This is a very impressive pantomime set, using around 7.5 km of optical fibre. To be honest, our chief input here was supplying components and some technical advice in the very early stages of discussion. The credit for the job is owed entirely to Set Designer Terry Parsons and the technical wizards at the Nottingham Playhouse, led by head of Lighting and Sound, David Phillips.
David and his colleagues had calculated that they’d need 18 harnesses of optical fibre to achieve the effects required in Terry Parsons’ set design, and we worked out that that came to around 7500 metres of fibre.
|The backdrop, featuring a large clock face, is studded with fibre optic stars.|
As so often with optical fibre, the actual installation process was simple enough – even if the scale of the job was a bit daunting. The fibre stars were to be installed in wooden “flats”, and it was simply a matter of drilling holes in the appropriate places and pushing fibres through from the back.
The fibres were secured at the back with hot melt glue. This is a speedy method, although not generally suited to thinner fibres which tend to melt! In any case, you should always use the cooler “low melt” adhesive if possible.
X marks the spot … every x on the back of the flat shows where a fibre is separated out from the main harness and passed through the flat to create a star on the face of the panel. Although the audience will never see it, these main harness trunkings will glow brightly when the light sources are turned on for the performance.
In the photo above, the fabric which covers the front of the flat is visible, as is the aluminium ferrule or “common end” which is used to terminate the harness.
Here, we see the light source in place in the corner of the flat, with the harness plugged in. The inset photo is a close-up of the ferrule in which the harness is terminated for presentation to the light source. Thanks to Drew Baumohl for the photos of the set.