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Case study – White Light helps bring sunlight to London

Andrew Brister 7 March 2012

Lighting specialist White Light helps public art group Greyworld and Tropicana banish the winter blues with the Trafalgar Sun. At 6.51am on Monday 23 January an artificial sun rose over Trafalgar Square in London – an hour before the first appearance of the real sun. Then once the real sun set at 4.33pm, the artificial one kept going for another three hours – giving Londoners a total of four extra hours of sunlight on the day that psychiatrists describe as “Blue Monday.” The Trafalgar Sun was created by public art group Greyworld, in conjunction with Tropicana’s Brighter Mornings campaign. The lighting equipment for this dramatic project was supplied by entertainment lighting specialist White Light, who also provided a demo/rehearsal space and equipment to the Greyworld team over the project’s six-month development period. As Greyworld’s Andrew Shoben explains, that timescale included everything “from reassuring Transport for London that the sun wouldn’t blind taxi drivers in the area to the legal and practical issues of hanging something that weighs 2500kg in the centre of London . Plus finding the right quality and wavelength of light to give that feeling of being hit by sunlight, lifting those winter blues and giving everyone a little pick-me-up.”@page_break@
  Finding the perfect light involved many experiments at Greyworld’s base and at White Light’s newly-expanded warehouse in south London. The space available there allowed trials of materials and lighting fixtures, scaled down experimental mock-ups and, ultimately, the construction of the full-size, nine-metre diameter sun for testing prior to the big day in Trafalgar Square. “Live events are such an effective and fun way of reinforcing brand awareness. The right lighting plays such a key role in these events. White Light prides itself on providing the right solutions to companies wishing to build their brand’s identity,” says Fanny Baratto, marketing manager at White Light. “White Light gave us a lot of love and support,” Andrew Shoben notes, “letting us use their space, test out ideas, build mini-suns. They are lovely, friendly people who know their onions.” The final structure consisted of a truss ‘Christmas tree’ framework supporting 46 tungsten lighting fixtures, 36 5kW Fresnels (principally Robert Juliat Cin’k) and 10 2kW Fresnels. Wrapped around this was a flame-retardant Nylon skin; with two fans inside the structure providing ventilation to cool the Sun. The lights were fed from a 350kVA mobile generator powering ETC and Avo dimmers controlled from an ETC Ion console which allowed Greyworld to add lighting shifts to the sunlight. “It was dynamic, with lots of movement, but movement that slowly developed over a long time,” Shoben explains. The lighting team led by Andy Murrell and deputy Nick Mumford, together with a rigging team from Nippy Industries and one very large crane, then made the sun rise over Trafalgar Square – to the visible delight of everyone who passed through this busy part of London on the day. Andrew Shoben spent the entire day watching how people interacted with the Sun. “It was a freezing cold day, but people were swearing blind they could feel the heat on their faces. I can only think that was from the psychological effect – and that made me very happy.” Photos courtesy of Digital Deluxe www.greyworld.orgwww.WhiteLight.Ltd.uk 

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