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Hawthorn Has a Ball with the University of Cambridge

Hawthorn Has a Ball with the University of Cambridge
Hawthorn Has a Ball with the University of Cambridge

UK – A long-standing tradition in Cambridge, May Ball Week marks the end of the academic year for the world renowned University of Cambridge. With each of the famous colleges hosting their own celebration, the lavish formal affairs see the country’s leaders and thinkers of tomorrow let loose in style for one fabulous evening. Providing full technical production for two of the balls, Trinity College and St John’s College, Hawthorn was on hand to make sure this year’s celebrations were more spectacular than ever before.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary, expectations for The First and Third Trinity Boat Club May Ball were high, with attendees not being left disappointed. Hawthorn provided lighting, sound, staging, rigging and power distribution for the all-night event which saw revellers partying until dawn.

A big change for the Trinity Ball this year involved moving the main stage onto the South Paddock and putting it into a ‘big top’ structure. This gave the Hawthorn team an interesting space to light and lent itself to a complex design. A multi-level ground support truss rig was used to work within the height restrictions posed by the structure. With headline acts Nothing but Thieves and Sigma featuring on the main stage, an impressive lighting rig was required, comprising of 30 moving head fixtures which included Clay Paky Alpha Wash 700 and Alpha Spot HPE lights as well as Clay Paky Sharpys.

Audio in the big top consisted of a d&b V8/12 concert system alongside a 48 channel high-specification desk, the Yamaha CL5 with a Digico SD8 for monitors.

For those looking for other entertainment, Nevile’s Court played host to a jazz marquee whilst Brewhouse Lawn was transformed into a dance club venue. Using a moving light rig and many different effects including strobes, UV and beam/colour chasing, Hawthorn was able to transform the space and create a full-on club atmosphere. Audio comprised of a full dance-club style sound system with audio stacks located at the four corners of the dance floor to give a concentrated high-level audio experience.

The fitting out of an acoustic pagoda structure, a cabaret/comedy marquee and the Great Hall also fell into Hawthorn’s remit, along with providing architectural lighting to highlight the beautiful, unique buildings that make up the Trinity College campus.

Tom Ring, project manager at Hawthorn, said: “Using subtle festoon and LED lighting in the jazz, chill out and acoustic tents, architectural lighting on the naturally stunning college buildings and an impressive lighting design on the main stage, we were able to create a mixture of effects suiting the different moods and themes of each area. It was great working with the Trinity Ball Committee again this year to turn their ideas into reality and create an amazing event.”

Described by Times Magazine as the seventh best party in the world, St. John’s is the largest of the Cambridge Balls. With the technical delivery needing to be faultless, the Ball committee turned to the technical expertise of the Hawthorn team for the 14th year running, who once again provided all lighting, sound, video projection, power, staging and rigging to the 5.5-hectare site.

This year revellers were treated to a Hollywood themed bash, with the beautifully lit courtyards housing temporary venues styled to represent film genres such as bollywood, film noir, western and action-adventure. A host of catering and bar outlets ensured everyone was fed and watered whilst they enjoyed the impressive entertainment line-up, including main stage headline acts Coast and Basement Jaxx.

The main feature again this year was a stunning projection on to St. John’s Chapel tower with Hawthorn using some of the latest kit, including their Avolites Ai S8 media servers together with six Christie HD20K projectors. With a focus on 3D elements and forcing the perspective to make areas of the building to appear to protrude, all of the adventure themed content was created in-house by Hawthorn experts using Adobe After Effects and CINEMA 4D. The lighting rig for the sci-fi themed main stage in New Court used Hawthorn’s new to stock Mac Aura XBs and Chauvet Nexus panels. Employing the expertise of specialists Laser Graffix to supply 36 individual laser heads, three of which were 12W RGBW heads, Hawthorn created an impressive laser light show that captivated the crowds.

Twenty-two Clay Paky Sharpy, Sharpy Wash and Alpha Beam 700’s in external domes were used to provide stunning searchlight and visual effects on New Court as well as being part of the breath-taking fireworks display that took place on The Backs.

Continuing the Hollywood theme, Hawthorn transformed the famous Bridge of Sighs into the Walk of Fame using a custom festoon that included standard tungsten source lamps and egg strobes to replicate paparazzi photo flashes. On The Backs a 16m wide by 2.5m high Hollywood style St Johns sign was up-lit and washed to create a unique and impressive photo opportunity.

James Hunter, senior project manager for Hawthorn, stated: “The event was a huge success. The college looked amazing throughout thanks to the use of subtle, clever lighting effects to enhance the structure and building architecture. It’s a great event to be involved with over the years and we love working with the student committee and college to deliver a night students will remember for years to come.”

Hawthorn Has a Ball with the University of CambridgeHawthorn Has a Ball with the University of Cambridge

29th June 2016

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