Nautilus Entertainment Design Illuminates the Angels
Sunday, 2 September 2001
The small Midwestern town of Carthage, Missouri, in the US, is home to a unique amphitheatre that draws tens of thousands of visitors annually.

When Samuel Butcher, the creator of the American figurines and greeting cards featuring Precious Moments and his sons Jonathan and Don decided to develop an attraction in their home base, they turned to a creative team that included the lighting designers of Nautilus Entertainment Design for their inspiration.

The ‘Fountain of Angels’ is an open-air music and water production featuring a plaza of large programmable fountains centred around 252 bronze sculptures - some weighing as much as 1,000 pounds each. The action centres on a fountain containing a water jet that shoots 75 feet into the air, surrounded by a cathedral arch and two foam jets that are smaller versions of the main water jet. The water is held in a 100,000-gallon underground reservoir; during the peak of the performance, 16,000 gallons of water are pumped through the fountain per minute. 13 pumps with a total of 550 horsepower force the water through 560 valves, connected by over two miles of tubing to 260 water nozzles.

Surrounding the central sculptural display are two Water Castles and two Dancing Water fountains, which are animated with movement. There are four additional foam jets in this area. Finally, at the rear of the plaza is a giant fan-shaped 80ft wide mist screen and a candelabra comprising 60 individual jets creating another wall of water. The entire plaza comprises an area 170ft in diameter.

Jim Tetlow of Nautilus Entertainment Design (NED) created the original lighting design, which consisted of underwater fixtures, exterior fixtures and automated fixtures in protective enclosures. The main lighting positions included two weatherproofed ‘bunkers’, which were built into the grade at ground level on either side of the plaza and housed Cyberlight CX units. The bunkers were equipped with temperature controls to keep the fixtures cool and a clear glass window facing the fountains. Two telescoping 40ft lighting towers were located in the side bunkers and two front-of-house positions were used for 1kW Par 64 Exterior fixtures, using pink, lavender and blue dichroic filters. A weatherproof booth placed for rear-projecting 70mm film onto the mist screen provided an additional location for backlighting purposes, containing three Cyberlight CX fixtures. Waterproof 1kW Par 64 and 500W Par 56 units, as well as 75W submersible MR16s, were utilized around and within the fountains themselves. The Par 64s were located at the base of the water effects and functioned as uplights. These were modified to accept dichroic colour filters. The smaller 75W fixtures were used without colour to illuminate the statues within the fountain.

In late 2000, NED was contacted a second time to design a new show - The Everlasting Promise. The lighting plot and setting remained essentially the same, except the site was enclosed, allowing the event to run year round. A new 20-minute musical score was created by Bob Krogstad and recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The production begins with a chorus of gospel singers who start the Biblical journey of the world’s creation through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. The singers are only present for the beginning of the production; after their departure, the music, water and lighting tell the story.

In May of this year, NED associate lighting designer Mia Bane returned to create the lighting for the new production. She worked closely with Michael Connery and his staff at Show Fountains of Houston, Texas, who designed and installed the water effects. Fountain designer Carol Connery and programmer Bob Harvey created the movement of the water in real time to the musical score during exhaustive programming sessions. While they were working, Bane began the task of lighting each of the five songs in the production, with about 11 hours of programming time

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