11.07.2023 | Proteus powers Aaron Russ lighting design for Dubai World Cup Closing Ceremony

Creative Technology Middle East provides full turnkey technical solution including large lighting package for prestigious horse race event.

Lighting designer Aaron Russ of ARLD turned to Elation Professional's Proteus Excalibur and Proteus Maximus as the building blocks of a lighting design for the closing ceremony of the 2023 Dubai World Cup, a Thoroughbred horse race held at Meydan Racecourse each March and the world's richest horse race.

The brief for the large-scale production called for something spectacular and unique, a show that highlighted the horse race, its creators and Dubai as the host city. The creative team delivered an unforgettable spectacle with pyro glider planes, drones, lighting, video and fireworks all working as one choreographed scene to the delight of onlookers both live and on television across the globe.

Technology solutions provider Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) worked as a key supplier for the closing ceremony event, delivering a full turnkey solution of audio, video, lighting and comms on behalf of client Artists in Motion. The technical delivery solution consisted of 1,400sqm of bespoke LED screens, content management, audio distribution, and a fully featured lighting and extensive comms package.

CTME installed more than 500 lighting fixtures along with lighting control, a task overseen by CTME head of lighting Sam Connolly. "We worked with Aaron on-site about the possibilities and the realities of what he was trying to achieve and then worked with the scenic companies to make sure that everything was possible including getting fixtures on to the LED screen and speaker podiums," he said. "We used many of our latest lighting investments on the project and it was good to see months of hard work come to life in what was a very well organised show."

Aaron Russ lighting design
LD Aaron Russ has worked on several Dubai World Cup closing ceremonies before. Lighting for this year's event was about elevating the visual experience to new heights, filling in the blanks, and tying all of the various visual elements together, he said. The designer says he was familiar with both the Excalibur and Maximus from the Dubai Expo, where he was one of the WBD programmers in Al Wasl Plaza. "I used the Maximus extensively and fell in love with them there. The Excaliburs were used for the finale in the Expo Closing Ceremony and I knew I needed them on one of my gigs and the Dubai World Cup was the perfect environment."

IP rating
Russ says the Excaliburs and Maximus were chosen for their raw power and IP ratings. "It often rains during the course of this event and I've been bitten by this before, however in the past there hasn't been a fixture with that much power and be able to take a rain storm and still perform." Most of the show was programmed in WYSIWYG and he says he only had a few nights for live focus. "Bagging fixtures to cover them was not an option as I would not have had a chance to re-check focus and beam alignment before the final show. Being able to leave them uncovered was a life saver." CTME's Connolly adds, "From our side, having the IP rating really helped. The grass had to be watered on an hourly basis which meant we needed to have faith in the system to handle the water pressure."

In the past, Russ says that 90% of the infield behind the screens would be left dark, and the same for the track space between the grandstand and the main screens. "I always thought this looked ugly on heli or drone shots - this vast darkness around a super bright screen," he shares. "I wanted to fill this space. The Excaliburs (40) were placed in clusters layered in the infield from the screen to the back straight of the track. Their output was needed to punch through the pyro and drones that gave off a lot of ambient light."

Twenty-four Proteus Maximus were positioned on the level 8 roof top for keylight, about a 100m throw to the front straight they were intended to light. "Even with color and gobo in frame they were more than enough to fill the space and bring a normally dark area to life," Russ stated. "The 24 units covered roughly 200m x 30m. Even I was a little surprised at how well they performed."

Speaking of the Proteus luminaires, Russ stated, "They can be absolutely brutal when you need them to be but also delicate down to the smallest bit of control you need from them. Every time the Excalibur set into a new position or punched through the smoke and clutter it gave me tingles. And to see perfectly rendered water and drifting sand effects mimic video content on the race track, I was blown away." He adds that special considerations had to be made as far as fixture positions in order to not blind the pilots in the planes and not light the drones.

Russ reports that he was very happy with the support from CTME's lighting department. Andy Reardon, Managing Director of CTME, concludes, "Our teams pushed the boundaries and delivered a spectacular show. We had over 40 engineers and 50 crew working on the delivery and execution using the latest technology and supplying a world-class service. A huge thank you to Artists in Motion for engaging us on this ground-breaking event."


Client: Dubai Racing Club
Creative Agency: Artists in Motion Middle East
Head of Creative & Show Director: Richard Lindsay
Managing Director: Stella Carmody
Project Director: Natalie Grassick
Head of Design: Jonny Old
Creative Director: Caterina Vicaretti
Pyro: Flash ArtGlider Planes: Aerosparx

Executive Producer: Liz Goodyer
Technical Director: Nick Newey
Head of Motion: Matt Lock
Head of 3D: Alex Zaloudek
Senior Producer: Olivia Beale
Notch Producer: Haitham Taha (INFRAMES)
Lighting Designer: Aaron Russ
Audio, Video, Lighting: Creative Technology (CT)
Tracking System: stYpe
Music Composer: Vladimir Persan

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