illumination Physics

Gold……..Rush!

Sovereign Hill Rejuvenated with the New Attraction Aura

Simon McCartney recently visited Sovereign Hill and on his way to Ballarat he revisited memories of the eighties when he had been to see Ballarat’s premiere night - time tourist attraction long before.

Professional curiosity drove him to see the famous son et lumiere, ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ – the night-time show which opened in late 1985, located within Sovereign Hill’s outdoor living museum.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Gold……..Rush!

Sovereign Hill Rejuvenated with the New Attraction Aura

Simon McCartney recently visited Sovereign Hill and on his way to Ballarat he revisited memories of the eighties when he had been to see Ballarat’s premiere night - time tourist attraction long before.

Professional curiosity drove him to see the famous son et lumiere, ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ – the night-time show which opened in late 1985, located within Sovereign Hill’s outdoor living museum.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Simon took in the authentic daytime experience of the living museum and was transported to the 1850s amongst the mines, diggings and authentically recreated period buildings that preserve the story of the world’s greatest alluvial gold rush.

It became a magnet for hopeful fortune-seekers from around the world, from what is now the United Kingdom, Europe, America and China. It also became one of the most famous tourist attractions in rural Victoria.

The show ran nightly until 18th July 2018.

Today there is a new show at Sovereign Hill, Aura, with the by-line

‘Gold Changes Everything’.

 

Indeed, it does.

 

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

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Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Aura is the latest creation of Andrew Walsh and his company Accolade. The new night-time attraction has been recreated using all of the latest digital technology, including, we are proud to say, more than eight hundred LED luminaires provided by illumination Physics.

It was time for Simon to see what use had been made of our LED luminaires. He managed the day-to-day design and manufacture of the luminaires at our factory while business Partner, Peter Kemp, had been the direct interface with the lighting design and technical issues from iPs Melbourne office, working closely with Rohan Thornton – the project lighting designer.

Simon has high expectations for many reasons; he had worked with Andrew before. Since then, he directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the commonwealth games, the Athens’ Olympics and the production of ‘White Nights’ in Melbourne, to mention a few.

Peter Kemp had been to the preview of Aura and raved about it, and he is not one given easily to raving.

Our Evolving Brief and Solutions

Rewind eight months.

illumination Physics’ involvement in Aura was an evolution.

The diggings’ is a large area containing recreations of not only the gold mines and miners’ tents but also buildings of the period; the Eureka Hotel, the story and period buildings which surround the centre of this theatrical set.

Heaps of spoil dot this busy landscape as do other items one would associate with mining. The set exceeds two hundred metres in width and three hundred metres in depth. The entire area should be bathed in virtual moonlight at times, and vey specifically illuminated in parts at other times.

Even though the audience’s sightlines would be controlled from within the ‘Golden Point Theatre’ and lighting could be mounted out of their sight, designing the lighting would be a substantial task requiring great attention to detail. Every fixture would be DMX controllable, and the specification took account of choices of LED type, colour combination, custom lens angles and the use of barn doors.

There were problems too: Limited choices in the attributes amongst the off the shelf imported lighting products in Australia proving to be a limiting factor.

illumination Physics is free of such limitations. Our philosophy is entirely focussed on the needs of the project at hand. We have four hundred LED base products to draw upon before we begin to create new custom products. Any of them can be modified in substantial ways to produce the precise result required for a single task.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Our Evolving Brief and Solutions

Rewind eight months.

illumination Physics’ involvement in Aura was an evolution.

The diggings’ is a large area containing recreations of not only the gold mines and miners’ tents but also buildings of the period; the Eureka Hotel, the story and period buildings which surround the centre of this theatrical set.

Heaps of spoil dot this busy landscape as do other items one would associate with mining. The set exceeds two hundred metres in width and three hundred metres in depth. The entire area should be bathed in virtual moonlight at times, and vey specifically illuminated in parts at other times.

Even though the audience’s sightlines would be controlled from within the ‘Golden Point Theatre’ and lighting could be mounted out of their sight, designing the lighting would be a substantial task requiring great attention to detail. Every fixture would be DMX controllable, and the specification took account of choices of LED type, colour combination, custom lens angles and the use of barn doors.

There were problems too: Limited choices in the attributes amongst the off the shelf imported lighting products in Australia proving to be a limiting factor.

illumination Physics is free of such limitations. Our philosophy is entirely focussed on the needs of the project at hand. We have four hundred LED base products to draw upon before we begin to create new custom products. Any of them can be modified in substantial ways to produce the precise result required for a single task.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

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Wash Lighting

illumination Physics’ Melbourne office worked closely with the design process task by task. Working backwards from the desired result, the specification of new samples was developed and delivered to site for evaluation. A mix of LED colours and lenses within illumination Physics’ adaptable Rectangular Wash Light series were customised to suit.

Both monochromatic LEDs and four colour ‘Quattro’ multi-die light engines were used depending on the application. The ‘Mono’ version is more suitable for long-throw illumination and the ‘Quattro’ more suited to short-throw applications because of the immediate colour mixing property of the multi-die LED chip.

With such an organic scene to be illuminated, simulation tools such as Dialux are of little help, and the design was finessed during mock-ups and trials at the site as the set was built. Once a fixture was confirmed, it was added to our fabrication plan and included a tight schedule for Australian compliance testing and delivery.

As one would expect, the set of Aura contains the famous Eureka Stockade itself. In this case, the stockade is a motorised object; the stockade rises from where it has been hidden from view until it is required to appear magically.

The audience finds themselves within the stockade as if they were with the miners trying to defend themselves. The stockade is illuminated with illumination Physics Rectangular Wash luminaires.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Special Effects Lighting

Wash lighting was just one task. As the audience arrives at the diggings, they are first directed to the outdoor theatre overlooking a body of specially created water. The performance here was to be comprised of projection sound plus a magical element of lighting located in the water itself.

The concept of a floating matrix of programmable LED ‘Dreamtime Dots’ evolved. It was apparent that no existing product would do, so a new variant of the illumination Physics ‘Data Dot’ was designed. The ingress protection rating would need to progress from IP67 to IP68 with a hard anodised marine-grade finish, but this was just the beginning.

Like many pixel-type products, the existing illumination Physics Data Dot was designed with a lens that would be viewed directly. Floating in the water at the outdoor theatre, the viewing angle would be shallow, at best approximately thirty degrees. At this angle of view, much of the apparent brightness would be lost.

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To solve this problem, a new prismatic lens was produced that helped to transmit the light primarily in the same plane as the audience’s viewing angle. In this way, a luminaire with just six low powered RGBW LEDs was sufficient. All the cable lengths between the LED dots were custom designed for ease of installation.

Defining the rim of the scene at the outdoor theatre, another line of illumination Physics Data Dots with clear lenses, placed beyond the edge of the projection area, subtlety illuminates the trees above.

Lighting as a metaphor

In the 1850s, the use of fire was pervasive for cooking and illumination, and the set of Aura makes use of gas fires in open places where it’s practical to do so. In enclosed spaces, such as tents and other small inferred fire sites, a solution from illumination Physics was used pervasively. A custom version of the illumination Physics Data Dot was produced with only amber and red LEDs. Programmed approximately in DMX, they produce a convincing flickering fire.

Numerous miner tents are part of the set: some of them are more capable of movement. In the 1850s, they would have been illuminated by oil flame lanterns. For the larger tents, an illumination Physics Rectangular Wash was used with a custom diffuser so that the fabric would be completely illuminated, throwing shadows of the furniture and other props inside.

 

Various simulated fires are created on the set. Outdoors firewood recreated from metal is illuminated with flickering firelight provided by the clear lens version of the illumination Physics Data Dot. Similar treatment occurs inside the tents, simulating the light and movement of a small cooking fire within. Like all the IP Data Dots used in the project, the number of luminaires in a single string and the spacing between dots was customised.

The openings of the various mine shafts with their attendant block and pulley above were illuminated as if miners were still hard at work below. The illumination Physics 120mm Square Wash proved to be ideal. An industrial LED product might provide an appropriate level of illumination, but it would not be dimmable – a mandatory requirement. The IP Square Wash has DMX on board, and at 30 watts and rated to an ingress protection of IP66, it became the logical solution.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

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Fast Forward

So began the telling of the same famous history, but now with all technical eloquence of today’s digital media. Technology is just part of the puzzle: immediately and importantly, the audience gets a fresh look at a creative interpretation of the drama that surrounded the events of what became known as the Eureka Stockade.

The drive to the diggings ends, and the audience are delivered firstly to an outdoor theatre which overlooks the small lake. Floating unseen in the lake is a matrix of LED pixels, the illumination Physics ‘Dreamtime Dots’ were customised for the project.

Hidden under the theatre is a powerful digital video projector. The display is a complete surprise when it happens. The far bank of the lake becomes a surface for projection, and the water becomes alive with sparkling lights that interact with the content of the video. The audience are told the story of the traditional owners of this part of Australia, the Wawawurrung people.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

 

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A few metres away is a recreated building of the period, the Golden Point Theatre. Although the front wall can open to allow the audience to see the ‘set’ which contains the diggings, the Eureka Hotel and other surprises, the theatre remains closed at first.

The audience are ushered inside and seated, and the show begins with digital projection on the inside of the wall. The magic has begun, the scene is set, and the audience are now an audience of time travellers.

The wall silently disappears, opening a view of the full width of the theatre and revealing the set for the first time. “My first impression is a view of great depth and scale.” Simon McCartney.

It is a dramatic night-time scene, bathed in LED moonlight; it is as though a day of mining has just come to a weary end. Cooking fires are burning convincingly but created out of amber and red custom LED Data Dots illumination Physics made especially for this purpose. In other cases, the fire is real.

The Eureka Hotel does catch fire later on, very convincingly.

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Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Illumination Physics is proud to have provided architectural and landscape lighting as well as several special lighting effects.

What ensues is a magnificent re-interpretation of a story that has been told at Sovereign Hill for 25 years. The latest technology has been applied generously, but it is the new creative treatment, the script, that drives the use of the digital illusions. 

Sovereign Hill has long held the reputation for showcasing the most prominent night-time attraction in Victoria.

This is no longer appropriate.

It now stands as a shining example of a world-class attraction.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade

Illumination Physics is proud to have provided architectural and landscape lighting as well as several special lighting effects.

What ensues is a magnificent re-interpretation of a story that has been told at Sovereign Hill for 25 years. The latest technology has been applied generously, but it is the new creative treatment, the script, that drives the use of the digital illusions. 

Sovereign Hill has long held the reputation for showcasing the most prominent night-time attraction in Victoria.

This is no longer appropriate.

It now stands as a shining example of a world-class attraction.

Photo by: Andrew Walsh - Accolade