WHEN THE HONG KONG Tourism Commission began searching for ways to bring visitors back to the city after last year's SARS scare, they sought out the lighting expertise of Laservision Pty. Ltd., whom they previously had worked with on smaller projects. Laservision's solution? The “Symphony of Light,” a permanent lighting installation that is in the first of three planned stages to illuminate Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor. “It's the largest attraction of its kind ever even attempted,” says Miles Pepperall, marketing manager for the Sydney, Australia-based company.
Laservision's first step in designing the show's concept and production was a thorough case study of the city that took six months to complete. “It was just a massive process of finding what buildings would be better to light, and conceptually mapping it out took months and months,” Pepperall says, noting that buildings were examined from many angles to determine which would offer the best views from the most viewing locations.
Because of the scale of the project, one of the biggest challenges Laservision faced was working with Hong Kong's marine and aviation departments to ensure that the show would not interfere with the city's busy port and airport. This was overcome by using lasers with beams that, while very bright, are constantly in motion and not concentrated. The team also needed to persuade buildings owned by the private sector to participate. “The Hong Kong government has five buildings in the harbor lighting plan, and them putting their faith in what we were doing with their buildings helped the private sector [get involved],” Pepperall notes.
Ultimately, 18 buildings were selected for the show, which integrates the mediums of architectural lighting, lasers and pyrotechnics using 19 Digital Data-Pump control systems designed and manufactured by Laservision. The task of installing the lasers and other lighting equipment took another six months, with the company acting as project managers on a few of the buildings.
When the show debuted on Jan. 17 — Chinese New Year — everything went off exactly as intended, Pepperall says, illuminating Victoria Harbor in a spectacular display of lasers and pyrotechnics. The success of the project means that, for now, the 14-minute laser and architectural lighting show will continue to light up the harbor nightly, with plans to put lights and lasers on more buildings over the next two years. “SARS was some time ago, so it wouldn't be true to say that we provided the tourism solution because it took some time to implement [this project],” Pepperall notes. “But,” he adds, “I've just read that they expect a 31 percent increase in tourism over the next financial year, so [I'd like to think] we have something to do with that.”
Laservision Pty. Ltd. 50 Carters Road, Dural, NSW 2158, Australia; +61 2658 1000; www.laservision.com.au