Lighting and visual designer Rob Ross of New York and LA based technical production company Rob Ross Design used over 500 Astera Titan Tubes to highlight impressive architectural and industrial areas at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas … for the automotive giant’s recent facilities launch party, ‘Cyber Rodeo’.
Covering 2,500 acres along the Colorado River and offering over 10 million square feet of factory floor, Gigafactory Texas is a U.S. manufacturing hub for Tesla Model Y and the future home of Cybertruck.
Rob and his team were asked onboard by the ‘Cyber Rodeo’ event’s creative director Stefan Beckman and producer Mark Seed and tasked with designing a creative illumination scheme for the vast environmental spaces involved in the event, including interiors and the building exterior.
This epic mission saw close collaboration with LD Tom Sutherland and his team from DX7 Design who created lighting for Cyber Rodeo’s three stage and entertainment areas
The enormous main space utilised for the event measured 3800 ft x 1200 ft and stretches the equivalent of seven city blocks!
Looking at photos, videos, walk-throughs, plans, and renders were useful for getting an impression explained Rob, but it wasn’t until he finally stood in the space for real during the first reccie … that he truly felt and understood its scale and enormity!
This was the first trigger for creating an atmosphere for guests to be engaged, impressed, and put in the mood to party by proactive lighting.
“We had a free rein to suggest ideas which was great fun!” stated Rob, who immediately thought of utilising the building’s impressive structural metalwork as part of the installation, highlighting its form and impressive architecture as well as utilising it practically to provide lighting positions
Titan Tubes also sprang to mind straight away! This was for the quality and power of the output and – obviously in a space this size – the wireless control and operation.
Rob frequently uses Astera products in designs and projects and loves the versatility of all the Astera products.
Get in and set up time for Cyber Rodeo was tight given its size and ambition, also partly due to the factory continuing to be functional throughout the build.
The Titan Tube installation was approximately 1,900 ft long with 568 fixtures deployed across the building, the vast majority magnetically attached to the top parts of the columns which were each 40 ft apart.
This ‘perspective design’ illustrated the spectacular size and presence of the building, emphasising its character and potency as a workplace, and additionally gave it a real sense of depth as guests moved around to the various areas.
These included the main stages and assorted ‘exhibition’ areas that were highlighting various Tesla vehicles, old, new, prototype, etc., as well as cutting-edge manufacturing plant like aluminium casting machines – which form part of a vehicle frame from molten aluminium, a technology designed to reduce the amount of welding needed – plus new painting facilities and an array of other amazing industrial robots.
The Titan Tube design allowed the whole area to be beautifully and tastefully lit and enabled some mind-bending effects with chases whizzing manically up and down the building, all helping ramp up the energy, excitement, and hi-tech party atmosphere
Over 400 of the Titan Tubes were ingeniously rigged to the steel pillars using Androokie magnet kits, with some other fixtures dotted around on the floor and other vantage points, all controlled through Astera ART7 boxes via a grandMA2 lighting console. “This all worked fantastically,” commented Rob.
It would have been near impossible to cable that many fixtures neatly within the timeframe, an exercise that would have been costly and inefficient in person-power, but the Astera units were loosely power cabled for the programming sessions with the cabling running along the floor that was removed on the morning of the show, leaving them completely wireless.
Rob was delighted with the results as were his clients. He admits that he’s been wanting to do something of this scale and profile with Titan Tubes ever since he first used Astera products around 5 years ago.
“The light quality is soft and nicely textures spaces, people, and objects. They are small and handleable – extremely mobile, the colour mixing is excellent, and they can be fitted absolutely anywhere,” he concluded
Rob Ross Designs owns a quantity of Titan Tubes as well as the smaller Helios Tubes and the larger Hyperion, all of which use the same Titan LED engine … however even using all of these they didn’t have anywhere near enough for Cyber Rodeo, so most units were supplied by Wireless Film Lights, with entertainment stage lighting contractor 4Wall pitching in to make up the remaining count.
Rob and his team also supplied around 100 of their own Astera AX5 TriplePARs and 24 x AX3 LightDrop on the truck for last minute deployment. Sure enough, the day before, all of these were utilised to light signage, bars, walkways, toilets, etc., as this part of the factory was transformed from an imposing cyber manufacturing facility into a cool event space for the evening.
The Titan Tubes were also programmed into the DX7 Design team’s lighting control consoles allowing them to be incorporated with their stage lighting at specific moments as a series of live acts and guest speakers took to the stage, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Rob’s associate for the project was Aiden Marshall and their assistants were Jai Jing Qi and Dan Schreckengost.
Rob concludes, “We all had a really amazing experience on this project. It was a lot of fun to be challenged to work on such a large space and get to know such amazing new Tesla technology! I particularly enjoyed the teamwork and synergies existing between the different departments, disciplines and everyone involved who worked tirelessly to make it happen, as well as having the opportunity to create these incredible visual elements using such innovative products. A huge thanks to all of the teams and vendors that helped make it happen!”
Photos by JorgPhoto