SGM P-5 & P-2 light up Bristol Skyline for iconic Crane Dance

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SGM’s sleek, low profile P-5 and P-2 IP65-rated wash lights have passed one of their biggest challenges ever — illuminating a synchronised ‘crane dance’ in front of 10,000 people on Bristol’s harbourside.

Laura Kriefman, one of this year’s WIRED magazine Creative Fellows and a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio, approached Howard Eaton and Emma Chapman of Studio Three Sixty to design the lighting for her inaugural Crane Dance Bristol. With set designer Lucy Osborne the third member of the Studio Three Sixty team, this was their first project and it was an unqualified success.

Faced with sourcing equipment best fit for purpose on a limited budget, theatre lighting specialist Howard Eaton knew from previous experience that a combination of the ultra-energy efficient P-5 and P-2 heads would be the perfect complement to the 1km of LED ropelight that would be used to outline the iconic, decommissioned cranes, which sit outside Bristol’s M-Shed.

The harbourside cranes, normally a static fixture on the Bristol skyline, came to life in a choreographed routine that was exquisitely lit and perfectly timed to music. Crane Dance Bristol presented a jaw-dropping spectacle for the citizens of Bristol, combining row boats, choirs, live music and beautifully lit cranes, all being driven by the engineers from the Bristol M-Shed, who had lovingly restored them.

“The P-5s were perfect for the job because they could be used outside, while the compactness of the P-2 meant we could position them in difficult areas. They performed perfectly and flawlessly,” said Howard Eaton.

He and Emma Chapman illuminated the cranes with a combination of 18 x P-5s fitted with 43° lens, while 28 x P-2 also used the 43° lens and another 34 x P-2 were fitted with the tighter 21° lens. “We used the wide angle P-5s to uplight around the base and lower legs and as we got further up the narrower lens to get right up inside the jibs, both internally and externally,” he continued.

“Being an RGBW fixture you could not only mix any colour you want — but the white was perfect.” In fact to build the suspense the opening sequence transitioned from cold to warm white before the show eventually erupted in a blaze of colour, each personalised to a specific crane to gasps from the audience. This then developed into the seven colours of the rainbow, sweeping across the top of the cranes and back again.

Emma Chapman added, “We had seen P-2s previously and knew they were amazing — we were really impressed with the power from such a small light and how much control you had with the colour change.

“When this project came up it was it natural to requisition them with so much power and all the lens options. In fact we could also have used the strobe option, but decided that would have been too much. The ability to programme the Rainbow effect on the SGM wash lights was fantastic.”

The show lighting was project managed by Nick Read and controlled wirelessly via a City Theatrical network with an ETC Element DMX desk situated on the other side of the harbour. The project was backed by Ian Kirby at SGM UK, whom Howard Eaton says could not have been more supportive with equipment and lamp supply. An amazing statistic about the event is that the entire show (including lights, powering the cranes, and rehearsals) consumed used 2.4 kWh of electricity.

Following the success of Crane Dance Bristol, the Mass Crane Dance team are already fielding enquiries from cities all over the world to create spectacles for other cities — from harbourside cranes, to hundreds of construction cranes on building sites.


Behind the scenes: 

Crane Dance Bristol was devised and choreographed by Laura Kriefman as part of the inaugural TheSpace/ WIRED Creative Fellowship, supported by the Watershed. Lighting was designed by Howard Eaton and Emma Chapman of Studio Three Sixty. 

For more information about Studio Three Sixty:
For more information about Mass Crane Dance:

Photos: © Paul Blakemore, Jon Rowley and Sarah Hickson


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