If you live in Swansea Marina you may have noticed some unusual lights in recent days.

Preliminary testing is under way for the 93,000-odd LED lights which will plaster the new indoor arena.

The lights will be embedded in some 1,600 gold-coloured panels, which are being fixed to the structure.

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On a behind-the-scenes look at the testing, the Local Democracy Reporter Service is told that the original concept was to have 73,000 lights showing just shapes and colours.

That number has increased, and three large panels will show moving images.

The largest panel is at the arena entrance, with two smaller ones facing a raised VIP area and overlooking the coastal park.

The bottom of the LED skin can also show ticker-style messages, for example promoting upcoming events in the city like the Wales Airshow.

I'm shown around by an officer of Swansea Council, which is the project client, and an employee of Buckingham Group, which is building the arena.

The colours flip and change

I'm told the arena is likely to be the only indoor venue of its type in Europe with an LED skin all the way round the building.

Football fans may well have seen the eye-catching LED displays of Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, while part of Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium also has the LED treatment.

I ask if the panels and lights will look as they do now after a few years of battering by the elements. Yes, comes the prediction - the aluminium panels were selected to be appropriate for the location.

The gold-looking cladding seems to darken in vertical lines in places, and I gather it's because it mimics the folds of a stage curtain. It seems like nothing has been left to chance in the design.

I'm shown a moving LED display in the early evening gloom around 80m from the stadium.

Bubbles, messages, colours and shapes appear - I think of a lava lamp - and finally a rendering of the late Jimi Hendrix in action.

Early phases of LED light testing at Swansea's indoor arena are under way

Some of the footage isn't quite pin-sharp, other bits are.

The team is fully aware of this and will be tweaking and refining the system in the coming weeks to improve the clarity. Early days, I'm told more than once.

My tour guides are genuinely pleased with how the preliminary tests are going, and point out that architectural lighting will also be a feature of the adjacent coastal park and pedestrian bridge (yes, the chunky yellow one).

We then repeat the test, this time up close to the stadium on the raised VIP area which faces back towards the National Waterfront Museum.

The size of the panel is now more striking, and so are the images, especially as the ambient light is fading.

I'm also struck by the proximity of flats on Anchor Court and Victoria Quay to the rear. The density of the LED lights, I'm told, have been reduced at the rear of the building for this reason.

A close-up of the lights and gold-coloured aluminium rain cladding

The LED lights were made by a UK company called Tryka. The Pharos Digital operating system is already used in other council buildings.

I'm told it was never the intention, thankfully, for the arena to offer a Picadilly-style advertising display - and, in case you're wondering, there isn't any sound.

I take some video and stills, hoping they will reflect what I've seen.

The arena is the centrepiece of the £135 million Copr Bay scheme, which also includes flats, commercial space and a multi-storey car park across the pedestrian bridge.

The council is leading the project and will claw back some of the costs through grants and parking revenue.

Theatre company ATG will fit out and operate the 3,500-capacity arena which, along with the rest of Copr Bay, is due be completed by the end of the year and open its doors early in 2022.

Council leader Rob Stewart said the preliminary LED testing was another step forward.

"These are early and limited tests though, so what people see in coming weeks will not reflect the kind of high-quality displays the outside of the arena will host once it’s open and operational," he said.

"It's only when all the panels are installed and we have a programme of content in place that we'll see the full capability of the technology, which will combine with everything else that's planned to develop a world-class attraction."

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