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Artisan  (1986)

Artisan (on Miss Saigon)

Control console for Series 200 luminaires
The Artisan was the heart of Vari*Lite's second generation of products, which included the VL2, VL3 and later VL4 lighting fixtures and the Series 200 protocol that allowed them to communicate - the lights even able to talk back to the console. The Artisan was really just a keyboard for the lights, with each fixture storing its own cue data in its own internal memory - but what an amazing keyboard!
The hundred button array for selecting channels - with 10 page buttons allowing you to select a thousand Vari*Lites - spoke to the scale of the company's ambition! The flat encoders for position and attribute control and the preset focus concept it used for position are now standard across almost every lighting console - albeit that here they're on the left - but everyone now puts them on the right!
The Artisan became the choice for the biggest of shows in concert touring, live events such as the Oscars and, later, theatre where it made its debut on the original Miss Saigon. 

Floppy disks were initially used for storage (located under the wrist-rest), which could store 50 fixtures worth of cue data, which were downloaded one and a time from each fixture in the rig. A Mac Powerbook was later used to store data. 

Related Shows

See also:


4392187 Patent (July 1983)
[External Website]

4602321 Patent (July 1986)
[External Website]

Artisan Control Console datasheet (1987)
[934kb PDF]

Series 200 Brochure (1987)
[9.57Mb PDF]

Vari*Lite Price List (1996)
[263kb PDF]
From Backstage Heritage Collection

Artisan & Series 200 removed from The Lion King (November 2009)
[External Website]

LSI: Classic Gear - Artisan (December 2014)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

Back to Control - Memory (Vari*Lite)