The recent opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Hollywood is the latest in a series of high-profile projects by the systems division of 4Wall Lighting.
Despite a track record that includes installations at the Venetian, Palazzo and Cosmopolitan hotels, Las Vegas CityCenter and CBN TV studios, the company is still better known for rentals and used equipment sales. “It has taken nearly 20 years for us to be an overnight sensation in the installation market,” says systems and design general manager Bill Groener. The Las Vegas team, headed by senior project manager Buddy Pope with John Fernandez and CAD specialist Shaun Blue, has worked together for over 15 years.
Built on the site of the old Universal Amphitheatre, the California attraction follows successful openings in Japan and Orlando. “Meeting the tight schedule set by Universal was our biggest challenge,” says Pope. Apart from ETC Source Four LED and tungsten theatrical units, hundreds of ‘character’ fixtures were imported from two major UK suppliers and prepped in 4Wall’s LA shop. These include streetlamps, chandeliers and wall sconces that are rigorously faithful to the descriptions in the original stories.
Lighting for the theme park falls into two broad categories: the ride and the land or architectural elements, such as Hogwarts Castle and the many themed stores and restaurants. Over 700 channels of dimming in 15 ETC Sensor3 48-way racks control LED or incandescent sources distributed across the property.
In the control hierarchy, Unison Paradigm controllers run the architectural elements and Unison Mosaic controllers deal with the show elements. Both networks are governed by a central control server. All the control racks are connected by fibre, and each has its own Paradigm or Mosaic unit to interface with the park’s master controller, which triggers cues through serial or UDP commands. In the event of a fibre failure, each control rack can continue to run independently.
Source Four features prominently in the retail areas around Hogsmeade and the Harry Potter ride. The line-up includes 140 tungsten fixtures with lenses ranging from 14 to 90 degrees, 60 ETC Source Four LED Lustr+ and 81 Source Four Mini fixtures.