01 June 2015 // Thoughts

The Bright Side of Attraction Design: Shedding A Light on Collaboration

In this week’s post, Kathy Abernathy of Abernathy Lighting Design takes to the blogging mic to enlighten us on the oft forgotten art of themed entertainment lighting design, and the importance of teamwork.

Often in the world of exhibit and thematic environments, we are asked “What does a Lighting Designer do?” There are a number of ways to answer this question. Two approaches are below:

  • Quality lighting design is a process of communicating the value of visual performance, Architectural appeal, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and safety. A Lighting Designer has a unique ability to craft spaces, create drama, secure comfort and reveal the shapes and textures of a project. When a Lighting Designer is used on projects they achieve both cost and code compliance by using experience, talent and expertise to guide each project from early concepts through construction and occupancy, with strategic benefits of lighting at the forefront.
  • – as written by the International Association of Lighting Designers.
  • A Theatrical lighting designer (LD) is familiar with the various types of lighting instruments and their uses. In consultation with the director, the stage manager (SM) and the scenic designer, and after observing rehearsals, the LD creates an instrument schedule and a light plot as well as informing the SM where each lighting cue is designed to be triggered in the script, which the SM notes down in his plot book. The schedule is a list of all required lighting equipment, including color gel, gobos, color wheels, barndoors and other accessories.
  • A lighting designer must satisfy the requirements set forth by the director or head planner. Practical experience is required to know the effective use of different lighting instruments and color in creating a design.
  • – as written on Wikipedia.

With both theatrical training and years of experience in architectural lighting, Abernathy Lighting Design has been very fortunate to merge these two disciplines into many successful JRA projects.

One of our favorite and most challenging projects with JRA was Ferrari World. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the largest indoor theme park in the world. The park pays tribute to the passion, excellence, performance and technical innovation that Ferrari has established over the years and represents today. The park features over 20 state-of-the-art attractions within its 86,000 square meters (925,000 square feet) of interior space, each designed to bring various facets of the Ferrari story to life.

The project started with five lighting design firms all collaborating and working toward the common goal of passion, excellence, performance and technical innovation. All lighting design firms had theatrical training and architectural lighting experience; the perfect combination for this type of project. With this common background, the project design team was able to unify around a single set of standards and share a consistent design process even though each firm worked independently on different areas of the park. Almost every type of venue we have the opportunity to work on as lighting designers was represented on this project; museums, retail spaces, restaurants, offices, dark rides, themed spaces, theaters, training rooms, roadway and exterior lighting.

Since a picture paints a thousand words the following photos reflect how a true collaborative process among professionals can be a huge, huge success.

This project will stand for years as evidence of the collaborative process’ success and the value of quality professional lighting design.