Clay Paky Sharpys add to Australia Day Celebrations

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Sydney’s Darling Harbour was the centre of attention in January with the Australia Day Spectacular celebrations taking place against a glittering harbour backdrop. Thousands of spectators flocked to the Darling Harbour precinct to celebrate with the day culminating in a highly choreographed spectacle of lights, lasers, fire and water with a stunning crescendo of fireworks.

Production and lighting designer for the event was Paul Collison who opted to use twenty-four Clay Paky Sharpy moving beam lights which have an unprecedented brightness usually achievable only with far greater wattages.

“The Sharpys were awesome because they are so small yet so bright,” commented Paul. “I know everyone goes on and on about it but they really are just the coolest thing.”

This year’s celebrations saw the focus drawn to a barge in the middle of the harbour onto which was placed a cylindrical LED screen and some towers.

“The creative concept was to recreate a small city,” added Paul. “We didn’t want to dump a small screen in the middle of the bay. We came up with the concept of a cylindrical screen with towers around it to give the illusion of a cityscape. This meant that we could stagger the height of the Sharpys from the barge to the centre tower that reached twenty-three metres. It gave me a great expanse of height to play with so it became less about the searchlight effect of the fixtures as we could play with the vertical plane as well which is really cool.”

Paul admits that he could not have done this show without the Sharpys as large searchlights on top of the tower on a barge would just have been unmanageable.

“Using the Sharpys meant that the boys could actually rig the vision – its one thing to have the creative vision but it’s another to actually implement it!” he remarked. “The Sharpys performed flawlessly with their famous Clay Paky reliability. I find that searchlights tend to generate too much heat and thus often fault.”

However it wasn’t just the beams that Paul liked as he noted that the Sharpys gave great beam effects like a traditional searchlight, but being able to add texture to that beam and also use the fixtures like a profile light increased their appeal.

“I could point them at the audience and rotate a texture through the prism and create effects that are usually reserved for traditional profile fixtures. It would be hard to go back to a searchlight fixture again after this!”

Despite the fact that the Clay Paky Sharpys are an indoor fixture Paul had no problem installing them outdoors even though Sydney is experiencing its wettest summer in decades. Paul placed each Sharpy in a protective Pro Shop Air Base which provided amazing weather protection.

The Sharpy is an 189W moving head fixture which only weighs 16 kg and produces a sharply defined beam, free of any halo or discoloration around the edges. It offers an interchangeable colour wheel with foruteen fixed colours and an interchangeable gobo wheel with seventeen fixed gobos, allowing users to change the shape of the beam and create an array of mid-air effects. Sharpy can perform rapid and extensive pan-and-tilt movements.

Photos copyright Mark Bedson

Executive Producer: Andrew Walsh
Production Designer: Paul Collison (lighting design and video content)

Technical Director: Nick Eltis
Production Managers: Ian Baldwin, Ian Anderson
Lighting supplier: Chameleon Touring Systems