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Projection-Mapped Cartoons Run Wild On the Sydney Opera House

20 international animators join Universal Everything to 'Light The Sails' of Australia's architectural icon.
May 22, 2015, 8:00pm
Screencaps and GIFs by author, via

Universal Everything's edition of Lighting The Sails, a project for the 2015 Vivid Sydney festival, is everything—and more—than what we expected and were promised after the digital art and design studio informed us of their plans earlier this year (Read: Universal Everything Will Turn the Sydney Opera House into a Living Mural). Sourcing the project out to over 20 international animators, Universal Everything pieced together a 15-minute-long living mural set to an original soundtrack by British sound designer Freefarm. Some of the chosen artists, whose ranks include 8-bit heart animator Nicolas Ménard, and hyperdimensional CGI dance director Takcom, found inspiration in the imagery of the local environs and marine life, with underwater tableaus and fishy flights reminiscent of Finding Nemo; others, however, elected to forego the scenery angle in favor of surrealist visuals and shifting color palettes.


Together with the animators’ individual styles, Universal Everything's projection mapping prowess results in a live show that shines into the night from one of the world’s most iconic architectures. “Embracing emerging technologies, Universal Everything’s process always starts from drawing,” the studio explains in their description of the light show footage. “The hand-drawn techniques seen in this film are akin to the early pioneers of animation Len Lye, Norman McLaren and Walt Disney. Using these timeless techniques means this film could have existed in 1920, albeit with a 21st century twist—bringing our influences of global pop culture, modernist graphics and physics simulations into a playful exploration of this iconic building.”

Watch the 15-minute show in full—as well as some notable moments—below:

Sydney Opera House / Living Mural from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

For more of Universal Everything’s masterworks, check out their website.


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