21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

On the road with ULA

Nov 22, 2018

NW Group's Dan Evans recently took the ACME XA-1000 BSWF on the road across the country. Distributed by ULA, these lights do more than just illuminate the stage, they're brighter, greener and with a CRI over 90, they are perfect for TV, theatre, and film.

Article by: Dan Evans, Lighting Director, NW Group

I’m currently touring ‘Madiba the Musical’ around Australia, visiting the Melbourne Comedy Theatre, Sydney State Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre, Crown Perth, Adelaide Entertainment Centre, and Warrnambool Lighthouse Theatre. We’re using seven XA-1000s in the rig and carrying one spare. Five are hung on the advance FOH truss, and they handle all front wash duties and all lighting of faces. I have two hung over the stage for break-ups on the cyc, and for pick-ups as a rear spot.

At NW Group, we are looking to LED solutions to address power consumption, in line with the company’s Green Energy policies. We have undertaken a lot of research in finding new LED fixtures for our inventory, including bringing a wide selection into the NW Group factory for shootouts. I had been researching the Acme brand for a while, but there were a few technical issues that I had with their spots that made us hesitant to purchase. Through discussions with Acme and their distributor ULA Group, they addressed the issues I raised. When we next brought the Acme products in for demo I was quite impressed.

We needed a fixture for ‘Madiba’ that had nice colour rendering, high output, and a wide zoom. The XA-1000 BSWF is an extremely bright fixture; I could light the whole stage with just one, they’re that bright. I’ve been extremely impressed with their performance on this show so far. They’ve been very versatile, and I’ve got them working very hard through the whole show.

I turn the XA-1000s on when I come into the theatre every day, and they go straight to their preset without fail. I haven’t had to update them once. I have cues with picture frames that fly in and the XA-1000s have a tight focus to their edge – that cue hasn’t been updated once either, which is also testament to the fly crew, who’ve been amazing!

CRI, Colour, Dimming

I use the CRI filter a lot, and the colour rendering is great. The XA-1000’s CRI is over 90, which is perfect for TV, theatre, and film. ‘Madiba’ has a diverse cast, which means there are a wide range of skin tones I need to light, and the XA-1000 has enabled me to do that well. I have been able to bring out different shades in both costumes and skin, allowing me to create a lot of really nice looks. I haven’t been using the prism, but I have used the frost filter, which I’ve found useful and smooth. The dimming curve is also very smooth, and when I fade my dimmers along with my movers, everything is exactly synchronised.


I use the framing extensively through the show, and it hasn’t skipped a beat. There is heavy framing, focusing, and zooming throughout the show, and the XA1000s work quickly, getting to their spot within milliseconds.

I have found that on some fixtures, when you have the frames in with a tight zoom, and you bring the colour flags in, it creates a slightly different coloured spot in the centre of the beam. I haven’t noticed this issue at all in the XA1000s. It’s a uniform colour across the whole beam.


As ‘Madiba’ is about the life of Nelson Mandela, the show spends a lot of time covering the periods he was imprisoned. One of the key things I needed in a fixture on this show was the ‘jail’ gobo. The XA-1000 has one, and when the cyc isn’t being projected on, the two XA1000s on stage hit it with break-up gobos and the jail gobo, which has worked phenomenally well.

There’s one rotating and one static gobo wheel and I found the included gobos useful. I have talked to Acme and mentioned that I’d be happy to lose one gobo wheel if they’d replace it with an animation wheel, as being able to do moving textures with frames would be really nice. There’s some talk of a later model, so hats off to Acme for listening and changing designs based on customer’s needs and feedback.

About the Author: Dan Evans

Dan Evans is a renowned Lighting Designer based in Melbourne Australia. For over 20 years, he has designed a wide variety of shows and events in Australia and around the world. He specialises in high impact technical production and creative portrayal of emotion through the medium of light, visual imagery and special effects. He has designed shows for audiences around the globe in theatre, film and TV, concerts, and corporate events.

This article was shared from Integrate 2019 Exhibitor ULA Group, who will be exhibiting on Stand F16. To view the original article, products and news from ULA, click here.

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