White Light at the Speed of Light

Monday, 17 September 2012
White Light at the Speed of LightNVA's Speed of Light created shapes and patterns of light across Arthur's Seat (photo: Sean Bell, courtesy NVA)
UK - Entertainment lighting specialist White Light has been involved with what The Guardian newspaper has described as an 'innovative art project' - NVA's Speed of Light, running in Edinburgh for the duration of this year's Festival.

An outdoor lighting project, NVA's Speed of Light created shapes and patterns of light across the giant volcanic hill, Arthur's Seat, which sits on the edge of the city of Edinburgh. The lighting was a living, moving, dynamic thing created by living, moving, dynamic performers - who wore suits of wirelessly controlled, battery powered LEDs and so were also the show's lighting rig!

The performers' movements across the vast expanse of Arthur's Seat, which rises to 251m at its peak, were precisely choreographed, while their lighting was equally precisely cued from a grandMA console. The lighting data was transmitted from the control position up to a battery powered, wireless distribution rack located at the top of Arthur's Seat.

Designed and built by White Light using W-DMX technology from Wireless Solution, this rack was fitted with a rucksack style harness, which allowed it to be carried to its remote, rugged location each night. It received the control signal and rebroadcast it across the entirety of the hill, though a series of antennae carefully chosen to give coverage to both the most distant points and closer to the transmitters.

The control signals were received by each wireless suit, where W-DMX receivers fed GDS LED drivers, allowing individual control of the intensity and colour of each of the performers.

"Engineering the system to cover the enormous area the performers range across was quite challenging," notes White Light's technical director, Dave Isherwood, "and we also had to specify a battery system able to run for the duration of the show each night. With the whole thing built into a rack and mounted with a harness allowing it to be carried to the top of Arthur's Seat, it did feel a bit like a spectacular prop from an epic spy movie!"

Conceived and created by NVA, the project's lighting designer was Phil Supple. "We've worked with Phil on many projects now, including the successful Northumberland Lights events," Isherwood says. "Each time it starts with a conversation about a crazy idea. Every time, we've managed to figure out how to make that crazy idea real, to help create something fantastic. It's a challenge every time, but seeing the delight people take in the end result is always a great reward."

(Jim Evans)

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