Virgin Music Festival Goes Green

The Virgin Music Festival took a decidedly “green" turn this year, down to the lighting. Sponsor Virgin Mobile made good on its pledge to present a model of an eco-friendly, “near zero waste event," as top performers such as The Police, Smashing Pumpkins, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Beastie Boys descended on Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course for a two day music and food extravaganza on August 4th and 5th.

“It was all about green," says Mike Aug, vice president of Event Tech, a 26-year-old full production and rental company that was given a mandate to use LED-fitted fixtures in multiple locations throughout the 140-acre site, due their ecological advantages over traditional lamps.

Event Tech selected primarily Chauvet Colorado washlights. "We knew the product, and we knew what it was capable of," Aug notes, citing the fixtures' integrated power supply, on-board DMX, luminosity, and affordability.

The lights' IP65 rating was also a strong deciding factor. Festival organizers requested fixtures that could withstand the elements because, historically, it has rained during this time in Baltimore over the past decade.

Event Tech installed one Chauvet Colorado 1 and seven Chauvet Colorado 3s in each of four “activity domes,” set to provide shelter from the sun as well as relaxation and entertainment activities to an estimated 60,000 attendees. The fixtures ran off one circuit, leaving enough power for a small sound system in each dome as well. One dome was a "misting dome," allowing the audience to go in to cool off. There, in a test of their IP65 rating, the Colorado fixtures "got drenched for two days" yet performed flawlessly in a rainforest-type atmosphere, Aug says.

Event Tech also used a total of 20 Colorado 1s to illuminate an organic outdoor stage and the outside of the "Greenspot," an area earmarked specifically to raise environmental awareness and display eco-friendly technology. Additionally, 15 Chauvet LEDrain 56 fixtures washed two onion-shaped “pods" housing art installations. They were set to produce ambient white lighting without outboard control.

The eco-friendly characteristics of LEDs and the substantial power savings they afford are earning a growing following among entertainment lighting designers. “Environmental concerns in the current social and political climate and rapid advances in LED lighting make going green an increasingly attractive and affordable option for entertainment venues and productions of all sizes," Chauvet product manager Barry Abrams explains.

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