Boardwalk Lights, Courtesy of Sun Effects Japan
Making Fuji Rock just a little bit brighter
Hopefully most Fuji Rockers were prescient enough to take a stroll down the boardwalk between the White and Green stages on Thursday or Friday night. Those who did were treated to one of this year’s newest and greatest features at the festival, the magnificent lighting effects put together by Sun Effects Japan. Deep, luscious sprays of color as rich and vibrant as a thrown can of Day-Glo paint, projection mapped polka dots, whales and Gon-chan climbing up and down birch trees, even the large and ever changing tapestry the forested entry to the boardwalk became. All were provided by this creative lighting company, and it also happens to be their debut installation.
Sun Effects was founded in 1996 in Finland by Matti Jykylä, and this May doors opened on their new Sun Effects Japan branch. Sun Effects itself has been responsible for countless lighting installations around the world, and have had four years working in Japan before the founding of their Japan specific company.
We were lucky enough to have Matti take a moment of his time to walk us down the broadway and talk a little about his company and Fuji Rock generally.
A half kilometer of forest to light in a unique and artistic way seems like a daunting task, but this is the kind of thing Matti and Sun Effects has decades of experience doing. For him every new job is a new creative opportunity. Using projection mapping tools and techniques usually used on the sides of buildings to create whimsical images on the sides of small trees isn’t something most lighting companies would even think to do, let alone execute so masterfully. Speaking of execution, a series of 2,000 light bulbs and 500 lighting effects is something most people would be hard-pressed to get operational in the first place. Sun Effects Japan were able to do this and even after the torrential rainfall of Saturday were happy to report only 2 or 3 problems. Well designed and executed art done with attention to detail and done right.
Much like a virtuoso guitar player with a cheap guitar, gear alone is not what makes a lighting experience special. Their philosophy is content centered, not gear centered. While Sun Effects Japan does use the highest spec gear possible, what makes it special is the art and design that goes behind it. For them, the goal is the art and the product. Referring to Fuji Rock itself, Matti said, “If you try to do something to please everyone it usually turns out like shit. We try to do something different every time, something unique every time. The lighting industry is perfect. Something goes up for a few days, comes down, and then it is history.” Much like Fuji Rock itself, a good lighting installation is something to be experienced, enjoyed and remembered. And to make it stick it needs to be born from a creative place, not a corporate place.
Matti had lots of praise for Fuji Rock, calling it one of the top three music festivals in the world. He should know, he has worked for many of them. He believes this festival stays true to the fans, not just to the sponsors. He also credits the attendees for making the experience so magical. Always so clean, no pushing, safe and comfortable for families, people behave so well. As he said, “Public events are made by the audience, people make the party.”
Hopefully Fuji Rock will be lucky enough to have Sun Effects back in the future, and if we do we are sure to be in for a fresh new experience. Things shouldn’t repeat, he said. “You have to go back and keep things fresh.”
Despite the fact that the boardwalk is and may remain closed today, be sure to spend some time with the projection onto the forest opposite the white stage. I promise you won’t be disappointed.