Northern lights recreated with LED light show
With one of the best views of Aurora Borealis, a colorful display of cosmic and atmospheric particles in the night sky, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has a special connection to the Northern Lights. This was one reason the IMAX Theatre at the TELUS World of Science worked with LSW Lighting and DIALOG to create a light show that would mimic these famous lights. An LED light show plays before an IMAX presentation as a convergence of natural science and technology.
The IMAX Theatre was originally constructed at the TELUS World of Science in 1984, and in 2013, the theatre began renovations and upgrades. New projectors, screens, speakers, seating, lighting, and architectural finishes were added to the building. The theatre added LED lighting with the goal of lowering electricity costs.
Project commissioner Ryan Sonnenberg, LSW Lighting, and DIALOG used iColor Cove QLX Powercore, iColor Cove EC Powercore, and iColor Flex MX to create every color and effect necessary to achieve the Northern Lights impression.
The Northern Lights effect extends up the walls and onto the ceilings inside the theatre before each film. iColor Cove QLX Powercore was housed inside coves cut into the acoustical paneling of the theatre which are covered by a special fabric that hide the individual lights while the effect is in play. This was done in order to provide just enough space to keep the individual lights from view. iColor Flex MX was used at the entrance surrounding the doorways to draw viewers into the theatre.
The theatre's lighting is fully automated running off inputs from the IMAX projection system. Color Kinetics Light System Manager controls the Northern Lights effect and all the house, aisle, and chair lights. The lights are pre-programmed to run and react to what is happening in the theatre. When a show is about to start, the light show plays automatically, then the house lights dim as the show begins. After an IMAX presentation has ended, the lights come up and help guide movie-goers out of the theatre. No operator is required during the operation of the theatre to set the timing of the loading, pre-show, film, and unloading of the theatre.
By switching to LED lighting, the IMAX Theatre at the TELUS World of Science in Edmonton reduced the total lighting load from 5,365 W to 2,255 W, exceeding their original goal of reducing the load by 50%. Color Kinetics was just a small part in reducing electricity consumption while bringing a colorful element to the pre-show of the science center's IMAX Theatre attraction. "From start to finish, the upgrade of the IMAX theatre had to be completed within a four-month construction period which was considered extremely short for the amount of work involved," said Ed Pon, the lighting designer and electrical engineer at DIALOG.
"The success of this project was due to the combined efforts of an integrated team which included the owner, architect, lighting designer, lighting integrator, electrical and mechanical engineers, electrical contractor, general contractor, lighting manufacturer and IMAX."