With its unmistakable signature shell, the Hollywood Bowl is one of world's largest natural amphitheaters, and a famed American landmark. It is home to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the host venue for hundreds of musical events each year.
In the summer of 2005, the Hollywood Bowl unveiled its illumination makeover, including the installation of a Philips Color Kinetics LED lighting solution. The team was led by lighting designer Jay Winters of JK Design Group, and Paul Geller, Los Angeles Philharmonic Director of Production. Their goal was to seamlessly illuminate the entire arch of the shell with concealed, color-changing fixtures. Previously, color-changing effects were achieved using conventional light sources with scrolling color changers or dichroic color-mixing fixtures.
When considering a new shell lighting system, the team compared several technologies and determined that an LED-based approach was the way to go. According to Winters, "The move to Philips Color Kinetics' LED-based system allowed not only the ability for straight color changes, but also an unlimited variety of sequenced effects and an amazing range of effects in terms of how we moved from one color to another." The team chose iColor Cove MX Powercore high-output linear LED lighting fixtures, and mounted them in custom, 4 ft (1.2 m) long sheet metal channels. The metal channels provided the proper cut-off to control the fixtures' wide beam dispersion, ensuring the effective illumination of each surface of the shell's concentric baffles with no light spilling onto the other surfaces of the stage area. The fixtures were compatible with the Hollywood Bowl's existing theatrical DMX console, which made the switch to the new system seamless.
Now heading into its 8th season, the installed LED lighting system continues to provide the Hollywood Bowl with the ability to generate new and different effects to enhance their nightly shows. Each season, the lighting crew creates new lighting effects and applications— for instance, coordinating the LED shell lighting with a movie's visuals through the use of the media server functions of the control console.
An expanding repertoire of musical presentations keeps the lighting crew busy during the venue's high season, which runs from June through September. The show lighting is operated in very specific ways based upon the type of music being performed. Classical orchestra concerts use basic lighting and a very limited color palette, while pops orchestra shows are colorful and programmed cue to cue like a theatrical show, while the lighting for jazz and world music concerts is often done on the fly.
Winters comments, "As the designer of this unique installation, I have been very pleased with the performance of the Philips Color Kinetics fixtures and look forward to further use of LED lighting in performance applications."