A Floral Feast with Martin MAC301’s

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


Floriade, Australia’s biggest celebration of spring is held every year for thirty days over the months of September and October. It showcases one million flowers in bloom, set in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park and attracting over 400,000 visitors.

For five of those nights Floriade comes alive after dark with NightFest when the garden bed designs, pond waters and trees are shown in a whole new light as they are lit by dazzling light shows. 

Designed and created by Mandylights, this year’s NightFest made extensive use of the Martin MAC301 the LED moving head washlight with a powerfully fast zoom and impressive zoom range. Capable of producing a wide range of exceptional colours from rich saturated shades to pastels through the entire zoom range, the MAC301 was the ideal choice.

Prior to the event, Mandylights organised a ‘shoot out’ of comparable products on the market and even though the MAC301 is a bit older than some of its competitors, it still had the edge over them in terms of sheer output.

A total of forty-eight MAC301 fixtures, positioned in groups of six, took care of lighting the largest part of the site; the main vista comprising of six different garden beds that occupy 200m x 50m of the park.

“It’s the iconic view of Floriade that they use in all of their marketing,” explained Richard Neville of Mandylights. “It’s also the first part of the park that visitors see so it has to be impressive.”

The MAC301’s are situated in eight of Mandylights’ own custom built scaffold towers which they have refined over the past three years of doing the event. The first year saw Mandylights use all conventional fixtures for this area followed a year later by discharge moving lights.

“This year, with the interactive element, we needed a fixture that is reliable with so much colour changing over the course of the night,” added Richard. “We didn’t think that a traditional CMY mixing system would hold up to the assault of repeatedly changing colour for five hours over five nights in a row.”

Another important factor to be considered when choosing a suitable fixture was that the site has no power with everything generator powered. So a fixture’s power consumption was extremely important and the MAC301 offers great energy efficiency.

“The MAC301 is also small and light which makes rigging easy,” commented Richard. “Also, as it uses LED colour mixing there are no moving parts involved which makes them a more reliable fixture.”

This year it was decided to give visitors a new experience by offering interactive lighting whereby they can actually pick the colour they want to see washing the flower beds via an iPad.

“The theme for this year’s Floriade revolved around style so this has been carried through to the lighting – apply your own style of lighting colour and effect to each bed,” said Richard. “It’s very simple for the visitor to choose between a few colours and chase patterns.”

Each of the six beds had an iPad in front of it with custom made software that talks to the MA Lighting MA2 lighting console via Midi. The lighting console then triggers off a number or a combination of cues that would then instantaneously change the MAC301’s.

Whilst the MAC301’s would do their individual colour changing courtesy of the public for five minutes they would then do a two-minute show programmed by Mandylights to exploit the movement of the MAC301’s.

“We found that if we shot them all up into the air with a narrow zoom you’d get a searchlight effect into the night sky which was really cool,” added Richard. “We really got a lot of bang for buck out of them.”

Canberra in the spring can get down to minus 3 degrees at night, sometimes getting up into the high 20’s during the day plus it can also be windy. According to Richard, the MAC301’s were onsite for two weeks and performed admirably.

The MAC301’s were supplied by PRG.