LD Bruno Poet revisits Elation Proteus for UAE’s National Day celebration

Over 400 of Elation Professional’s all-weather Proteus lights were used by lighting designer Bruno Poet on the UAE's 51st National Day celebration, a dazzling showcase of the nation’s past, present and future that took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center in December.


A magnificent 108-meter cylindrical performance stage, lined with LED strips to form a tunnel and featuring portals at each end symbolizing the past and future, served as a dynamic platform for a parade of floats and massive cast of over 3,000 performers.


Es Devlin returned as Co-Creative Director for the show, working with show producers People Creative. The Organizing Committee of the 51st National Day Celebration was headed by Creative Executive Producer Rawdha Al Qubasi and Artistic Director Ayesha Hadhir.

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As the venue was an open-air environment, lighting fixtures required an IP rating and had to utilize LED technology to align with the show's commitment to sustainability.

The lighting was predominantly powered by Elation, including 160 Proteus Lucius™ and 260 Proteus Maximus™ LED moving heads, 27 Proteus Rayzor 760™ lights, 28 Proteus Rayzor Blade L™ battens, as well as 24 Elation KL Panels™ and other lighting elements. Encore supplied the complete lighting setup, including lighting fixtures, network, control, processing, trackers, wireless DMX, and work light.


I needed outdoor rated fixtures because although the weather is generally good in Abu Dhabi, you just never know. I needed fixtures that were very reliable with a consistent quality of light across them. It was an easy choice to go back to the Proteus, they are such powerful, do everything waterproof lights. The Lucius and Maximus were absolutely the workhorses of the show, stated lighting designer Bruno Poet, who also turned to Elation’s Proteus line of IP65 luminaires to light last year’s 50th National Day Celebration. 


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Each circular portal located at either end of the performance area served as a projection screen and provided a platform for visual storytelling. Lining each circle were 51 Proteus Lucius lights representing the 51 years since the rulers of seven Emirates came together to form the United Arab Emirates. The circle of Lucius fixtures were rigged at 90 degrees facing inwards on pipe curved to match the shape of the portal.


It was a challenging position to hang lights and therefore hard to swap out so we wanted something reliable there. I went with Lucius as they are a bit smaller than the Maximus and can do narrow beam looks or zoom wide for big washes. They worked very well and as far as color matched the Maximus well, so it was very consistent, Bruno stated. 


The Proteus Lucius and Proteus Maximus both house high center-intensity white LED engines (6,500K) working with CMY color mixing. Lucius fixtures located behind each portal door were used to light haze and backlight each entrance. The effect was to hide from the audience the rest of the procession lining up behind it.

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Suspended above the audience were 60 Proteus Maximus lights on each side of the performance space, used as the primary lighting source for performances. Additional Maximus lights were placed at various locations to meet other lighting requirements. One of the big challenges, Bruno says, was that all of the performance area was covered in projection, which had to be timed perfectly with the constant flow of floats, props and performers, as well as music from a live orchestra.

Bruno comments, “Basically the whole stage and the portals at each end were projected onto so my challenge was to enhance the light on the performers and props without destroying the projection. For example, in the underwater section on marine life with lots of different fish travelling through the stage, being able to blend animated water effects from the Proteus lights with the projection was really useful. We were able to enhance the projection and highlight the performers without ruining the video which was quite important”.

An automated tracking system was employed with some of the Proteus fixtures to follow certain performers or highlight objects as they moved throughout the performance area. The system not only served as a followspot but also built light intensity as people or props traversed the stage. According to Bruno, this worked extremely effectively. The show’s finale featured a remarkable mirrored sculpture designed by Es Devlin, an interpretation of a field of solar reflectors stunningly lit with a mixture of Lucius and Maximus fixtures.

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According to Bruno, the lighting setup provided by Encore was fantastic and he commends their team for an excellent job. He emphasizes that time was limited, but the Encore team was able to set everything up quickly despite difficult access to the equipment.


Time is always short and what an incredible job the Encore team did to get it all up and working efficiently. Lights are often the last thing that goes up and their team worked incredibly quickly to get it all set up and working like it should, he said. 


Additionally, Bruno mentions that the lighting kit was reliable, which was crucial to the success of the project. 


Additional members of the lighting team included Max Narula and Johanne Jensen - Associate Lighting Designers; Jon Barker, Max Narula & Fraser Walker - Lighting Programmers; and Dan Bond - D3 Programmer. In addition to Encore, other production suppliers and consultants were Wonder Works, Stage One, Cundall Engineering, Al Laith, Creative Technology, Maestra, VK Scenic, Agora and Clair.

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