For the third year running, large format projection specialists E\T\C UK have created a stunning giant projection show for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The 60m wide x 30m tall images are beamed onto the battlements and Gatehouse walls of historic Edinburgh Castle, making a dramatic backdrop for the show.
E\T\C’s Ross Ashton was asked on board again following the massive success of the last two years, after projection was first added to the Tattoo’s visual mix in 2005. In 2007, the theme for the specially produced seven-minute projection section of show is “Music at War,” covering 1,000 years of music relating to military life and action, performed by the Massed Military Bands.
Ashton designed and storyboarded the projection element of the show working closely with Major Graham Jones, director of music for the Coldstream Guards, who wrote and arranged the music. They did this in close consultation with the show’s new producer, Major General Euan Loudon, production manager Stave Walsh, and the 2007 Tattoo director of music, Major CR Meldrum.
The original material for the show was sourced by Ashton from a combination of Getty Images, the Army Museum, and the National Army Museum of Scotland. “Researching and collating all the necessary material involved was the biggest and most time consuming challenge of the project, but also the most rewarding aspect,” explains Ashton, who also originated some elements of the artwork himself.
The “Music of War” section kicks in just after half way through the show, timed to coincide with dusk falling. Once this special section is concluded, there are additional still backdrops projected at strategic points throughout the rest of the performance, including a segment celebrating the diamond wedding anniversary of HRH The Queen and Prince Phillip.
The Castle surface is not an easy one for projections—the battlements are approximately 30m behind the Gatehouse and all of it is a dark brown, uneven surface.
ETC UK are utilizing four PIGI 6Kw projectors all with double rotating scrollers and 85cm lenses, configured as two cross-fading pairs, each pair soft-edged together to make one image. The two surfaces of the Barracks/Wall and Gatehouse are treated separately, each with their own projection artwork beamed from the relevant set of projectors.
The projectors are rigged in a weather-protected cabin on the end of the control platform on top the end-on seating arena facing the Castle walls.
The show was programmed and operated by Karen Monid, using PIGI’s OnlyCue PC-based system. All the masking required to make the projection fit onto the castle’s different surfaces is achieved within OnlyView, and Monid also applied wipes and other special effects to give the projection sequences additional fluidity and an edge of magic.
Edinburgh Tattoo chief executive producer, Major General Euan Loudon says, "New technological features like ETC's projection equipment have been installed to help celebrate 150 years of military music and the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip. It provides a whole new dimension to proceedings and, I believe, further adds to the audience's enjoyment of the show."
The 2007 Tattoo features a multinational cast who have traveled from all corners of the world including Africa, America, and Asia, There are 500 musicians, 200 dancers, a 150-striong all-girl Taiwanese group, 35 motorcycles, and 30 horses. The event is attended annually by approximately 217,000 people and watched by over 100 million on TV each year across 40 countries.