Launched on the 23rd of December 2005, Hong Kong’s ‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ has been announced by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s “Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show”. 33 participating buildings located on either side of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour make up the ‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ as they explode nightly into a dazzling display of visual effect firepower.
The 14 minute performance aims to highlight the unity of architecture within Hong Kong while educating the audience on Hong Kong’s history and cultural diversity. The kaleidoscope of effects include 14,894 dynamic lighting fixtures, Stella Ray YAGS producing thousands of high powered laser beams, world class pyrotechnics and a sound simulcast which is broadcast from popular viewing locations including ferries travelling to and from the city. The simulcast can also be dialled into via mobile phone. The nightly show is programmed and coordinated via the Internet through Laservision’s Digital Data~Pump II show control systems which have been installed in all of the major buildings.
The ‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ storyline
The final show has taken over 3 years and 2 separate stages to complete. The final product is massive in contemporary context and the dramatic harbour location affords a tranquil and endless reflection of the effects incorporated into the ‘new look’ Hong Kong.
Despite evolving wealth and prosperity, Hong Kong has never lost its sense of cultural identity or its proud Chinese heritage. The show encapsulates this tradition through the use of ‘lucky’ Chinese red and gold colours.
The ‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ commences as the individual buildings rise from their birth, before growing into the prosperous and rich metropolis Hong Kong is today. In what resembles a grand orchestra, the lighting effects enable the buildings to harmonise with certain Chinese instruments that help make up the simulcast. While the city has always been renowned for its plethora of remarkable structures, it is only now that this architecture has been harmonised in such a unified and defining manner.
Defining the most suitable buildings in a city as overwhelming as Hong Kong is a consuming process. The Laservision team individually examined each building from a variety of angles and popular viewing locations. The most prominent of these viewing locations being the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade which is located directly opposite the city. A priority list of highly visible structures that presented well was then compiled. This list was then fleshed out into studies on the form, texture and architectural merit of each of the structures.
The participating buildings in the final show include; AIG tower, Bank of China, Central Plaza, Cheung Kong, CITIC, City Hall, Coliseum, Exchange Square 1, Exchange Square 2, Grand Stanford, Hard Court, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HSBC), International Finance Centre I, International Finance Centre II, Jardines House, Mass Mutual, Museum of Art, New World Centre, Panorama, Peking Road, Peninsula Hotel, Queens Government Offices, Star House, Sun Hung Kai, The Centre, The Hopewell Centre, The Peoples Liberation Army Headquarters, TST & Empire Centre.
The Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) alone has incorporated 716 intelligent lights including 450 Colour changing fluorescent fixtures in the glass stairwells, Martin Exterior 600’s and 200 fixtures on five levels, 8 searchlights and over one kilometre of LED lighting around the top of the building. Although Victoria Harbour is a great asset for fireworks, it is a significantly larger body of water than most other Harbours Laservision has conducted projects on or around.
The fireworks incorporated are viewed from a greater distance than would be the case at the other venues, diminishing the scale of the effects as viewed from any of the typical viewing positions, such as Tsim Sha Tsui. To combat such a potential problem the number of buildings incorporating fireworks has been increased.
Lasers and searchlights have been incorporated into the Harbour Lighting Plan to increase the use of airborne special effects. The High Powered 50 watt Stella Ray lasers enable animated beams of light to span the harbour connecting the audience on the Tsim Sha Tsui with the show opposite them. Many implementation issues had to be overcome with the Aviation Department, Fire Department, Hong Kong Police and the Marine Department before Laservision could incorporate lasers and fireworks into the Harbour Lighting Plan.
Control and Security of the Show
Laservision’s Digital Data~Pump II (DDP) provided the technical solution for the show. The Australian born technology represents a mass storage device for the simultaneous creation and coordination of large scale Multi Mediums. Multi Mediums are high powered, high impact mediums used to entertain the masses. These mediums include Lasers, Architectural Lighting, Surround Sound, Fountains, Water Screens, Large Format Projection, Pyrotechnics and Special FX. The DDP II system represents a highly integrated, fully digital multimedia capture, playback and editing device.
The DDP is capable of independent playback of almost unlimited numbers of shows simultaneously, and is able to individually control those shows at any of the forwards or backwards speeds without interfering with the operation of any of the other shows. This is again a world-first concept in media playback platforms for entertainment attractions and allows DDP II to be used in some of the most complex and demanding installations in the world. Due to the system’s proven dependability, DDP II is regularly used in mission-critical applications including those when the world’s media is watching.
One of our newest innovations in large-scale media control is the ability to communicate with more and more devices using internet-enabled protocols. The variety of triggers and trigger features available mean even the most complex triggering scheme is possible and shows can be programmed graphically from a central console and distributed automatically to remote DDP’s. The DDP II incorporates two touch screens designed to allow finger-light touch control of performance playback. Each touch screen is fully remotely configurable and provides a new level of graphical interaction between the user and the device. Gone are the large push buttons and red LED’s, and in their place are rendered graphics and animating feedback on tactile touch screens.
‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ technical statistics
Before the application of the Harbour Lighting Plan there were many buildings competing with each other in an uncoordinated fashion that ultimately led to overwhelming cases of light pollution. The ‘ Symphony of Lights ‘ has solved much of the light pollution and represents a tourist attraction that will astound both young and old. Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board has “estimated tourism to exceed 20 million … a growth of 31.8% of the previous year”. The question now … “how are other Asian cities going to top this one?”
Laservision represents a world renowned pioneer of creative, high impact solutions for the attractions, advertising, and special events industries. Our creations are projected to targeted, large scale audiences, where the audience becomes an integral part of the experience. These creations include permanently installed entertainment for theme parks, tourist attractions and other special venues. Laservision also caters for themed celebrations and presentations for both the private and corporate sectors.
Laservision’s world renowned installations including Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Sydney’s Darling Harbour can be viewed at www.laservision.com.au/portfolio.