With the current James Bond film Die Another Day experiencing the usual global success, it is, perhaps, not surprising that the British superspy has found his way into numerous retail displays and museum exhibits, each of which uses the latest in lighting technology. Two of them were supplied by the English lighting hire company Lightfactor.
Bond is, of course, the quintessential British hero, so what better place to celebrate him than the windows of Harrods, the quintessential British department store? Thus Bond was accorded two full windows in Harrods' flagship store in London's Knightsbridge section, with a display that featured Bond's silver Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and the electric green Jaguar XKR driven by General Zao, the villain played by Rick Yune in Die Another Day. (This being a Bond tribute, the latter vehicle featured a reclining blonde on the hood.) Other window props included 007 dummies and plasma screens showing action sequences from several Bond films.
Paul de Ville of Lightfactor was brought in to light the display. He was consulted by AV installer Andy Evans from Practical Creative Solutions; De Ville's brief was to make the cars into colorful, attention-grabbing centerpieces both day and night. The challenge was to light the cars effectively, while not overpowering the video. Also, the display was scheduled to run up 18 hours a day for two months.
As a result, De Ville's design used six Pixeline 1044 battens and six Pixelpar 660 PAR-64 units, all of which are part of the new Pixelrange of LED theatrical units from James Thomas Engineering. In addition, borrowing inspiration from Die Another Day, which features an extended car chase on ice, De Ville chose to continue that theme, using the Martin Glaciator low-lying smoke machine. James Thomas also supplied to Lightfactor a number of customized MR-16 units for picking out features on the cars, and for close-up gobo projections.
The installation of the cars, illuminated pictures, video screens, and lighting equipment took two nights, with rigging of the lighting and control managed by Evans. De Ville notes that the Pixelrange units have proved extremely reliable, adding that they projected strongly through the smoke from the Glaciator. All lighting was controlled by an Artistic Licence DMX controller on auto-chase.
Adds Evans, "The simple, well-thought-out design of the Pixeline 1044 battens and the Pixelpar 660 PAR-64 is great. It made control and mains cabling a dream, and this, coupled with the Glaciator's easy setup, ensured the plotting all happened on time."
Meanwhile, Lightfactor Sales also supplied LD David Hurst and installer Entserv Ltd. with lighting, audio, and show control equipment for the Bond, James Bond exhibition that opened in at the Science Museum in London after a six-month installation at the Museum of Photography, Film, and Television in Bradford.
Hurst's brief was to design a lighting concept using a modular system with a standard range of units, which was flexible enough to be moved and reassembled in touring venues. The Science Museum was the first venue on the tour to be designed, as it hosts the exhibition in its largest version (The exhibit is at the Science Museum through April 27.)
The Entserv Team
Bond, James Bond uses a custom-designed audio-visual system operating on a Cat 5 Ethernet network, which involves 25 interactive computers, interactive Bond props, and LCD projectors. Entserv assembled the AV equipment in London and will make any necessary additions enabling it to tour internationally.
Most of the lighting equipment is a custom track system designed by Hurst in conjunction with Lightfactor. This includes low-voltage arms, specified with James Thomas MR-16 birdies, for the artwork panels. Hurst says, "I specified birdies for several reasons: they gave me flexibility with lamp type and filter and could be supplied as a bespoke unit to match the graphic panel. They are robust and suitable for touring and they met the budget."
A variety of theatrical lighting units are also used in the exhibit, including MAD Lighting color changers, MAD scans, and High End Systems Dataflash strobes. All distribution and electrics are controlled by LightProcessor Paradime touring racks supplied by Lightfactor.
Among the exhibition's challenges, the office for M, Bond's exasperated superior, was the most difficult to light. The scene required the look of natural daylight beaming in through a window. Hurst did a mockup of his design at the Lightfactor warehouse, then recreated the scene using two Strand 2kW Bambinos with white panels below to redirect any stray light. He also used Bambino 650W fresnels and Ladi floods on a rig above the office ceiling, giving the installation the feel of a film studio.
The exhibition, which includes many examples of espionage paraphernalia, will come to the United States this spring, when it arrives at the Ford Museum in Detroit. Entserv will train the American crew and hand over the project. It will tour the US for three years, then move to Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. At this rate, the next Bond film will be in release before the exhibit has run its course.
Just as these displays were created to promote the release of Die Another Day, the film’s London premiere was an event in itself. For that event, LD David Atkinson of David Atkinson Lighting Design Ltd. was told to turn London’s Royal Albert Hall into an ice palace.
In the film, the villain Gustave Graves, played by Toby Stephens, lives in an ice palace, an image that the film’s producers wanted to replicate at the premiere. Thus Atkinson decided that the best way to "freeze" Albert Hall was with intense layers of light. He used a combination of Martin MAC 2000 washlights along with Studio Due’s 1,800W CityColor exterior lighting units. Water ripple effects, as will as drifting graphic imagery, were projected across the building’s surface by the Martin MAC 2000 Profile. "The result was a very even distribution of light right across the building, which, along with the 54 giant polycarbonate icicles, achieved exactly the effect required," says Atkinson.
The installation was carried out by the firm Fulcrum, with Richard Cross acting as project manager. "Because of the limited time frame we had a crew of 30 to rig the three 12m [40'] lighting towers," he says. "Each was powered by generators paired for backup. We then positioned around 130 automated luminaires on the towers, chosen because we could focus them from the ground, saving us a great deal of precious time." Fulcrum also provided power for the sound and video screens outside the building. The lighting towers were built by Summit Steel and positioned center, left, and right to ensure and even distribution of light.
The result, for one evening, Royal Albert Hall, transformed by a wash of cold blue light, was turned into a palace of ice. It’s a feat that even Q, James Bond’s technical guru, might admire.