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  •   A.C. Lighting Supply LED House Lighting System for The Barbican's Cinema 1

A.C. Lighting Supply LED House Lighting System for The Barbican's Cinema 1

2nd October 2007

A.C. Lighting's Special Projects division has supplied a colour-changing LED house lighting system and the production lighting infrastructure for Cinema 1 of the Barbican Centre in London.

The Barbican is Europe's largest multi arts and conference venue, presenting a uniquely diverse programme of world class performing and visual arts including music, theatre and cinema.

Barbican Film combines the best new commercial releases alongside a unique programme of special art-house and independent seasons, including the London Children's and Australian film festivals.

Mark Bloxsidge and Bob Allen from the Barbican's Technical Dept were tasked with overseeing a new lighting scheme for the main Cinema 1 auditorium, which involved replacing the existing 1970s house lighting and also providing a new stage production lighting infrastructure.

When it came to choosing the new lighting specification, Mark Bloxsidge was keen to make the leap to a LED lighting system over conventional fixtures due to the potential savings that could be made to the system's running costs. Cinema 1's grade-two listed building status also meant that compact fixtures needed to be used to mount around the high level, acoustic finished plastered ceiling and walls.

Bob Allen developed the plan into a detailed lighting specification, of which a key criteria was that it provide real flexibility and easy colour-changing of the ceiling and walls to suit events, such as 'branding' the room in corporate colours and using themed colours for film seasons.

The installation also needed to incorporate the infrastructure for a theatre lighting rig to illuminate the stage area during film cast Q&A sessions, presentations and special performance-based film introductions.

After meeting with several companies and holding an onsite fixtures shootout, A.C. Lighting's Special Projects division was awarded the tender to supply and install all aspects of the new system.

Bob Allen commented: "We chose A.C. because it was clear they understood exactly what our needs were and had a lot of experience working on architectural lighting schemes for entertainment venues."

The system consists of eighteen 1200m 36W linear LED battens suspended in the void between the ceiling and walls and a pair of pinspots converted to take LED elements mounted in the eight redundant speaker wall slots. Ten MR16 fixtures fitted with 6W LED modules are mounted along the length of each stairway and a twin frame light fitted with two 18W RGB modules at the bottom of the stairways.

To comply with new DDA legislation, the Projects team also installed blue LED strip lighting along the aisles, stair treads and row letter panels.

Due to the venue's listed building status, A.C. had to provide custom hand finished, anodised metalwork matched to the shape of the original brass stair nosing, and make special allowance for the tight radius of the stairs to enable the metalwork to be bend around the curved corners.

An ETC Unison architectural lighting control system provides the user interface via four wall stations and an LCD touch screen panel located in the projection room, and was chosen due to its ability to be programmed with multiple theatrical-style show scenes.

The Unison interfaces directly with new digital dimmers and remotely controls a DMX playback recorder, as well as managing priority between the production lighting for live events and the new house lighting.

ETC Sensor ESR 36 and 48 channel dimmers with RCD protection and emergency relay modules provide dimming of the six lighting circuits and the production lighting system. A fourteen outlet XTBA DMX network was also installed.

When it came to installing and commissioning the dimming system, the Projects team identified an interfacing issue between the new digital dimmer and the emergency power backup system. Due to the emergency lights switching off automatically when mains power was restored after a blackout, the auditorium could be plunged into darkness whilst the control module of the digital dimmer rebooted.

The solution was provided by an emergency lighting changeover system which automatically delays the mains power from switching back for 18 seconds, thereby giving the dimmer enough time to reboot.

A.C.'s in-house manufacturing service provided a number of custom metalwork solutions, including a custom brass panel with finger guard for the Unison cleaners' control panel, refurbishing existing fixtures with matching LEDs and providing custom metalwork to adapt the fixtures to house LED circuit boards.

In addition, when the Barbican required an IWB to provide a neater production lighting rig, the Projects team removed the existing curved bar and converted the metalwork into an IWB as a cost-effective alternative.

A.C. also supplied a custom wooden 19" rack to match the existing production furniture, fitted with a Howard Eaton relay rack with a rack mount LED button panel custom manufactured in-house by the company.

To enable the Barbican to re-open Cinema 1 for events once the basic house lighting had been completed, the Projects team worked to a schedule of limited access times to install the production lighting.

Bob Allen commented: "We're very pleased with the new lighting rig. It's given us the scope to put on more small-scale theatrical performances in Cinema 1 and provide much more tailor-made solutions to clients. A.C. Lighting has done an excellent job and provided a very professional service."