Colour Sound Keeps an Official Secret

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West London, UK based lighting rental company Colour Sound Experiment supplied site wide lighting, projection and AV for the Secret Garden Party festival - one of the UK's original 'boutique' style events, a celebration of music, arts, creativity and expressive fun. A cast of thousands is encouraged to engage with ideas and dreams for 4 days of imaginative freedom in a fabulous secret garden location in East Anglia near Huntingdon.

It was the first time that Colour Sound - one of the most popular festival lighting suppliers in the UK - has worked for the event, and it was also the first outing for Colour Sound's new BT12 12 mm pitch LED screen, a brand new lightweight product that has been designed and manufactured exactly to their spec.

The investment is to cater for the growing demand for visual and scenic display surfaces that are becoming increasingly integrated into 'lighting designs'. For Secret Garden, a total of 210 panels of the BT12 screen was supplied by Colour Sound to Immersive, the festival's site wide video design team headed by Mark Calvert.

The Colour Sound crew of 14 was led on site by Jon Rickets and the project co-ordinated in the office by Steve Marley. They deployed 3 trucks of lighting and visuals kit around the site, covering the main stage and 32 other assorted stages, areas and spaces, all of which required various degrees of illumination.

They also worked closely with secret Garden's production managers Peter Tilling and James Brennon, which was "A great collaborative and highly rewarding experience," says Rickets.

Main Stage

A production lighting design was created for the main stage to satisfy all the headlining acts - The Mystery Jets (Friday), Leftfield (Saturday) supported by Blondie and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Sunday), Colour Sound also supplied full specials packages for Leftfield and Blondie.

The stage was an 18 metre orbit structure, below which 5 sub trusses were hung, some of which were hinged and shaped to the roof to maximise space.

The festival design utilised 16 Clay Paky Alpha Spot 1500 HPEs, six Robe ColorSpot 700E ATs and 16 x GLP 120 RZ Zoom LED washes for moving lights, along with 10 Martin Professional Atomic strobes, large quantities of 2 and 4-lite blinders and 12 Sunstrip Actives, all controlled through an Avolites Pearl Expert with a touch screen. A Chamsys MagicQ 300 was also supplied by Colour Sound, with Blondie the only act bringing in their own console, which was a grandMA light.

A major overnight changeover took place on the Friday for the Saturday to ensure that Leftfield had a completely unique look for their performance, which was the highlight of the weekend.

On the Friday, the screen was configured as one large centre-stage surface flanked each side by 2 thin vertical columns. On Saturday, this was changed to three portrait formatted screens. For Sunday the screen changed again, together with some of the lighting, as both Immersive and the Secret Garden production were keen to have a different variation.

Radically altering the screen was entirely practical due to its light weight and portability. It is a handy 28 Kgs per square metre and fastens together rapidly via a direct clipping system. Currently it is housed in touring road cases, but Colour Sound will soon be installing it into bespoke touring frames - once it's back in the warehouse long enough - which will speed up this process up even more! The light weight also means it can be hung with a lot less rigging involved.

The Leftfield (LD Chris Steel) extras comprised 4 soft-ladders - installed in the gaps between the 3 screens, onto which were rigged an additional 6 Alpha Spot 1500 HPEs, 4 x Atomics, 6 x GLP 120 RZ Zooms and assorted blinders, and the MagicQ console was also used. For Blondie, Colour Sound added a 36 inch mirror ball and 6 x Chroma-Q Color Force 72 LED battens, used for lighting white material drops in front of the LED screens and soft ladders.

Around the Secret Garden

A giant dragonfly - approximately 15ft high and 30 long - was built on a pontoon in the middle of the lake, and spectacularly ignited on Saturday night as part of the fireworks and pyro extravaganza, which is a centrepiece of the event. Underneath the dragonfly was a floating dancefloor area, for which Colour Sound supplied wave and ripple effects and colour-changing LEDs for the dragonfly eyes.

Other stages of note included 'Where the Wild Things Are' which was lit with 6 x GLP RZ Zooms, 7 x Martin MAC Entours and a scattering of PARs, controlled by an Avolites Tiger.

The Remix Stage featured 8 Sunstrip Actives, six Robe ColorSpot 575E ATs, 6 ColorWash 575E ATs and 4 x Robe ColorWash 700E ATs. Performances included an energetic set by The Whip whose LD, Kesker McClure was also working as one of the Colour Sound event crew.

Other places receiving imaginative lighting treatment included the Soul Fire restaurant, The Crossroads venue, Aspall's Folk Lodge, Teen Love, The Discussion Zone and the Coliseum, an outdoor circus arena which was lit with 10 x Studio Due MiniCities, 2 large exterior LED wash lights and 6 High End Trackspots.

It was a great challenge involving some dynamic and nimble thinking and rigging to ensure that each area was appropriately lit with a heterogeneity of equipment, ranging from video projectors and fast-fold screens to PAR cans, LED PARs and a multiplicity of moving lights and colour changing fixtures.

The other main challenges were the overnight main stage transformations - which all agreed were well worth the effort to offer a completely different visual look and feel.

Says Rickets, "It was a fabulous event to work on in a very friendly atmosphere with people who really care enormously about aesthetics, presentation and the importance of offering high production values for the greater enjoyment of their audience".

For more information on Colour Sound Experiment, please call Louise Stickland on +44 7831 329888/+44 1865 202679 or Email louise@loosplat.com To contact Colour Sound direct, please call +44 208 965 9119.

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