GLP’s new X4 Atom, X4 Bar 20 and X4 Bar 10 passed their biggest test ever when they were pressed into service by LA-based NYX Design at one of Hollywood’s most glittering events: the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Reported to have been the biggest film premiere ever staged, with the red carpet stretching for half a mile, the film was shown in three cinemas simultaneously.
Formed in 2002 (with Abigail Rosen Holmes as the third partner), NYX Design LD’s Manny Treeson and Brian Gale were contracted by Walt Disney Studios Special Events, with whom they have enjoyed a long association, having worked on most major Disney film premieres dating back to The Lion King. “Every time the projects are a fantastic challenge and the whole team at the studio are a joy to work with,” says Treeson.
The main section of Hollywood Blvd was closed off to the public to allow a 1200ft long tent to run through the middle, and provide the heart of the premiere. The movie was screened simultaneously at The TCL Chinese Theatre, The Dolby Theatre, and The El Capitan Theatre, and the tent connected the lobbies of all three theaters into a single event. It also contained the Red Carpet press line — and after the movie had concluded it converted to an after-party venue for the invited guests.
Manny Treeson had first seen both GLP innovations at this year’s LDI Show and immediately dragged Brian Gale over to see them. “We watched Shim’s [Matt Shimamoto’s] brilliantly designed and programmed demo and were just blown away. Star Wars presented us with the ideal project that could visually support what the lights could do.”
There were two very specific spaces the designers wanted to illuminate with the X4 Bars — the most important being the kinetic light saber sculpture. Located in the ‘foyer’ section of the tent was an array of automated sabers, lights and lasers that were choreographed into a performance piece.
“In designing this element I was thinking in terms of a fountain show except instead of water we were working with volumetric light,” Manny Treeson explains. “The sabers were delimited by their physical length (about 1 meter) so we wanted a volumetric lighting element that could play against the sabers and have physical presence in the space.
“The X4 Bar was just perfect for this as we could manipulate these knife edges of light through the stage as a counter punch to the sabers clashing against each other. It formed a central call and response of the whole sculpture and this very different quality really helped to create contrast and different notes to the design.”
X4 Bars were also placed under a custom Dodge Viper that was painted in celebration of the movie. Here the individual cells of the Bars were used to create an animation of light emanating from underneath.
As for the tiny X4 Atom this was used to highlight other elements in the space. “We loved the coherent color and size,” continued the LD. “They are so small that they were great to tuck into [tight] places and the color was fantastic.”
Manny Treeson is no stranger to working with GLP’s popular X4 range. “While the X4 itself is a very nice wash light I have to honestly say that with both the X4 Bar and X4 Atom GLP has taken a real step forward. These fixtures step away from the form that so many LED fixtures take which is a large array of emitters. Both are coherent lights first and foremost where the engine that produces the beam is secondary to the function of the light itself.
“I choose a light for its qualities and how it can help craft an image. If the source itself is too forward it can become distracting to the viewer. With the Atom we have this
lovely little package that produces a very nice flat field of light. If you don’t look down the lens you would never know it was an LED fixture.”
The two designers divided their responsibilities, with Manny Treeson overseeing the tent and Brian Gale the ‘Curtain’ show at El Capitan Theatre, where he used 20 of the X4 Bar 20s in horizontal rows as ‘force fields’ on moving trusses.
For Gale this was his first experience with the X4 fixtures. “At LDI not only was I impressed with the technology but the brilliant programming was stunning. I really got a sense of what these could do in a show context.
The crisp, tight beams and curtains of light produced by the X4 Bars were unlike anything I had seen before — coupled with the ability to flood out to a traditional striplight wash was very impressive.”
And according to Manny Treeson, the X4 Bars were a natural evolution of a light curtain — one in which color is now integral. “In other words it flows out of the light rather than being filtered on the front of it. With the additional functions of cell level control of intensity and the ability to zoom the light it allows us to manipulate the quality of the curtain in diverse ways.”
Programming was under the control of Matt McAdam, Jason Badger and Mat Stovall, while Toy Robot created most of the media for all the projects. Supplier of the lighting inventory was Illumination Dynamics.
Brian Gale, who also designed the choreographed lighting and laser pre-show at El Capitan — which included further X4 Bars — summed up the overall feelings of both men when he said: “I was pleasantly surprised that [the GLP fixtures] worked so flawlessly and were everything I had hoped for.”