PLCyc LED Luminaires Sing in Birdsong
Monday, March 4, 2013
by Philips Strand Lighting

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Charcoalblue's lighting designer Alex Wardle has used Philips Selecon PLCyc LED luminaires as part of his minimalist lighting rig for the well-received touring production of "Birdsong". Described by the Stage newspaper as a 'superbly crafted production' Rachel Wagstaff's clever adaption of the Sebastian Faulks story of the same name features a well-known and talented cast, directed by Alistair Whatley.

With a number of very different scenes to evoke in a single environment set, designed by Victoria Spearing, Wardle had his work cut out. Lighting works with the set and direction to seamlessly shift the mood from the claustrophobic world of the tunnels under no man's land to bright outdoor scenes and the house where main protagonist, Stephen Wraysford, falls in love.

Wardle uses the PLCyc luminaires to deliver an evocative backdrop, symbolically conveying the time, place, feeling and atmosphere of each with his clever application of color, transition and intensity. Wardle explains, "Because this play shifts so quickly between locations and time periods, we need to help the audience understand where we are. We made an early design decision to include a cyclorama in the set design, and I knew we would have to light it well. The rigging space overhead is pretty tight, so every piece of equipment has to work really hard to justify it's existence; we only have 45 luminaires overstage, and the show is touring to large venues."

Birdsong has a gruelling touring schedule covering 28 venues in as many weeks across the UK. Wardle was keen to specify a robust fixture that could withstand the rigors of being moved from venue to venue with relative ease and requiring little maintenance.

"Lighting a cyc on tour can be a nightmare if you're relying on in-house flood battens. You end up spending hundreds of pounds on rolls of gel and far too much time cutting it to size, and often the result will be disappointing if the venue has under-powered equipment. If you tour your own conventional flood battens, that's a big chunk of space in the truck and a lot of money on spare lamps as well as gel."

With just seven PLCyc LED luminaires Alex has found a way to provide consistently excellent cyc lighting with equipment that fits into a single flightcase and uses less than 5A of power. "The luminaires are lightweight and don't get hot so they can be bolted to the back of the set, saving valuable upstage floor space," continues Wardle. "The power and data can be daisy-chained between units, so we just need a single power supply and DMX input. Since the units are LED, we can use them to strobe different colors which useful when you need explosion effects. The colors balance well with the rest of the rig and just like the rest of the PL range, the dimming is perfectly smooth."

Grant Bales-Smith, sales manager for Europe for Philips Entertainment, continues, "We are delighted to hear that imaginative lighting designers like Alex Wardle can see such a myriad of benefits to specifying the PLCyc. Whether it's for a single venue where rig space is limited or a touring production where it's the space in the truck that is at premium, the PLCyc is ideal. The fixture requires very little power, no consumables and is extremely robust. Not only that it's a punchy and adaptable fixture with a small footprint that offers the full gamut of color from the saturated to the pastels alongside an excellent dimming curve."

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