Spring Lights Show

26 Mar

Posts onPlanet4u’s recent work on Sounding the Deep and Fashion Show follow soon.

The Light Show at Hull’s Wilberforce College at the end of February continues to attract comment. When I was originally approached by Head of Art, Roger Waites, the suggestion was to create a mini Son et Lumiere, illuminating the iconic front of the main College building on Saltshouse Road. I felt this might be prohibitively expensive, requiring, as it would, specialist lighting, protected from the elements. I suggested, instead, that we try to make use of existing college equipment on the inside of the building and only hiring in, minimum additional lighting and sound systems. It took Roger & I a bottle of good wine, but a couple of hours later, we’d come up with a concept!

A row of 10 data projectors, fed by 10 laptops would be focussed on all the windows on the first floor, which would be covered in paper. Images and animation, produced by art department students, would be co-ordinated on precise timelines, encoded as 10 separate videos, giving the impression of dancers, in silhouette, moving from window to window. The show also featured stunning examples of artwork and photography, produced by students. We went into college over half term to test the theory – everything seemed to work. The laptops preferred the videos encoded as high resolution wmv files and these all played without a glitch. We started each laptop video 10 seconds after the previous one, then took them to the classroom and connected the projectors. The act of attaching the projector changed the screen resolution and at first, appeared to halt playback, but timings were not affected. Each projector had a simple block of wood placed in front of the lens to act as a shutter and these were removed one at a timing to reveal the images.

Roger experimented with different types of paper on the irregular shaped windows, finding that the best media was ordinary tracing paper. Probably the most arduous task, undertaken by Roger’s staff, was to cover each pane of glass with paper! The windows on the 2nd and ground floors were also covered, to display coloured light, some static, some moving and a sound system relayed a music and sound effects soundtrack to an appreciative audience outside.

This was a unique and thoroughly enjoyable project to work on. I believe we may be the victims of our own success and that next year we may be asked to repeat the process, with 30 projectors, 10 on every floor! Pictures here.

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