The spectacular large format projections that have graced Edinburgh Castle for the last 11 years creating a dramatic and dynamic backdrop for the iconic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo season have just become hugely brighter and even more visible with a new video projection system specified by digital artist Ross Ashton from The Projection Studio.
The 12 x Panasonic PT-DW17K2 projectors have been purchased by the Tattoo and are running for the first time during the 2016 programme which launched last week showcasing another exciting and eclectic mix of military pageantry, music, dance, technical wizardry and special effects which will enthral audiences from all over the globe.
The increase in brightness and clarity compared to the PIGI film projectors which had served the event for the last 11 years is substantial.
As Ross explains, “When the Tattoo first explored the medium of large format projections in 2005, PIGI was an ideal and very cost effective option for what they wanted to achieve. Now we have reached the stage where video projectors can compete in price and hugely improve the quality of the result.
When Ross was re-appointed a few months ago as Tattoo projection consultant for the next five years, he felt it was an opportune moment to persuade all involved that digital was the way to go, and they agreed.
Apart from being much brighter, the whole system is infinitely more flexible. Content can be changed and added quickly and easily via on site editing and additional materials and special moments can be incorporated into the show.
The castle walls have long been one of the most challenging projection surfaces on which to work, with its 75m depth front to back, its lack of symmetry and its dark brown colour devouring lumens voraciously.
With the move to video and the greater intensity, the latitude for materials has also greatly increased. The new set up, also means that the lighting elements can be a lot bolder and brighter.
Projection Studio chose the Panasonic machines based on their extremely good track record using the brand for various projects, and because of their reliability, brightness, small footprint and cost effectivity. A Watchout control system is also part of the package, which was supplied via Mirage Associates.
“The projectors and the control are perfect solutions for this project,” says Ross.
This year’s show pays tribute to HM The Queen’s 90th year, marks the hundredth anniversary of the naval Battle of Jutland and the Great Arab Revolt in 1916 and highlights the history of military music in Tunes of Glory. For this The Projection Studio created a completely new set of video content that is projected for two thirds of the 90-minute show … from when dusk falls.
Many memorable moments include the footage for the Lochiel Marching Drill Team from New Zealand, who performed their precision routine to a Lord of the Rings medley, with Edinburgh Castle transformed into Mordor complete with flowing rivers of lava, fire-breathing dragons, smouldering volcanoes and cracking buildings.
The Band of Her Majesties Royal Marines perform the Battle of Jutland with video compliment including 3D battle cruisers, and the castle morphing into the engine room of a Dreadnaught battleship.
For the US Army Band Europe, by complete contrast, the castle was covered in animated stars and stripes and musical notes.
Ross and his team from the Projection Studio worked on compiling the show material as soon as it was confirmed that the video projectors and control would be delivered in time for the 2016 season which runs for 4 weeks until the end of August.
Ross is “delighted” to be working with the new system. “It opens up the scope for creativity and for us to produce much more complex visual effects, and it’s also great to work with the Tattoo team led by producer Brigadier David Alfrey who have really underlined their commitment to bringing the highest production values to the whole Tattoo experience”.
The projection was programmed and is being run by Karen Monid for the Projection Studio, the event lighting designer is Gerry Mott and the audio designer is Sebastian Frost.