Design group Lightswitch and LD John Featherstone first to use award-winning weatherproof moving head
For many in the Chicago area an annual trip to see Ilumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle has become a wintertime tradition. Now in its fourth year, the magical mile-long walk in the woods with its dramatic lighting and color-changing illumination is a whole new way to experience the Arboretum in winter.
John Featherstone, principal at design group Lightswitch, is the lighting director and creative director for Illumination, and often uses Elation Professional fixtures in his designs. This year he had the opportunity to be the first anywhere to use Elation’s new weatherproof Proteus Beam moving head and incorporated several of them into the show as a harsh outdoor winter test for the recent LDI award-winning product.
“We've had a great working relationship with the Elation team and have relied on Elation fixtures as part of our 'secret sauce' for Illumination for years,” Featherstone stated. “When they were looking for a 'beta test' site for the Proteus, I was flattered. I believe it’s the world’s first IP65-rated automated arc source fixture and as a long running, cold weather project Illumination provided an excellent real world test.”
Many visitor-favorite lighting experiences at Illumination return year after year but Lightswitch always brings new design surprises each year, some of which require new fixture types to realize. The Proteus fixtures, supplied by Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC), are used to anchor a new area of the light experience called Fantasy Forest, the event’s dramatic grand finale, where, in the Arboretum’s hedge garden, pencil-thin pillars of dense light stretch skyward synchronized to music.
The Proteus fixtures are placed ground level on small custom wooden platforms that were built by vendor ILC. “The fixtures sit out all night, come rain, wind or snow!” Featherstone exclaimed, alluding to Chicago’s infamous winter weather, which has reportedly posed no issues for the IP65-rated fixtures, or lamps, over the four weeks since the event began. “All of the bearings and moving parts were designed by Elation for extremes of temperature and no water enters the device so there is nothing to freeze! We are more than satisfied with the brightness using the CMY wheels. The fixture has plenty of output and the color change is super fast.”
The Proteus series - Proteus Beam and Proteus Hybrid - launched at the recent LDI show, winning a Best Debuting Product award. The Proteus Beam houses a Philips 14R 280W lamp and projects a tight 2-degree beam. It has CMY color mixing plus 9 dichroic colors, 8 rotating replaceable gobos, 13 static gobos, two prisms and a frost filter wash effect.
When asked if there was any risk involved for his design team in using a new fixture on an installation such as Illumination, Featherstone didn’t hesitate. “For us, there was faith, but no 'leap'. I've known Elation Sales Director Eric Loader for a long time and he is one of those people who if he says something will be ready, it will. If he says it will work, it will. I trust him completely, and he's never let me down - in fact like with the Proteus, he usually 'under promises and over delivers'!
“Based on our experience this year, I think Proteus is a phenomenal fixture and is going to allow all manner of new design potential for both Illumination and other projects too. I'm excited to design them into next year’s experience!” Featherstone concluded.
Ilumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum runs from November 18th to January 2nd.
Photo credit for Fantasy Forest image: Matthew Taylor, The Morton Arboretum