Ross Ashton's, The Projection Studio is once again wowing the crowds with amazing projected visuals onto the walls of Edinburgh Castle making it an even more spectacular backdrop for the 2011 Military Tattoo.
The show action takes place on the Esplanade down below in the centre of the Tattoo's completely new £16 million state-of-the-art amphitheatre, which is installed for the first time, with new seating tribunes, VIP Boxes, a special projection platform, a large corporate hospitality area and improved site lines all round.
A purpose built climate controlled projection control room is also part of the new design, along with lift access for the third floor of the production and FOH control areas at the back of the seating stand.
In practical terms, the elevator has speeded up the projection get in enormously, as the equipment no longer has to be craned into place.
The Tattoo also has a new Chief Executive and Producer, Brigadier David Allfrey, who has enthusiastically embraced the massive drama and impact that can be created by using large format projections. This year the Royal Navy is the Tattoo's lead service, so many of the visual materials relate to the sea - and include giant sea dragons, kelpies, fishing boats, shipwrecks and an eclectic and rich selection of aquatic life and history. This particularly comes alive during the Scottish Dancing section.
The giant images are very prominent this year, running almost constantly for the second part of the show once darkness falls.
Says Ross Ashton, "Working with David has been refreshing and very invigorating. He has brought a new direction and energy to the whole performance, and really appreciates what high technical production values can bring to the show and make the whole guest experience so much more special and memorable".
With the projection platform being slightly further forward in the new physical layout, the images are covering an area of about 85 metres wide along the castle walls. It's dark brown surface is notoriously challenging for projections - however bright - and Ashton is using four PIGI 6K projectors with double rotating scrollers, which are fully loaded with film. These are supplied by White Light.
The new venue configuration sees the PIGIs in slightly different positions - the images from three machines are soft-edged together to make one large image. Projectors 1 and 2 are at the same level, while Projector 3 is about 3 lower from last year to cover the right hand edge of the Castle wall as it slopes away down the hill. This has brought its own special requirements to the artwork layout creation explains Ashton. The fourth projector is covering the floor area immediately in front of the Castle Gates where all the entrances and exits take place.
Another major visual advantage with all the changes is that LD Gerry Mott has been able to specify a completely new lighting rig, which is far more flexible and dynamic, and this has made a huge difference to the way that projection and lighting can work together. Responding to this, Ashton has developed a more monochromatic look, which is then highly effectively coloured with the application of carefully detailed and focussed lighting.
Ashton had introduced the black & white concept for specific parts of the previous year's shows, but the new lighting design has seen this aesthetic advance a level and really work the way he originally envisioned. This has seen the brightness and contrast elements of the projection properly optimised. "I am delighted with the results - it was exactly what I wanted," enthuses Ashton.
Creating the show's artwork and converting that into PIGI films - the scrolls are fully loaded - was an intensive process taking about a month solid in Ashton's studio in London .
The projection has been programmed and is being operated on an OnlyCue system by Karen Monid, who utilises her extensive and specialist 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 style that is unique to her operation.
For more press info on The Projection Studio, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email [email protected] To contact The Projection Studio direct, please call +44 20 8293 4270.