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How To Projection Map An Entire Island

Branchage Film Festival celebrated its return by projection mapping all of St. Aubin's Fort with the combined efforts of NOVAK animators, QED projection mappers, and the sonic intonations of the Radiophonic Workshop.

Images courtesy of QED Productions

At the end of September, the Branchage Film Festival in Jersey, UK broke its three-year hiatus, hosting dozens of film screenings, performances, and parties from the Jersey Opera House to Mount Orgeuil Castle. The grand finale for festival-goers was a 180-degree projection mapping show that covered the shore-facing surface of St. Aubin's Fort, using the entire island off of Jersey's shore as a giant, water-locked canvas.


With a 20-projector rig designed and installed by professional projection mappers QED Productions, the festival emblazoned The NOVAK Collective's custom animations across the fort's walls and turrets, and complemented the pieces with sound art by Britain's beloved Radiophonic Workshop. Featuring historical stock footage, architectural enhancements of the fort, and many a reference to the UK's favorite inter-temporal sci-fi show, Doctor Who, the creative teams designed the show to be the physical embodiment of Branchage 2014's theme, "Make Your Own Island."

To animate the show, NOVAK was responsible for designing a 25-minute story about Jersey itself. The show had to be different from one wall to the next, yet able to convey the same story to different audience members. "We tried to keep the work vibrant and stimulating," NOVAK creative director Elliot Thomson told The Creators Project. "Making the island come out of the sea, and covering the castle into scenes which were totally opposite to the aesthetic of the Fort. Fantastical environments and juxtapositions."

The animators designed these fantastical environments and juxtapositions using a 3d model scanned by QED, just one of the immensely cooperative efforts required to make this installation possible. The groups worked together to "create jaw-dropping visuals relating to Jersey and something that everyone who was there to see it would never forget," said Thomson in a press release.


In order to technically execute NOVAK's animations, QED projected video simultaneously from both the mainland and St. Aubin's Fort using an array of twenty 20,000 lumen projectors. The company laid about 5km of fiber multi-core cables throughout the area to connect the projectors and massive servers both on and offshore, including one kilometer-long undersea stretch between the island and the mainland. The overall preparations for the floating light show involved six days of installation, according to a QED press release, to ensure that NOVAK's 25 minutes of animated shapes and colors were able to hit their mark from two kilometers away. Finally, the visuals were set to a soundtrack by Radiophonic Workshop, who included a heaping helping of the Doctor Who-themed tunes for which they're best known.

Despite the effort and level of complexity the project required, at the end of the day the three groups accomplished a seemingly impossible projection mapping feat. "Projection mapping an island is something that I've always dreamt about doing," said QED Director Paul Wigfield in a press release. "I'm indebted to Branchage and the people of St. Aubin for helping us to make it happen in reality."

Take a look at the captivating drone footage from the event, as well as some luminescent stills, below:

Visit NOVAK's site here, QED's site here, and Radiophonic Workshop's site here for more British spectacle goodness.



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