Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze has been a staple of San Francisco’s famous Pier 39 tourist area for over a decade. When the original lighting fixtures installed for the attraction’s opening began to fail, the venue’s resident ‘light artist’ chose ADJ units to replace them. This not only completely rejuvenated the look of the attraction, but also provided a wealth of creative potential for generating new looks and effects through color mixing and DMX control.
Pier 39 is a popular shopping and entertainment center built on a pier close to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf district in San Francisco. Located on the second floor of the complex, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze opened in 2009. It is an immersive attraction featuring a labyrinth of small mirrored rooms, which SF Weekly described as “possibly the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city limits.”
Despite its popularity, the owners of the maze are committed to investing in new technology and effects to ensure the facility never loses its appeal. For this reason they brought in Eric Ziemann [pictured above], who is a freelance light artist, initially to update the lobby of the attraction. This started Eric’s journey with ADJ, which eventually led to the installation of 80 ADJ Dotz Par COB LED fixtures to replace all of the LED lighting units that had been originally installed when the maze first opened.
On a visit to Astro AVL on the San Fernando Road in Glendale, CA, Eric came across ADJ’s H20 IR. This dynamic effect uses a 12W LED light-source, projected through two textured glass wheels and an independent dichroic color wheel, to create a multi-colored simulated flowing water effect. For Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, Eric installed one of the fixtures to project onto an awning in the lobby area that was created from texteline, a semi-opaque fabric.
“The H20 IR is a really cool light,” enthuses Eric, “and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be perfect for the entrance of the mirror maze. Initially, I was planning to project its effect down onto the floor, but the carpet is black and textured, so it absorbed too much of the light. So then I had the idea of installing the awning and projecting onto that, which worked really well and creates the impression of a comet flying over the space.”
Pleased with the effect created by the H20 IR, the maze’s owner asked Eric to come up with another idea to further enhance the space. This lead him back to Astro AVL to research what other fixtures are available and to seek out inspiration.
“Next time I went in,” Eric explains, “I said, “what else have you got?” And they showed me the ADJ UV COB Cannon, which is a super powerful UV wash that also allows strobing. Which gave me the idea to create a ‘trap your shadow’ glow-in-the-dark wall. I’d seen that done with white strobes before, but that blinds people and also washes them away on photos. So we created a luminescent backdrop that is activated by the UV COB Cannon on its slowest strobe setting. That worked out really well and everyone loves playing with it, taking selfies and other shots.”
Having built a relationship based on these two small installations, when the original LED fixtures that were installed for the attraction’s opening began to fail, the owners of Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze again reached out to Eric. Now confident in the value, performance and reliability of the company’s products, he got in touch with ADJ Internal Sales Representative Steve Castillo, who invited him to visit ADJ’s LA-based showroom.
Through a combination of the showroom visit and input from Steve as well as Luis Von from San Fransico-based ADJ dealer World of Stereo, Eric determined that the best fit for the project was ADJ’s Dotz Par. This compact fixture utilizes a powerful 36-Watt COB (Chip On Board) RGB LED light source to generate a high intensity homogenized color wash with no RGB shadows and extremely smooth color mixing. Amongst the many reasons that Eric choose the unit was its wide beam angle of 60-degrees (which can be reduced to 25-degrees if required, using the supplied lens kit).
The mirror maze is comprised of 80 individual triangular spaces, each with identical arches on all of their three sides, some of which are filled with mirrors. This creates the illusion of a continuous arched labyrinth in every direction a visitor looks. One Dotz Par fixture was installed in the center of the ceiling in each of these triangular spaces, allowing them to be independently illuminated in any color.
“The Dotz Pars are extremely bright, have a good even coverage and a nice wide beam angle,” states Eric. “The old fixtures that were in the maze just created a pool of light on the floor, but the Dotz Pars hit the arches too. This has completely changed the look of the space, increasing the depth of the mirror illusion and improving the whole experience. The staff who work there used to know their way around instinctively, but now they keep finding themselves bumping into mirrors and not knowing which way to go as the effect has been enhanced so much by the new lighting.”
Having previously used fixtures with separate red, green and blue LEDs, Eric was also extremely impressed by the color mixing capability of the Dotz Par fixtures. To make full use of this potential, he brought in Bay Area local Devin Feiertag to create custom DMX programming.
“The color mixing of the Dotz Pars is wonderful, offering us a full gamut to play with,” comments Eric. “Then DMX programming has opened up the space to a whole world of new possibilities. “We can have different themes, for Halloween for example, which will help to draw people back on a regular basis. With DMX we can completely change the look and feel of the space without physically changing anything.”
All three of the fixtures that Eric installed in the mirror maze are ETL approved, which gives everyone involved the peace of mind that the installation will be safe and also avoids any problems with Building Inspectors. The fact that they all also utilize LED light sources not only keeps electric bills down for the owner, but removes the need for regular lamp replacements.
When telling us about the project, Eric was keen to acknowledge the after sales support he received. "Finally, I'd like to thank the technical support team at ADJ. They were extremely helpful in navigating setting options with the lights and solving any technical issues I had. Every time I called ADJ they were very prompt in their response time. I have to give them credit for that."
Both Eric and the owners of Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze are beyond happy with the results of their lighting makeover, as it has revitalized the attraction preparing it for another decade of success. We were also pleased to hear that Eric’s ADJ experience was nothing but positive; from the support he received via Astro AVL, World of Stereo and ADJ’s internal team, to the quality, reliability and feature set of the fixtures he chose.
If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area, be sure to check out Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze in person, and experience the ADJ lighting that brings it to life. Quoting several of the attraction’s Yelp reviews, “it’s the best $5 you’ll spend in San Francisco”!
Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
Pier 39, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133
(Contact for projects:) +(1) 323-377-7377 ● email@example.com
6615 San Fernando Rd, Glendale, CA 91201-1702
World of Stereo
1080 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Blackline Engineering LLC
80 x ADJ Dotz Par
2 x ADJ UV COB Cannon
1 x ADJ H20 IR