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Elation’s Proteus line plays key role in Al Gurdon design for Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Some 72 nations and territories came together July 28-August 8 in Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England, for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Lighting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the quadrennial multi-sport event was Al Gurdon of Incandescent Design who used over 300 Elation Professional IP65 Proteus luminaires to light the festivities which were watched by a live crowd of 30,000 and an estimated global broadcast audience of more than a billion.


The Opening Ceremony featured dance groups, dream sequences, cultural parables, humor and a 10-meter tall mechanical bull. A cast of thousands traced Birmingham’s history through themes of unity, diversity and resilience with the evening capped by a medley of hits by local heroes Duran Duran. The Closing focused on the region’s musical heritage with performances by UB40, Jorja Smith and Dexys Midnight Runners, among others, including a surprise appearance by Ozzy Osbourne.


Al Gurdon looked to Elation’s IP65 Proteus line, using 212 Proteus Maximus, 54 Proteus Excalibur and 54 Proteus Rayzor Blade luminaires. Incandescent Design provided the front of house team while PRG provided equipment and lighting crew, headed by Crew Chief Tim Probert. “Rich Gorrod at PRG was my design associate in the planning stages”, says Gurdon.


The Commonwealth Games marked the debut of the Proteus Rayzor Blade, a tiltable linear LED light that functions as a wash, strobe or FX light. Gurdon arrayed the one-meter-long versions around the “bullring” in the center of the field of play. “They served duty lighting mass cast, accenting, and defining of the space”, he says. “They were also useful for lighting action above the ground without hitting the ground itself.”


For the Opening Ceremony, Gurdon lined the athlete’s path with Proteus Excalibur narrow beam moving heads and positioned additional units on audio carts. The Excaliburs were primarily used for searchlight effects. For the Closing Ceremony, which Gurdon says was much more about music than the Opening, he moved the Excaliburs to the “upstage” east side to get a strong floor backlight for the musical performances. Meanwhile, from positions high on the stadium, a battery of Proteus Maximus moving heads were used for “keying the action” rather than as effect light. “From a lighting perspective the Closing was completely unrehearsed”, remarks Gurdon. “Because the Games were taking place in the stadium, the rehearsals took place at a 1:1 site on the other side of the city, and because all of my key lights stayed rigged throughout, there was no way of rehearsing with them.”


“I cannot overstate the contribution of my fantastic team”, he continues. “Ross Williams and Alex Mildenhall as lead programmers with Ben Hornshaw providing systems support and management on site, and Nikita Jakovlev in pre-viz. Vision Supervisor Emelie Scaminaci produced beautiful pictures throughout, and Chris Henry spot-called two extremely complicated shows with a team of operators with only a small number of professionals, but the majority volunteers who had never done it before.”


(Photos: Getty Images/Birmingham Ceremonies/Clive Brunskill/Tom Dulat/Elsa/Eddie Keogh/Alex Livesey/Alex Pangling/Stephen Pond/David Ramos)




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