Vivid Festival in Sydney with Clay Paky lights

Vivid Sydney is the largest festival of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere and this year, Pyrmont’s harbourside has been transformed into a buzzing multi-sensory, engaging zone where you control the entertainment.

The precinct features a number of interactive installations including ‘Mission Control’ which gives the public the opportunity to create their own two-minute light show. Once you’ve selected your music track, you then get to play with forty-four Clay Paky Sharpys and ten Mythos fixtures positioned on The Star building and Sky Terrace.

Control, housed in a glass booth located in the park opposite The Star, consists of a large 60 inch touch screen controller with selectable colour, movement and effects.

“There’s also a Leap Motion Controller, which is an infra-red detector that allows you to control the intensity of the lights by moving your hand in the air,” explained Ziggy Zeigler, lighting designer for Mission Control. “If you prefer, you can control the intensity via the touchscreen. You get a brief run down on the system and away you go. It’s all recorded and posted to a website from where it can be shared on your social media.”

Whilst the operation sounds quite simple, there is a fairly complex system behind it using coolux Pandora’s Widget Designer to ‘translate’ which buttons have been pressed on the touchscreen and thus tell the grandMA2 console, via Ethernet, what action to take.

“There’s another link from the console back to the touchscreen’s computer to make the Leap Motion infrared sensor work,” said Ziggy. “Out of that goes more networking to Chameleon’s wireless DMX system which them sends a signal up to the roof and the terrace where more Chameleon networking gear sends the signal to some boxes and then to the lights.

“So basically there are three networks to get the lights to work and it was very tricky to implement. Show Technology’s Vince Haddad was invaluable when it came to getting the show up and running, and it’s been running rock solid ever since.”

Aaron Marshall was instrumental in crafting and implementing the touch screen interface and Leap Motion Control using Widget Designer.

“He worked with myself, Fourth Wall, Chameleon and Vince to tie it all together,” remarked Ziggy. When specifying the Clay Paky Sharpys and Mythos, Ziggy expected to be able to see their beams in full only on a rainy or misty night but was pleasantly surprised to discover you could see the beams clearly defined on any night!

“The Sharpys and Mythos exceeded our expectations,” he said. “They look fantastic. However we have had to be very careful with the Mythos beams not to hit apartment blocks, Centrepoint Tower or the Harbour Bridge! The beams are so bright, if they hit the Harbour Bridge they wash out the LED’s on there, if the hit Centrepoint Tower the people having dinner there get quite offended and as there are so many apartments in the city, we had to design shapes and movements that moved around them. Whilst the Sharpys are bright enough, Mythos shining into your apartment would be like a semi-trailer parked outside your window with its lights on high beam! We also warned the airport.”

The Sharpys were placed in Eco Domes so they could perform in wet weather but the Mythos had no such luxury. Consequently, every night two Chameleon crew in harnesses were situated on the roof ready to take the Mythos under cover if it rains.

“We chose only five colors out of the available range simply because they were the strongest colours for beams in the sky” added Ziggy. “We chose cyan, yellow, light pink, white and lime which work really well in the night sky and happen to compliment the Vivid branding.”

Show Technology is the Clay Paky distributor for Australia.


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