Cycs go LED
Written by Bryan Raven, White Light
Sometimes new products are not chosen for their eco-credentials per se, but because they achieve something that no older product can. Energy saving and other advantages are ‘free’ bonuses!
An example: the dramatic shift to using LED lighting for cyclorama skycloths that has taken place over the last two years. For the 2008 UK tour of Mary Poppins, associate lighting designer Rob Halliday was left with just 30cm of space to light an enormous sky. Previous productions had allowed almost two metres of space, so this presented quite a challenge. After an exhaustive period of trying every kind of lighting fixture, he started experimenting with the LED grids intended as video screens. These didn’t quite work, but did lead to the discovery of EvenLED, a then-little-known product designed specifically for this purpose.
EvenLED proved a triumph on the show: a 13x8 grid of the 1m2 tiles rigged just 25cm behind the cyclorama let the show’s design team achieve everything they needed and more; far more than would have been possible with traditional cyc lighting techniques. As a bonus, the cyc used relatively little power compared to conventional equipment, ran cool, and did not require the regular replacement of blown lamps or burnt out colour – the bugbears of traditional cyc lighting.
Though expensive as all new technologies are, EvenLED has since been eagerly embraced by lighting designers on a wide range of other shows – by Peter Mumford for the opera Prima Donna at the Manchester Festival, by Keith Johnson for Eddie Izzard’s touring show, by Rob Halliday again for Famous Last on Sky TV, and by Paule Constable firstly for Oliver! and then for Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Another measure of EvenLED’s success: there are now at least three other companies making similar products.