Arts and Culture

WATCH | BGC’s awesome Epic light show was designed by Filipina artist Shakira Villa-Symes

Filipina lighting designer Shakira Villa-Symes designed Bonifacio Global City's Epic light show. The presentation features state-of-the-art automatic lighting. Photo source: Screen shot from video/Shakira Villa-Symes.

Filipina lighting designer Shakira Villa-Symes designed Bonifacio Global City’s Epic light show. The presentation features state-of-the-art automatic lighting. Photo source: Screen shot from YouTube.

Of the many Christmas attractions in the metro this season, one that stands out especially among millennials and the tech-minded can be viewed at Bonifacio High Street’s EPIC—Sights and Sounds of Christmas. The lighting design that could rival the multi-million dollar attractions in Dubai and Las Vegas also lights up some Pinoy pride among spectators especially since it was designed by Filipina, veteran light designer Shakira Villa-Symes, the leading female in an industry dominated by males.

The five-minute show was designed to the classic Christmas tune “Carol of the Bells.” According to Shakira, or Shari, it is the “first light show during the Christmas season which relies heavily on the full use of automated lights, along with LED Christmas lights.

“This makes it different from other Christmas light shows which use static LED Christmas lights and just a few automated lights as accents.”

The bright tones and precise movements and transitions of the lighting, in sync with the music, results in an impressive and very dramatic presentation.

Shari is quick to point out that the concept of the show, however, is a brainchild of BGC’s Marketing Manager for Retail, Sean V. Luarca. Shari was introduced to Luarca by her client. Ayala Land, owner of the BGC estate, has been organizing Christmas light shows via the Ayala Triangle light show every Christmas season. But Shari thought of offering something fresh so she proposed to present an “automated lighting” or “moving heads” show for the said property.

Shari explained, “The term is also known as ‘intelligent lighting.’ I designed a Christmas tree out of lights where automated lights shoots off a plethora of colors as well as an abstract star above the tree.”

High-tech show
Professionals will readily discern the quality of the show especially since Shari utilized top hardware like Clay Paky K20, Clay Paky Wash, and the Clay Paky Sharpy Spots; an LED Pixel Mapping Bar (which lights and sound supplier Forsc Ink bought specifically for the light show); Mini B-Eyes which cast a prism of colors; RGB LED strip lights; and LED Par 10 watt-bulbs “which ‘painted’ the facades of the Bonifacio High Street buildings by the light show stage,” she explained.

Forsc Ink and Shari needed three nights to set up the entire display, with working hours schedule before and after Bonifacio High Street mall hours only. Programming the lights and timecoding it with the music was done before the sun rose. Another challenge was that the specified height clearance and hanging rig was not met. “I had to redesign on the spot without compromising too much the original impact I had planned in mind. This for me was the biggest challenge,” Shari shared.

The Epic show, now trending on social media, is just one of the many acclaimed works of Shari, a U.P. Fine Arts and Theater Arts alumni, who has been designing lighting professionally in 1991.

Other feathers to her glitzy cap include introducing special effects to Philippine television such as Clay Paky Sharpy, Holofogs and reverse cryogenics via GMA-7′s “Party Pilipinas” in 2010; French composer and musician Michel Legrand’s show in 2002 (“I felt that my lighting was also being orchestrated by the maestro”); “Wolfgang Live” at the Metropolitan Theatre (“I had to transform the theater into a concert arena”); and Anggun at the Music Museum (“I had to make the lighting as ethereal as her music”).

On what she hopes viewers would get from the visual spectacle: “At the onset, I had planned to create something close to ‘orgasmic’. that by the time the music ends, the audience would be left breathless and say ‘hey, can you do that again?’”

“I hope I’m able to give that kind of reaction,” she added.

Here, sharing a video posted on YouTube by Edwin Valdez, featuring Shari’s impressive work. T EPIC—Sights and Sounds of Christmas runs till December 28, 2016, every 30 minutes from 6 p.m to 10 p.m.