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May 20, 2009 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Your suggestions for lighting the top of a 50 ft. sculpture being displayed at our state fair?

I work for a manufacturing company that is manufacturing and donating a 50 foot tall metal sculpture, to be displayed at our state fair later this summer. I can't give away too much as we've agreed not to disclose any sensitive information yet, but picture a tall steel structure: 50 ft. tall, base has a 40 ft. diameter. The sculpture consists of three separate structures, coming together to form one larger structure (i know it's vague, but the "3" is important).

At first, we thought of putting different colored LEDs (right, white, blue) on the top of each of the smaller structures so they would come together at the top and form a "flame" of sorts.

Then I thought about doing something like this but thought it would look pretty silly in the day light and I'm not sure how well it would hold up to heavy winds 50 ft. up.

Now, we're considering mounting different colored laser lights (perhaps moving) at the top so people all around the fairgrounds can spot the sculpture.

Your thoughts? We're in Oregon and would really appreciate any input that you can provide. Specific suppliers in our area would be great, if possible.
posted by siclik to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not a real flame?
posted by cmoj at 11:27 AM on May 20, 2009

You should definitely speak to outdoor event lighting companies. I don't have any specific recommendations, sorry.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:29 AM on May 20, 2009

how about a siren or something like this
posted by fozzie33 at 11:31 AM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: When we were asked to manufacture this sculpture, we were given a picture of a similar sculpture from a state fair long ago. The sculpture had a HUGE flame coming out of it, and we were encouraged to design something similar, but more energy efficient. Perhaps some form of illumination that took advantage of solar power, etc.

The flame idea would look cool - but it would basically be copying their old design which we're looking to improve upon (sorry, should have mentioned that in my question).
posted by siclik at 11:31 AM on May 20, 2009

Ground based lasers, pointed at the top, with public interaction to control the pulse rate and color.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:46 AM on May 20, 2009

Why not replicate the flame, but use something along the lines of a "flame" designed and built from RGB LEDs? The structure wouldn't be terribly difficult to assemble, and with a three-dimensional "screen," essentially, you could make a flame from the colors. I'm a lighting designer, but I can think of several control surfaces that are relatively cost efficient off of the top of my head.

Does this make sense? Build a three dimensional flame from LEDs, and just program it to look like a flame - or anything else your mind cam imagine. LEDs sort-of give the aura of sustainability, so that makes sense in that arena, too.

My opinion only.
posted by jimmyhutch at 12:04 PM on May 20, 2009

I don't know the answer, but would a large propane flame be less efficient or more efficient than a large mostly coal-generated electric lighting system?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:15 PM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: @Pollomacho - I'm not sure if you're referring to this installation or just inquiring in general, but we'll be using solar panels to provide energy for this illumination.
posted by siclik at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: @jimmyhutch - "I can think of several control surfaces that are relatively cost efficient "

I know nothing about LED control, so any recommendations in this area would be greatly appreciated. I think that's a fantastic idea because then the flame shape would still be present in the day light.

Would be just basically sculpt a 3D flame shape and then mount the LEDs on the exterior?
posted by siclik at 1:04 PM on May 20, 2009

I have two considerations, one is lights attached to the structure, the second is lights on the ground, pointed at the structure to illuminate the structure.

As far as lights 50 ft up, I would consider Christmas tree lights. They are cheap, made for exterior lighting, come in nifty colors, and blink if required.

As far as illumination, I would go with 3 stands of pinspots on the ground, they are dirt cheap, draw very little power, you can gel them if you need color, and are happy outdoors.

Since every lighting solution I have is the same, my lighting friends call me "pinspot"
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 7:31 PM on May 20, 2009

EL Wire in interesting shapes, wrapped around the supports of your phallic symbol objet d'art? They sell transformers that flash and sequence, so animation is possible. EL's always a big hit at Burning Man and similar (cheap neon tube substitute).

What's your budget? Definitely seconding to ask an outdoor lighting company about this...they are expensive for a good reason.
posted by ostranenie at 7:38 AM on May 22, 2009

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