Gearhouse SA has made a substantial investment in new Martin and Robe moving lights in recent months, with the purchase of 72 x Martin MAC Vipers and 150 fixtures from Robe’s ROBIN series including Pointes, DLX, DLS and DLF and LEDWash 600s.

This is to service a busy ongoing show and event schedule heading into autumn. As a leading production company, Gearhouse is under constant pressure to keep pace with the technology on all fronts. Their strategy is always in tune with what international LDs visiting SA with their shows and tours are specifying as well as offer the most versatile and flexible options available for their own lighting designers and directors.

The equipment was delivered by the brands’ respective distributors, Electrosonic (Martin) and DWR Distribution (Robe). Gearhouse MD Ofer Lapid explains that in the case of the Vipers, they were looking for a product that would continue the success of the Mac2K which has been a serious workhorse product for the company for several years. He comments that the Viper is extremely bright, lighter than the 2K and also robustly built.

In terms of capital investment, Lapid says they would expect a product to start appearing on riders on riders in the three to four years following its launch, to give them plenty of opportunity to recoup. Lapid believes that Martin Professional – acquired by US audio and infotainment giant Harman International at the end of 2012 – is in a “turnaround situation’ and he reckons that the new Harman infrastructure will give a very well-liked and respected brand the ability and freedom to continue developing and being at the forefront of manufacturing.

Gearhouse’s new Mac Vipers were utilised to great effect on the 2013 Bidvest Annual Business awards dinner, where they were put through their paces by lighting and visuals designer Tim Dunn – known for his extremely ambitious design concepts and for pushing every bit of technology on his rigs to the max. Dunn reportedly thinks they are excellent fixtures – powerful and dynamic.

The Vipers – 60 of which currently reside in GH Johannesburg with 12 in Durban – were also appreciated by Mumbai-based Lighting Designer Atul Sonpal, who lit the 2013 SAIFTAs event at the Durban ICC using these and other fixtures.

Electrosonic’s Entertainment lighting manager Bruce Schwartz says: “The sale is significant for us and for Martin Professional as a whole. It’s a clear statement that Gearhouse believes in the future of both companies.’

Gearhouse’s Lighting operation manager Stuart Andrews was instrumental in making the decision to invest the 150 Robe LED fixtures. He was particularly looking for a solution for their corporate and special event work which offered quality light sources that consumed less power, were more eco-friendly and naturally adaptable and reliable.

Many LED fixtures on the market have not addressed the issues of smooth, even output and coverage and homogenized light-sources, but this is an area in which Robe has concentrated from the outset with all their technology, and in particular their ROBIN DL range, which offers the Spot (DLX), Wash (DLF) and Profile (DLS). These were developed with the performance and precision demands of theatre and TV in mind.

The DL units are all small in size and lightweight and as Andrews points out: “Ideal for small rooms and low ceilinged environments, offering excellent functionality and a nice quality of light.’

The full list of Gearhouse’s most recent Robe purchase is 54 x Pointes, 36 x LEDWash 600s, 24 x DLXs, 24 x DLFs and 12 x DLSs. The DLFs and DLXs went straight on to the current series of So You Think You Can Dance at SABC with lighting designed by Robert Grobler.

The LEDWash600s join Gearhouse’s existing rental fleet, Andrews comments: “You can never have enough.’ Since their launch in 2010 Robe’s LEDWash has become one of the most successful products in its class, and they are also now routinely appearing on international lighting specs.

However, Andrews thinks it is the new multi-purpose Pointe that will become a real “star of the show’, again for its small size, light weight and huge versatility – it can be a Spot, Beam, Wash or FX unit. “All the LDs on upcoming shows who have been offered Pointes have really welcomed them,’ says Andrews. “The small size again gives the unit a real edge and it’s something really different.’

Duncan Riley from DWR comments: “The decision to invest in LED technology on such a scale was a bold one for Gearhouse, but I think it’s a sign of the times and they have set some new standards and started the ball rolling! Any new bulb will look great initially but after about 200 hours it will start to degrade – so it’s a decision based on long term economic efficiency as well as being great for the environment.’

Over time it will preempt other cost reductions for the client as well, like smaller and fewer generators needed, consuming less fuel, and so on.