E/T/C London helps launch Cambridge University's 800th Anniversary

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Large-format projection specialist E/T/C London brought Cambridge's Senate House and Old School buildings alive with 50 metre wide video projections for the launch of the legendary University's 800th anniversary year.

Ross Ashton was commissioned to produce the artwork by Cambridge 800, a committee set up to co-ordinate events for the 800th year celebrations. His brief included delivering an image-based story that encapsulated some of the incredible ideas, concepts and inventions that have emanated from the university.

Says Ashton, “It was a hugely exciting work with which to be involved. The historical and ground-breaking moments that have flowed from Cambridge have changed the world. I wanted to give spectators a glimpse into the depth of this incredible body of work and show that the same innovative genius will continue to shape our world in the future."

The 9 minute looped show was projected onto the two buildings - that sit at right angles to each other - by 4 Christie S+20K projectors. These were positioned in custom constructed hides, designed by E/T/C London's Paul Highfield, which sat directly opposite across a large lawn in front of the buildings. The images were soft edged together in the middle.

The highly engaging content included amazing cartoons of two of the University's most famous alumni, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, which were specially created for the show by illustrator and Downing College alumnus, Quentin Blake.

The show's artwork, produced by Paul Chatfield and Ross Ashton, predominantly consisted of multiple layered still art images which were then animated using E/T/C's versatile OnlyView control platform. Four OnlyView servers, one per projector, were loaded with the content and programmed by Richard Porter using the system's practical multi-timeline function.

The control position was inside the Senate House for weather protection, so Porter set up a second system outdoors to line-up the projectors during rigging and rehearsals, keeping the two systems carefully synched. The projectors could also be tweaked from the indoor control position via a WIFI link into the OnlyView producer computer.

During the get-in, Michael Barry joined the team and diligently fitted all 31 arched windows in the fascias of both buildings with tailored Corex white-outs. Glen Jenkins was also onboard to assist Porter in setting up the control.

The projections kicked off immediately after Quentin Blake and BBC Look East presenter Susie Fowler-Watt officially launched the Celebrations. The show ran from 7 – 10 p.m. for 3 nights and attracted massive crowds into the centre of Cambridge, all of whom were wowed by the colour and vitality of the high impact images.

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