The grandMA meets an icon in the world of Coca-Cola, at the $100 million Coke museum which opened on a new site in Atlanta May 24 and is expected to draw about 1.2 million visitors in its first year. The grandMA provides lighting control for a 30’ tall replica of Coke’s famous contour bottle which is encased in a 90’, ice-like glass cylinder suspended above the lobby entrance. A.C.T Lighting is the North American distributor of the grandMA.

Lighting designers Michael Creason and Seth Rapaport of Visionary Light & Media in Montverde, FL were charged with illuminating the iconic bottle and creating lighting effects for the attention-getting signage. Within the bottle are 216 Color Kinetics ColorCast 14 fixtures, 10 Flutes, 96 Birkett Strobes and one Coemar par. Each 6’ high level of two-ply glass panels forming the glass cylinder, which goes from opaque to translucent to give the illusion of ice, is outfitted with 104 Color Kinetics Color Blast 12s.

“The client came to us with the fixtures already specified and purchased,” notes Creason. “They wanted us to figure out how to use them and control them, how to get maximum impact for the project. In that kind of situation the grandMA was a given. With the grandMA we get an extraordinary amount of control over the fixtures in the glass tower and within the Coke bottle itself.”

Creason and Rapaport weren’t just shining lights on the giant Coke bottle: They were creating effects lighting that could be customized for different scenarios. Since flexibility was key, the lighting designers crafted full-scale mock ups of the bottle and tower and prepared a number of demos using grandMA 3D which impressed the client.

“While the bottle had been designed, they hadn’t decided what materials would be used,” Rapaport points out. “We had to move forward without knowing what was going to be used, and we went through several revisions of materials. The bottle had to have a certain color, the proportions had to be exact. The client needed to make sure we could give them the Georgia green color, Coke’s signature hue, and that we could simulate filling up the bottle with what looked like Coke or Mellow Yellow and do a lot of cool things like striping and strobing.”

The grandMA’s interactive capabilities enabled the lighting designers to install a fiber-optic network for console communication and possible patron interactivity.

Ethernet connectivity meant Creason and Rapaport could be at a distance to observe the lighting effects on the bottle and tower. They deployed a grandMA Light to control and send commands to the main grandMA and used a wireless router to trigger color changes from a PDA. “The client loved it,” says Creason. “It’s something unique to the grandMA, and everyone is always impressed by it. We love it, too!”

The grandMA has even more remote capabilities. “If the company wants to put together a special presentation they can email us ideas, we can preprogram an entire show and send a return email with an attachment,” Creason points out.

“The client had no idea of how much flexibility they could get from the grandMA,” adds Rapaport. “They never imagined the level of control we could have. The grandMA gives us the most flexibility of any system, and it’s easy to create all kinds of effects. Its bitmapping capability is particularly useful.”

The system’s flexibility also means it can be customized to control lighting for corporate events or holidays. “We can use the grandMA to control other lights and interact with the bottle,” Creason says. “If someone comes in with lights for a particular event we can interact with them. The agenda—a really genius function—triggers lighting cues based on the time of day; it knows when sunset occurs based on the system’s GPS.”

The lighting designers had the goal of setting up a system which required minimal user interaction and which wouldn't forget where it is in case of a power failure on site. “The grandMA gives us a lot of confidence,” says Rapaport. “It’s a product we can work with and know we’re not going to get panicked phone calls.”

Creason and Rapaport found the new World of Coca-Cola project to be “very satisfying. It’s great to work on something that’s going to be around for a very long time,” they declare.

"It is an honor having the grandMA on this project with Michael and Seth. They are designing the lighting of a cultural icon that will be viewed by millions of people every year," comments A.C.T Lighting president and CEO Bob Gordon. "This project seems simple enough to the viewing public but it took a lot of work and wizardry to make it work that way. Kudos to Michael and Seth."

Design Communications, Ltd. fabricated the Coke bottle and tower signage. Production Resource Group (PRG) was the system integrator.