Projection artist Ross Ashton and his company The Projection Studio are again making a massive impact at Edinburgh’s world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, producing fabulous giant projections which are mapped onto the castle wall and running throughout the epic spectacle.
The event’s Chief Executive and Producer is Brigadier David Alfrey and this year’s theme is ‘Our Home, Friends and Family’ with hundreds of Commonwealth participants playing a part in the show in a big year for Scotland, which has just hosted the hugely successful 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Ashton comments, “I always enjoy working on the Tattoo and with David and the creative team who are all keen on maximising the dynamic that projection brings to the visual picture. This year features another interesting storyline that has given us plenty of creative freedom to develop.”
Ashton and his crew also worked with original sources for the projection content that were produced by students studying from the City of Glasgow College. The students were commissioned by the Tattoo to create a selection of materials that could then be re-modelled into the specific scrolling projection artwork needed for the PIGI projectors.
It’s the second year that this arrangement has been in place on which Ashton comments, “Having access to the student’s work brings a fresh and new dimension on which I can draw, merge and integrate my own work and ideas for the programme”.
The projected images cover an area about 85 metres wide along Edinburgh Castle’s walls. Its dark brown surface is notoriously difficult for projections - however bright - but the three PIGI 6K projectors fitted with double rotating scrollers do a great job.
The PIGIs are supplied by White Light and the scrolls are all fully loaded with film produced by the Projection Studio.
The images from three machines are soft-edged together to form one large image. Projectors 1 and 2 are 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 projectors are all located in a special climate controlled projection room which is part of the new grandstand.
The images and the live action this year take the audience on various journeys around the world including to New Zealand, the South Asia Seas, South Africa and India’s Nagaland, co-ordinated with each of the bands and troupes as they perform on the Esplanade below, all with bespoke visuals for their section of the show.
Ashton also worked closely with the event’s long term Lighting Designer Gerry Mott this year, as much of the projection content is monochrome, with colours layered on top via the lighting.
The projectors were programmed and are being run via an OnlyCue system by Karen Monid. The projection technician on site is Michael Barry, another Projection Studio regular.
The show features a cast of 1200 and will be enjoyed by over 217,000 spectators throughout the month of August. The action takes place on the Esplanade down below the castle walls in the centre of the tattoo’s new purpose-built state-of-the-art amphitheatre.
Ross Ashton and the Projection Studio will return to Scotland in November to work on a special World War One commemoration event in Glasgow.