Oculus Light Studio Design Landscape Lighting for YouTube’s “Moonlit Theater”

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With its ever‐expanding base of creative content producers and viewership, YouTube has built three production facilities—in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo—specifically dedicated to their most consistently prolific YouTube content generators. In each of these spaces, those exceptional YouTube channel stars can collaborate in studio space with audio‐visual and filming equipment, all free of charge. Aside from its indoor sound stages and screening room, the Los Angeles YouTube Space also boasts of an impressive outdoor theater, seating up to 200 at a time, with a 1080p resolution projection screen and 5.1 surround sound.

When Oculus Light Studio was commissioned to design the landscape lighting for this outdoor amphitheater, they were enthusiastic about working with another entity that values combining technology with creativity.

The challenge of this particular outdoor space was to create an intimate theater experience while maintaining the alfresco natural environment. Additionally, one of the main criteria of the program was that the light must be contained within the premises as much as possible due to the close proximity of neighbouring private residences.

With the listed conditions in mind, Oculus developed several lighting schemes for the outdoor amphitheater, all of which included a set of “Base Landscape Concepts”, which consisted of elements to illuminate the pathways, amphitheater seating, and surrounding trees. Building on that foundational base, Oculus constructed more thematically inspired aesthetics, such as “Electric Jungle”, “Music Lounge”, and “Moonlit Theater”.

The “Electric Jungle” concept reflected YouTube’s fresh and lively character, with colourful and unconventional light fixtures. While the client appreciated the idea, a comment was made that the interior of the space similarly reflects the high energy of the brand, so by contrast the landscape atmosphere would ideally be quieter and more low‐key. The “Music Lounge” provided a calm alternative to the “Electric Jungle”, but the “Moonlit Theater” felt more appropriate in the outdoor setting. Additionally, from a cost standpoint, the “Moonlit Theater” was preferred over the other options. This feedback ultimately led to the joint decision that the “Moonlit Theater” scheme would work perfectly. For its ambient treatment of the outdoor space, Oculus proposed suspending downlights with patterned projections in a cool colour temperature to mimic the feel of moonlight. The use of downlights also meant that the light would not be projected outward toward the neighbouring residences.

Oculus worked in collaboration with the landscape architect EPT Design to custom‐detail the concrete amphitheater risers to include a niche for integrating the LED striplights, which create a glow that is complimented by the gobo pattern projectors. After the pattern projectors were installed, Oculus aimed and defocused each of them to the appropriate level. The softness of the project gobo patterns also provides adequate safety lighting without the harsh feel of prison yard lighting. The periphery of the amphitheater is supplemented with LED accents on the trees and a single‐file progression of LED in‐grade uplights through the center of the pathway leading to the parking lot. Altogether, the “Moonlit Theater” is successful in evoking the feel of a drive‐in theater with moonlight, stars above and dappled light coming in through the trees.

Founded by Archit Jain and Scott Hatton, Oculus Light Studio is an architectural lighting design firm based in Santa Monica, in the Los Angeles area of California, USA with active lighting design projects in the United States, Asia and Africa.

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Gobo pattern projectors by HK lighting provide a comfortable level of safety lighting and create a sense of intimacy by mimicking the effect of moonlight shining down through a tree canopy. In the pathway to the right, ingrade uplights by MP Lighting direct foot traffic from the parking lot to the main entrance.

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The amphitheater risers were custom‐detailed with a niche near the top of the riser to integrate outdoor LED Tivotape. Cambria Accents by Lumière uplight the peripheral trees.

LT-Electric Jungle

The “Electric Jungle” scheme was developed to reflect YouTube’s creativity and liveliness with colourful and unconventional light fixtures.

LT-Music Lounge

Inspired by YouTube’s popularity as a music‐listening platform, the “Music Lounge” offered a warm gathering place for both visual and audial entertainment.

LT-Moonlit Theater

The “Moonlit Theater” scheme provided a relaxing, nature‐inspired atmosphere in contrast with the high energy of YouTube’s interior space.

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A design challenge for the outdoor site (in red) was to prevent light pollution in the direction of the adjacent riparian corridor and neighbouring residential areas (in yellow).

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The soft glow of the amphitheater risers and gobo pattern projectors do not spill into the neighbouring residential areas.

CREDITS

Satellite image from Google Maps.
Photography courtesy of Oculus Light Studio.

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