What is optical fiber ?

In the words used by Atelier Numérique, optical fiber is a very thin glass or acrylic wire that has the property of being an excellent conductor of light.

There are two kinds of optical fibers:

Side emitting: that emits light around the fiber;

End emitting: which emits light only at the end of the fiber.

End emitting - LED
End emitting
Side emitting - LED
Side emitting

On the other hand, the optical fiber does not itself generate light and needs an external light source to illuminate. The light diode (or LED) is often used to illuminate these optical fibers simply because it is small and emits bright light. The power of the light source used to power an optical fiber must be modulated according to the length of the cable to ensure successful transmission of light. Thus, the longer the cable, the more LED power is required.

Optical fiber in action

Kooza avant manteau LED
Kooza – Front of the coat
Kooza arrière manteau LED
Kooza – Back of the coat

Here is the bright coat originally designed for the show Kooza, the first suit of its kind produced in our workshops. During the creation process, the team used a black lining for better luminescence. Here, the entire costume is illuminated, even the Brandenburgs (the sophisticated knots embroidered on an officer’s suit) and the epaulettes that were molded using Crystal Clearä with optical fibers embedded in the molding.

Pieces before being mounted
Pieces before being mounted
Coat piece - optical fiber
Coat piece and optical fiber

During the production of Kooza, these coats were to be included in a grand finale where the artists would arrive on stage in illuminated costumes, just like comets. However, the full number was not retained for artistic reasons: such luminosity no longer suited the overall concept of the show. These costumes were reused by Gilles St-Croix on Cheval théâtre.

Kooza - coat with optical fiber

For the singer Nouit of the show Zed, RGB LEDs were chosen for the wings and the hat, to match the starry sky of the decor. White fabric made of optical fibers was also used to make the large wings.

singer nouit 1 and optical fiber
Zed – Singer Nouit
Singer Nouit 2 and optical fiber
Zed – Singer Nouit

Finally, Zumanity also used fiber optics for one of its costumes. This bright skirt (photo below) is made of “side emitting” optical fiber and polycarbonate tubes. For successful illumination, LEDs were inserted into the ends of these tubes. The whole thing is mounted on a leather belt.

Zumanity - Optical fiber skirt
Zumanity – Optical fiber skirt

Liked this article? Check out our other articles from our bright costumes series:

Bright costumes – LED : a universe of possibilities

Bright costumes – Electroluminescence: a bright world

Sources: Atelier Numérique, Costumes and Accessories of Cirque du Soleil

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