Martin lights - a mobile DJ’s perspective

August 29, 2000


The Gerry Hayden Roadshow Mobile Disco has operated from a base in the south of England for over a decade. Gerry performs at weddings, birthdays, Christmas parties and dinner dances. He developed his own presentation style as a DJ and party host playing a wide range of music from the sixties through to the latest chart music.

Going to different venues and figuring out how to get the best sound and lighting configuration for a particular function is very challenging says Gerry. His aim is to get the best he can out of the equipment. Having achieved a good set up he can get on with doing a professional job of entertaining an audience as a DJ, confident in the equipment that he’s using. In 1995 he embarked on a project of upgrading his mobile disco to a full size roadshow, with the aim of targeting the corporate and up-market venues and events. Reliability being an important factor, the lighting had to be rugged enough to withstand the rigors of being transported around to different venues.

Having been in the mobile disco business for some years, he was already aware of Martin Professional’s reputation in the industry. The following are Gerry’s comments on those products he is most familiar with.

DJ Wheeler The first Martin product I purchased was the DJ Wheeler. I wanted a good center piece effect with a design that was based around a central light source sending out direct light beams in 4, 6 or 8 directions. As a part of Martin’s DJ series range, the Wheeler’s compact nature was great for portability, it was nicely priced and met my requirements perfectly. Although there were other more spectacular center piece effects on the market these were often too large and too heavy, not to mention far more expensive.

RoboScan 812’s & 2308 controller Scanner effects are what many mobile DJs aspire to owning and I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase four RoboScan 812’s and a 2308 controller second hand. I was impressed with, the general build quality, I’ve seen some right tat over the years. I was also pleased with how relatively easy they were to dismantle, clean up and re-assemble. I upgraded the RoboScan’ s internal software with the aid of my local Martin dealership; Fullpower Services of Salisbury who were a great help and have supplied all the other Martin products I use. Having used these effects on the road for what is now over 4 years since I purchased them, they have stood the test of time. The only disappointment is I can’t connect them in a master - client configuration, although I note the new Martin MX scanners can. However, using the 2308 controller I can program them to perform some stunning effects directing the light where I want it to go.

Destroyers These 2 flower effects are a good compliment to the RoboScans. Projecting beams of light in many directions they do a good job of lighting up the dance floor. The master - client facility is very handy, especially for quick setting up. Synchronizing a good light show between two or more fixtures without any hassle is a feature much appreciated by many mobile DJs.

Acrobats The Acrobat is a welcome addition to the Martin range being applicable for both nightclub installations and mobile use. The light output is impressive. The latest addition to my light show, I invested in two Acrobats, to replace two Abstract Hypermoons. The effects have proved to be quite stunning and very effective, projecting around 50 light patterns covering what I notice to be a very wide area. This makes them great for smaller shows, they have such a good light output for their compact size. The versatile master - client facility with different options for how one fixture can mirror the other is very effective. /i>

2518 DMX Controller The 2518 DMX controller is useful for giving me more control over the Acrobats and the Destroyers, if I need it, this choice of manual control or letting the light fixtures run in stand-alone themselves is very handy. Compared to the 2308 controller I have found the number of scenes, only 6, that could be run in a sequence or bank to be a bit restrictive. However, the cost of this controller makes it a good value for the money and now that Martin has produced a software upgrade enabling more versatile programming of lighting sequences, it’s my intention to upgrade my controller soon thus addressing the one issue I’ve had.

The final result The full lighting rig uses all the effects together synchronized by the two controllers programmed to perform light shows I have either designed myself or adapted from other ideas I have seen. In addition to the Martin effect lighting there are twelve PAR 36 Pinspots mounted on 3 T -bars, with 4 lamps on each, two strobes, two 4ft blue-black lights and a single mirror ball suspended in the center. I program the RoboScans to shine intermittently on to the mirror ball, the effect is quite stunning. For small shows I use a smaller selection of the Martin effect lights, the only difficulty I have is choosing which ones to use. To bring out the best of these effects I have been using a JEM Fogger MkIII smoke machine, which can cope well with both large and small venues, again the compact nature contributes to portability. For the future I would like to replace the Wheeler with a more versatile, but just as compact, center piece, I’m hoping the Martin R & D team have something in the pipeline.

From my perspective mobile disco’s form a significant sector of the entertainment industry but do not enjoy the same high profile as the night club industry. The commitment shown to the mobile DJ market by companies like Martin, have proved invaluable to those of us committed to pushing our part of the industry forward.

Future developments I would like to see in the industry regarding equipment for the mobile DJ include; Improvement in optical efficiency of lighting with brighter output for lower wattage lamps, also a longer lamp life. Improvements in the intelligence of lighting effects to react more closely to the beat or ‘mood’ of the music, without the need for complicated controllers. A smoke or haze machine that won’t set off building fire alarm smoke detectors. A continued drive to reduce weight of equipment for mobile use without compromising performance or reliability this goes for both sound and lighting equipment.

Personally I get a lot of fun and enjoyment entertaining other people with a disco I have designed and built up myself. I receive many compliments on how good the show looks, particularly the lighting effects. The venues I have performed at recently include The Savoy, The Waldorf and The Royal Lancaster Hotels and The Science and Natural History museums in London, for various corporate functions. This serves as a reminder to me that I have achieved the goals I set myself 5 years ago for my business and Martin Professional’s products have contributed significantly to help me on my way.

Gerry runs a large mobile disco operating in London and the south of England. His lighting show consists largely of Martin Lighting Effects that have always impressed a variety of large audiences in various venues.

Top London venues include:

  • The Savoy Hotel
  • The Royal Lancaster Hotel
  • The Waldorf Meridien Hotel
  • The National Maritime Museum, Greenwhich The Natural History and Science Museums.
  • The Bonnington Hotel
  • The Hurlingham Club, Putney