National Theatre’s new Martin MAC Ultra Performance fixtures a big hit with designers and techs

Head of Lighting Matt Drury, explains, “In the Olivier we needed a punchier fixture and had been looking at an alternative source prior to lockdown. We knew that by 2022 we would need something of that ilk but during the interruption the MAC Ultra Performance and MAC Ultra Wash came along, and they did so at just the right time.

“In addition to being an automated LED fixture with greater power, it has a complementary colour palette to our Martin MAC Encores.”

With 1150W output and next generation framing system, the MAC Ultra Performance has raised the bar for extremely bright, compact lights, with consistent output across the zoom range. It also boasts higher definition optics and impressively low noise levels. 

The lighting team initially used lockdown to carry out its own evaluation before deciding. “Sound Technology set up the demo via Zoom during lockdown — which was brave and bold,” stated Drury. “At the same time we also considered other brands.” This was later followed with an on-site demo.

On the final evaluation panel were members of the lighting department, including Jack Williams, Olivier Lighting Supervisor, Marc Williams, Lighting Ops Manager, Daniel Murfin, Lighting Control Manager and Paul Hornsby, Lighting Resources Manager, and Drury himself.

The acquisition also coincided with an upgrade of the main overhead lighting position. According to Drury, the original accessible bridge had a significant footprint, whereas they rationalised that three trusses would create a more flexible solution.  

The evolved rig was ready in time for the first use of the MAC Ultras—on the production of Hex, lit by the experienced Paul Anderson.

The LD was highly effusive in his praise of the fixtures. “I used the MAC Ultra Performance to great advantage on HEX,” he confirmed. 

“I have been lighting shows at the National, and particularly the Olivier, for 20 years and these MAC Ultras are a complete revolution."
Paul Anderson

“The amount of light that comes out of them is phenomenal—it has all the functionality of Encore, and then some. It also has the reliability we’ve come to know with Martin.” Finally, he praised the excellent work of programmer Will Frost in bringing the best out of the fixtures. 

Paul Anderson was soon back at the Olivier lighting another show—Small Island—once again heaping praise upon both the MAC Ultra Performance and his programmer Nadene Wheatley.

“She brilliantly took the old show file [before the National replaced its discharge source and tungsten 5K Fresnel with scrollers], and adapted it to the new fixtures.”

Once again the advantages of this advanced fixture became self-evident. “The versatility is phenomenal and they produce a beautiful flat field.” Paul Anderson continued. “The dimming you get is great—which is important in theatre work—and the repeated accuracy of framing and shutters is where other brands often let you down.”

Jack Williams, Olivier Lighting Supervisor confirmed, “The MAC Ultras have been positioned to give a strong, powerful backlight, and this was key in the remount of the 2019 production of Small Island, to give the designer much more flexibility and creativity. Replacing the old fixtures has resulted in a huge upgrade in brightness, optics and of course with an LED engine.”

In conclusion Paul Hornsby added his own endorsement. “The MAC Ultras have been a phenomenal success since their introduction in the Olivier for Hex and Small Island with fantastic praise from designers, programmers and technicians alike. 

"A particular highlight was seeing the Olivier stage covered in a beautiful gobo wash with a clarity I have never seen from a moving light before – truly breathtaking.”

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Martin by HARMAN is exclusively distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd. For more information or to arrange a demo please visit or call 01462 480000.

Distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd, a large quantity of the MAC Ultra Performance were supplied by various dealers, including White Light, Stage Electrics and Hawthorn. These high output profiles replace existing generics and tungsten sources. A total of 23 have been added to the standard overhead rig, replacing older generics within the 1150-capacity Olivier Theatre, with a further 10, provided earlier by White Light, will be stored in Lighting Resources to be called on as necessary by lighting designers.