Heroes of Avengers Campus: The leading lights of the campus

From Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor to Carol Danvers’ supersonic waves, light plays a significant role in bringing the Avengers’ stories to life onscreen. Just like the movies, the Avengers Campus at Walt Disney Studios Park also uses lighting as a powerful tool to convey the story — and Iron Man sidekick F.R.I.D.A.Y. isn’t the only one in that role. Today, we had the green light to meet Lighting Designer Fabien Panes and Themed Lighting Technician Alexandre Braconnier at Walt Disney Imagineering Paris.

A fixture of the campus
When it comes to the lighting within our parks, two teams are called upon to take up the task. “At Show Lighting, our role is to conceive how and where the place will have lighting, from design to the last programming steps,” Fabien shared.

“Whereas at Themed Lighting, our role is to create what envelops that light source, so we created thousands of light fixtures — from design to supervising their installation on site,” added Alexandre.

The campus was definitely a rich project for this domain. From small effects on the Hulkbuster in need of repair to bigger ones on the Quinjet ready to launch, there was a variety and quantity of work for both teams. “It’s a kinetic land that needed to be cinematic. There’s a lot of metal, stone and concrete used in the environment and light helped us create contrast and bring the whole place to life,” Fabien said.

One example of how the story shaped the lighting design can be found at WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, as Alexandre explained, “Here we have this industrial feeling. We used authentic pieces from old, abandoned factories and repurposed them in the land. Since the WEB kids were the new owners of the place, we also had to have this ‘new’ vibe. So there are some identical lamps that were given a different story based on their location.”

Rewarding challenges

At the Quinjet, recruits can meet Iron Man, Spider-Man or Captain Marvel and learn new poses and skills for future missions. This place happens to be one of Fabien’s favorite pieces of work. “Creative Director Scot Drake wanted a lighting façade from ground to top for this, and we worked a lot with Field Art Director Matias Cena to find the perfect glass sample with the right opacity to get the desired result. There were a lot of structural and technical constraints, with minimal space to hide all the equipment. We chose a light blue palette that feels more natural and closer to white, as it was important that the building wouldn’t steal the show from F.R.I.D.A.Y. and the Quinjet when recruits are attracted to Stark Plaza. The work was splendid and I’m really happy I was able to highlight it by night!”

For Alexandre, PYM Kitchen is where you need to go to admire his team’s work. “To me, the dome at PYM Kitchen is really our crown jewel. The environment of PYM Tech that you see in the first Ant-Man movie inspired the dome and overall design of PYM Kitchen. It uses hexagons, the key shape and symbol of Ant-Man. We studied concepts and partnered with a local artisan near our parks to produce the piece. It was a highly collaborative process with architects, electricians and painters. There were a lot of logistics behind it.” And one detail guests might not notice at first is that the light changes subtly from warm white to cold white.

The light at the end of the (PYM) tunnel

With the campus now open to recruits of all ages, Fabien told us with emotion, “I’m very proud of what we achieved. Guests won’t see everything at first, like the fact that we added some effects to the Vibranium equipment hanging in cages at Stark Factory. It says a lot about the level of detail. I was able to take my children there and seeing it through their eyes was just the best feeling.”

The same goes for Alexandre. “My daughter had sparkling eyes. What surprised me also was that family and friends contacted me soon after opening and seeing my name in the WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure queue. They were just discovering what kept me busy these past years and said they were impressed!”

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