Production Design Associates illuminate Ft. Sumter sky with new xenon fixtures

May 4, 2015
Charleston based lighting and A/V company, Production Design Associates (PDA) lit up the southern skies in April with new xenon fixtures for a ceremony marking the end of the Civil War.

In 2011, we worked with the Ft. Sumter Trust on a Civil War ceremony marking the dissolution of the Union. After that event, the Trust told us to expect a call in four years to do it again, and sure enough we received that call this year. “Being from Charleston, and someone who is into history – I figured this would be a memorable gig for PDA to be involved in,” said Jeff Nickles, PDA president.

Our installation began on Sunday, April 12th, with our project manager, Scott Ashley, heading up the PDA team. The plan for this year was to start with two beams that will merge into one to signify the reunification of the Union. The search lights are 7k xenon fixtures – the same ones NASA uses to illuminate rockets on the launch pad. By utilizing four xenon fixtures, we doubled the amount of light output that was used in 2011. We will also used ten of our Coemar Panaycycs to light up the exterior of the Fort.

The logistics were not easy for this event. All the gear had to be craned onto a park service boat, transported across the harbor, craned onto the Fort Sumter dock, and then manually pushed to the final positions. All this happened in a salt air environment, with condensation and rain – not the best environment for electronics.

To our knowledge, Fort Sumter had only been theatrically lit once before – by us in 2011! We were proud to be a part of this historical anniversary event. This project was truly a once in a lifetime illumination of Ft. Sumter.

Photo by Paul Cheyney, JWKPEC


Jeff Nickles, president - Production Design Associates
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