World-class AV and production design company Mandylights creates spectacular illumination effects with Christie Widget Designer at Vivid Sydney 2018

Mandylights, Christie’s Australian partner, was instrumental in transforming Wulugul Walk in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct into a magical bushland filled with dramatic lighting and stunning puppetry. This took place May 25 to June 16, during the recent Vivid Sydney 2018 festival.

The multimedia experience was known as The Liminal Hour. It was designed by the artists at Mandylights, Erth Visual & Physical Inc., Jacob Nash and James Brown. A highlight was a walking, 20-foot (six-metre) high, illuminated puppet named Marri Dyin. It roamed the site and interacted with the audience. In addition, there were several moments which incorporated the precinct’s tower lighting and audio features with integrated elements inside the puppet to create a large-format spectacle.

The project was commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority. Its aim was to showcase a unique creative program to share the stories of the Barangaroo precinct. It was also to celebrate the femininity of the site’s namesake. Mandylights was responsible for the lighting design of Marri Dyin. This included the use of a pair of Christie Pandoras Box Widget Designers, as well as 350 internal LED lights. These were wirelessly controlled and triggered. This was done via an onsite iPad and also by an external lighting control system.

6 metre interactive puppet a highlight of Vivid Sydney 2018

Clint Dulieu is technical designer, Mandylights. He said, “For this show, it was essential that both lighting and audio appeared organic and fluid. It was also essential that transitions between cues and tracks were seamless regardless of where we were coming from or going to. This meant that we needed much more than canned show replay. And we needed to have a nice front-end for the cast members. We had therefore chosen the Widget Designer as it enabled me to customize a front-end interface that gave the puppeteers from Erth everything they needed.”

Photo by Steve Christo

The first Widget Designer was used for the main control engine within the puppet itself. It was installed on-board in a custom system that was built into a waterproof case. The second Widget Designer was used in the main control room. It served as a bridge taking in cue commands from QLab show control, and outputting to the GrandMA2 lighting control system via telnet.

Both the media and members of the public were mesmerized by the spectacular puppet walking towards them. A Vivid Sydney official said he was “awestruck” when he first saw the six-meter-tall puppet. The glow from the LEDs (controlled by Widget Designer) were, he said, like “the shimmering of her skin with the opalescence of oyster shells.”

He described The Liminal Hour as “the natural and collaborative way everybody came together to create this contemporary spirit,” and that the “gigantic Marri Dyin puppet aptly embodied the physicality and the philosophy of the land she inhabits.”

Christie Widget Designer played a significant role

Christie Widget Designer xDulieu said that Widget Designer was one of the technology tools that contributed to The Liminal Hour’s success. He said it was great  to work directly with the Christie support team to get solutions, fast.

“Widget Designer enabled us to achieve a control solution that not only filled all of our specific requirements from the technical side, but whilst doing so did not in any way limit the artistic needs of our puppeteers which is quite the challenge.

“At Mandylights we’re extremely happy with the outcome of this project. We have delivered an entire precinct to great response from the audiences each night. All technical elements working perfectly for us each and every night. We also had great response from all stakeholders on the project. More importantly, the amazing feedback we’ve had from both public and press speaks for itself.”

Michael Bosworth is Executive Director for APAC, Enterprise, Christie. He said, “We’re delighted that the award-winning Christie Widget Designer has played a significant role in the staging of The Liminal Hour. We congratulate the project teams, in particular Clint and his team from Mandylights, for delivering a spectacular show with Widget Designer, which provides a complete customizable control interface solution for the end user that no other systems on the market can offer.”