Thanks to their sneak preview at LDI97 in Las Vegas, Italian searchlight manufacturer Space Cannon's new IREOS outdoor xenon luminaires were recently put through their first paces at an important event held in Milan. The units, which will get a full bells-and-whistles launch at the SIB show in Rimini this month, feature an internationally patented dichroic color changer.

The prestige project was the illumination of the facade of the city's cathedral for almost a month during the Christmas season (below). Eight 4kW SET-IREOS fixtures were used. Architect Alfio Sciacca of Grandi Vivai Sciacca's Light Engineering division explains, "Our studio, based in Catania, Sicily, was called in to work on 'Christmas Under the Little Madonna,' named after the statue on the top of Milan's cathedral, the symbol of the city. We were responsible for lighting the cathedral and the surrounding square, including a 75'-tall (23m) Christmas tree." Examining the show floor in Las Vegas, Sciacca, who had used Space Cannon products before, was particularly impressed by the IREOS color changer.

Space Cannon president and owner Bruno Baiardi explains what sets the IREOS color changer apart. "Devices currently used to color light do so after the light has been reflected, whereas our system--the result of three years' labor and testing--colors the light before it's reflected," Baiardi says. "This greatly increases luminous output, and that the changer is built-in means more compact, weatherproof luminaires. Plus, when the changer is not in use, the luminaire's full power can be exploited, as the beam is not obstructed in any way. Instead of using the ellipsoidal optics systems normally fitted on other units, which result in a conical beam, ours have a parallel beam. If need be, this can be changed to a conical beam. Our parabolic system also ensures greater light intensity."

To ensure that the square in front of the cathedral was left free for tourists and Christmas shopping crowds, the eight fixtures (in two groups of four) were positioned on mobile platforms 145m (479') from the facade of the cathedral. Their DMX controller ran seven 64-scene color-change programs from sunset to 2am. Baiardi says, "One of the color changer's features enables operators to project a yellow beam with a blue border, three colors, or even circles of light--all without using a gobo, or changing the circles' diameter with the zoom."

Says Sciacca, "With projects lasting a few days, cinema lighting is often used, but in this case, with a run from December 12 to January 6, in a city definitely not renowned for winter sunshine, weatherproof outdoor fixtures were a must. The crowds saw some really unusual things, and the slow crossfades, combined at certain points with music, had great visual impact."

Unusual things will no doubt be popping up elsewhere at SIB, to be held March 29 to April 1 at the Rimini Trade Fair. For more information about the international exhibition of equipment and technology for discos, dance halls, and rental firms, phone 39/541/711-228, fax 39/541/711-255, or check out the SIB website at http://www.fierarimini.it.