Inside Vivid Sydney, World’s Largest Light Festival

Australian firm TDC chooses the best media servers, 3D mapping, and video projection equipment for the famous lighting and projection installation festival in this beautiful city.

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Today marks the final day of Vivid Sydney, the largest light festival in the world.

Produced by the events agency Destination NSW, the festival is a two week long exhibit along the harbor coast of Sydney, Australia.

“Vivid Sydney is a unique celebration of light, music and ideas that will see the vibrant capital transformed by a series of state-of-the-art visual and creative art installations,” says Vivid Light Festival Director Anthony Bastic.

From 6 PM to midnight every May 23 through June 9, the harbor transforms into the Light Walk, an illuminated tour of the city showcasing several artists’ light installations and mapped projection onto Sydney’s iconic buildings.

This is the festival’s sixth year running. For the past three years, the Australian video equipment solution company Technical Direction Company (TDC) supplied video technology and expertise for the festival. This year, TDC was involved in eight areas of the event.

TDC provides 3D media servers, 3D mapping, video projection equipment, projection tower infrastructure, sound installations, and the crew to manage it all.

“As Vivid Sydney grows, new buildings and locations are added, so initially we spend considerable time analyzing which technology is best-aligned to meet the artists’ vision,” says Kain Jones, Special Projects Manager at TDC.

“We get involved from the outset in installation design, mapping the buildings to enable the designers to create content specific to the outline of those buildings. We then work on optimal locations for projector placement, media server selection, lens selection and the number of projectors required to meet specific brightness (lux) output for each installation.”

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TDC works directly with artists to create the best lighting and projection for each piece.

This year, over 50 Barco projectors were deployed in total, ranging from the brightest projector in the world, the Barco HDQ-2K40 with 40,000 lumens, to a Barco HDF-W26 (26,000 lumens) and Barco FLM-R22+ (22,000 lumens). TDC used Coolux Pandoras Box media servers and Dataton WATCHOUT multi-image display and presentation software to serve the images.

Testing and planning for the event begins months beforehand at TDC’s warehouse. Different equipment is tested, projections are perfected, and the company takes precautions for bad weather, including waterproofing and projector enclosures.

“The opportunity to display images on iconic buildings takes months of planning and long nights of alignment,” says Olin Winton, Technical Manager at TDC. “This year we have added several new projects to our list, which we are extremely pleased with. Seeing it all come together, working with world class technicians and seeing the end result of people interacting with the buildings is extremely rewarding.”

This year’s Vivid Sydney includes a number of significant technological and creative firsts.

Dichroic Dimensions

Outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), artist-in-residence Ross Manning has collaborated with multidisciplinary artistic collective, The Digital Shamans, to give visitors the chance to projection-map the outside of the building themselves, using only their voice.

“There’ll be two microphones on a slightly raised platform. As the audience uses their voice to interact with the installation, various hidden layers of visuals and soundscapes will be revealed based on pitch,” explains Michael K Chin at The Digital Shamans.

Turn the page for more descriptions and videos of a few of the artistic installations TDC worked to help create, or look inside the festival.