmouth UK
I also have a VL200 system I bought from a guy in Vegas in '04 or '05
20 VL2C's (3 are parts units)
18 VL4's ( 2 parts units)
2 ACS racks (1 standard, 1 backup)
2 DMX200's
box full of trunk cables, repeaters, lamp cables, clamps, baffles, etc.

I have found/generated complete schematics for most everything.

The 2c's are a bit loud for theatre use, but I did just use them on a production of 'Hairspray'

The VL4's had some broken magenta filters...had some replacements made by Highend systems.

Keeping the APS's going is the toughest part...that and finding HT600 single ended lamps!
Email me for more info..!

Thanks,
jam
Hi i am looking for a Series 200 DMX200? Also one DMX ACS MiniRack. Lamp cables etc.