Projection artist Ross Ashton of London, UK based The Projection Studio created artwork and designed a large format video projection system for the fabulous "Illuminata" son et Lumière at Caerphilly Castle.
The commission was from Cadw - the Welsh Assembly Government division responsible for preserving and promoting the history and heritage of Wales, and it is the first time that an entertainment spectacle of this genre has been commissioned for one of their historical monuments. Ashton's 20 minute work depicted the history and stories of the castle, accompanied by an audio track produced by sound artist Karen Monid. It ran twice nightly for 2 weeks to a paying audience.
Working at Caerphilly Castle was a "fantastic" experience says Ashton, who in doing so added another landmark building to his portfolio of world class site specific locations. Caerphilly is the largest castle in the UK apart from Windsor.
The work was projected onto 2 buildings in the Inner Ward of the Castle - the rear of the Gatehouse, and the Main Hall, at 90 degrees to its right. The images measured approximately 30 metres wide onto both surfaces and the 3 Christie HD 18 projectors were positioned 50 metres away.
A double stacked pair rigged at the top of a scaffolding platform covered the Gatehouse, with the third single machine positioned at the end of a long balcony on the building opposite the Main Hall.
All the content - including some impressive PiP elements shaped and fitted millimetre-perfectly to the architecture of the buildings - was loaded onto 3 OnlyView servers, and programmed by Richard Porter via an OnlyView producer module.
Ashton was engaged for the project by Marilyn Lewis, Director of Cadw, following a presentation he gave to interested parties in Wales about the possibilities of 'Illuminating Cities'.
Ashton took the brief and thoroughly researched the history of the castle. Working closely with Lewis and Cadw, a storyline was developed from which he chose the elements that were best illustratable with large video projections whilst preserving the timeline chronology.
A major creative challenge was designing a show without a voice-over accompaniment. Welsh Assembly Government projects need to be fully bilingual, but a show without the spoken word effectively removes the need for simultaneous translation. The narrative therefore had to be very strong and contained in the visual material with a minimal amount of text and the atmospheric enhancement of the soundscape.
Original artwork for the show was produced by Ashton and his team of Paul Chatfield and Steve Larkins, together with some 3D animations by Richard Porter. Cadw provided archival material and also commissioned illustrator Mike Cooper (of 2000AD/Judge Dredd fame) to produce original works, which were drawn to the Projection Studio's specification so they could be easily animated when the final show video content was edited and composited.
Ashton comments, "This was a brilliant show to work on in an amazing environment, and a great chance to collaborate and bring the location alive through a mixed media experience that was accessible, expressive and fun as well as requiring real audience engagement".
Karen Monid's sound track was a fusion of sound effects and music sourced from record labels Naxos and Boosey & Hawkes plus original recordings, including some red kites, a local bird of prey, along with music that she specially produced.
For Cadw, "Illuminata" was a spectacular success. Marilyn Lewis said "We wanted to see what this kind of installation could contribute to 21st century heritage interpretation, and we wanted to see whether an evening show would attract a new audience for the castle and the town. The show is a landmark for us, opening up many exciting opportunities for the future."
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 +44 208 477 4490.