The Martin lighting team set out to create outstanding versatility for the touring and rental market while offering increased creative potential for lighting designers. The result is a uniquely versatile fixture, the Martin VDO Atomic Bold, a 4-in-1 hybrid that combines a color strobe, blinder, wash light, and an eye candy fixture with pixel-mapping capabilities and aura effects. This LED fixture creates many creative possibilities for lighting designers reminiscent of several legendary and popular Martin fixtures including MAC Aura PXL, MAC Aura XB, MAC Aura and Atomic 3000.

The Martin VDO Atomic Bold hybrid fixture that combines a color strobe, blinder, wash light, and eye candy fixture with pixel-mapping capabilities and aura effects.

To better understand the features and technology that make this fixture so versatile, HARMAN Insights Contributor Tarryn Lyle talked to Annie Dafni, one of Martin’s top Lighting Application Engineers. Annie supports Martin clients, partners, and lighting designers with design solutions, technical support, and recommending appropriate product solutions. Wouter Verlinden, Martin Creative LED, Lighting and Control Global Product Line Manager, also contributed extensively to this discussion.

What was the objective behind creating the VDO Atomic Bold? Were you chasing a particular innovation?
After the release of the Martin VDO Atomic Dot Family, we received a variety of requests for a bigger, brighter, and full-color version. Our R&D team set out to create an even more versatile fixture. As a result, we were able to deliver a fixture that addresses four unique application needs, has a robust housing, an IP65 rating, plus incredible power and brightness in a single fixture that is fully LED.

When isolating the various features, comparing for example the blinder’s position in the market, the other LED blinders were only white and didn’t offer adequate tungsten emulation, whereas the VDO Atomic Bold handles both white and color equally well, as well as offering pixel-mapping eye candy.

What feature were you most impressed with when the final fixture was delivered?
Undoubtedly – its versatility. VDO Atomic Bold is a great investment for rental houses because it’s really good at each of its features, not compromising one to make another possible. We worked really hard to make each feature impressive in its own class, which actually puts the VDO Atomic Bold in a league of its own. Having one fixture be so adaptive creatively, as a strobe, wash light, and offer eye candy, makes it a wise investment:

  • As mentioned, the Strobe has all the characteristics of the legendary Martin Atomic 3000 DMX: xenon emulation, full-color strobe, several strobe patterns, matching DMX layout and it continues the same user feel that designers wanted.
  • As a Blinder, it has stunning warm color temperature and dimming decay, emulating a traditional tungsten blinder. To achieve this, we doubled the number of white LEDs to really punch through when using it as a blinder, which is often where other hybrids fall short when attempting color with the same fixture
  • As a Wash Light, it has very high light quality (CRI & TM-30), a rich color palette and barndoor compatibility. With a standard PAR64 accessory holder, a variety of diffusers can be used as well
  • As an Eye Candy fixture, it has a beautiful aura effect with tons of creative applications. The internal effects engine has more than 150 macros.

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Adding to its creative potential is the ability to run the beam and aura separately, such as solid color or strobe in the beam and pixel-mapped aura, or vice versa. Via the Martin P3 System Controller, you also have the ability to map videos onto the main beam or the aura or both.

We didn’t stop innovating with the hybrid features, our R&D team took it a step further and revolutionized the way that multiple fixtures can be combined into arrays and rigged. The smart interlocking mechanism on four sides of the fixture’s housing, along with the hybrid cabling enables wonderfully creative patterns and combinations. Lighting designers are able to make unique and appealing stage designs, with not only VDO Atomic Bold arrays but can easily include VDO Atomic Dots without needing three runs of cables for each.

“With the VDO Atomic Bolds, we created this massive wash of color across this flower bed… We certainly were just scratching the surface on the capabilities … I have a high opinion of the VDO Atomic Bolds after using them, and I think they turned out looking really great,” said Chris Medvitz, Descanso Gardens Halloween Exhibit Lighting Designer, Lightswitch.

Access the Descanso Gardens Case Study

How does the Atomic Bold align with the latest generation of Martin LED fixtures?
It actually aligns very well. In fact, the VDO Atomic Bold and MAC Aura PXL effect macros follow the same philosophy. VDO Atomic Bold features Martin’s full gamut color calibration, which combines tight LED binning with factory calibration of every LED, in every fixture. This assures intensity and chromaticity consistency, so every color from every fixture looks identical and can be seamlessly integrated with the other VDO Atomic Bolds and Dots in the system. Offering Martin’s vibrant color palette, these fixtures complement inventories with other Martin fixtures really well.

The VDO Atomic Bold LED driver also produces flicker-free lighting for television and broadcasting. It also has a dedicated theatre mode, which lowers cooling fan dB levels for use in silent auditoriums. The wash light and saturated colors are also impressive, making it a great choice for adding a creative dimension to stages and theatres.

Let’s talk color, can this fixture produce a tungsten effect as well? And what else is unique?
The VDO Atomic Bold’s beam and aura work together to provide an authentic-looking tungsten emulation, providing excellent color shift and dimming decay. We designed the LED in a special way, it doesn’t have an equal number of RGBW dies, it actually has double white compared to RGB, so the fixture is at its peak brightness for white, which gives it an extra boost. So you can wash the stage in color but also create enhanced variable color temperature that’s ideal for face illumination and skin tones with the ability to shift from a warmer tone of white at 2,000 K to cool white at 11,000 K.

The VDO Atomic Bold is clearly a hybrid fixture, can you tell us more about the creative freedom to mix video mapping with DMX control?
With high lumen output, its full-color beam, combined with a pixel-controllable RGB Aura backlight enables truly unique effects. Both layers can be controlled individually via P3, DMX, Art-Net, sACN, or a mix.

You can map videos onto the main beam and/or the aura or both. Every part of the fixture can be video controlled by the media server or the lighting console, you can actually switch and crossfade between the two. You can also crossfade between video playing on the fixture to a solid color from the lighting desk. Flexibility to create unique ideas really unfolds when exploring the various modes. Every possible scenario is catered for.

The Interlock Doubler allows two VDO Atomic Dot’s to be coupled with VDO Atomic Bold to enable a range of creative possibilities. Click to see all of the available VDO Atomic Bold and Dot rigging accessories.

Let’s talk accessories, what stands out for accessory options with the VDO Atomic Bold?

The VDO Atomic Bold has a PAR 64 accessory holder which allows the connection of barn doors or diffusers to widen the beam angle. The VDO Atomic Bold also uses the same rigging accessories as the VDO Atomic Dot taking its versatility level up even further. Hanging brackets or integrated floor stands are also available, as well as interlock couplers which allow additional fixtures to be set up on all four sides. You can set them up in a batten, vertical line, or creative array, and to achieve the classic traditional blinder look, you can add a double-width bracket. All of the VDO Atomic accessories are made with creativity in mind.

We know that ease of transit, versatile connectivity and protocols and rigging are really important when selecting gear for inventory, how easy is it to rig this fixture compared to competing fixtures?
VDO Atomic Bold and Dot are the only fixtures with smart interlocking features, that enable the building of battens, arrays and creative shapes. VDO Atomic Bold and Dot accessories are compatible so you’re able to create mixed arrays utilizing either or both fixtures. An added bonus of the interlocking mechanics design is that you don’t need tools to set them up. They are also incredibly strong, designed to hang up to 16 dots in a vertical line without needing additional support.

Other products would require additional pipes to hang the fixtures and you’d need to build the structure yourself with accessories, but the Atomic Bold and Dots are self-supporting and click together.

VDO Atomic Bold fixtures are also IP65-rated, so they can be used virtually anywhere. We’ve already seen them transition from being utilized on stage to deployed in outdoor creative spaces, to lighting gardens and features in festivals to create enchanting scenes – the possibilities really are practically limitless.

LIGHTING DESIGN TIP: VDO Atomic Bold’s Basic and Extended Modes

Here’s a helpful tip when designing with the VDO Atomic Bold regarding its ‘Basic’ and ‘Extended’ modes:

In Basic Mode

  • When controlled by DMX, you’re able to individually change the colors and intensity of the beam
  • You’re also able to change the color and intensity of the aura, but as a whole, not as individual pixels
  • You’re able to utilize the 150+ macros inherent with the fixture
  • You’re able to shift between the P3 and the DMX modes, so you can actually map video onto the beam and the aura, or use them in DMX

In Extended Mode

  • You’re able to map each of the 72 aura pixels via DMX – they can be individually addressed on DMX
  • DMX uses 243 channels, which means each of the aura pixels is going to take three channels, one for R, G and B. So the number of universes and number of channels you’re going to use will be large
  • This can obviously become confusing for the lighting designer when they’re programming in DMX mode, but the same Extended mode also has the P3, so you can switch between the modes

For example, you can pixel-map the auras on the P3 controller and then use the beam in DMX model, and vice versa, but a tip that you can follow, to basically reduce the number of universes or parameters, patch the fixture in Basic mode, where it’ll use about 27 channels per fixture, and then you map the aura pixels on P3. So even though in Basic mode, each of the aura pixels are not addressed individually because you are using the P3 mix on the auras, you’re still mapping them individually, but utilizing fewer channels – instead of 243 channels, you’re able to get away with using only 27 channels

One of many installations where the VDO Atomic Bold is being used worldwide was a Halloween exhibit at Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles.

Which markets are ideal for VDO Atomic Bold?
These fixtures were designed for rental customers as well as concert touring, TV shows, and stage and lighting designers. They’re also a perfect fit for corporate customers, the higher-end nightclub market and cruise ships. And they’re great for elevating creative potential while delivering staples like wash and beam.

Could the VDO Atomic Bold be used for to light theatre applications?
While not initially intended for theatre, the tungsten emulation and light quality has proved popular for the theatre market as well. The additional features would definitely aid in set design, especially the pixel-mapping capabilities that do a great job of bringing scenes to life.

The Martin PDE Junction Box Active merges power, DMX and Ethernet signals into a single connector and cable system for VDO Atomic Bolds and Dots. Click to jump to the PDE Junction Box Active section of our VDO Atomic Bold demo video. Complete details are also available at:

How would you compare the VDO Atomic Bold to other fixtures in this class?
It’s difficult to compare this fixture because, at this time, there are no other hybrids on the market that can compare to the VDO Atomic Bold. Sure there are other blinders that may be a similar shape but they are just blinders producing white light and no color. No fixtures also include an aura effect or smart interlocking connections. This makes the VDO Atomic Bold versatile, cost-effective, and a strong return on investment.

What zoom capabilities are included?
During its R&D phase, we decided to keep the VDO Atomic Bold a single beam hybrid which you can then add on accessories that can alter the zoom to suit your needs. As you can expect, for a wash light to have zoom capabilities it would need a significantly deeper housing to allow the lens to move, which would have increased fixture price as well as complicated its IP65 capability, further increasing the manufacturing costs.


There seems to be a range of VDO Atomic Bold modes – how are they used?
The various modes provide dedicated channels for each purpose, for example, one mode is for use as a blinder, another mode is set for strobe, another for wash, and another is dedicated for pixel control. Once you discover what each DMX mode is dedicated for, it really simplifies the user experience when operating in one mode only, where you will be able to identify which channel to use for what application. This increases the versatility and flexibility of the fixture, and it becomes easily applicable to each use case it was designed for.

What are the top three things lighting designers are saying about this fixture?

  • Great versatility that inspires creativity to try new designs like clusters or single fixtures
  • Often surprised by how bright the fixture is
  • Impressed by VDO Atomic Bold’s high-level light quality and its color rendering

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Martin VDO Atomic Bold as well as interesting applications where it’s being used throughout the world. Thanks for sharing in ‘Leave a Reply’ below.

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