For many in the Chicago area, an annual trip to see Ilumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle has become a wintertime tradition. Now in its fourth year, the magical mile-long walk in the woods with its dramatic lighting and color-changing illumination, comprised of 11 distinct areas, is a whole new way to experience the Arboretum in winter.
John Featherstone, principal at design group Lightswitch, is the lighting director and creative director for Illumination. Many visitor-favorite lighting experiences at Illumination return year after year but Lightswitch always brings new design surprises each year, some of which require new fixture types to realize. This year he had the opportunity to be the first anywhere to use Elation Professional’s new weatherproof Proteus Beam moving head and incorporated several of them into the show as a harsh outdoor winter test for the LDI award-winning product. Featherstone stated, “When they were looking for a 'beta test' site for the Proteus, I was flattered. I believe it’s the world’s first IP65-rated automated arc source fixture, and as a long running, cold weather project, Illumination provided an excellent real world test.”
The Proteus fixtures, supplied by Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC), were used to anchor a new area of the light experience called Fantasy Forest, the event’s dramatic grand finale, where, in the Arboretum’s hedge garden, pencil-thin pillars of dense light stretched skyward synchronized to music. “The fixtures sit out all night, come rain, wind, or snow!” Featherstone exclaimed, alluding to Chicago’s infamous winter weather, which reportedly posed no issues for the IP65-rated fixtures. “We found it incredibly robust and weather-resistent. All of the bearings and moving parts were designed by Elation for extremes of temperature and no water enters the device so there is nothing to freeze! We are more than satisfied with the brightness using the CMY wheels. The fixture has plenty of output and the color change is super-fast.
“Based on our experience this year, I think Proteus is a phenomenal fixture and is going to allow all manner of new design potential for both Illumination and other projects too. I'm excited to design them into next year’s experience!” Featherstone said.
Of the nearly 750 fixtures specified for the project, more than 400 of them were Elation Professional Level Q7 IP RGBW weatherproof LED fixtures. Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex LMX were also used as were a number of Clay Paky fixtures, including Sharpy, Mythos, and A.leda B-Eye K20 units.
Ilumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum ran from November 18th to January 2nd.
Lighting Designer and Director: John Featherstone
Associate Lighting Designer: Austin Shapley
Lighting Director: Dennis Connors
Lighting Director: Ben Roy
Assistant Designer: Hailey Featherstone
Project Director: Matt Pearlman
Project Manager: Bart Harvey
Production Electrician: Josh Larson
Production Carpenter: Chris Hill
Interactive Technology and Video: Alex Konarski
Consoles and Moving Lights: Tyler Ellis
Elation Q7 IP RGBW
Elation Proteus Beam
Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex LMX
Clay Paky Sharpy
Clay Paky Mythos
Clay Paky A.leda B-Eye K20
Apple Mac Mini running QuickTime. The projectors were
d3 Technologies media servers