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CANBERRA, Australia - Floriade, Australia's biggest celebration of spring, is held every year for 30 days during September and October. It showcases one million flowers in bloom, set in Canberra's Commonwealth Park and attracting more than 400,000 visitors. For this year’s NightFest, Mandylights designed and created the lighting ambience, making extensive use of the Martin MAC 301 Wash LED moving head. PRG supplied the fixtures.
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CANBERRA, Australia - Floriade, Australia's biggest celebration of spring, is held every year for 30 days during September and October. It showcases one million flowers in bloom, set in Canberra's Commonwealth Park and attracting more than 400,000 visitors.
For five of those nights, Floriade comes alive after dark with NightFest when garden bed designs, pond waters and trees are shown in a whole new light amid dazzling light shows.
Designed and created by Mandylights, this year’s NightFest made extensive use of the Martin MAC 301 Wash LED moving head. Capable of producing a wide range of colors from rich saturated shades to pastels through the entire zoom range, the fixture was the ideal choice.
Prior to the event, Mandylights organized a “shoot out” of comparable products on the market and even though the MAC 301 has been on the market longer than some of its competitors, it was chosen for its output.
A total of 48 MAC 301 fixtures, positioned in groups of six, took care of lighting the largest part of the site: the main vista comprising six different garden beds that occupy 200m x 50m (656 ft x 164 ft) of the park.
“It’s the iconic view of Floriade that they use in all of their marketing,” explained Richard Neville of Mandylights. “It’s also the first part of the park that visitors see so it has to be impressive.”
The MAC 301s are situated in eight of Mandylights’ own custom built scaffold towers, which they have refined over the past three years of doing the event. The first year saw Mandylights use all conventional fixtures for this area followed a year later by discharge moving lights.
“This year, with the interactive element, we needed a fixture that is reliable with so much color changing over the course of the night,” added Neville. “We didn’t think that a traditional CMY mixing system would hold up to the assault of repeatedly changing color for five hours over five nights in a row.”
Another important factor considered when choosing a suitable fixture was that the site has no power with everything generator-powered. A fixture’s power consumption was important and the MAC 301 offers energy efficiency.
“The MAC 301 is also small and light which makes rigging easy,” commented Neville. “Also, as it uses LED color mixing there are no moving parts involved, which makes them a more reliable fixture.”
This year it was decided to give visitors a new experience by offering interactive lighting whereby they can actually pick the color they want to see washing the flower beds via an iPad.
“The theme for this year’s Floriade revolved around style so this has been carried through to the lighting – apply your own style of lighting color and effect to each bed,” Neville said. “It’s simple for the visitor to choose between a few colors and chase patterns.”
Each of the six beds had an iPad in front of it with custom made software that talks to the lighting console via MIDI. The lighting console then triggers off a number or a combination of cues that would then instantaneously change the MAC 301s.
While the MAC 301s would do their individual color changing courtesy of the public for five minutes, they would then do a two-minute show programmed by Mandylights to exploit the movement of the fixtures.
“We found that if we shot them all up into the air with a narrow zoom you’d get a searchlight effect into the night sky, which was really cool,” he added. “We really got a lot of bang for buck out of them.”
Canberra in the spring can get down to minus 3 degrees at night, sometimes up into the high 20s during the day, plus it can also be windy. Neville said the MAC 301s were onsite for two weeks and performed admirably. The fixtures were supplied by PRG.