Mandylights illuminate Taronga Zoo for Vivid

Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

13316887_10154230387734860_1932018178430923712_o For the first time Vivid has reached out to Taronga Zoo, lit up with an illuminated trail comprised of giant animal multimedia light sculptures.

Be the Light for the Wild features ten critical species from Australia and Sumatra, ranging from the magnificent Asian elephant to the brightly coloured Corroboree frogs, species that Taronga is committed to protecting.

Created by Ample Projects, with interactive lighting, sound effects and moving parts, these giant light sculptures are among the largest and most technologically advanced lanterns ever to feature in Vivid.

13260032_1146084208787802_6102213531579595653_nMandylights won the lighting design tender to create a colourful and atmospheric setting for the sculptures, an impressive accomplishment considering the size and terrain of the zoo. The zoo is located on the side of a cliff in dense bush and whilst there is a set path for Vivid, people can wander anywhere.

“The zoo is basically pitch black at night and in many areas we really had to start from scratch,” commented Richard Neville of Mandylights. “There were some areas where we had complete free reign and others where we were complementing the lanterns.”

Naturally the biggest concern with the project was how the animals would react and Mandylights had to submit all of their ideas to the individual zoo keepers for comment. During the install the keepers were onsite to ensure that no animals were offended. Rather than switch all the lights on at 6pm as is the norm for all the other Vivid works, the Taronga lights are switched on at 4pm so that the animals can adjust to the lighting as it gets dark.
The giraffe pen is the only animal enclosure that is lit up with Mandylights trying a multitude of ideas to ensure the giraffes were comfortable with their illuminated habitat.

“The first night we turned four different lights on and the giraffes got bit spooked by having multiple shadows,” said Richard. “We had to dial that back and we now have fewer lights on the enclosure.”

Crucial to the lighting design were 130 x ShowPro Hex 18 LED PARs and 24 x ShowPro EX36 LED Floods, both of which have an IP65 rating. The PARS provide a solid base of colour for the entire site onto which Mandylights layered more lighting.

“The ShowPro Hex 18’s and EX36’s are our go-to products for outdoor fixtures, we bought them about a year ago and they’ve been great,” Richard remarked. “The colours in them are really good and they’re doing everything at the zoo from site light to lighting trees to being buried in bushes. It’s comforting to know that we can throw one of these fixtures into a bush for a month and it will chug along and keep working.”

13325679_10154230393164860_4813723504053188383_nThere are four MA Lighting systems running on site as due to the difficulty working on the site, it was not possible to control the entire area from one MA position. An MA programming wing controls one area, an MA2 light console runs the moving lights and the three main areas whilst a couple of nodes run replay in a couple of other areas.

“We put an MA2 in the back of a golf buggy so we could drive around to program everything, flash the shows into the various replay systems and move on to the next one,” said Richard.

Due to the sheer amount of foot traffic during the day, and now the night, at the zoo, there were many places where cable ramps could not be run across the ground. There are also several vehicles used in the zoo, such as the elephant transporter, that are higher than your average road vehicle so running cables higher up was a problem too.

“This is where Wireless Solutions W-DMX was invaluable,” stated Richard. “It just does a series of hops around the park into really difficult to reach places. This project would not have been achievable without it.”