Cue 13 Design reimagines The Wharf using Elation Proteus™ and Paladin™

Nightly lightshow at popular Gulf Coast entertainment district redesigned using market’s leading IP65 line. Lighting supply by 4Wall Orlando.

When The Wharf entertainment district in Orange Beach, Alabama, reopened in time for Memorial Day, visitors were treated to a spectacular, new lightshow by Cue 13 Design that uses Elation’s popular IP65 luminaires to delight guests while supporting retail vendors as they relaunch their economies.

Located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, just across the border from Pensacola, Orange Beach is a quaint but upscale southern beach town. After a day spent on the beach or on the water, visitors and locals alike flock to The Wharf to shop, dine and be entertained. The Wharf, which opened in 2006, offers outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment at special event venues including a Live Nation amphitheater.

Spectra light show

A nightly light show called Spectra has been drawing visitors to The Wharf’s Main Street since 2013. Ryan Stumpp, founder and Principal at Cue 13 Design, and a 15-year theme park design veteran, was subcontracted to work on the original design seven years ago and was called on to redesign the light show for 2020. “Many people come to The Wharf in the evening for the lightshow itself,” Stumpp comments. “It increases traffic on the street and really excites the crowd, who then go to shop, eat, drink, or go to a show. Seven years ago, we launched the lightshow with Elation Platinum series lights in outdoor domes and although they were in enclosures, because this is an outdoor environment that is close to the ocean, it was time to upgrade so we revamped and reimagined the show.”

The new light show transforms two blocks of The Wharf’s Main Street into a magical stage where facades blossom in dynamic color, visuals dance across the space, and palm trees come alive in a full-sensory experience complete with musical soundtrack. Stumpp, who has handled audio, lighting, lasers, and show control at The Wharf since 2017, was responsible for design, programming, implementation and integration of the new light show.

Proteus

The lighting system redesign relies on Elation Proteus Rayzor 760™ and Proteus Hybrid™ moving heads, a pair of IP65-rated luminaires that Stumpp has used extensively on theme park installations the past several years. “I’m a huge supporter of the Proteus line,” he says, “and was happy to get rid of the domes. They are gaudy, and they require filter cleanings 2-3 times a year, bubble cleanings, polishing, and wax treatments so they require a lot of maintenance. I’m thrilled that we now have alternatives to outdoor enclosures. For the price of a light plus the enclosure you can afford Proteus fixtures.” Because there is limited year-round support staff at The Wharf to maintain the extensive outdoor rig, he says fixtures that were low maintenance was an absolute requirement. “One of the key selling points was the limited cleaning you have to do with a sealed IP65 fixture.”

Main Street

A variety of retailers on two levels lines both sides of Main Street, a shopping and dining area that can be accessed by land or water. Twelve Proteus Hybrid moving heads project color and beam effects from the second level while, from the lower level, 38 Proteus Rayzor 760s provide mid-air beams, wide wash coverage, or, when needed, sparkle from its SparkLED background illumination system. Custom gobo work, which the Platinum fixtures handled in the old design, is now done with lasers.

Stumpp was an early advocate of the Proteus range and was one of the first to install Rayzor 760s in a large theme park in Orlando. “The Proteus fixtures, from delivery to installation, and here in the first several weeks, have worked just as amazingly as the Proteus lights I’ve extensively used in theme parks,” he comments, noting that they were already put to the test at The Wharf when Tropical Storm Cristobal passed through the area in early June. “They are easily some of my most trusted and solid fixtures.”

Hibernation Mode

A unique feature of the Proteus line that Stumpp worked with Elation Product Manager Matthias Hinrichs on for theme park installs, and which has come in handy at The Wharf, is a DMX channel Hibernation Mode. Stumpp comments, “With outdoor fixtures there is always a debate about whether or not to keep them powered on or powered off. The Elation Hibernation Mode puts them into a sleep mode, which keeps them powered on but in a situation and a state that is safe for continuous power use outdoors. Here, the fixtures are in Hibernation Mode all day long then release from hibernation, automatically strike for the show, and then douse themselves and go back to sleep. It’s very hands off.” Elation has since rolled out the Hibernation Mode in other fixtures as well.

Paladin

Elation Paladin series, an RGBW series of IP65 wash/blinder/strobe luminaires, are also featured in the new lighting system with Stumpp being the first to use the Paladin Cube™ and Paladin Panel™. “The Paladin Cubes are tiny, punchy, and extremely affordable, and they’re built like little tanks! You can absolutely use them as a blinder, punch light, strobe, or just a washlight. They’re small dots but they still put out a good amount of light.” Some 80 Paladin Cubes line the underside of the second floor for chases, strobing and sparkle effects and are also able to wash to the opposite side of the street. “It’s a great effect that the client is really pleased with. It’s much more architecturally pleasing than the RGB floodlights we used in the old design,” Stumpp says. Six of the larger Paladin Panels work from the second level as bright and punchy 3000W Xenon strobe replacements.

Themed shows easily triggered

Themed lighting plays throughout the evening with architectural base looks on the street, which color change for holidays, special events, promotions, etc. Personnel can easily trigger a variety of time-coded light shows through a Medialon show control system, which brings the street to life then returns to a base look.

Stumpp worked with 4Wall on the project, whose Orlando office supplied the lighting and demonstration gear. “I’ve had a relationship with 4Wall for years and it only got stronger when they opened up their Orlando office,” he said. “My rep at 4Wall, Sebastian Yepes, is the best in the southeast. He was able to arrange everything, including multiple demos, and handled all the gear coordination to Alabama.”

The lighting install, which will run year round, was completed on May 24th, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend and for what is expected to be a very busy summer. “The timing was excellent,” Stumpp notes. “Elation was fantastic with the logistics in getting the fixtures here in time so we could stay on schedule for a Memorial Day debut so that The Wharf could relaunch their economy. The client was counting on the show and they were very pleased to have a newly imagined light show waiting when it reopened.”

See The Wharf light show here.

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