Astera on the country park Christmas trail
Monday, 22 January 2024
astera-neverland-illuminata-lswell3The Neverland Illuminova Christmas trail at Wellington Country Park (photo: Luke Dyson)
UK - Over 300 Astera NYX Bulbs and 80 x Titan Tube wireless LED lighting fixtures dazzled festive guests visiting the Neverland Illuminova Christmas trail at Wellington Country Park near Reading. This was a special lighting and visual experience concept developed and delivered by the team at show production and technical specialist, Zeal.
The 1.5km trail followed the journey of the character Hope as they discovered their imagination travelling through various areas of visual interest with land, features and foliage speckled, coloured and bathed in light that could be absorbed, interpreted and sometimes interacted with live.
The NYX Bulbs were installed in two areas, the first of which was called Play. Here they were used in festoon style, strung overhead on scaffolding and catenary wires, and programmed as conventional lights and into a variety of colourful scenes, chases, and effects, boosting the ambience and anticipation of people walking around the trail.
The second area was the Finale where they were also rigged in festoon style, but this time had video content played through them transforming them into single pixels that were synched to lighting focused on the trail’s main visual feature - a 20m wide by 8m water screen that summarised the story.
As the trail paths opened out into this larger Finale space, the Titan Tubes were deployed sitting vertically on floor mounts, outlining, and delineating about 12m of pathway.
In conjunction with the NYX Bulbs rigged above, the Titan Tubes had the same video content running through them and the two sets of luminaires opened the way to the viewing area.
As the projection show finished, everyone walked forward and out of that area via another narrower pathway, also outlined with Titan Tubes.
Steve Hough, managing director at Zeal, explained how they utilised a “very practical” hybrid combination of wired power and wireless data to run the fixtures around the trail. “These Astera fixtures are a great solution for this type of scenario” he said, adding that the quality of the Astera light output and the intensity of the colours are all “excellent characterisers that distinguish them from other products on the market.”
They specifically wanted a softer and more nuanced appearance to mark out the pathways than something like LED tape would have given. “Titans enabled us to add a truly magical and mystical touch to the ‘guiding walkway idea which we simply could not have achieved using anything else.”
He added that the IP rating made the Asteras ideal for the environment. As everyone knows, the English winter is almost guaranteed to be cold, wet, and inhospitable, although this does not dampen enthusiasm for the growing popularity of light trail type installations like this.
The biggest challenges of Neverland Illuminova, noted Steve, were the fact that it was outdoors, and weather aside, all the other logistical elements that brings, like long distances to cover, both technically - with wiring and data cabling / networks - and physically, with walking and rigging lights and projectors, etc., together with the short winter daylight hours compressing the timescale.
On site, they had a month to complete the installation and set-up. Creatively, the galvanising aspect is the amount of detail required in designing the lighting and visuals alongside the fun and interactive parts that enabled people to chase shadows and change the colours of the lighting at certain points depending on their movements, etc. This whole process started being planned in February.
However, overall, the project ran extremely smoothly. It was a massive hit with the public, also acclaimed for its slightly different approach to a standard light trail. “The idea was to present a narrative that offered focus, depth and a bit of a thought process to engage people,” stated Steve.
The complete lighting fixture / pixel count site-wide ran into the several thousands, all controlled via a grandMA3 full size console, with video running through a timecode-triggered Resolume server.
The NYX Bulbs were purchased from Astera’s UK distributor Ambersphere Solutions, initially an investment for a previous lighting project at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire. The Titan Tubes joined the inventory in 2022 to help facilitate the look for rock band Kasabian’s tour of that year and Nick Gray from Renegade’s lighting design, which required 243 tubes to dress a series of scenic cubes.

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