Three Robe DigitalSpot 3000DTs are being used to project onto the Cenotaph War Memorial in Blackpool, UK, in a groundbreaking Remembrance show which has already proved so popular that it has been extended by 3 weeks.
The project was originally conceived by Carl Carrington, Built Heritage Manager at Blackpool City Council as a tribute all those who have died as a result of wars and armed conflict.
He then approached the team at Blackpool Illuminations – who are undertaking a lively ongoing programme of regenerating the city centre with imaginative lighting projects – to help facilitate a scheme. Their relationship with Robe UK goes back a couple of years, and they in turn asked Bill Jones and Nathan Wan to help find a solution for the proposed work.
Jones and Wan first demonstrated the new DigitalSpot 3000DT in September to Blackpool Illuminations' Regeneration of Light Technicians Dan Creasey and Stephen Shaw, and Technical Manager Richard Williams.
They were impressed by the unit's brightness, and it's many facilities like picture merging and perspective/keystone correction, and realised that it would be ideal for the job, which was to include video footage, still images, graphics and animations. “As always, Robe were extremely informed and helpful in sorting everything we needed for the demo” explains Dan Creasey.
The Cenotaph presented a uniquely challenging projection surface, being 80 ft tall, 10 wide and tapering gently inwards at the top, with the ground around the base also uneven. Once they realised that the DT3000 was the answer, Illuminations purchased 3 units, which are mounted on a custom-designed pole and housed in weatherised domes. This is located approximately 7 metres in front of the Cenotaph.
The DT3000s are programmed to fit the front fascia of the structure perfectly and project vertically down the Cenotaph which faces Blackpool's famous Esplanade.
Carrington gave a content brief to Stephen Shaw, who researched and sourced all the images required to complete the nightly 8 minute looped show, including some from the Imperial War Museum archive. Among them is a poignant tribute to local hero, Gunner Lee Thornton, who died in Iraq in 2006, complete with a projected extract from the farewell letter written to his girlfriend, Helen O'Pray. All the material is stored in the heads of the DT3000s.
The fixtures are controlled by a Jands Vista PC running ArtNet protocol, which is located in a box attached to the back of the same pole as the projector trays.
“We are very keen to embrace new and future technologies in Illuminations” states Creasey, “in order to present the public with works that they can enjoy and engage, of which this is a prime example”.
The work was officially launched by Blackpool's Mayor and was originally scheduled to run for 7 days including a Remembrance ceremony for war veterans on Armistice Sunday. However, it's been such a massive hit with the public that the run has been extended to 3 weeks, and plans are already afoot to project simultaneously onto at least 3 sides of the Cenotaph for future Remembrance events.