Ross Ashton’s The Projection Studio once again entertained the sold-out crowds at Edinburgh Castle with stunning projected visuals for the spectacular 2012 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The show action featuring a cast of nearly 1000 performers took place on the Esplanade down below the Castle walls in the centre of the Tattoo’s new, purpose-built state-of-the-art amphitheatre, which includes a special climate controlled projection room.
The Tattoo’s Chief Executive and Producer for the second year running was Brigadier David Allfrey, a big fan of large format projections, and this year’s event theme was HM Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the year of Creative Scotland.
Creative Scotland included specific sections of the show and dances celebrating iconic items of Scottish culture like tweed and whiskey, plus the industrial revolution. All these and more gave Ashton plenty of creative headroom for projection fun, together with the Superheroes section.
The giant images ran for most of the final third of the event – as darkness fell and enveloped the magnificent surroundings.
Ashton comments, "Working with David again was brilliant. He is very aware of the drama and additional WOW factors that projection can bring to the whole performance, and challenged me to come up with some interesting visuals".
The images covered an area about 85 metres wide along the castle walls. Its dark brown surface is notoriously difficult for projections - however bright.
Ashton used four PIGI 6K projectors with double rotating scrollers, fully loaded with film, which were supplied by White Light.
The images from three machines were soft-edged together to form one large image. Projectors 1 and 2 were at the same level, with Projector 3 slightly lower to cover the right hand edge of the Castle wall which slopes away down the hill.
The fourth projector washed the floor area immediately in front of the Castle Gates, where all the entrances and exits happened.
Ashton particularly enjoyed creating artwork for the ‘Superheroes’ section, for which he transformed Edinburgh Castle into Gotham City for Batman and into a massive spider’s web for Spiderman amongst others. He also created the Tattoo’s own ‘SuperScot’ character, complete with a prominent Scottish lion on his chest – a real winner with the public!
The finale was a re-staging of the Queen’s coronation in 1952. The Castle walls became Westminster Abbey with the projections, and the cast became the congregation as the massed bands played music from the actual service sixty years ago.
This was followed by a rousing rendition of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ - with a flourish of James Bond to follow up on the Queen’s spectacular parachuting entrance into the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games with Agent 007!
Creating the show's artwork and converting that into the fully loaded PIGI scrolls was an intensive process taking about a month in Ashton's London studio.
The projection was programmed and operated via an OnlyCue PC based system by Karen Monid, who utilised her extensive knowledge of the hardware and software platform to produce intricate, fluid movements on the PIGI scrolls, incorporating all the wipes and dissolves in a highly rhythmic and unique style.
Ashton was delighted with the results and another year of the Tattoo under his belt. He has produced projections for the world famous event since 2005.