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Wall for sound: lighting and video at London radio station

The system was provided as part of a refurbishment of ‘The Zoo’ – a multi-purpose room on the main broadcast studio floor which is famous for hosting the station’s regular artist live session recordings and competition winner activities. The space also serves as a staff recreational area and a place to hold meetings with or entertain guests and clients.

Virgin asked concert lighting designer Nick Jevons to come up with an exciting, flexible lighting scheme which would give live sessions in The Zoo a contemporary rock ‘n’ roll element and feel. The scheme also needed to enable the mood of the room to be tailored to suit different types of events and the brand personalities of the four stations – Virgin Radio, V.R. Classic Rock, V.R. Extreme and V.R. Groove.

Jevons approached entertainment lighting distributor A.C. Lighting’s Special Projects division to supply and install the lighting scheme, which uses various DMX-controlled LED fixtures to provide a glamorous but discrete and low-energy lighting solution.

To create the individual look and colour theme of the four stations during special events, the system utilises colour-changing fixtures recessed into ceiling cutouts along the entry walkway and room perimeter to ‘wall-wash’ the surfaces. The fixtures were also used to provide more subtle downlighting of the entry walkway.

For live sessions in The Zoo, PAR Can-style LED fixtures were arranged in a circle above the space to define the stage area with the look of traditional rock ‘n’ roll style lighting, but also provide dynamic colour-changing LED effects during performances. Two automated fixtures also project moving gobo images of the Virgin station logos for additional branding.

Jevons also provided various recommendations for updating the space’s corporate logo lightbox with a solution that would complement the new LED lighting. The chosen system features a high resolution TFT-LCD multi-media video wall with a viewable screen area of almost 4 square metres.

The video wall consists of 42 separate panels connected to a powerful PC-based, DMX-controlled media server which can host a wide number of media sources, and dynamic, layered video effects. In addition to displaying highly prominent station branding in the form of still and moving logos, the video wall also provides a number of other new promotional and entertainment opportunities for the headquarters – including showing artist videos, live concert feeds, webcam footage and sporting event broadcasts.

A.C. Lighting supplied and installed the system at night to cause minimum disruption to staff at the London corporate headquarters.

The fully integrated lighting and video system is operated using a simple push-button control panel programmed with four pages of different scenes and sequences. This includes separate lighting room colour and still/moving logo scene presets for each station brand. Staff can also adjust the intensity of lighting in the bar area, turn the moving gobo logos on or off, and choose between various lighting and gobo chases.

David Jones, Head of Technology Services at Virgin Radio, comments: “The Virgin Radio Zoo is the focal point of our building; it is used for live performances, client entertainment events, and meetings, as well as being a meeting point for our staff. The lighting installation which A.C. Lighting supplied and installed for us has taken this space to a new level, and has given us the flexibility to light it according to purpose and brand message. A.C. Lighting captured our brief effectively and were a great company to work with.”