The projection feat at the 2018 Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies by The Electric Canvas has earned the company a spot amongst the Finalists at the 2018 Australian Event Awards.
The Electric Canvas worked alongside design agency The Pulse and and with supply partner Christie Digital Systems Australia who provided 24 projectors for the event.
TEC’s Managing Director Peter Milne was appointed as the Ceremonies’ director of projection and led a team of 10 specialist projection technicians to deliver the complex project at Carrara Stadium.
The principal projection component was a 3,200-square-metre circle of sand on the stadium field of play, with the sand stage representing the Gold Coast’s famous beaches.
The Electric Canvas provided a total of 20 Christie 2K30 Boxer projectors (30,000 lumens / 2048 x 1080 pixels), housed in custom structures with weatherproof enclosures.
Four Boxer 4K30 projectors were also installed on cantilevered structures suspended from the seating bowl balcony. These were used to project onto a 30-metre long inflatable replica of Migaloo, the famous white humpback whale often sighted off the Queensland coast.
Milne hatched an ambitious plan for the field of play projection, which utilised the heads of two of Carrara Stadium’s lighting towers to house the projectors.
A 100-tonne crane was required to lift the projectors, enclosures and other materials to their positions, some 67 metres above the ground.
The projection installation and infrastructure was designed with limited existing information about the construction of the tower heads, as no accurate working plans or CAD models could be found.
Projector positioning also had to allow for a steel grid that originally supported sports lights on the two levels of the towers that the projectors were to occupy.
In addition, the projector bump-in and installation was plagued by relentless high winds and rain that caused a number of scheduled crane lifts to be cancelled.
Once the projectors were safely installed, there was very little manoeuvring room for TEC’s technicians as access to projectors could only be afforded by climbing under each projection structure.
The technicians regularly climbed the towers’ internal vertical ladders and, over the course of the project, worked out that they’d exceeded a climb of Mount Fuji.
Milne explained, “Due to budget constraints I was asked to rework the original projection design whilst retaining the same coverage area.
“Although this resulted in a reduction of projected brightness from 300 to 200 lux and added challenges for Lighting and Broadcast, the lighting tower strategy paid off in spades, justifying the degree of difficulty.
“Placing projectors at 67 and 70 metres above the field of play delivered an image quality greatly superior to that possible from the alternative seating bowl locations, where smeared pixels and undesirable texturing would have been caused by the nap and undulations of the sand.
“The improved efficiency of coverage afforded by the tower positions was further enhanced by the reduced effect of shadows from props and performers,” he said.
“The performance of the Christie Boxer projectors was flawless and we were very impressed with their reliability despite the environmental conditions, which included high temperatures and humidity,” continued Milne.
“We developed a projector control application that allowed us not only to simultaneously interrogate many parameters and sensors within the entire projection system, but to also monitor the signal arriving at the projector inputs.”
Milne also assisted content producers, The Pulse, to optimise visual opportunities.
To manage and deliver the content to the projectors, stadium screens and to the broadcast, The Electric Canvas chose their new Modulo Kinetic media server system.
Kinetic, a timeline-based platform that works in 2D and 3D space, includes a number of features that facilitate projector alignment and rapid programming changes. The entire media server system featured 100% live backup to the projectors, completely free of matrixes and other single points of failure.
The Kinetic servers and control masters were installed on TEC’s new Gen-6 server platform that features M.2 RAID arrays.
The Closing Ceremony required a completely different projector coverage scheme, for which The Electric Canvas had to develop another strategy.
The lenses on certain projectors were changed so that four individual stages erected for the Closing Ceremony could be covered.
At the same time, enough projectors from the original Opening Ceremony coverage were retained so that alignment marks could be projected onto the field of play to assist with the positioning of the Closing Ceremony stages during the overnight transition and bump-in.
Simon Toomer, systems production manager for GC2018 Ceremonies, said, “The Electric Canvas team’s professionalism and unparalleled expertise, through the dedicated eye of Peter Milne, provided a confidence and reassurance which is rarely seen.
“All this, together with the close integration and support from Christie and their Boxer series projectors, proved a match that would be hard to beat in this competitive industry.”