How do you make an impact at the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas? Especially considering that event is now in its 10th anniversary, and really needs to put on the biggest show ever. Thankfully, Technical Direction Company, TDC, an Australian entertainment technology company, knew exactly how to wow visitors to Vivid Sydney.
Taking place annually, Vivid Sydney sees immersive light installations with performances from local and international artists takeover the city for a few weeks at the beginning of winter. For its 10th anniversary, the organisers wanted it to be bigger and better than ever.
“This year, visitors to Vivid Sydney can expect even brighter, clearer, better-defined projection from TDC,” says Pete Lynn, Head of Creative Projection at TDC. “Our projection design incorporates the same technology as that used by the world’s leading events and arena shows for example – Cirque du Soleil. That’s a big part of our success.”
TDC is providing video services and innovation to over 10 sites for Vivid Sydney this year. There is record breaking projection across the major precincts at 10 locations: Sydney Opera House, Customs House, ASN Co, The Old ES Bank and Police Station, Government House, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cadmans Cottage, Chatswood Concourse, Samsung – “The Night. Reimagined.” and the Sydney Harbour Bridge South Pylon.
“TDC Live View feedback systems are deployed everywhere, allowing real time monitoring,” continues Alex Rendell, Technical Projects Manager at TDC. “Projections were finalised mostly in the pre-production phase, so everything is built before we turn up on site – which reduces down time,” said Lynn.
“TDC has been a supporter of Vivid Sydney for many years,” adds Michael Hassett, Founder and Managing Director of TDC. “Our technical experts have been behind the scenes bringing the stunning light projections to life, setting new standards in projection technology and mapping design.”
10 years, 10 sites – Vivid Sydney projection highlights
The centrepiece of Vivid Sydney 2018 is Metamathemagical, which sees celebrated Australian artist Jonathan Zawada commemorate Vivid Sydney’s tenth anniversary with the creation of a site-specific artwork that transforms the world-renowned Sydney Opera House sails into a series of kinetic digital sculptures.
Laser-projected images are delivered onto the 9,000 square metre sails for the first time, thanks to TDC’s investment in the latest projection technology. These are brighter, capable of more uniform and better controlled light output for a crisper image. The projectors feature 4K/UltraHD resolution; that’s four times the number of pixels of HD, and means that they deliver 138,240,000 pixels to the sails – equivalent to four IMAX screens – with startling clarity and colour fidelity.
“In creating the Sydney Opera House projections project, a 3D model was constructed and by using a disguise media server we were able to visualise the content playback with the animators in the preproduction phase,” said Steve Cain, Head Engineer & Media Server Specialist at TDC.
“This is the world’s best media server and calibration technology and it is so reliable and robust. I used a collection of features that disguise media servers offer, such as Texture Masking, Deformation Layers, Projector Calibration and Colour Shift options. Also the real time work flow let me sit with the Jonathan Zawada and colour grade the content live on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. We also used the Multi Editor feature, to allow a couple of us to line up the building simultaneously reducing the projector line up time to just a few hours.”
“This year, we designed a new outdoor projector housing solution that was resistant to high winds, and that could operate reliably close to salt water and at low temperatures,” explained Anthony Pellizzari, Technical Projects Manager at TDC.
Another highlight of the event is Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at Sydney’s Customs House, which uses projection provided by TDC to showcase the adventures of two characters with whom Australian children have been growing up with since author May Gibbs created them a century ago. Ample Projects adapted the amazing visuals.
Photonic State at Government House presented a new challenge for TDC because it required multiple projector positions. The architecture of the building, with its large towers, also makes significant technical demands.
“Early on in the project, we undertook a projection study and 3D model so that the show could be created in the 3D world,” said Lynn. “The model was then worked on by students from training and vocational education provider, TAFE NSW.”
Fun facts about tech
As well as using laser projection on the iconic sails for the first time, other highlights of TDC’s involvement in creating the wide-ranging spectacular include:
- Over 30 technical staff working full time
- 70 video projectors, with brightness up to 40,000 lumens
- 20 million pixels – equivalent to over 60 IMAX screens
- Total light output of 1,750,000 ANSI lumens brightness
- 11 kilometers of projection
- 22 media servers
- Three different automation platforms servers running on unique software code
- 20 kilometers of signal and power cables
- All sites remotely monitored with realtime “TDC Live View” remote reporting 24/7.
- To ensure energy efficiency, equipment is powered every night but on-standby during the day.
“Our clients partner with us to create event experiences and productions including outdoor light festivals such as Vivid Sydney, TV shows, theatre, corporate events, live music, exhibitions and outdoor events,” continued Hassett. “TDC has delivered many firsts in this region, and is a pioneer in the delivery of large-scale architectural projection technology, projection blending, mapping and warping; automation; motion tracking; and creative LED solutions.
“We’re looking forward to helping to make this tenth Vivid Sydney another huge success.”
Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and, in 2017, attracted a record-breaking 2.33 million attendees to the celebration, delivering AU$143 million of visitor expenditure into the NSW economy.