ETC brings light to Tree of Codes


The opening program of the New Vision Arts Festival 2018, Tree of Codes, opened in October of 2018 at the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. ETC was delighted to help bring this fascinating performance to Hong Kong audiences.

Inspired by the remarkable book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, which cuts through pages of Bruno Schulz’s book Street of Crocodiles, so that words from pages are revealed on different pages to form a new story, Tree of Codes was created for the 2015 Manchester International Festival by director-choreographer Wayne McGregor, visual artist Olafur Eliasson and composer Jamie xx. Combining the worlds of contemporary ballet, visual art and scenography, and electronic music, the performances uses combinations of reflective and colored surfaces to transform the stage space, light and shadow emphasizing the interaction between the stage environment, the dancers and, often, one or infinite reflections of the dancers and the audience themselves.

To light the production, Rob Halliday, who has over 25 years of experience in theatrical design encompassing performances of all genres around the world, specified key products from ETC, including the Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr spotlight and the Eos control system. “From early discussions about the show, it felt like we would need to create white light but with the ability to just subtly shift that white – but also that there would be moments where we’d want to move into deeper colors,” Halliday recalls. “The Lustr felt like the perfect tool for that, able to get to any color but for all of those colors to have the richness and life, particularly when lighting human skin, that we have for so long enjoyed from tungsten Source Four fixtures. It was the perfect choice for the show.”

To control the rig, which includes not just the Lustr fixtures, but also traditional Source Four fixtures, moving lights, wireless dimming of dancer-worn light suits, and a large LED wall to light the cyclorama, Halliday specified an Eos control system, which he is familiar with from numerous other productions. “Eos works in a way that just feels comfortable when creating theatrical shows, while also letting you work very quickly in the often limited time you have to create those shows,” he explains. “It is particularly powerful when working with the Lustr fixtures, since the calibrated color library allows you to set the Lustr fixtures to match gel colors you are familiar with, and to precisely control fades between colors. The powerful group controls also let us easily create graduations or wipes across our cyclorama.

For the Hong Kong production of Tree of Codes, ETC provided the New Vision Arts Festival with an Eos Ti main console and a Gio@5 console as an active tracking backup. The Eos Ti console’s powerful control surface allowed quick access to every part of the rig when updating focus information for the show; with the Hong Kong schedule quite tight that process happened largely over a single rehearsal of the show with the dancers. Data from console to rig was carried over ETC’s Net3 networking system already in place at the venue, with additional Net3 DMX gateways also provided by ETC. The rig was installed by a team led by Hong Kong-based production electrician Maggie Law and the show’s UK production electrician John Delaney; Andy Tsui was the production manager for the New Vision Arts Festival, and Jim Leaver the production manager for Manchester International Festival.

Tree of Codes is produced by Manchester International Festival, Paris Opera Ballet and Studio Wayne McGregor. It was commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Park Avenue Armory New York, FAENA ART, Paris Opera Ballet, Sadler’s Wells and European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017. The Hong Kong production marked the show’s Asia debut.

Further information about Tree of Codes can be found at: and

Photos ®: Joel Chester Fildes

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Opasna Randev
Opasna joined ETC as a Marketing Communications Specialist in the London office in 2018. Prior to joining the company, she worked in a communications agency in her home town, Manchester. Having a case of the travel bug, she took out some time to explore the world before starting with ETC; a few of her favorite stops include Montenegro, Italy, and India! If she’s not writing, reading or drawing, you will most likely find her dancing, playing some piano or trying out some sort of peculiar new activity (flying planes for example…).