Ocean Illumination: Glastonbury Festival 2015

As always, after many months of planning we head to Worthy Farm with reams of digital-drawings, crates of fixtures and vague hopes of a dry year. The weather mostly-held out for us, which in hindsight was a shame given this year’s theme was promoting sustainable oceans. Once the workshop has been built (yes, we take a full lighting R&D workshop to Glastonbury..) then the fun begins. Whether were prepping kit, building fish lanterns out of wicker, or programming interactive controls into a Raspberry Pi – we’re pretty busy throughout.

A monster fishing trawler, a replica of the Cornelis Vrolijk, dominated the field. It’s massive hull dwarfing a small catamaran promoting sustainable fishing practises. We’re no strangers to lighting huge ships having last year lit the Rainbow Warrior, so keenly created some night-time dynamism with a multitude of floodlights and rolling water effects projected from afar onto her hull.

This is one of the largest deployments of SGM products at a single event and again demonstrated the fantastic impact that can be achieved when these groundbreaking fixtures are placed in the hands of creatives.

– Ian Kirby, SGM

Beauty was brought to the field in the form of Tina the Tuna, a species of fish under threat of extinction. She was clad with recycled oil barrels as scales, polished and an absolutely pleasure to light, bouncing photons in all directions. We used SGM P-5 outdoor LED fixtures to highlight the top of the scales, and Chroma-Q Colour Punch to catch the underside. Excellent colour rendering on the P-5s, combined with their IP65 rating made them the obvious choice. ShowCAD Artist reliably controlled these and the rest of the fixtures throughout the field.

Within the tuna fish, Snow Business had built an extremely realistic coral garden. Collaborating with Hellicar & Lewis, we brought this to life with the use of UV lighting and underwater effects. Visitors were invited on a journey to learn about the Coral’s plight in the face of extinction through an interactive adventure. Part of our inspiration came from the Coral Reefs exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

This was our largest deployment of lighting fixtures to date. Greenpeace’s new late night bar and venue allowed us to really push the boat out.

Our favourite part of the field was the Crawl / Wiggle / Slide feature. Visitors passing behind the rear of the monster-trawler got caught under the fishing nets, along with scores of beautifully illuminated fish lanterns. Their chilling journey began there, as they got swept up inside a 3D immersive adventure. They became the fish, trapped within the vessel and hoping to escape whilst experiencing a sensory experience both sonically and via illumination. Escape was only possible down a by-catch slide, an 8m tall terrifying drop slide. This feature demonstrated the dangers and waste associated with over-fishing.

Building on the success of last year’s bar and venue, The Engine Room was built in the depths of the monster-trawler. An industrial space best described as somewhere the ship’s crew had built to relax and brew their moonshine, it formed the perfect location for our crew party. The stage rig was largely made up on Robe Robin 100 movers, SGM X-5 strobes, and Elidy-S panels. We rigged these warm white pixel panels in such a way as to enhance the internal shape of the ship. The stage had to open out two ways – during the day it faced out into the field then became more enclosed late into the evening so we designed a rigging system that allowed for a quick changeover. The light show was programmed on a Titan mobile with M.One driving the graphics. The rest of The Engine Room was brought to life with an amount of birdies, bulkheads, glowing crates, and illuminated machine dials created by the hyper-talented delightful design duo Darling & Edge.

Elsewhere on the field, we lit a cafe on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and created a relaxing fishing village and market, an inviting place for people to enjoy their late-night snacks and chill out.

The ambitions of Greenpeace increase year on year with a desire to have maximum campaign exposure. Having this year shifted the focus from the Arctic to Oceans, we’ve had the opportunity to develop new ideas for lighting the field. We’ve moved almost completely away from using non-waterproof fixtures due to Glastonbury’s harsh environment. Easy to rig and reliable fixtures allow us to focus more of our energy on the finishing touches and lighting a great show. The technological advances made by SGM with their products has helped us achieve this.