The UK's largest light festival returned to Durham in November with its biggest and most ambitious programme ever. Working closely with creative event producers Artichoke, QED used the opportunity to further push the boundaries and to showcase the very latest in video projection technology.

Mysticète - Top'Là Design

This fantastical water screen projection of a remarkably life-like whale was produced by Catherine Garret and her team at Top'Là Design. To bring the whale to life QED deployed a couple of its new Christie 4K30 Boxer projectors and a QED 4K Infinity server.

Projecting 30,000 lumens at 4K resolution enabled an unprecedented level of quality to be achieved, so much so that it was even easy to forget that the whale wasn't real. The projector was fed, controlled and remotely monitored via a 16-channel 300m fibre which ran back to the control position under the Elvet Bridge.

1.26 Durham - Janet Echelman

Made from lightweight fibres, 1.26 was named after one of the impacts of the 2010 Chilean earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Artichoke worked with Teesside-based company Art AV to develop a way for festival goers to interact with artist Janet Echelman's sculptural installation their smartphones. QED provided four 30,000 lumen Christie Boxers to illuminate the giant interactive net suspended across the river Wear by rigging specialists Unusual Services. A network of d3 v2.5 servers played back the mapped visual content, incorporating the interactive elements with over 500m of multichannel fibre providing the projector feeds and the network infrastructure.

The World Machine - Ross Ashton, John Del Nero, Isobel Waller-Bridge, Carlos Frenk and Richard Bower

This collaborative piece was the largest scale video projection of the Festival, telling the story of the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day in this stunning son et lumiere for the façade of Durham Cathedral.

Although the Cathedral has traditionally been illuminated for the Festival this was the very first time that it had been video mapped. It required several months of intricate modelling and design work to produce the UV template for this colossal structure and nineteen Christie 20,000 lumen projectors, two d3 4x4pro servers plus many kilometres of fibre-optic cabling to realise the vision.

Fool's Paradise - NOVAK

NOVAK used elements of stop-motion animation, paper cutting and hand drawn images to create a fantasy location interweaving stories and characters. The continuous narrative was projected onto the steep façade of Durham Castle and viewed at various locations across the city, accompanied by a specially composed soundtrack by Ed Carter.

Without doubt this was the most technically ambitious piece of the festival as the projection coverage could only be achieved by projecting over very long range and from two distant locations that could not be physically connected. For the first time ever QED was able to combine both cabled and long-range wireless video transmission to deliver a completely synchronous video projection spanning the entire riverside façade of the Castle.

Six Christie 20,000 lumen projectors projected onto the Castle wall from the top of St. Margaret's Church 250 metres away across the river Wear, with another two Christie projectors projecting onto the 90 degree return wall from a separate location 100m away in the shopping centre.

Complex Meshes - Miguel Chevalier

Made up of different 'meshes', coloured patterns of various shapes were overlapped and evolved to create a kaleidoscopic installation which transformed the nave into a constellation universe, reacting to the movement of audiences below. Three Panasonic DZ21K projectors were vertically mounted in order to cover the nave ceiling and were connected back to the control point via QED's 12-channel 200m fibre system.

Home Sweet Home Durham - Shared Space & Light

Taking over a house in Durham city centre, this video-mapped projection guided audiences through the lives of a selection of local people. 21 participants, representing a broad spectrum of County Durham residents, were video interviewed against a portable green screen studio for this installation. The edited stories about their home life, sometimes funny, serious, startling or even mundane, formed the inspiration for Home Sweet Home Durham. A single Christie WU14K-M projector mounted in portrait orientation was required to cover this piece.

Precious - Storybox (New Zealand) & Durham Sixth Form Centre students

Working with New Zealand based company Storybox, students from Durham Sixth Form Centre recorded interviews with people from across the county, asking them about the objects that meant something to them. The final piece was rear projected using six 5,000 lumen Christie LWU505 projectors within stacked storage containers.

Asalto Durham - Daniel Canogar

Asalto Durham reimagined one of Durham's iconic structures for public delight. Part public intervention and part video installation, local Durham residents appeared to slowly 'climb' up the walls, eventually reaching the top of the viaduct.

Four Christie HD18K 20,000 lumen projectors were used to cover the front face and the undersides of the viaduct, cross projecting to achieve the coverage. The fine geometric correction was handled by a d3 v2.5 server.

Summary

QED Director Paul Wigfield commented "For all the projection pieces the key to success was unquestionably QED's fibre-optic system - the same distribution system that QED used to cable up the isle of St Aubin's Fort in Jersey in 2014, the entire roof structure of The O2 for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the spectacular 2016 Brit Awards. To now be able to combine this system with fully synchronised wireless transmission opens up even more possibilities for the future and allows us to undertake even more ambitious projects."

Credits

Dan Adams, Artichoke, Production Manager
Dave Voyce, Technical Production Manager
Dan Gray, Head of Digital Media
Harry Ricardo, Senior AV Technician
Mike Snarr, AV Technician
Paul Chinnery, AV Technician
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