Personalised lighting shows were the highlight of the annual Floating Christmas Tree installation in Geelong near Melbourne, Australia. An extremely popular event within the local community, the 2016 edition was installed by Geelong-based Total Events with the Christmas Tree operating from 11th November until 7th January. The Christmas Tree was 25m tall, 10m wide, covered in 12,000 shimmering discs, and continually moored in Port Philip Bay during this period. 

The eight-week long installation was broken into three periods, with a different show running for each period. An interactive element in the second period allowed the public to control the colour of different elements of the tree in between shows. The sheer size and scale of the project, combined with the challenges of remote access, seawater and extreme weather over the two-month period meant that this was always going to be an interesting project to deliver.

The Geelong Floating Christmas Tree featured over fifty LED wash and moving head fixtures, and almost 100 LED tubes with individual pixel control, spread over twenty-four universes and all run over a custom ArtNet wireless solution.

A Jands Vista 16384 channel dongle was utilised to achieve the twenty-four universes with 8500 channels. A Jands Vista v2 ran on a beefy PC with its date/time events feature controlling everything from striking and dousing fixtures to playing back the various shows. Other Vista features key to the installation included audio playback from cues, and serial control to take commands from the interactive controller.

Greg Edge from Total Events said the lighting designer Mark Hammer was impressed at the lighting console’s ease of use. Jands also added a few features to the audio playback side of things to improve ease of editing.

The interactive element consisted of four touch pads on the nearby ‘Carousel’ building’s window, which controlled the main colour of the tree, the LED tubes, the main star, and the smaller stars around the tree. The four touch pads were connected to a local controller, which sent commands to Vista over a separate custom wireless system.

Greg added that Jands Vista performed flawlessly for the entire show, firing off all 24 universes for every show as programmed. The lighting system’s custom features also allowed all of the elements to be incorporated into Vista without needing external software or servers.