Green Hippo maps Vector Lights on the Auckland Harbour Bridge
Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour has been transformed by a unique, decade-long artistic project, ‘Vector Lights on the Auckland Harbour Bridge’. Powered by a mix of solar, battery, and peer-to-peer systems, over 90,000 mappable LED pixels and other fixtures provide a vast, animated canvas for traditional Maori designs, and special celebrations. Green Hippo Karst media servers supplied by Lexair were engaged by Mandylights, who designed, installed and programmed the Vector Lights project on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The installation is part of a ten year smart energy partnership between Vector and Auckland Council.
“This project is one of the physically largest, and of the longest duration, that we’ve done,” said Richard Neville, Lighting Designer and Managing Director of Mandylights. “Any media server solution we chose for this project needed to house and present content for a decade, support constant dynamic changes to keep it interesting, and be energy efficient. We also knew that an ongoing relationship with the supplier over 10 years would be critical, so the support network behind it is extremely important.
Thousands of individual LED pixels cover the bridge’s steel lattice work and its main arch, and spread below its road deck. Dedicated wash fixtures are fitted to the underside of the bridge and reflect off the water. All illuminations are controlled via PC and fed by content held and processed by a main and back-up Green Hippo Karst.
“The main technical reason we chose the Green Hippo Karst was its video mapping functionality,” explained Clint Dulieu, Technical Designer for Mandylights. “We had to take the 4K map of the bridge and condense it to something that could fit into 1080 pixels to go to the LED processors. The Green Hippo is the only product I’m aware of that does that well. The canvas is about 25,000 pixels wide in reality, which we’re compressing into a 4,000 wide video image. The Karsts are giving us the ability to scale pixels to different sizes, and not necessarily in divisible numbers. We worked with Green Hippo in London directly to customise that feature for us.”
“We’re even pixel mapping the wash lights, but not in the usual fashion,” Clint expanded. “We’re controlling them with the video file. When we’re supplied video content that might not be from lighting experts, they can integrate the DMX fixtures into the show by manipulating certain regions of the video file. The Green Hippo Karsts convert that data to DMX, which then goes out via the PC to the fixtures.”
All content is maintained, uploaded, and synced remotely by Mandylights. Green Hippo’s media management system and sync functions ensure consistency between main and back-up. “The Karst is one of the only media servers that could deal with the physical size of the install,” observed Clint, “and there’s still a lot of room to expand if we want to add search lights, more pixels, or light up other parts of the architecture in the future.”
“We had great support throughout the project, and we’re confident the product will last for 10 years,” confirmed Richard Neville. “We have a great relationship with Australia and New Zealand Green Hippo distributor Lexair, and with Green Hippo staff. The support is fantastic.”
“The support and response time out of Green Hippo in the UK was second-to-none,” concurred Clint. “We’d have a challenge that required a solution during the day, they’d come in overnight, and in the morning I’d have a new patch written. They were very much more of a partner than a supplier.”