Projection mapping is being used more and more but so far no UK event has installed such a setup to run on a long-term basis. 'LightPool' in Blackpool is set to change that with its installation, set to take place as part of the Blackpool Illuminations festival.
From this year on, for a full two months during the seaside town's annual 'Illuminations' period visitors will be treated to visual stories told as two ten-minute shows.
The first of these, entitled 'Entertaining the Nation', looks at how Blackpool has been a leader in developing public lighting for over a century, ever since the 1987 installation, 'Artificial Sunshine'.
The second story being told at the projector-mapped display is 'The Most Amazing Show on Earth'. This ambitiously titled tale again focuses on the host town of Blackpool and highlights its reputation as a world centre of excellence for dance.
It took a team of storyboarders, content creators, technical designers and hardware experts to create the event, but at the heart of the show at the projectors themselves.
The 14 individual PT-DW17K2 projectors, which are the latest Mark 2 units developed and delivered by Panasonic in time for the installation, work together to create an enormous image 83 metres wide by 17 metres high.
Not only did the team have to grapple with the sheer scale of the image needed, they also had to deal with a difficult surface which is a blend of dark red brick and glass windows. Yet further challenges were presented by the lights of the nearby Esplanade and the street furniture which stood between the projectors and their intended screen.
Fortunately, a smart solution was devised to get around the issue of shadows from things like street lights and dustbins. The developers applied a huge amount of masking when programming the shows and also worked carefully to ensure that each section of the building is hit by two sets of projectors, each lined up at different physical angles.
Despite the challenges involved, London-based Ross Ashton, who collaborated on the whole production with The Projection Studio, said it had been “fantastic” to work with such an iconic location.
“We are delighted with the public reaction and hope that this will be a game changer in the UK outdoor projection market,” he added.