Bat-Signal welcome created by Pittsburgh company

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When the Batman signal is cast against the ominous, gray skies of Gotham City, it serves as a distress call. In Pittsburgh, it was a welcome flag to the cast and crew of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises," when they arrived in town for filming earlier this week.

Lightwave International Inc., a Pittsburgh-based production company that specializes in laser light shows and special effects for movies and events, projected the modern emblem of the caped crusader on the west side of Fifth Avenue Place, Downtown.

The projection caught the eyes of those emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel Wednesday and Thursday nights.

"We feel very welcome, even down to the bat symbol that was displayed last night," producer Emma Thomas said at a news conference Thursday.

"We're really very excited to be here, quite apart from the incredible reception that we've gotten and the excitement that we feel about shooting here, I think we're all really looking forward to just spending a month in Pittsburgh and enjoying our summer."

The Batman laser display stemmed from a joint initiative launched months ago between the Pittsburgh Film Office and Idea Foundry, an economic development and innovation firm.

Their goal was to identify tech companies in Western Pennsylvania that had products or services that would be attractive to film or television and connect them with production teams.

Having already worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Cowboys & Aliens," Lightwave was commissioned by Idea Foundry and the Pittsburgh Film Office to bring in the "Dark Knight" crew with the famous symbol.

"We wanted Pittsburgh to do something different and to be able to stand out," film office director Dawn Keezer said. "This is some way to highlight the entertainment technology of Lightwave and show how pleased ... everyone in Pittsburgh is to welcome this production."

After exploring several possibilities, Idea Foundry settled on Fifth Avenue Place and picked up its main tenant, Highmark, as a corporate sponsor for the project.

Highmark coordinated with Lightwave on which lights would be on or off in the building when the signal was displayed from an undisclosed location in the Wyndham Grand, formerly the Hilton.

"We produce shows and effects all over the world, but we like to do things big for the hometown when we get the chance to do it," Lightwave production manager Alan Fuehrer said.

Brady Ashe: or 412-263-4903.


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