COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA – Every night, one hour after the sunset across the Great Lawn of River’s Edge Park, a light show begins. Entitled Rays, the twelve-minute interactive light environment designed by Dan Corson was installed by Bandit Lites in conjunction with Visual Terrain and Beaudry Interactive, is the first permanent interactive light show ever installed.
Inspired by the intricate, geometric designs of European knot gardens, and drawing upon the very movement from Iowa’s own frozen rivers, artist Dan Corson applied the same kind of patterns tohis design. And in the same way people would stare out at their expansive lawns onto formal gardens years ago, so now can park attendees see similar swirling patterns moving in the same way ice cracks and swirls slowly into irregular round patterns. Moreover, the colors of the show intuitively change as the seasons pass, with saturated hues illuminating a snow covered lawn in winter, and more appropriate colors being utilized in spring and summer months when the grass is vivid green.
Bandit mounted eight Exterior 1200 fixtures along the north wall and eight on the south, with each corner of the field containing a MAC III in a Tempest enclosure to protect the non-exterior robotic fixture from the elements. Martin generously provided a maxxyz rack mount controller as well as additional discounts on the fixtures for the install.
John Jenkinson, Bandits installation service specialist coordinated with the electrical contractor for the Tempest enclosures, motion sensors, FLIR camera and the Wi-Fi antennas. Using infrared technology, Doppler radar detectors, custom tracking and interactive game software, the field can keep track of up to 350 individuals.
“On one of the poles, mounted between the exterior 1200 fixtures, there is an infrared camera. The camera identifies people in the fields and then custom software then tracks that person on the computer. That software converts that person into pan and tilt values for the lights. That computer and that software translates what it sees on the camera and allows us to follow people around on the field, or make the lights interact with person based on the fact that we know where in the field that individual person is.”
Knowing where people are in the field comes into play with the interactive elements of Rays, as Corson included four different interactive games for park attendees to play. Interactive components of the show include radar detectors sensing motion and directing the robotic fixtures into the areas when not in show mode, and when in show mode, two randomly selected games play for three or six minutes. A chasing rainbow of color alerts patrons the games are starting.
The four games include the following: Stealing Dorothy Hamill’s Spotlight, where four robotic lights randomly select one person to follow on the field while other players attempt to “trick” the robot and steal the light, Hot-Cold, where a blue spotlight beams on the field and as people move towards the spotlight, the closest individual to the spotlight is tracked, varying the color of the spotlight until it is red and triggers a visual prize, Cat Laser Pointer, where the spotlight will intelligently dodge anyone attempting to “catch” it, and finally Yellow Spot Blue Spot, where two random people are assigned different color spotlights, and they try to trick the computer into switching their colors.
And if the games themselves were not clever enough, Corson even included “Easter eggs” into his design that respond to masses of people coordinating their movements while on the field.
With the field measuring over five acres, one challenge the team faced was the sheer size of the park and the logistics of sight lights from pedestrian sidewalks, groves of trees and even parking lights interfering with the show.
“One of the great things Bandit did was they cleverly changed around how people were thinking about how these blocks were able to be turned on and off,” said Corson.
“We worked with both the local engineer, Dan, and the city to help them figure out what is going to happen in between shows,” explained Jenkinson. “How does the site lighting need to be circuited? How does all of that integrate into how the show runs, and what site lights should be on, and what site lights should be off. We actually went back to the engineer and had them recircuit the site lights themselves, making it work with electrical design of the park.”
“And that was just fantastic,” added Corson, “because that way we could turn off different sections and make it even darker than the original plan was. And all that ambient light really affects the whole experience of the park.”
Additionally, Corson and the team did a mock-up at the shop in Knoxville, providing early insight to equipment choices and pattern design, ultimately allowing both Corson and the interactive designer David Beaudry the information necessary for what to communicate to Martin.
“There were a lot of unknowns in this project, and Bandit was able to jump into the void with us, and not just trust that it was all going to work out, but also solve and troubleshoot as the needs arose,” Corson said.
Artist, Dan Corson of Corson Studios LLC www.corsonart.com
Lighting designer Lisa Passamonte Green of Visual Terrain
Assistant designer Micahel Mahlum
Programming by Brad Haynes
Interactive Systems by David Beaudry
Bandit Lites’ installation and service specialist, John Jenkinson
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace. From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will insure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you.