The California Academy of Sciences’ Masked Ball was made especially magical by DaVinci Fusion’s transformation of San Francisco’s City Hall. Northern California’s premiere event production company turned the City Hall rotunda into a dazzling planetarium and the North Light Court into a lush rain forest for the very special evening. City Hall had never looked so intriguing!
Housed in temporary quarters on 875 Howard Street while its earthquake-damaged building in Golden Gate Park is reconstructed, the California Academy of Sciences chose City Hall as the site of its 2004 gala. The Academy’s goal was to make guests attending the ball, which had always been held in the Academy’s halls, feel at home in the municipal space.
The evening began with cocktails in South Light Court, where projected images of the old Academy building and entertainers such as stilt walkers, magicians, and face and henna painters got the festive evening underway. Then guests moved to the rotunda for dinner. DaVinci Fusion projected a full-color moving nebula onto the surface of the rotunda’s interior dome, which rises 90 feet in height and crowns a sweeping triple-wide staircase. The second, third and fourth floor levels of the rotunda were bathed with deep space-blue light and covered with gently moving stars 360 degrees around the dome. A magenta glow punctuated with white stars was reflected onto the dining tables on the main floor.
DaVinci Fusion achieved the look with a complement of Mac 2000 Profiles, Mac 500’s and Mac 600 Wash fixtures controlled by a Whole Hog II system. The Whole Hog II also interfaced with four ETC ellipsoidal spotlights and a customized Litho gobo of the Academy’s Starmaker planetarium projector so the lighting simulated the output of four Starmakers covering the vast dome. DaVinci Fusion also met the challenge of adapting to the changing exterior light, seen through the window-pierced dome, as the hours elapsed and the event moved from dusk to nighttime splendor.
Just as dramatic as the rotunda’s transformation was the metamorphosis of North Light Court, which during business hours houses the City Hall gift shop and coffee shop. DaVinci Fusion turned the space into an African rain forest and one of two areas dedicated to dancing (South Light Court being the other). DaVinci Fusion draped the skylit court’s white marble walls with aniline-dye painted backdrops reminiscent of natural history dioramas. With the creative use of theatrical lighting and special effects like flickering Flame Bowls atop bamboo poles, live palm trees and lush floral displays, the guests felt as if they were thrust right in the middle of the diorama.