Lighting Designer Bruno Poet recently turned to Elation Professional's Proteus line of IP65 luminaires to light the UAE's 50th National Day Celebration, a breathtaking and technically demanding show that beautifully chronicled the country's unique history and hopes for the future.

The ambitious Golden Jubilee spectacular took place in the remote and harsh terrain of the Hajar Mountains and was both technically bold and emotionally touching. Artistic Director and Designer was Es Devlin who worked with LarMac PROJECTS, the Official UAE 50th Celebration Producer. LarMac enlisted a team of 650 personnel to bring Devlin's vivid designs to life.

"Lighting National Day 50 was a thrilling challenge," lighting designer Poet commented. "Es Devlin's show design was a sculptural form in an unbelievably beautiful setting on the Hatta reservoir surrounded by mountains. The lighting had to bring this sculpture to life and support the storytelling. During the performance, the sun set and night drew in so it was important to light the landscape to keep the mountains and the lake alive; it was essential to see the stunning environment we were performing in."

The vision, scale and spectacle of the Golden Jubilee show was nothing short of astounding. Centered on a giant rotating disc and sculpture floating in the waters of Hatta Dam, a major engineering feat in itself, the 36-minute show featured music and poetry, a dramatic light show with projection, drone-launched fireworks, and water displays, all wrapped in surround sound. PRG provided around 1,000 lighting fixtures for the show, including Elation Proteus Hybrid™ and Proteus Maximus™ luminaires. Surrounded by water and exposed to the elements, the fixtures had to perform amidst a challenging environment.

"The extreme conditions at Hatta, combined with the extensive use of water screens meant that I had to find lighting fixtures that could work reliably in extremes of heat and cold and under a regular deluge of water," Poet remarked. "The rig was in view of the audience so it needed to look clean and neat - we didn't want to have to cover the units with domes or other waterproofing."

Poet says the size and scale of the venue meant that he needed very bright sources that would register in the vast landscape. It was also important, he says, to have a consistent quality of light across all sources. "Everything had to be symmetrical and exact - there was nowhere to hide. For this reason, and also to save power, I was keen to base the rig on LED sources." He continues, "In addition, the lights needed to deliver scale and spectacle in response to the sound track, magnifying the energy of the music, and framing the stage design with elegant, geometric and sculptural rays of light."

Poet and the lighting team used 100 LED-based Proteus Maximus plated around the perimeter of the elliptical performance area, and 108 Maximus and 56 Proteus Hybrids on the horizon arc walkway to frame the main set.

"The Elation Proteus Hybrid and Maximus were an obvious choice because of their IP rating," Poet said, although he adds that he felt he was taking a bit of a chance as he had never used them before. "But I was blown away by the brightness, quality and reliability of the Elation Proteus Maximus - they worked consistently in unbelievably extreme conditions of heat, moisture, wind and dust. They were as bright as I had hoped, and had fantastic consistency of color and beam edge from unit to unit. They had the punch to work as narrow pencil beams to scythe through the air, but also the flexibility to make big wide sheets of light as well. They were truly remarkable units and there is no way we could have delivered the graphic air looks the production required without them."

The 50th National Day Celebration, which received widespread acclaim, will certainly go down as one of the more ambitious and visually impressive special events of the last many years. It debuted December 2, 2021, in front of a VIP audience and was broadcast around the UAE. Additional shows were performed from December 3-12.

Photos: Nicolas Chavance