wysiwyg sees the New Year in with a bang!

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View the story online at: www.cast-soft.com/blog

Organized for the 11th year in a row by global experience agency Jack Morton Worldwide and watched by millions across the globe, lighting design for the Mayor of London’s New Years Eve fireworks extravaganza was created by Lighting Designers Durham Marenghi and Paul Cook exclusively using wysiwyg lighting design software from CAST Software. The phenomenal lighting design ensured that the New Year was truly spectacular.

London on the world map!

“We were tasked with putting London on the map alongside Sydney Harbour Bridge and Times Square, NYC,” explained Marenghi. “The fantastic fireworks by Darryl Fleming at Titanium are what the public recognize but, like all good lighting, our design is subliminal but would be very much missed if not there!”

Marenghi and Cook designed a two and one half hour light show in the lead up to and including a 10-minute fireworks spectacular at midnight which was broadcast around the UK and the world. The event is focused around one of London most iconic visitor attractions The London Eye which operates until the afternoon of the day of the show. For NYE 2015, a live musical concert accompanied the show and was broadcast out across the Thames River to the audience in attendance.

“We create lighting design using wysiwyg software every NYE. I work on creating cue lists from the music track and exact firework firing lists to obtain colours and cue speeds. Paul Cook then uses the wysiwyg and Chamsys control platform to create the lighting program. The event is always pre-visualized in the virtual world before the event which gives us a chance to review it with the client and sponsors, showing them exactly what we will achieve,” said Marenghi.

“The cue list is then put into the lighting design desk using wysiwyg’s virtual system and photometrically accurate models of the fixtures in the unique lighting positions on the wheel itself.

“Cue operation is sent to other operators for lighting on to the Shell Centre building, Jubilee Bridge and the London Marriott County Hall Hotel. We also send the cue sheet to the BBC director so that they know exactly when the major lighting effects will be so that they can broadcast them effectively.”

“wysiwyg is a tried and tested system and we would not achieve the accuracy and client satisfaction we have received over the years without it! Projects like this allow us to think out side the box and ensure that NYE revellers have the best start to the year possible.”

Virtual lighting meets the real world

The unique lighting fixture library of wysiwyg perfectly replicates how the lighting performs in the real world and for this project included:

·      Philips VARI*LITE VL3500 wash lights for main wash lights on their own adjacent river pontoon.

·      Martin Mac Viper Washes  and Atomic 3000 strobes illuminate the inside of the The London Eye capsules.

·      40 Clay Paky Sharpy Moving Beam Lights for searchlights.

·      LED systems on Jubilee Bridge, Shell Centre and County Hall.

·      Other lighting on the North bank gives architectural effects and camera background on buildings such as the Ministry of Defence.


“Accuracy is key. All lighting cues are programmed to the 100th of a second in time with the fireworks. We fire to the atomic clock and hopefully Big Ben can keep up with us!” said Marenghi.

Designed for broadcast

Lighting design is created with broadcast in mind. “Over the past eleven years, there’s been a move from 4:3 to the 16:9 format which has resulted in making the firework display lower, and therefore reducing the size of some of the larger shells” said Marenghi.

Design considerations for The London Eye

The installed LED light system is used on The London Eye structure. “We do not use the rear LEDs during the fireworks show so that the only light sources we see on the wheel on camera are the firework effects,” explained Marenghi.

The London Eye capsules are made entirely from moving parts and the geometry of the Eye poses unique design issues with wireless signals so the wireless engineers have designed a system of up to 8 transmitters to cover the lighting areas.

Loading lights into the capsules is also a technical challenge. As Marenghi explained: “Lighting providers Stage Electrics have got this to such a fine art that the ride doesn’t even stop during set up!”

Other design considerations include the moment when the midnight fireworks finish. “This gives us a nice chance to give beam lighting effects from The London Eye capsules,” said Marenghi “as there is plenty of smoke in the air!”

“Additional care has to be taken as for most of the evening the Thames River is open to boat traffic and no light beams may interfere with captains of the river vessels.”

Final countdown is all about timing

Marenghi has another innovation that is very wysiwyg orientated. There was a requirement for a giant oversized clock for the Shell Centre building.

“Lighting design is so creative that there is not even need for projection! We designed the use of 14 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700s to create the bars of a digital clock with an oblong Gobo. Thanks to wysiwyg we created a 20 metre high countdown for the final 60 seconds until midnight.

“The beautiful architecture of London is the perfect backdrop for New Years Eve and we are proud to see wysiwyg used in such an entertaining way by Marenghi and Cook!” said Igor Silva, Marketing Director at CAST Group.

See more of Durham Marenghi’s work at www.durhamld.com.

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