Pittsburgh Penguins fans are enjoying an even more dynamic game experience this season with the installation of Ayrton Zonda 9 FX LED moving head washes beneath the new scoreboard at the PPG Paints Arena. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting in North America.
Kevin Hogan, Lighting Designer and Programmer for the NHL team since 2005 and the owner of Pittsburgh-based Process of Illumination LLC, chose eight Zonda 9 FX fixtures for the new scoreboard, which is part of an arena upgrade by the Fenway Sports Group (owners of the team since late 2021). Designed and built by Mitsubishi Electric, the much larger four-sided scoreboard features 50-foot LED panels around a hollow central core, with two Zonda 9 FX positioned on the lower mounting rail of each panel.
Ayrton’s promotional video for the fixtures sparked Hogan’s interest in using Zonda 9 FX. “It was all I needed to see,” he recalls. “The Zonda 9 FX is an amazing fixture with so many features built in, including the LiquidEffect and individual pixel control. I hadn’t seen anything else like it. It is a great quality wash light with eye candy effects that are second to none – exactly what I would like for the new scoreboard.”
Hogan spoke to Rick McKinney, at long-time equipment supplier Main Light, about seeing the Zonda 9 FX in person. “Main Light has a reputation for being one of the best partners you could ask for in this business,” he says. “They are always advancing their inventory, so it was no surprise that they had added Zonda 9 FX. They were able to provide me with the lights and great support I’m accustomed to.”
McKinney echoed this sentiment stating, “At Main Light, we always strive to stay ahead with the latest in lighting solutions, so I was thrilled to hear from Kevin and provide the Zonda 9 FX for the PPG Paints Arena. It’s rewarding to know our efforts in offering cutting-edge technology can enhance the experience for our clients and Pittsburgh Penguins fans!”
Hogan finds the Zonda 9 FX to be “very well designed. I am impressed by how many attributes are packed into a single wash light. Ayrton put a lot of work into that fixture, and it shows.”
The fixtures were installed for the start of the 2023-24 NHL season in October. Hogan worked closely with Mitsubishi Electric on the Zonda 9 FX placement on the lower mounting rail so the upper enclosures of the fixtures would be concealed but the lenses visible.
The primary function of the scoreboard lights is to illuminate the center ice logo then spin out for crowd shots. The fixtures are busy during any lights-out sequence, including the game open, team intros and national anthem, as well as goal-scoring celebrations and any broadcast breaks, time outs or stoppage of play.
“They keep the energy up by moving and dancing to the music,” Hogan explains. “Dan Kibel, who serves as game night operator, does a great job of getting the fixtures to play along with the music. I programmed a building block of basic moves, colors and strobe effects so everything looks like a different set of cueing, but there’s lots of improvisation by the operator.”
When the lights spin out into the crowd, fans see LiquidEffect and pixel control effects they’ve never witnessed before. The ability to do infinite pan and tilt enhances goal celebrations, too. “When a goal is scored, there’s a police siren effect and lights over all the aisles—and now we’re able to get the same effect under the scoreboard,” Hogan reports.
The new fixtures “are so bright that we rarely run them at full,” he notes. “They are phenomenally bright and outshine everything else in the rig; you can see them punch through the hockey lights.”So far, the Zonda 9 FX have only been used during Penguins games, but other events held in the arena will be able to take advantage of them as well. “The fixtures have a zoom range from really narrow to very wide,” Hogan points out. “The game height of the scoreboard is 42 feet above the ice, but the scoreboard can be pulled up to twice that height for other events. Even with a higher trim than usual, you can use the Zonda 9 FX thanks to their great zoom range and versatility.”
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