Lighting Control is Child’s Play at Pretend City Childrens Museum

by PLSN Staff • in
  • News
• Created: September 24, 2009

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IRVINE, CA — An amphitheater with LED theatrical lighting is one of 20 exhibits in the newly opened Pretend City Children’s Museum, a 28,000-square foot pint-sized city where kids up to 8 years in age are invited to explore, play and learn.

Doug Northeim, owner of Red Fish Illuminations, Columbus, Ohio, partnered with the Cantara Design Group to design and install the amphitheater’s professional lighting. Cantara designed the protocol that controls all of the building’s automation including heating and cooling, video production, sound effects and lighting.

“The exhibit has a little control console in front, with the idea that the kids can do everything from running sound and lights to using props and wearing costumes,” said Northeim.  “Each push button creates a sound effect, lighting effect or both.”

Northeim chose an all-Chauvet rig of 19 LED lights, chosen in part for longevity and low energy use. He programmed six one-minute songs with lights choreographed to the music, ranging from classical to country and rock, he said. “You have wash lights for the ballet with the classical music,” he said. “And for rock, gobos flash and the moving heads swing out to the audience.”

The Q-Spot 150-LED moving yoke spot offers nine vibrant colors plus white with pan and tilt at 540 degrees and 270 degrees respectively.  Seven interchangeable slot-n-lock gobos provide enough effects to make a lighting novice a superstar. And for soft, seamless washes, the COLORpalette offers RGB color mixing, color fade, and automatic programs with built-in sound activation.  Add the LEDrain 64 to provide enough color for even the finickiest ballerina.

The amphitheater was scaled to size with the other buildings, which include a grocery store, café, post office, police station, gas station, art studio, farm, house, marina and a beach all aimed at young children.

The theater lights were staged at a height of 9 to 11 feet, which is out of the reach of a child propped on the shoulders of an average sized man. Northeim said the truss couldn’t be hidden, so it became another element of the theater. “We used two LEDrain 38 fixtures as truss warmers,” he said.

While the LED fixtures were bright, Northeim said they were focused so they would not shine directly in the children’s eyes. The stage lights had frost filters for the same reason.

Along with the kids, parents love the theater, he said. “Kids look at the lights and say, “okay, that’s neat,” he said. “But their parents, who are in their 20s to 40s, take to the technology even more. In a way, this was almost an invitation to get parents in there.”

The Chauvet gear list includes:

2  Q-Spot 150-LED
2  LEDrain 38
6  LEDrain 64
5  COLORpalette
2  MiN Spot
2  LED PAR 64 with dimmer packs

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