Two of the theatre world’s leading creative lighting designers, Paule Constable and Tim Lutkin, have both become early adopters of GLP’s new impression X5 platform—believing the powerful fixture to be a perfect solution for theatre designers, and setting the standard as a new generation for wash lights.
Both have been supplied by Sparks Theatrical Hire, while a third designer, Paul Pyant, has also requisitioned the X5 for Noises Off at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which is currently in production.
Paule Constable had been keen to work with the impression X5 again after debuting it on The Devil Wears Prada—and Guys and Dolls at The Bridge Theatre gave her the perfect opportunity. “I first looked to the impression X4 and then the X5 to replace the big soft keylight that I’ve always used 5kW units to give me. I think it’s amazing that an LED unit can provide that same diffuse, soft directional push – but I also love the beam control and quality when it is spotted down. So the impression X5 not only replaced something in my old tungsten head but at the same time gave me a new thing to work with—and I love that it provided these new and exciting options. Ultimately the unit is sophisticated and the quality unsurpassed.”
She adds that in Guys and Dolls they were so pushed for space that every unit needed to earn its keep. “The flexibility of the unit made it an obvious choice. In the round immersive space they held the space superbly and worked very hard.”
Speaking of specific features, she again pointed to the fixture’s variety. “The fact they can push to a warmer palette in a beautiful lyrical way and can also do punch and saturation really was vital for the show. We based much of the imagery on Kubrick exteriors and the photography of Ernst Haas – and the impression X5 was able to go to all of those places. As for the zoom, it is ridiculous (in a good way!)”
Finally, as to the support she received, Constable said, “Sparks have an excellent relationship with the Bridge and were really open to my thoughts about the show. As for GLP they have always been super supportive – they really listen to us as designers which I love. I feel very respected and supported by GLP as a company.”
Tim Lutkin specified 10 of the impression X5s for use on The Crucible at the Gielgud Theatre after being recommended by his associate, Max Narula. “He had used them before and was singing their praises,” reports Lutkin. “So as he would be lighting the show once I’d left for the US I was happy to adopt them. And once we had them up in the rig at the Gielgud I could see they were absolutely fantastic … the quality of the colour mixing was just like tungsten; the spill ring accessory is fantastic and you feel you are back to a Fresnel type theatre lighting unit. I can see why this is appealing to theatre lighting design purists.”
Commenting on other attributes, he said, “It’s the first time [a wash] has delivered anything like this and it’s just not like having an LED fixture anymore! The RGBW mixing in other units never quite gives me the look I’m after, but with the impression X5 you completely get that.”
As for colour, he says, “Because you get that really deep blue and green and lovely cyans it feels like you have an advanced light in the rig—also all the delicate work on people’s faces is achievable with this fixture.” He also commended “the beautiful white tuning.”
In conclusion he noted the compact form factor which made it less bulky than similar wash fixtures. “The level of work that’s gone into the engine and the lens has shifted [the paradigm] to something quite refined and extremely bright. We’ve reached a point with typical 1,000-seat theatres or Broadway shows that this is as bright as you need to go otherwise you are simply competing with follow spots! In TV studios as well I think the impression X5 will fare well because they are also extremely quiet.”
Photo credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.