By Durham Merenghi
London welcomed in 2021 with a spectacular city-wide display, sending a message of thanks and hope to the nation and the world. Jack Morton, the global brand experience agency, helped to develop the original concept and worked in partnership with the Mayor of London’s office and a dedicated team of experts to create the extraordinary experience.
The 10-minute show, designed for home-viewing and created in collaboration with the BBC, was broadcast live on BBC1 and watched by a global viewing audience of millions. Jack Morton’s creative show team worked in collaboration with On the Sly for the music production, Titanium Fireworks for the pyrotechnics design, and SKYMAGIC for the swarm drone sequences.
The origin of the project dates back to September, when the Mayor of London announced the New Year’s Eve fireworks display at the London Eye, which Marenghi had been creating with Jack Morton Worldwide since 2004, was not going to be taking place due to the impact of COVID-19. Instead, the GLA Events team asked Jack Morton to support them in developing an alternative format for broadcast, in order to publicly thank the NHS, care staff and key workers for their efforts over a very challenging year. The brief was for a light show beamed across the city’s skyline and landmarks across London.
Lighting for the event was designed by Durham Marenghi with Paul Cook as Associate LD and programmer and the spectacular array of 168 Claypaky Mythos 2 and 168 Elation Proteus Hybrids on London Bridge was supplied by Lights Control Rigging and managed by Rob Watson. Durham called on the expertise of the Signify team (including Lightmongers Past Master Mike Simpson), Atelier Ten and the Illuminated River project, ER lasers, Armadillo Lighting (including Lightmongers Court Assistant David Bide) and Tower Bridge, Stadium FX at Wembley and the Woodroffe Bassett team at The Shard to integrate the city-wide effects into a memorable light show to herald what will hopefully be a far better New Year for all.
The bridges between Westminster Bridge and London Bridge were reaching the final stages of installation and Durham worked with the Signify/Atelier Ten team to co-ordinate the systems into the main show. Durham explains “We had all the bridges change to NHS Blue at 10pm on the night of New Year’s Eve then London bridge had it’s own time coded sequence of colours, a Union Jack slice and a rainbow for the finale to match the light array on the pavement above all running off a GPS clock”.
One interesting fact was the approach taken by LCR in rigging the temporary lighting system of 336 moving lights. Everything on the trucks was flat packed to allow the crew to maintain social distancing and everyone had a Covid-19 test both before and after the install was complete and subsequently de-rigged. Masks were worn at all times on site and Jack Morton Worldwide arrange for a daily health check form to be filled out online before anyone could work on the site.
Photos by Patrick Straub (1+3), Cris Matthews (2), Ben Root (4) and LCR courtesy of Jack Morton Worldwide/BBC. Further images of interest can be found here.