Thursday, February 2, 2012

Light shows aren't cheap

Getting London, Ontario, to enliven the city core with a 600 thousand dollar plus light show celebrating the World Figure Skating Championships was a tough sell. Mayor Joe Fontana and Tourism London both made strong appeals and in the end the city council signed on to the dream. The price tag, the original sticking point, was shared by various companies and levels of government.

Screen grab from London videographer Rael Wienburg's work.
Years ago during a visit to Paris my wife and I were fortune enough to be in the City of Lights during a festival which saw major buildings throughout the city artfully illuminated. The show was memorable, very imaginative. The projected light transformed Greek columns at the front of one building into giant barber poles or animated candy canes. Neat.

Since first experiencing that festival of lights, I've been quite interested in the various light shows presented in cities around the world. There is no doubt light shows are totally cool. I can't see anyone disputing that. But, they are expensive and that is not in dispute either.

I did a lot of searching of the Internet, and except for London, I never did find posts detailing the total cost of presenting a complex light show. But from what I have read, I'm quite sure $600,000 would not cover the cost of some of the amazing light shows that have been presented around the world. London may well have gotten a bargain

For the National Capital Commission just to update Mosaika, the light show beamed onto the parliament buildings in Ottawa, the commission was willing to pay up to $260,000, or a bit over $14,000 a minute.

A light show for Ralph Lauren back in 2010 reportedly cost in the millions. Watch the You Tube video revealing some of what was done to make the dream a reality and a cost well into seven digits is easier to see than the floating, revolving red purse featured in the show -- and we all see the floating purse.

And light shows are not always videos projected onto buildings. Recently Ghent, in Belgium, made headlines around the world with a massive 55,000 LED creation, a cathedral in lights. Even in pictures, the immediate reaction is, "Wow!"

The light show in London, Ontario, was created by the Moment Factory out of Montreal. Going outside of one's own community to find folk with the talent and expertise to produce a 21st century light show is common. These presentations are not the simple, liquid light shows of the psychedelic '60s.

Technology used in Lyon can be found an hour from London.
A show in Lyon, France, was put together by Christie Digital Systems, Inc. Originally an American company, I believe, this company was taken over by Japanese interests and headed by Kenji Hamashima.

Hamashima was also head of Christie Digital Systems Canada. Christie Canada was the company responsible for handling the visuals at Tedx Waterloo. Yes that Waterloo, London's nemesis an hour east along 401.

Christie itself is located in Kitchener, London's other urban foe. It is interesting that London felt it necessary to go out of province to find a company to produce its show when help was so near at hand. (Who knows, maybe some of the artistic computer geaks in London could have assisted in this project if the production company had been located an hour away instead of eight.)

And while London traveled to Montreal to find a producer, Quebec City traveled to Kitchener. Christie produced the magnificent light show celebrating the French Canadian community's 400th anniversary.

To see more images from light shows from around the word google this: Festival of Lights

Let me start you off with a link to the BBC slideshow featuring the Lyon Fete des Lumieres.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be interested in more info on this proposed light show. Who the vendor was to be, designer, CAD images of effects etc. Anyone know anything?