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Monument Circle in Indianapolis Commands Attention with New Visuals

PLSN Staff • December 2020Installations • December 10, 2020

Beams and projections brighten downtown Indianapolis

Dodd Technologies and SGM Bring Light to a Community Icon

Indianapolis is said to be home to second largest collection of war memorials in the U.S., next to Richmond, VA. Located downtown is a circular park of statues anchored around the renowned Soldiers and Sailors monument that finished construction in 1902. The Monument Circle has come to symbolize the city and the state of Indiana.

The Eli Lilly Endowment Foundation Grants support efforts to beautify public places, revitalize historic landmarks, increase access to the arts, and infuse new arts experiences in neighborhoods throughout the city. When the foundation put out a request for new project ideas last year, some 250 projects were submitted.

Dynamic visuals grab viewer attention

‡‡         Enter Dodd Technologies

Mark Dodd, president of Dodd Technologies — a full service live events production company, spoke with us about how they got involved. “We were talking to some folks from Indianapolis Downtown, an organization that manages much of what goes on in downtown Indy from festivals to events. We spoke about what we could do to create a destination, a site that would draw more people into the downtown area where the circle is located. How can we give the people who are coming into the city for dinner something to do, especially with theaters, sports and concerts currently shut down? We needed something to draw them to the circle and that area. So we concepted and delivered an entire package, while they helped manage it all.

“We always do a Circle of Light celebration at Christmas, but this was to be a permanent install. The circle itself is a national historical site like the White House, so we had to be careful about how we lit this treasure and make sure it was artfully done. We had to come up with a design that was very particular about where equipment went, how it was seen. We couldn’t just hang lights or place speakers where we wanted. All the design had to be approved by the Historical society, so we designed this project in a way to hide all the technology.”

The competitive bid for the grant money was very secretive. Dodd Technologies had to design this without the benefit of doing any extensive research, they couldn’t even talk to any of the adjacent building owners, whose rooftops were part of the plan to illuminate the circle. That would let the cat out of the bag of what they wanted to propose. Dodd declares, “Concepts, designs, labor, power, we had to figure out how to do that from a budget side. We knew there wouldn’t be sufficient power and the entire electrical system for the tower would have to be rebuilt for what we wanted to do and beyond. That had to be included as well as construction work that may be needed. Line items I wouldn’t normally think of, such as budgeting for high speed data downtown.

“To get cabling for power and data distribution to locations around the street from the center monument meant I had to bore underneath the monument and come up under all these holes that were 18 inches in diameter, going under city streets with lousy drawings and no infrastructure. There were times we didn’t know if we were working on a construction site or an archeological dig.”

The nightly show has been dubbed, “Indy’s Signature Salute.”

‡‡         The Visuals

With the lighting installation, SGM has been firmly planted in the Crossroads of America. The lighting system perfectly combines SGM’s IP66-rated wash fixtures and moving lights to perform this nightly show which has been dubbed, “Indy’s Signature Salute.” The spectacle activates the entire circle with sweeping intense color from P-10 and Q-10 wash fixtures. Moving gobo projections and aerial effects from G-Profile Turbo fixtures create additional impact. With the American flag as the default, gobos change to match the season. Basketball and football gobos add excitement on game days, while the winter season is emphasized with snowflakes.

Ultimately, the team chose the rooftops of four surrounding buildings and pre-fabricated lighting pods that could be craned into position and quickly connected to power and data. SGM’s high output in relation to fixture size meant the installation could produce amazing intensity with minimal infrastructure. “Getting power and permission from the buildings was just one more obstacle to overcome and figure into the budget,” Dodd states. “Being outside, we had to figure out wind loads and every safety factor you might imagine. On one of the rooftops, we had to have a construction team peel back part of the roof so we could add additional support beams before we could crane our lighting pod up on to it.”

A crane lifts the weather-resistant lighting pods on rooftops

“We chose the P-10 and Q-10 LED wash fixtures from SGM for their high output, color saturation, form factor, and warranty.” states Dodd Technologies’ Andy Meggenhofen. The P-10 and Q-10 provide 40,000lm and 60,000lm of RGBW light at 10° and 110° respectively in impressively compact frame sizes. The G-Profile Turbo produces incredibly clear gobo projection and can achieve intense colors using the 20,000lm RLB LED engine and can be permanently installed outside without a dome thanks to the features provided in the POI (Permanent Outdoor Installation) package. “This is incredible technology that we see in some of the greatest cities in our world,” Meggenhofen adds. “We’re now going to be able to have that capability right here in our downtown. We’re going to be very proud to share that with those who’ve come to visit and our friends and relatives.”

Dodd Technologies designed and executed the visuals

The surrounding buildings were bathed in color and took projection from six Christie Digital 40k laser projectors. Dodd states, “We light the buildings, throw gobo patterns on them, but we depend on the projectors to supply the motion. We use a Dataton Watchout system to control everything — the timecode drives the audio as well as the grandMA control used to program. We have MA nodes all over the place. To get data to the rooftops, we send it wirelessly from the top of the monument.”

Bob Schultz of Downtown Indy, Inc. adds, “The project meant a great deal to everyone involve as it is the first of its kind in Indianapolis. The Circle is an essential gathering place that has historically been underutilized after sunset. The SGM lighting installation designed by Dodd has activated the beautiful architecture and highlighted the craftsmanship of the Monument and the surrounding civic structures enabling their discovery and enjoyment even at night. The enduring reliability provided by SGM’s unique on-board technologies ensures that the project will continue its celebration of Indiana for years to come.”

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