Marks & Spencer Radio Control

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A flamboyant interior and exterior lighting scheme using cutting edge technology has marked the recent opening of Marks & Spencer's store in Fenchurch Street - a project requiring DMX signals to be sent to both sides of a busy road in the heart of the City of London.

The project was produced for Marks & Spencer by brand experience consultancy Hotcakes and designed by Darren Parker of DPL Production Lighting, who worked closely with High Wycombe-based A C Lighting and west London-based Avolites to achieve the desired effect.

Exterior:

The external scheme included six Studio Due City Color architectural luminaries - selected for their incredible power, brightness and durability. These dramatically illuminated the neo-deco facade of the M&S building - itself a particularly striking piece of modern architecture surrounded by office buildings on all sides - and provided contrasting and complementing colours to those utilised inside the building.

With weight restrictions preventing any lights to be located on the actual M&S building, and with busy streets below, these fully weatherised units had to be mounted on the rooftops of an office building on the opposite side of the road and controlled from a lighting console located within the main building (see over).

The solution - devised by A C Lighting - required signals which could be transmitted reliably across the required distance within a given budget, using Artistic Licence, Net-Link I/P and Net-Link O/P Ethernet to DMX512 converters that were interfaced to ELSA LANCOM L-11 Wireless Ethernet Adapters.The Net-Link I/P took in DMX data from the lighting console and converted it into Ethernet using the Art-Net protocol. The Ethernet data was then transmitted across the road using a pair of ELSA LANCOM L-11 Wireless Ethernet transceivers operating at 2.4GHz. A Net-Link O/P unit then converted the data back into DMX data, distributed to the different floors via Avolites splitters, using cable in the traditional manner. The solution has the ability to transmit the signals up to 400 metres in line-of-sight applications.

Interior:

Parker took advantage of the reflective white interiors of five of the building's unoccupied floors by using them for the location of further fixtures. The ensuing mirror effect resulted in shafts of richly saturated colours shooting across vast areas and out of the windows, changing colour every few seconds and focused to avoid blinding the surrounding offices with light.

Floors 3, 4 and 7 featured seven City Colors per floor, plus six Martin MAC 500's, the latter used for snowflake gobo patterns, break-ups and texturing. Floors 5 and 6 each housed a single City Color, focused out of the front of the building.

Parker selected an Avolites Pearl 2000 console for the core lighting control. Situated on Floor 3 of the building, this enabled the nightly early evening lightshow to run like a live show, overseen in turn by crew members Chris Doy and Andy Higgins from both interior and exterior locations:

"The Pearl was great for this job, because we needed a flexible 'live' console for operation." Darren enthused. "The project has been a great success, and I am particularly pleased with the wireless Ethernet link carrying the DMX data. It is so stable, it really is hard to believe that it's not running through a cable. It beats the hell out of digging up the road!"

Matt Briggs, Hotcakes' Producer, was equally enthusiastic: "We have worked with Darren Parker on a number of recent projects, and felt that he was an ideal choice to create the bold, modern and assertive mood required for the display", he explained.

Sean Curtis, Marketing Communications Manager at Marks & Spencer added, "The complexities in setting up this scheme and accommodating the equipment and crew has involved some considerable skill in diplomacy and health and safety. The display blends beautifully with the magnificent modern architecture of the store, and

judging by the number of people who have stopped in the street to look and drink in the experience, Marks and Spencer has been well and truly put on the City map! We are delighted with the result."