The projections featured the heads of a selection of individuals who have received the rare distinction of gaining The Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin. They measured 10m wide x 15m high and were beamed onto the side of the City Hall building in Dame Street, central Dublin, for the five evenings of the Festival.
High Resolution’s Peter Canning pitched the idea of monumental projections to Dublin City Council for some time, and this year festival director Donal Shiels decided to give it the go-ahead. Shiels also suggested the theme of those who have received the Freedom of the City.
As soon as they had the green light—with only 2 weeks to go before the event—Canning and E\T\C UK’s designer Ross Ashton energized their combined resources and worked around the clock to make the show happen.
Local artist William Finney and St. Patrick’s Festival project manager Paddy McLaughlin researched the Honorary Citizens and came up with a shortlist of 33 out of a possible 74. They represented various elements including the arts, music, politics, sport, the church and media personalities.
Finney was careful to try and choose faces that represented a good cross section of history and society as well all walks of life and those making the City Hall wall included Bob Geldof, U2, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, racing driver legend Jackie Stewart, and many others. Also in the head parade was Dublin’s first Honorary Citizen, Irish home ruler Isaac Butt, who received the accolade in 1876.
Finney then had to source the images and get copyright clearance to use them and keep within their allotted budget. As soon as this phase was completed, the images were handed over to Ross Ashton for conversion into PIGI artwork along with any necessary keystone corrections and other adjustments. They were then made into films for the two projectors.
In the meantime, there was a flying meeting in Dublin to discuss locating the projectors in an empty office block adjacent to the City Hall. Giving an approximate 40m throw distance, conveniently this had a set of large glass double-layered windows on the ground floor, one of which could be opened, leaving a single pane of glass for the projectors to cut through. The Council organized a three-phase power supply to be available and accessible for the projectors.
Time-wise, there was absolutely no margin for errors—it had to work first time—from the content, right through to the projector location.
Two 6K PIGI projectors with double-rotating scrollers and Barco 33cm lenses were rigged into position by Cy Dodimead from E\T\C UK and Tommy Perrot from High Resolution on the Wednesday evening before the Festival. They were set up as a cross-fading pair, lined up, had their scrollers loaded up with the films, and the show was programmed overnight using PIGI’s OnlyCue system.
The show looped through the 33 heads plus three Festival logo slides, running from dusk until midnight each day and received an incredibly positive reaction from the public.
High Resolution also lit the projection side and the front of the City Hall in green (Lee 124) for the occasion, utilizing three green HMIs for the projection side and 20 outdoor PARs on the front, all powered via local hard power.
Peter Canning comments, “It was an incredible experience working with Ross and Willie again, and a real challenge in getting a show produced properly in that tight a timescale. We were all under immense pressure, but everyone’s superlative teamwork saw us pull it together.” He adds that he hopes that the popular and aesthetic success of the exercise will now encourage the City Council to consider larger projection projects for the future.