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Excellence Awards 2014

Brisbane City Hall Christmas Projection Spectacular

Last December, The Electric Canvas transformed the iconic Brisbane City Hall into a Christmas fantasyland with an enchanting 3D projection mapping show, inspired by the characters of “The Nutcracker” ballet. We created six magical minutes of animated projection, accompanied by a whimsical original soundtrack and mapped to the detailed architecture of Brisbane City Hall in King George Square. As a complete projection solution provider, The Electric Canvas delivered the entire project, from the technical projection design to the creative concept and content design (including all visual and audio production), as well as the provision of equipment, infrastructure and technical crew to deliver the event.

The Christmas in the City projection spectacular was the highlight of Brisbane’s Christmas program, attracting huge audiences.

The projection show was to be the culmination of a cross-city journey where families could follow the popular Christmas Parade through the city and into King George Square, where the fun and colorful animated projection would top off the night.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk commented, “It’s been amazing to have capacity crowds at King George Square… You can see the joy on everyone’s faces as City Hall is transformed into a clockwork toy factory.”

The Electric Canvas created a detailed 3D model using laser scanning techniques and reconstructed the site-scape in 3D CAD. This was used to identify projector positions that avoided creating shadows from the numerous trees, light posts, flagpoles and other potential obstructions. The result was a shadowless, continuous coverage of the entire City Hall façade and its clock tower. A second side of the clock tower was also covered so that the public could catch glimpses of the projection from the adjacent Queen Street Mall.


A series of on-site projection tests was undertaken to verify the proposed tower locations, the fidelity of the 3D model and the predicted brightness outcomes. Sample content was projected and documented for client and artist confidence.

The show’s creative concept focused on presenting Christmas through the eyes of children and incorporated elements of The Nutcracker ballet, with the custom soundtrack echoing themes from Tchaikovsky’s score. The story recounted the adventures of the Nutcracker and Clara the doll in Santa’s Clockwork Christmas Toy Factory.

Using 3D modeling and POV techniques, The Electric Canvas’ artists designed the creative content to map perfectly onto the façade of Brisbane City Hall. The detailed architecture called for meticulous content production, with every public viewing angle being considered.

The projection system was housed in four compact towers with underground wiring for power and signal distribution. Control equipment and electronics were fully contained within the projection structures, whilst remaining easily accessible through hatches for operation and maintenance. The projection structures were designed to minimize site impact and ensure public safety, whilst allowing flexible and quick access for equipment servicing. Hot air exhaust, ventilation and air-conditioning were built into the towers to ensure proper management of equipment heat load. 1,000-liter water tanks were built into the base of each tower to provide the ballast necessary for mechanical stability and safety. The principal control position was installed on an adjacent mezzanine, with WiFi enabling remote control of the entire projection system.

Excessive ambient light from adjacent buildings, surrounding landscape features and public lighting fixtures was eliminated to ensure an optimal projection environment. Careful power consumption calculations were also undertaken to enable the project’s carbon footprint to be offset.

Shaping the overall public experience by blending the creative and the technical and considering their ever-present link was vital in producing a successful outcome. The Electric Canvas’ unique projection design approach is the glue that binds the site-scape to the creative and what makes the difference between a good production and an exceptional production.

Equipment List:

  • 16 Christie Roadster S+20K video projectors
  • Data Watchout media server including
    • producer station with hot back-up
    • 4 x 4-head display stations with hot back-up
    • audio interface for on-site sound system
  • 4 purpose-built projection towers
    • Layher™ steel scaffold framework with flush marine ply cladding
    • with heat load management and water ballast for stability

Design Team:

The artists and technicians of The Electric Canvas

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