Vector Lights on Auckland Harbour Bridge
Posted on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
On Auckland Anniversary Weekend, on Saturday 27 January, Auckland Harbour Bridge was transformed by the launch of Vector Lights – featuring a ground-breaking renewable energy technology powered light show that ignited imaginations and demonstrated a smarter way to power our city.
The cutting-edge installation is designed, managed, installed and programmed by internationally-acclaimed Mandylights, vividly demonstrating the new lighting capabilities and a smarter way to power Auckland as part of a ten year smart energy partnership between Vector Limited and Auckland Council.
The audio-visual performance is made up of three chapters – the first references Tama-Nui te Ra (the sun), the original source of energy, and the second Hikohiko (electrical energy) representing it as energy and technology, and the final Hei te Ao Marama (the future world of light) as an acknowledgement to the diversity and culture in Auckland.
The tender for this long term project was won by Sydney-based design and production company, Mandylights.
“We approached this architectural project in the same way as we approach any light artwork, concert tour or special event design” said Richard Neville, Managing Director of Mandylights. “Put simply, we want to make it look cool. Our design, pitch and attitude has always been to eschew the traditional mathematical, paint-by-numbers architectural lighting design approach in favour of coming up with a highly spectacular design that turned the bridge into its own unique light show.”
Vector were looking for a way to illuminate the Harbour Bridge in a highly energy efficient manner. The design had to be sympathetic and able to communicate New Zealand ideals and values.
“We needed to be able to show how we would communicate Maori designs and traditional patterns through whatever we did on the bridge,” added Richard. “Another important creative element was to emphasis the connection to the water. The bridge sits very low down to the harbor which is unusual. Of course, it had to be cost effective too.”
Mandylights spent a lot of time looking at the physical architecture of the bridge, in fact one of the first things Richard did was to fly to Auckland to spend a night sitting in various locations around the city simply taking in all aspects of the structure. He imagined ways to accentuate what is already there, especially the unique structure of girders that sit under the road.
“There’s a fascinating level of detail in all the girders beneath the road deck so we were quite keen to light that up,” he said. “We had to consider that people can get very close to the bridge and can see into all the gantries just sitting beneath the road deck, so that meant multiple views. Close up and personal, or from Waiheke Island 30 kilometres away, you can still see the lighting. It was a big challenge to come up with something that had multiple levels of engagement and offered viewers a unique experience at different sites.”
Environment was probably the biggest challenge for Mandylights, located in the middle of the harbour with the crew getting blasted by winds in excess of 70 Km an hour. Add to that salt spray and in some locations the fixtures are only six metres away from the water.
“There was constant hammering from water and wind plus Auckland has temperatures well into the 30 degree Celsius range so you need UV protection,” commented Richard. “Also, the installation has to last for ten years so exposed cables was a massive consideration as well. On top of that, the Bridge is constantly moving with the vibrations from traffic.”
The outside lanes of the bridge were added after the main structure was built in 1959, with the four clip-on lanes added in 1969. In a matter of seconds, this road deck can move by up to a metre as the load on the road decks above change.
Other technical challenges were access and many of the places where lights were installed were incredibly difficult to get to. Rise Pacific, a specialist rigging company from Sydney, designed and built a completely unique access system to get the Mandylights crew specifically to where they needed to go.
From the beginning Richard was clear that he wanted to light the Bridge with three types of LED fixtures in three very definite styles. A wash light was required to light the internal structure of the Bridge, a linear strip to outline the entire exterior perimeter of the structure and finally, an LED dot fixture for the 170 diagonals and verticals under the Bridge.
“We wanted to highlight the internal structure of the Bridge by lighting the girders and also pointing some lights down to reflect off the water,” explained Richard. “We wanted the most amount of colour and reflection we could off the water to emphasis the connection with the water. With the linear strips we wanted to outline the road deck and the arch as I don’t think people realise what an arced, sweeping shape it has. Finally, we used LED dots to turn the outer girders of the bridge into what is effectively a low res video surface, made out of the bridge architecture itself.”
Mandylights looked at a few variations of applicable LED fixtures but found they gravitated towards Martin due to the reliability of product and the incredible support offered by their Australian and New Zealand distributor Show Technology. Over the years, Mandylights has worked with Show Technology many times and cannot fault their service. Show Technology’s Michael Gearin looked after Mandylights from the technical and sales end.
“We worked extremely closely with Martin on this project as there were many custom components needed, including a 505mm pitch on the VC dots to allow for thermal expansion in the hot months,” commented Michael. “Alterations were needed for the steel to expand and contract without ripping the ribbon tails out of the fixtures on a hot day. A similar customization was needed for the 1,990mm Exterior PixLines to lower fixture count and make them a practical size for the treacherous install; also considering thermal expansion of course. Martin were really supportive and fantastic to deal with on such a massive undertaking, it was their largest LED installation to date with over 90,000 LEDs installed. Simply put, there wasn’t much that was off the shelf and they helped to tailor their reliable products to meet our specific needs.”
“The fact that Show Technology has an Auckland office and were able to support the project locally, was very important to us,” explained Richard. “We had a very tight window for pitching this project and to present the initial creative response, and the fact that we were able to turn up to the first pitch meeting with actual working samples of the products was really beneficial.”
Show Technology worked alongside Mandylights throughout the entire installation period allowing them to warehouse and prep the fixtures in New Zealand and offer ongoing technical consults throughout the project.
The installation process took just over five months and Richard commented that there were a lot of Work Health and Safety restrictions to overcome. Due to high winds on the bridge there were even a few weeks when the crew were unable to work because some of the necessary equipment for the installation on the Bridge would not be safe over certain wind speeds.
During the lighting installation, the whole Bridge power system was being reconfigured to run the Bridge off the solar and battery grid.
MARTIN EXTERIOR WASH 200
Martin Exterior Wash 200 were chosen for wash lighting with Richard describing them as incredibly bright and versatile. The Exterior Wash 200 is a powerful, compact and energy-efficient LED lighting fixture designed to illuminate mid-sized structures and building facades. A discreet, optional snoot integrates seamlessly with the slick design of the fixtures. It has built-in display for ease-of-use, a wide selection of beam angles and is fully IP-rated for permanent outdoor use. The Exterior Wash 200 is designed for narrow beam applications and is based on separate LEDs for red, green, blue and white.
“We tested these several times in our office and then again on site, and we found them to be simply perfect,” said Richard. “They have really good colour range – especially in the deep blue ranges and importantly, a really easily interchangeable system of frosting so we were able to use the same fixtures all the way across the Bridge. In many places they’re throwing 10 or 20 metres with 60° diffusion on but then the same fixtures are throwing nearly 150 metres across the main navigation span to under-light the road deck.”
Martin’s Exterior PixLine is a linear LED video fixture for media facades and creative installations. The Exterior PixLine can be combined with a wide variety of lenses and diffusers for the right look for every application. The fixtures can be fully customized in terms of length and colour to match every installation requirement, while the power source is hidden.
“Martin were very accommodating creating a custom length PixLine for us which is longer then their usual fixtures,” said Richard. “We designed a custom mounting system to clamp them to the Bridge, so the whole installation sits very smartly with the profile of the road deck.”
Discussing the fixtures’ installation, Richard described the process of installation as being remarkably smooth and with Mandylights’ Technical Designer Clint Dulieu mastering the system’s P3 controllers, they had the fixtures running their content within hours of them being hung.
MARTIN VC-DOT 9
Mandylights also worked closely with Martin customizing the mounting system for the VC-Dot 9 whilst at the same time designing a series of brackets to hold the VC-Dots to the Bridge. VC-Dot 9 is a lightweight string of individually controllable, bright Dots useful in creating customized LED video solutions with maximum artistic flexibility and a minimum of effort. Mapping video onto VC-Dots is quick and intuitive via the P3 System Controller. VC-Dot 9 contains nine LEDs and is available in an RGB colour mixing version.
“For this project, the VC-Dot 9’s have custom spacing and there are over 10,000 on the Bridge,” Richard elaborated. “The VC-Dots are cool creatively as when you’re really close up to the Bridge you can see these dots that are installed at 500mm spacing and the Bridge looks like it’s covered in thousands of coloured dotted lights. Then as you move back to say one kilometer away, your eye doesn’t see the distance between the dots and the dots appear as solid lines. They deliver two different viewing experiences.”
A total of 90,000 Martin LEDs were used on the Bridge marking Martin’s largest ever architectural LED installation. All of the Martin equipment runs off the Martin P3 System Controller which is fed video by two media servers. However the entire system is controlled by an MA2 network so at every distribution board installed on the Bridge by Mandylights, there’s an MA2 4Port Node. Additional Nodes are in the control room.
“We wanted to put an industry standard control system in place so if we decided to do something different, such as add searchlights for NYE, we have distributed DMX points all across the Bridge that are ready to go,” added Richard. “Similarly, if we need to integrate the Bridge with other projects in the city it can all jump on one huge citywide network and essentially there’s no reason why a waterfront concert can’t integrate the Bridge too.”
The Bridge lighting can be remotely managed by Mandylights who will design custom content for special events such as the upcoming Chinese New Year and also Waitangi Day.
“Clint Dulieu worked very closely with Vector to get the whole system online so it can be remotely managed,” explained Richard. “We can conduct maintenance, get feedback on any malfunctions, upload new content and reprogram the Bridge from our Sydney office ….. or basically anywhere in the world that we might be working.”
In between the special events, the lighting is used to subtly frame the architecture of the Harbour Bridge each night.
The Bridge is the first main bridge in the world to have all its lighting needs fully met by solar and battery technology. The project integrates a mix of leading technology, using the latest solar, battery and peer-to-peer systems to deliver stored energy to the bridge. By using peer-to-peer technology, it is possible to virtualise the connection between the battery and the bridge and therefore balance the energy being used and discharged at any time.
Energy generated by the solar panels, situated in Wynyard Quarter, is stored in Tesla Powerpack (a battery). Currently there are 248 solar panels providing energy for the bridge with more to follow bringing the total to 600.
Smart meters situated at the battery installation and on the bridge will relay data between each other every 10 seconds. This means that the amount of energy Vector Lights uses at any one time will be relayed back to the battery which will then release this amount of energy back into the grid – ensuring a constant balance.
By using solar and battery to power Vector Lights, as opposed to traditional means, 13.6 tons of carbon is prevented from going into the atmosphere each year. When the additional solar panels are installed and battery to power the street lights on the bridge, the carbon avoided each year will increase to 27 tons.
Richard Neville – Lighting Designer / Managing Director
Jean Pierre Jammaers – Project Manager
Kate Chalker – General Manager
Clint Dulieu – Technical Designer
Shane Radcliffe – Construction Manager
Beth Iverson Everett – Production Assistant
Lawrence Everett – Install Technician / Rope Access
Josh Neusinger – Install Technician / Rope Access
Ben Trowell – Install Technician
Adrian Franulovich – Network Support
Ian Neville – Project Support
Nick Sheen -Project Support
Photos: Jean Pierre Jammaers, Richard Neville, Hamish Mortland
Elite sign the way at NCCC
Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
So after many delays due to the venue being so busy, our hard working installation teams have finished the National Convention Centre Canberra new digital signage project we have been working on.
Over 40 Phillips Commercial Screens and Video Wall Panels, some custom engineering and bracket solutions for some of the locations, a matching number of Spynetix Digital Signage Players, new Server PC and new data network including fibre optic links.
The NCC now has a modern and fully operational signage system for its users and clients, with lots of flexibility in what it can deliver.
Martin RUSH MH3 for Amplifier Capitol
Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2018
The RUSH MH 3 Beam blasts an intense and narrow long-throw beam for spectacular mid-air looks and effects. It houses a fixed gobo wheel and colour wheel with a multitude of effects possible from a dimmer, strobe effect, 8-facet prism and focus.
Every week the lighting rig is redesigned in the venue, keeping the same fixtures but moving their positions. This is where the versatility of the RUSH MH3 is a bonus.
“Not only do they produce an incredibly bright beam, the RUSH MH3 is a very reliable fixture – it’s from Martin so we know we won’t have issues with the fixture,” commented Jt Twible, Frontier’s Production Manager. “Their brightness, colour and speed are remarkable. They really create a visually dynamic atmosphere in the venue.”
City of Lights with Studio Due
Posted on Monday, January 15th, 2018
Lighting and projection outcomes support events, create a unique identity for Brisbane and introduce elements of surprise and discovery enhancing the city experience for residents and visitors.
As part of the City Of Lights initiative, the eastern face of 239 George Street has been illuminated by a dramatic colour wash. Six Studio Due City Beam LED 24 RGBW/FC 5 degree luminaries were chosen by the council to facilitate the task. VAST – Vision and Sound Technology, were contracted to integrate the City Beams into the existing DMX network.
“Council selected the Studio Due City Beam luminaries and we have been suitably impressed with the fixtures and the impact achieved,” commented VAST’s Director, Cam Gunning. “The projection surface is a not so ideal brown shade and the average shoot distance is approximately 150 metres. However the 20 watt RGBW MC LED sources of the City Beam provide excellent output and evenness of colour to achieve a very consistent wash across the designated projection area.
“Overall the City Beam LED 24 is very functional luminaire with excellent optics and a very small installation footprint.”
A custom built steel frame work was engineered by council for installation of the fixtures, with three units being top mounted on their bases and three units being inverted to hang directly below the top three units. This format allowed an easy focus to be achieved and ensured that lumen outputs to the various staggered points of building facade could be matched with minimal adjustment.
Brisbane City Council’s proactive program to develop projection surfaces for illumination by partnering with owners of buildings and structures that surround its council owned assets, such as City Hall for example, is having a genuine impact on the Brisbane city skyline. Council cleverly use the platform of a building like City Hall as a key installation point for lighting sources that, with appropriate permissions, can be directed at surrounding structures. By engaging with building owners directly, a mutually beneficial result is achieved for both parties.
SOH’s Joan Sutherland Theatre Reopens
Posted on Monday, January 8th, 2018
After seven months of major building works, the world-famous Joan Sutherland Theatre (JST) reopened on NYE with Opera Australia’s performance of The Merry Widow.
The much-loved theatre closed in May this year for the first time since opening in 1973, to replace theatre machinery that had reached the end of its operational life – the more than 40-year-old ‘engine’ of the JST – and to use the opportunity to make significant improvements to the orchestra pit, acoustics and safety.
The Opera House and the NSW Government have together invested $71 million to renew the theatre for the 21st century, opening up new possibilities for artists, audiences and staff.
Work on the JST was carried out by principal contractor Laing O’Rourke, with specialist sub-contractors, including leading acoustic engineers Müller BBM and stage systems specialist Waagner-Biro.
Changes to the theatre include:
• New theatre flying system that is quieter, safer and more reliable;
• Improved grid deck providing a more flexible system of hoists and a clearer, more open work area;
• Partial replacement of the auditorium lighting and a new sound console and follow spot room;
• Upgraded orchestra pit and the installation of a state-of-the-art acoustic enhancement system to improve playing conditions for musicians and better distribute orchestral sound around the JST; and
• Six additional female toilets to better service audience members.
Opera Australia CEO Rory Jeffes said: “We’re thrilled to be back in our Sydney home and back in a revitalised venue that will now, more than ever, showcase Opera Australia’s amazing performers. There’s a feeling of excitement across the whole company that we’re a part of something quite historic, the reopening of the JST with our new production of The Merry Widow.
“Throughout the testing and bump-in phase of the JST renewal works, we have put various aspects of the theatre upgrades to the test – including the orchestra pit and acoustics. The feedback from musicians has been overwhelmingly positive – frankly they have been blown away. We hope the audience will feel the same when they experience the much warmer and more lively sound you can now hear around the venue.”
Simon Wheatly, Staging Supervisor, SOH said: “Before the upgrades, we would be backstage manually setting up the sets – it was often quite frantic and unpredictable due to the reliability and limitations of the old machinery. Since getting back in the theatre, we can already see how the new machinery gives us more control and support.
“Before an audience comes in, the crew are always busy backstage flying in scenery, setting up lights or rolling out the sets that transform the stage. This is where we need machinery that is flexible and functional. This new set-up has completely changed the way we work.”
Fun facts about the JST upgrades
• The new state-of-the-art theatre machinery has been built by Waagner-Biro – the same company who built the original machinery when the venue opened in 1973.
• The new theatre machinery filled 17 x 40-foot shipping containers while it was transported from Australia to Sydney.
• The new bridging mechanism that closes the gap between the stage edge and orchestra pit takes 46 seconds to complete. Previously, it would have taken eight crew members two hours to manually do this.
• The two new rear stage lift s can each carry up to ten tonnes of stage sets. People can also safely use the stage lift, unlike its predecessor.
• A specially-made conveyor belt was designed to remove/put back all the distinct red auditorium seats individually. It took close to a week to put all 1,500 seats back into the venue.
• Over 400 tonnes of material and steel from the original theatre machinery was removed from the theatre during the JST works.
• During the upgrade, there were some unique discoveries including graffiti on the walls and a newspaper from 1973, which were carefully documented for heritage significance.
Work on a number of accessibility upgrades will continue after the JST reopens, including a new passageway on the western side of the theatre leading to a new lift to provide greater accessibility to all levels of the Northern Foyer and a new accessible bathroom. These works are due for completion in mid-2018.
The JST upgrade is the first part of a larger program of Renewal works at the Opera House totaling $273 million. This includes a $202 million investment by the NSW Government in upgrades to the Concert Hall, entry foyers and arrival area under the Monumental Steps, a function centre and a new creative learning centre.
Photos: Daniel Boud
Chameleon installs Global Truss mothergrid at Brisbane Riverstage
Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018
The Brisbane Riverstage, owned and run by Brisbane City Council, has contracted Chameleon Touring Systems to provide a truss mothergrid for a long term rental installation. With higher rigging demands and an increasing number of shows being staged at Riverstage, Brisbane City Council needed a fixed solution rather than the temporary hired truss solution that they were previously using.
Chameleon Touring Systems contacted Design Quintessence and together designed a mothergrid solution using F54 and F44P Global Truss that increases the loading capacity and makes the installation of trusses for lighting and vision far easier and more efficient.
The 17.3mW by 11.6mD truss structure uses over 130m of F54 truss along with 24m of F44P to provide rigging points across the stage with a trim height of 7.6m. The support for the grid is from five suspension points along the front edge of the grid with five ground support legs at the rear, two on the stage level and 3 that sit on the roof deck. This layout maximises the loading capacity to handle larger shows and gives access for riggers to climb onto and move about the grid while installing points.
Chameleon Touring Systems said, “The design services from DQ were invaluable in meeting the design needs of this project. We had a short lead time to work out the design and deliver the truss structure and DQ was very helpful in meeting those deadlines.
The mothergrid saves a lot of time as a permanent install which is a great cost saving for the venue as they don’t need to allocate a day either side of an event to install and remove a temporary truss grid.
We’ve also added loadcells to the front rigging points which allows us to monitor loads as they are attached to the grid ensuring that we are within the engineering limits of the structure.”
Riverstage has already had artists such as Lorde, The Chainsmokers, Panic! At the Disco and J Cole, to name a few, perform at the venue. Brisbane also held Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols 2017.
Adelaide City Christmas Tree with ETA
Posted on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017
Each year thousands of locals, interstate visitors and international travellers meet at Victoria Square (Tarntanyangga) in Adelaide to observe the giant Christmas tree, acting somewhat as the epicentre of the Christmas season in the city.
Working extensively alongside the City of Adelaide, Entertainment Technology Australia were responsible for the 2017/18 upgrade of the show content and lighting systems for the tree.
Standing 10 stories tall (30 metres) in the centre of the city, at night the tree is a glowing beacon visible for kilometres in each direction. The foliage of the tree is covered with a series of RGB pixels; 13,336 total to be exact. The energy efficient LEDS are individually controllable to allow colourful moving animations to be displayed when programmed as a whole. In a Christmas theme of course!
The project had been in development for several months before it’s November installation, with many elements of the design process proving rather challenging at times says ETA’s project manager Taylor Chadwick. “We are displaying two dimensional video content on to what really is a big three dimensional cone. We had to drastically crop and skew our animations to counteract resolution changes at different points of the tree.”
The tree displays a range of Christmas themed animations over the space of a 15 minute show loop. Christmas imagery such as candy canes, baubles and presents as well as shooting stars and colour wraps are incorporated in to the show design. The star is also synchronised to react with the body of the tree.
Working with an elaborate network of over 13,000 RGB pixels, the control solution was an integral aspect of the development process. The ETA team required a front-end solution that could comfortably process large amounts of data, while catering for their creative direction.
German LED control software MADRIX provided the best option for building and operating the 220 universes over Art-Net. “MADRIX has once again been rock solid for us. It’s intuitive interface for creating the pixel map was important for a project of such scale. We utilised the new CSV import feature to create the map file.”
In action at night, the tree is amazing to watch. From up close underneath the tree, on the grassy picnic area in front, or even from 500 metres away, the Christmas lighting display is colourful, bright and dynamic, perfect for kids young and old. What a perfect way to kick off the Christmas season in the city.
The official opening took place on the 1st of December in front of an excited crowd of 10,000 people. The tree will be lit each night of the Christmas period from 7:30pm at Victoria Square (Tarntanyangga).