Martin MAC Viper

in Road Tests

Martin MAC ViperIt’s hard to get excited about a new hard-edge moving light. At least that’s what I thought until I ran one of Martin’s new “Viper” fixtures. I was impressed because someone didn’t just join the party of recently released 800W fixtures; they came up with a whole new line.

Output, Zoom and Gobos

First of all, they are using a specially designed Osram HTI 1000-watt bulb. This short arc discharge bulb should last you 750 hours. The brilliant 6000K white light emitted from this fixture comes in a perfectly flat field. Even with the beam zoomed out, the intensity is only slightly lost, in comparison to all other fixtures I’ve played with. I measure 25,000 lumens from about 15 feet away, but my eye notices one thing. It definitely appears brighter than any 1200W fixture of the past. I just set one of these up next to a Lycian M2 2500W truss spot. Both lights measured 650 foot-candles of light output from 25 feet away.   The Viper has a big, opened 5.5-inch-wide front lens, reminiscent of the Mac III. It gives the light beam that fat look right out of the fixture.

The zoom feature is phenomenal. It takes literally a quarter second to go from 10 to 45 degrees. And the mechanical iris is faster than that. It can bring the beam down to 2 degrees, and it’s still powerful.  With just these two functions, you could have a field day lighting an electronica show. In fact, Martin has an effect channel dedicated to macros that enable hundreds of cool pre-made built-in looks.  An auto focus mode also works with the zoom. An LD can enable a function that will keep your gobos either sharp or slightly soft, depending on your mood for that cue. I take a light and shine it on the wall with a hard-edged gobo in the beam. I manually open the zoom to wide, and I watch as the gobo stays perfectly in focus.

The variable frost is pretty nifty, too. Unlike most frost mechanisms we are used to, they use what they call a “soft frost.” Even when this wheel is at full frost saturation, the user can still view the dulled edges of the gobo patterns.

Speaking of gobos, I seemed to have found the perfect fixture for any concert or scenic element. For once, someone has two fully rotating gobo wheels that have no colored dichroic gobos in them. I personally hate scrolling through colored gobos to get from one to another in a wheel. Good for me. One wheel has a great selection of 5 “aerial” breakup gobos. All ones I’ve never seen before. The second wheel has gobos more designed to apply texture to surfaces. But they look cool in the aerial vies as well. Of course both wheels are rotating, indexable and interchangeable.

The people at Martin have also brought back a throwback from the past — the metal gobo wheel. They have a few stamped (fixed) holes in the wheel for breakup patterns, but then they added a long animation wheel type stamp that covers 1/3 of the wheel. By rolling the wheel backwards and forwards, you can achieve a cool-enough animation wheel effect. I am able to combine the two gobo wheels together and sharpen it just enough to see both patterns working in focus. Water and sparkling type effects are simple. Martin has (and is still building) many of these to play with through the effects macro channel. Added on to this is a four-sided spinning prism function. By itself, this wheel can focus down to a four-hole gobo. Of course adding this function to any of the other gobos makes for a plethora of Sci-Fi and hippie-type effects.

Color Consistency

It’s obvious to my eye that Martin has rethought color systems, because this CYM mixing is so superior to any system I have seen in their previous fixtures. By this I mean the color coming right out of the front lens is totally uniform. From the lens to its destination, I see just one color. When I mix vibrant amber, I see no red or yellow highlights in the beam, or along the edge of the stage when it splashes. It is as pure as a sheet of new gel in front of a PAR. I mix a pure dark lav, a purple color. Same thing — no blue hue around it. Then I mix a primary green color, and I’m a bit stunned — there is so much light coming out of the fixture. I have always needed a color wheel to achieve this much saturated light in other models.

Of course, this fixture does have an 8-slot color wheel with the usual Martin colors and correction filters in them. The linear CTO/CTB wheel is here again as well.

All motors run 16 bits in this fixture. The 540-degree pan is smooth and moderately fast at its quickest speed. It reacts well to ballyhoo-type effects. I place the dimmer on a linear 10-second fade and watch it perform flawlessly. The strobe effects on the shutter are fine. This fixture also performs an electronic strobe with the bulb itself. I write a chase where the iris and the dimmer go from zero to full and back simultaneously. It looks awesome at this high speed.

Physically, the shape of this black fixture resembles a small version of the MAC III. But in reality, at 29 inches tall, it is only three inches longer than the MAC 700 profile.  It’s about 19 inches wide and weighs 80 pounds — lighter and smaller than most 800W fixtures. Newly designed tilt locks with handles on both the base and the yoke. It’s got an auto sensing electronic ballast that can work from 120 to 240 volts.  Yup, I can plug it into my wall if I desire, as the Viper draws just over 10 amps. It’s all packed in a black UV resistant fiber reinforced coating.  A Neutrik powerCON connector is used for AC.

I ran the Viper in the 34-channel extended mode, but there is a basic mode as well. All personalities can be assigned through the newly designed display on the base. It has an internal battery so the techs can address and set the modes of the fixture without turning it on. A DMX command from the light console can turn the display light on and off as well.  The fixture can receive DMX through 5-pin XLR connectors. It can communicate using RDM and has its IP20 rating to boot.

The MAC Viper is the first in the series of this range. It is their profile fixture. It will be followed with a wash light, an Air FX and Performance models in the coming months.


Martin MAC Viper

Pros: Good bright beam with excellent gobo selection. Optics and color system are superb.

Cons: none

How Much: $15,995 in a road case; $15,595 in a cardboard box.