E/T/C London is once again supplying spectacular 90 metre wide large format projections for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
It's the fifth consecutive year that the company has been involved in this high profile event, and the second year that the projection canvas has been increased from 60 to 90 metres wide - following the great success of the widescreen style last year. This extended area stretches the full width of Edinburgh Castle's walls at the far end of the Esplanade/arena, forming a dramatic backdrop to the performance space.
E/T/C London's Ross Ashton designed and produced custom artwork for the high impact projections which run for approximately 50% of the show. This is the most that projected images have been used to date since the medium was first introduced into the Tattoo's visual mix in 2005.
Four of E/T/C's PIGI 6K projectors fitted with double rotating scrollers are being used for the task. Three are covering the width of the Castle wall area, with the fourth focussed on providing â€˜drop-ins' in the area around the Castle gates, through which the performers make their entrances.
Ashton worked on the creative content in conjunction with the Tattoo's chief executive and producer, Major General Euan Loudon.
The 60th Tattoo contains its usual international flavour, with a cast in excess of 1000 from around the globe - Tonga to South Africa, Australia to Switzerland - and fresh content to accompany the traditional format that has made it such a hugely popular event. There was also a strong RAF influence - as the featured armed service for 2009 - and a tribute to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's iconic poet, Robert Burns.
For the Tongan Royal Corps of Musicians, Ashton's artwork saw criss-crossed images of giant palm leaves laid across the Castle walls, transforming its majestic architecture into a tropical backdrop, overlaid with different coloured washes of light.
For the dramatic start of the "RAF Medical Rescue" section, a projected Chinook helicopter gracefully descended into the arena, precisely framing the Castle Gates with all the action taking place in front.
The choreographed extract from Burns' epic comedy poem Tam O'Shanter presented Ashton with a real chance to have fun. He'd never read the poem before and enjoyed amassing a series of illustrations to humorously highlight elements of an inebriated tale of adventure ...... which started in the pub!
Particularly spectacular were some evil and somewhat scary pictures of the Devil playing the bagpipes surrounded by dancing witches, which were represented as massive skeletons! Down on the performance floor, the Massed Highland Dancers gave the piece plenty of dynamics and additional movement and vibrance.
For the RAF Massed Band's "Born to Fly" piece, the projections were of assorted aircraft photographs, with the sequence finishing on some stylised Red Arrows' Hawk T1s in bold red and white.
Towards the end of the show, at Ashton's suggestion, a tribute was included to Henry Allingham, the last surviving soldier from World War 1 and a founding member of the RAF, who died recently aged 113. Images from his family were supplied and integrated into the PIGI films for this section
The projection is being controlled via an E/T/C OnlyCue PC-based system, programmed and operated by Karen Monid.
Ashton comments, “The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the highlights of E/T/C's year as well as mine as a designer. I have particularly enjoyed helping to create the 2009 show, and it is good to see the concept of projection becoming more involved in the presentation of this world class event."