Lighting designer Greg McLennahan is using Robe ColorSpot 1200ATs to illuminate the largest mirror ball in the world, which has a 20’ diameter. The mirror ball is a centerpeice on Blackpool, England’s famous Promenade and its newly launched "Festival of Light," which will continue non-stop for 66 nights.
Illuminations’ festival director Philip Oakley commissioned McLennahan to transform the rotating mirror ball into a "new icon for the illuminations." McLennahan aimed to make it contemporary and fun, as well as a memorable visual sight that brought a distinct touch of luminescent glamour and sophistication to the English resort’s seafront area.
The six ColorSpot 1200 E ATs are mounted on customized 5m-high posts, with special domes on top to protect them for the weather. The posts were designed and supplied by Blackpool Council’s Illumination’s engineering department. They are force air cooled to extract the heat of the fixtures form the small space.
The lights are pointed directly onto the ball and change colors, effects, and gobos on its shimmering surface. McLennahan also programmed the lights to focus on a small arena around the Ball, making patterns in the floor and engaging in 3D animations and projections. These effects draw people in to enjoy the work as a living light sculpture.
"ColorSpot 1200 is a fantastic piece of kit," McLennahan declares. "The optics and effects are amazing, the brightness and smoothness are awesome, and they gave me all the scope to do everything I wanted with the installation."
Control is from a ShowCAD Artist system located in an office building across the street from the seafront. Power is sourced locally, and data is transmitted via wireless DMX. The Artist is programmed to start up, run and then shut down at predetermined times each night.
Local and visitor reaction to the new look mirror ball has been positive. "People are constantly emailing in–already–to say how much they like it," says Oakley, and the Illuminations have only just started.
The Blackpool Illuminations have been entertaining visitors since 1879, when just eight Siemens arc lamps bathed the promenade in "artificial sunshine." More than a century later, the style and scale of the operation have grown with technology. Today, the cable and wiring for the illumination stretches for more than 200 miles and the amount of electricity consumed is worth approximately £50,000.
The Robe fixtures were supplied by rental and sales company HSL from Blackburn. HSL also supplied another four Robe ColorSpot 1200 E ATs for the top of Blackpool Tower for the opening week of the Illuminations. They are being used to perform aerial effects and to project light beams and logos onto the clouds.