Video First for London New Year's Eve Projections

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Video was used for the first time to project giant images onto the 353 ft high Shell Building on the South Bank of the River Thames for the Mayor of London's 2008-09 New Year's Eve celebrations.

E/T/C London created a projection concept and suggested that they harness the flexibility and power of video for the first time on this event, on which E/T/C has worked for producers Jack Morton Worldwide for the last 5 years. With LG Electronics coming onboard as a new sponsor, they really wanted to up the production values, making the show something extra special and more spectacular this year.

Says E/T/C's Ross Ashton, "It was another milestone in giant video projection for E/T/C London, and probably the UK's largest New Year video installation to date as well as a great opportunity for us to move the company forward."

E/T/C's Richard Porter designed the technical installation, which utilised 24 Christie S+20K projectors, all rigged vertically, and run in 12 overlaid pairs. These covered a 12 zone grid – 3 wide and 4 high – measuring 55 metres wide by 110 tall on the river facing fascia of the building.

At 2888 x 5184 pixels, this offered far higher resolution than HD.

The projectors were positioned 150 metres away from the Shell Tower in a 12 metre tall purpose built structure, together with a complex E/T/C OnlyView® control system that was set up in an adjacent cabin, and operated by Richard Porter for the show.

The 30 minute looped show was programmed by Porter, assisted by Karen Monid, onto 18 OnlyView® media servers. Sixteen servers were used for visuals, while two ran a bespoke soundtrack including sponsors messages which were then broadcast to the public via a Delta Sound PA system.

Ross Ashton collaborated closely with Jack Morton's Kate MacKay on the creation of the artwork.

The image files involved were massive, and the handling of this aspect alone required E/T/C London's detailed expertise. BBH created the LG branding and a series of celebrity ‘talking heads' with New Year greetings, featuring the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Dame Helen Mirren and others.

Another challenge was the installation of a preview monitor system, set up to show the client detailed and accurate show visualizations during the set up and programming period. E/T/C's Paul Highfield came up with a very cost-effective video wall solution for this, using Dexion racking and bit of ingenuity!

The get-in commenced on the 27th December, with E/T/C engineers Robin Darraux, Patrice Lefevre and Glenn Jenkins. Jack Morton's project manager was Jim Donald.

Projections kicked off at 8p.m. on New Year's Eve as up to 400,000 revellers gathered in central London to await the rollover moment into 2009. A cool countdown clock comprising a burning fuse that snaked around the building as the minute-to-midnight moment approached was visualized by Ashton and produced in After Effects by Porter.

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