Architectural Projection

Vivid Live

Sydney Australia 27 May 2010

Client: Sydney Opera House



The VIVID festival has just completed its second year and continues to go from strength to strength. As in 2009, The Electric Canvas was asked to apply our large-scale projection experience to illuminate the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House from all sides.

This year’s guest artist was Laurie Anderson who has long experience with projected video, albeit on a more modest scale. Unlike the graphic designs that were projected during the 2009 festival, Anderson’s work called for playback of video animations prompting an entirely different technical and creative approach.

The Sydney Opera House is a three-dimensional structure that changes its personality and form when experienced from different vantage points around the harbour. The classic postcard view from the western shore of Circular Quay is just one of many ways this magnificent structure interacts with its environment.

In the world of large-scale video projection, common formats such as “High Definition” become meaningless and under-whelming. The Sydney Opera House is best served with images over 5,000 pixels wide, considerably more resolution than current digital cinema projection. It is this sharp definition that enhances the resonance of the images and contributes to the “apparent” brightness of the result.

Based on our initial meetings with Laurie Anderson, she decided that a high-resolution video shoot would be required using concepts created in the studio specifically for the Sydney Opera House project. The original material was shot on the super high res “Red” Camera, the closest digital version of a Hollywood film camera. Of course with all this super-high definition approach comes the legacy of enormous animation files, many gigabytes each. The Electric Canvas designed custom file templates and devised a workflow that broke down the components into manageable pieces allowing a more familiar process for the production artists and editors working with Laurie Anderson. Each sail was managed separately keeping the file sizes within reasonable limits. This approach also allowed for more flexibility on-site and was used to good effect to create additional material and compositions once the project was installed and running.