grandMA3 running Maiden’s Tower snstallation in Istanbul

Photo: Amanda Holmes

Lighting designer Martin Kuhn tapped into the power and reliability of a grandMA3 replay unit to run a spectacular permanent show that he designed for Istanbul’s iconic Maiden’s Tower. The landmark stands on a tiny islet at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, 300 metres from the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey, and has recently re-opened after restoration.

Martin was working for Istanbul AV specialist ASTEL and end client, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The lighting includes 48 Ayrton Cobra moving lights which are positioned around the perimeter of the lower sea wall in protective cabinets that open when the show starts, and a selection of 76 Anolis Eminere and Calumma fixtures illuminating the various architectural elements, together with 27 SGM P2s and P6 LED floods.

The lights are connected via 6 grandMA3 2Port Nodes and 2 MA Network Switches and the show was programmed on and offsite on a grandMA3 light console by Martin and Marc Marlo Schelesnow. Once they had completed all the finessing, the showfile was transferred to the grandMA3 replay unit.

Martin researched the history of Maiden’s Tower and its role in Istanbul’s culture and heritage as he wanted to deliver a meaningful and educative lightshow that represented its significance and importance to this thriving dynamic city.

He collaborated with one of Turkey’s leading authors, Ayse Kulin, who storyboarded a narrative from which Martin, via Depence 3 software, produced a 3-minute video showcase for the client to pitch his lightshow ideas.

After winning the job, he commissioned musicians and translators for the 8-minute narrative and musical piece, and then designed, specified, and programmed the lighting and visual elements.

In the show, Maiden’s Tower is a female character so the lighting is both powerful and subtle with soft transitions that correspond to the music and narrative which people can tune in and listen to in various languages via a special web application.

Martin describes the programming process as “very similar” to that of a theatrical show, needing a high degree of detail and lots of drama.

He chose grandMA3 because he wanted a replay unit that was “future proof” and that he knew would work for many years to come without getting obsolete. “I know that grandMA3 is the future of the platform, and as a fixed installation, I didn’t want to have to re-programme it in a couple of years, so this was the right decision to make,” he commented.

He has also been contracted for the first three years of the new installation to keep the show updated and provide special shows for occasions like Independence Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.

Martin’s programmer Marc underwent a one-on-one grandMA3 course beforehand to get acquainted with grandMA3 as it was also his first time using an all-grandMA3 system, although he’s been an avid grandMA2 user for some time.

The basic building blocks of the show were first programmed in a studio using Depence 3, then transferred to the grandMA3 light console on site for them to finish the task before finally storing it on the grandMA3 replay unit.

The Maiden’s Tower lightshow is triggered by an external QSYS system that connects the various parts of the show, one of them being the Galata Tower on the opposite side of the Bosphorus, featuring a 70-Watt laser.

The two towers interact as their lasers create a cool visual ‘bridge’ across the water for the finale.

There are 18 lasers in the show in total, eight projecting onto the sides of Maiden’s Tower which are concealed in compartments around the sea wall, similar to the Cobras. One laser is mounted on a hydraulic lift that elevates to the correct level for delivering show graphics onto the Tower wall after the cabinets are opened. Eight 50-Watt lasers are positioned on top of the roof shooting 360-degree beams around the harbour, plus the 70-Watt unit that connects with the Galata Tower.

The lighting supply and installation – including the grandMA3 elements – was completed by Asimetrik which is the MA Lighting distributor in Turkey, with laser control and programming courtesy of LASERFABRIK from Cologne.

Audiences can see and experience the Maiden’s Tower lightshow from Istanbul’s shores, or by boat from both the European and Asian parts of the city, and the concept is already a big hit with the public both locals and visitors.