Forty-eight Sharpys illuminated the trees and created aerial patterns for the show (photo: Benjamin Roy)
USA - Once again suburban Chicago was aglow with the holiday spirit as Illumination: The Lights at The Morton Arboretum opened for its annual run, 21 November to 3 January. Visitors to The Arboretum followed a magical one-mile paved path lined by trees that shone with LEDs and responded to touch and sound. Clay Paky Sharpys and new Clay Paky Mythos fixtures - the first in the U.S. - housed in Igloo domes provided innovative lighting effects for the one-of-a-kind holiday display.

The Morton Arboretum was founded in 1922 by Morton Salt magnate Joy Morton whose father inaugurated Arbor Day in the U.S. The annual Illumination event features stunning lighting effects along a one-mile outdoor path through the trees and offers opportunities for visitors to interact with the trees to change the colour and intensity of the lights.

Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC) in Chicago was already on site testing elements for this year's Illumination display when A.C.T Lighting brought some new Mythos fixtures for ILC and Lightswitch to look at. The versatile Mythos is a highly-advanced hybrid light: It serves as an excellent 470-watt spotlight with an outstanding large beam and zoom optimized for focusing, as well as an extraordinary beam light, which remains parallel for its entire length even at great distances. Mythos is smooth, fast and very quiet and offers a completely redesigned indexed visual effects disc.

"We did a shoot-out in The Arboretum for lighting designer John Featherstone of Lightswitch, and he loved the brightness and the zoom of Mythos, as well as the rotating gobos and prisms," says Matt Pearlman, senior account executive with ILC. "There were a couple of key feature areas where Mythos made a much bigger impact than the Sharpys. So we decided to purchase a handful of Mythos units and use them for this year's display."

The Arboretum wanted this year's display to be "bigger and better" than the one staged in 2013, which met with great visitor response. "So we're growing the experience from last year," Pearlman says.

The new Mythos fixtures were mounted in Igloo domes and illuminated custom water features in the iconic Meadow Lake. "They have more punch and more functionality for the show, including the ability to zoom in and out and go even bigger with the prism effect," notes Pearlman.

Forty-eight Sharpys were mounted in a combination of Igloo domes and custom built ILC domes. "They illuminated the trees and created aerial patterns for the show," he reports.

"The brief from The Morton Arboretum for the project was for guests to 'see trees in a different light,'" added project lighting designer and creative director John Featherstone. "So we are always looking for new fixtures to support our design in interesting and unexpected ways. The Mythos offered us an unmatched combination of an incredibly bright, pencil tight beam as well as remarkable zoom range and gobo capabilities - we simply had to have them and ILC and A.C.T moved heaven and earth to get the fixtures to us in time, and we added them to LED B-Eye's for a flexible and versatile palette of fixtures."

(Jim Evans)

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