Martin Professional's Exterior 600 color-changing washlight made its debut in England last November in the fairy-tale setting of Leeds Castle, deep in the heart of Kent in the English countryside. Set on two islands, and rising from its own lake upon 500 acres of land, this 1,100-year-old castle was home to several medieval kings and queens, including the notorious Henry VIII.
The Exterior 600 added color to a massive fireworks display (pictured) created for Guy Fawkes Night. Designed as a global tour, the sound and light spectacular took nearly 15,000 guests from the heartland of the United States to Mexico, over the Pacific Ocean and on to the Far East and the Orient, then crossing the Russian steppes before turning south to Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe, before finally reaching the British Isles.
"The lighting was designed to complement the fireworks," says lighting designer Chris Hale, who works for Martin in the UK. "Each song had a certain color, from red for Russia to green for Ireland. For Africa we lit the entire castle like a zebra."
Designed for architectural usage, the Exterior 600 was developed from Martin's MAC 600, by putting the same color-changing technology into a sealed weatherproof and convection-cooled unit which snaps instantly or fades to any light level. The CYM color-mixing system is said to provide infinite color combinations, while an independent color wheel with red, blue, and green filters is also available. A color-correction filter can also be used. The beam of the Exterior 600 can be softened with the frost filter or flattened, widened, or rotated with the beam-shaping filter, and the fixture can be fitted with a variable zoom of 18-25 degrees. All of the Exterior 600's effects can be programmed via most DMX consoles and Martin controllers.
At Leeds Castle, Hale used a total of 16 Exterior 600s, with eight of them focused directly on the facade of the castle. In addition, he used 10 Martin MAC 500s in MAC Dome protective housings with eight of these also lighting the castle's facade. The show was run from a Case Pro I console.
Hale designed and programmed the show and ran the console during the event. "I have a thing for English history," says Hale, "and this is one of the best castles in the country." He set up the lights at the Castle on a Thursday, programmed most of the night, and ran a rehearsal on Friday. The event was held on Saturday night.
After the Exterior 600s made their English debut, the fixtures were seen in Phoenix, where they added a kinetic light display to the fountain at the Civic Plaza during LDI98. Other projects where the Exterior 600s have been used include The Lord of the Rings in Berlin, produced in a huge illuminated tent (see The Light Side, page 112), and the lighting of Central Square in Copenhagen for Christmas. This project included the world's largest advent calendar, where each day in December was a window lit with a Martin PAL1200. In February, Hale used the Exterior 600s to light the front of the London Arena in the Docklands for the annual Brit Awards.