London UK based, The Projection Studio was commissioned to create a magical work on the Almond Pavilion in Saltwell Park, Gateshead for the NewcastleGateshead Initiative's 2010 "Enchanted Parks" event. This hugely popular pre-festive occasion featured a collection of 25 family friendly 'after dark' art installations that ran for a week.
"Enchanted Parks" was presented by the NewcastleGateshead Initiative in association with Magnetic Events, and funded by Gateshead Council, the Arts Council England and the Northern Rock Foundation. Projection Studio's Ross Ashton has worked on previous projects for Magnetic Events and their producer Robin Morley, including the opening of Sunderland Aquatic Centre in 2008, the North East's first Olympic sized swimming pool.
The Almond Pavilion has been restored to replicate the original appearance of the 1881 building - it also loosely resembles a neoclassical temple structure, circular with portico/pillars and a double level of sloping roofs.
The budget was extremely tight, so Projection Studio's Ross Ashton combined ingenuity and imagination to stretch it as far as possible and produce a stunning set of images that were 3D mapped to fit the building precisely, projected from a single 10,000 lumen Panasonic video projector.
For content, he chose 6 general themes inspired by classic international fairy tales and these were each developed into visual environments "The image sequences needed to be visually arresting and accessible enough to engage children and hold their attention, and also to be enjoyed by adults," he explains. He also wanted the entire work to encompass the atmosphere of 'wonder' at the essence of the Enchanted Parks experience.
The themes and spaces he expanded on were - Sleeping Beauty, Jack & The Beanstalk, The Gingerbread House, The Ice Palace, Aladdin and the Little Mermaid - producing a series of high impact images.
The footage was compiled in After Effects. The finally edited material comprised a 45 second video clip for each theme, with all 6 run continuously in one 4.5-minute projection show.
A wire frame map of the building was produced in Photoshop and then once the artwork was finalised, this was fitted exactly to the mask, allowing the projections to flow around and fill all the architectural aspects and shapes of the building. The images were about 10 metres wide in total.
The content was programmed into and played back using Arkaos digital media control software running on a laptop, which was supplied by White Light.
The soundtrack was created by Karen Monid using Logic Pro, and was produced in tandem with the images. “It was fantastic to work on a project that balanced depth with playfulness”, she comments.
Says Ashton; "It was a fabulous project to be involved in as well as working with Magnetic Events again and being back in the Gateshead area. It was a challenge on many fronts to achieve the spectacular results that everyone wanted. It was really nice to see so many people enjoying the results - and that's always the bottom line for public art projects".
On site, Ashton and the other artists worked with Magnetic's production team led by Robin Morley and Lesley Cooperwaite, and their technical production manager Dan Adams, co-ordinated all the installations amidst heavy snowfalls and extremely cold and inhospitable weather conditions.
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