The Netherlands’ brand new multi-use indoor arena Ziggo Dome has been fitted out with over 400 ETC Selador LED fixtures in a bid to make its house lighting among the best – and greenest – anywhere.
Traditionally, says ETC, arena house lighting has been harsh, using unpleasant sodium or fluorescent fixtures, which do little to reflect the stunning lighting often found on stage. But with 80 ETC Selador Desire Lustr+ LED fixtures above the main arena, and 370 ETC Selador Classic Vivid-R LED fixtures in the surrounding corridors and foyer areas, the Ziggo Dome is claimed to be very different.
Named after Dutch communications company Ziggo, the 17,000 seat venue in Amsterdam hosts a range of different types of events, from Peter Pan, Rihanna and Mumford & Sons, to the music from the BBC’s nature documentary Frozen Planet, the MTV European Music Awards and Top Gear Live.
More than just stage lighting
“We were keen to include a lighting scheme which extended from simply on stage to the whole arena, making the house lights part of the show lights,” said Ziggo Dome’s facilities manager Ruud Bongers. “At the touch of a button, we can make the house lighting change colour, brighten or dim; and it can all be done from one of nine touch panels located around the building.”
One of the major issues when planning house lighting as this was ensuring that not only does the venue look good, but that it remains practical: guests need to be able to see their way to the seats and read their tickets, while maintaining a comfortable level of light. “We did a lot of testing,” said Bongers, “to make sure that everything looked right – and that the LEDs maintained a pleasant skin tone. Selador has some beautiful colour choices.”
ETC’s x7 Color System was designed for use in theatre and broadcast productions, where accurate skin tone is vital.
Unison Mosaic control
The system is controlled by ETC Unison Mosaic, with the Tessera touch panels located around the building so that authorised staff can adjust the lighting in their area; Mosaic is able to supply an sACN signal to the ETC Gateways – which would then send DMX to the fixtures – without extra processing. “In the corridor which circles the building, where bars are located,” says Bongers, “we can have mood lighting which reflects the show. But we can also adjust it to reflect or affect the mood of the crowd: if people are getting a little rowdy, we can adjust the lighting to something a bit calmer.”
A main control panel in the lighting booth allows the operator to override the house lighting across the building. “When a band comes on, you’d want the lighting to fade out,” said production manager Rick Liesveld. “osaic can do more than just a simple 20 second fade: it can start from one end of the hall, and slowly move towards the other end. We call it ‘the blanket’. It’s amazing to hear the noise of the audience die out not as one as you’d expect, but slowly, gradually, from one end, as people realise the show’s about to start.”
“Similarly, at the end of the show, rather than have all the lighting come on at once, we can have the lighting come up in the VIP areas first, followed by the rest of the audience. The lighting is far more interesting and dynamic.”
A second main panel at the building’s reception allows the lighting to be set up in the correct state before an event and switched off when leaving at night.
Programming the system
ETC’s field service engineer Tom McGuire was in charge of programming the system for Ziggo Dome. “We were keen to keep things simple, so we programmed each touch screen button to perform one task, such as turning lights on or off,” he said. “The way Mosaic works makes this very simple compared to a programming using a lighting control desk, because one touch can perform multiple steps without the need for macros.”
“More complicated programming came with the control for the main arena, which needed to be able to not only just switch all the lights in the arena but also be able to turn specific areas off when it wasn’t required.
“The fixtures are being run from nine Tessera controllers (with a tenth as an interface), but the house lighting is spread over 12 universes, meaning that there is spare capacity on each of the controllers – so there’s plenty of extra space, should the arena’s technical staff ever decide to expand the system.”
ETC’s Dutch dealer Lightco was responsible for the installation. “We spent a long time with Ziggo Dome’s technical managers to ensure they got the right product, including setting up range of products in the venue for a shootout,” said project manager Bas van Schelven. “The managers needed something with the right amount of vibrancy, and which would cover the area they needed: each one needed to cover a 6m x 6m square.”
“Having established Selador was the best product for their needs, we tested DMX over Cat5 cable to make sure it would work well and got ETC to fit RJ45 cable connectors on the back of each fixture, instead of the standard XLRs. While this wouldn’t make much of a difference financially to most installations, for a project of this size, just the small difference in cable cost ended up providing a big saving overall. It was a highly complex electrical system, and, as is often the case with work of this type, we had a very tight time frame to get it all installed and commissioned between building handover and the first show. We managed to get the entire house lighting system up and running in the space of two weeks.”
“Despite the size of the arena, the house lighting makes it feel truly intimate,” concluded Liesveld. “We have the presets of the Mosaic system, or the lighting control desk operator can interact with the system – their skills are the limit!”
Picture: Digital Deluxe