SGM G-Spot adds new dimension to National Theatre

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Lighting students use award-winning fixture to light up London over the Thames.

Five Production Arts students from City College Norwich recently lit the exterior of London’s prestigious National Theatre during its 50th anniversary year, after winning leading British drama school Rose Bruford College’s Junior Ready Steady Light competition.

The ‘prize’ was coordinated by the National’s Head of Lighting Resources, Huw Llewellyn — and a pair of SGM’s groundbreaking G-Spot LED all-weather spots were ready to test the creative abilities of the fortunate students — selected by Llewellyn and provided by SGM UK.
The students were given advanced training to allow them to gain a more in depth understanding of the software used to light the iconic theatre on London’s South Bank before being given full creative rein, as they lit up the theatre nightly between April 26th-May 2nd — in three-minute sequences starting at sunset.

Huw Llewellyn first saw the G-Spot immersed in water at last October’s PLASA Show and was immediately impressed. “I was just walking past the stand and wanted to see which nut had decided to put an LED light in a fountain — I must say, it was a great surprise to see it operating perfectly through water.

“I knew that as well as providing students with a creative tool, it would also give us an opportunity to assess the fixture for our own use up on the roof. We certainly put it through its paces as we had torrential rain the night after we put it up. But I needn’t have worried about that, or the output as it was certainly bright enough.”

Natio Theater D

Pictures by ©mattwiseman2014

In fact, with one G-Spot set on the roof of the Grade II-listed Theatre, firing almost 50 metres onto the Lyttelton Flytower, and the other in the workshop, where the venue’s technicians could verify the exceptional build quality and optical path, SGM’s award winning fixture was probably subjected to its most demanding challenge yet. Huw Llewellyn confirmed, “We hooked it up to an [Avolites] Tiger Touch — it was a doddle to programme cues and our technicians gave it an excellent report.”

Meanwhile outside, the National assisted the students with programming cues into the Pharos as they attempted to represent stars in an abstract way. “We knew G-Spot would offer them a new dimension — rather than just the usual colour washes — and G-Spot gave them a chance to add texture and use gobo projections such as the impressive ‘Spiral Leaf’. We were all surprised by the clarity of the gobos and as for the colours, when RGB mixing the blueish white was perfect, and worked really well with the concrete building.

“We also experimented with the zoom and focus and had a look at some of the glass gobo effects in G-Spot to represent clouds, which we all really liked.”

Throughout, G-Spot was used effectively to attract surprised passers-by and commuters heading across the Waterloo and Hungerford Bridges.

But much as the students loved the experience, Huw Llewellyn and his team were able to assess the potential cost savings of an IP65-rated fixture that can operate without a protective dome.
“We have used the roof position in the past for cameras and other live broadcasts and fixed position moving heads doing gobo projection, mounted in a protective dome. But using domes racks up so much cost, and there are still lamps to be changed and cleaning to undertake, which further racks up the costs.”

In summary, Huw Llewellyn could not have been more impressed by his first experience with G-Spot. His assessment:

“This is perfect for outdoor theme parks; you don’t need expensive domes and it will handle proper architectural lighting. Also, you don’t need to constantly change lamps or filters or wipe the domes clean. It’s completely low maintenance and during the time it was here provided us with many options and helped us promote the concrete bunker that is the National Theatre!” 

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