Projection Studio revisits Caerphilly Castle

Thursday, 22 December 2011
Projection Studio revisits Caerphilly CastleAshton's 20-minute work depicted the history and stories of the castle
UK - Projection artist Ross Ashton of London-based The Projection Studio was invited back to Caerphilly Castle in Wales - by popular demand - to recreate his Illuminata digital art son et Lumière.

The commission - for which Ashton also designed the large format projection system used to bring the work to life - was from Cadw - the Welsh Assembly Government division responsible for preserving and promoting the history and heritage of Wales.

The 2010 event was the first time that an entertainment spectacle of this genre had been commissioned for a Cadw historical monument, and proved such a massive success that they decided to repeat the experience for three evenings this year.

Ashton's 20-minute work depicted the history and stories of the castle, accompanied by a special audio track produced by sound artist Karen Monid.

Working at Caerphilly Castle again was a "fantastic" experience enthused Ashton, who has produced detailed and very specific works for many landmark building and site specific locations worldwide. Caerphilly is the largest castle in Wales (and only second to Windsor in the UK) and complete with formidable water defences, one of the largest fortresses in Europe, dating back to 1267.

The projection work was projected onto two buildings in the Inner Ward of the Castle - the rear of the Gatehouse, and the Main Hall, at 90 degrees to its right. The images measured approximately 30m wide onto both surfaces and the three Christie HD18 projectors were positioned 50m away. These were supplied by QED to the Projection Studio.

A double stacked pair rigged at the top of a scaffolding platform covered the Gatehouse, with the third single machine positioned at the end of a long balcony on the building opposite the Main Hall.

All the content - including some impressive PiP elements shaped and fitted millimetre-perfectly to the architecture of the buildings - was loaded onto three OnlyView servers, and programmed by Richard Porter and Karen Monid.

Original artwork for the show was produced by Ashton and his team of Paul Chatfield and Steve Larkins, together with some 3D animations by Richard Porter. Cadw provided archival material and also commissioned illustrator Mike Cooper (of 2000AD/Judge Dredd fame) to produce original works, which were drawn to the Projection Studio's specification allowing them to be easily animated when the final show's video content was edited and composited.

Karen Monid's sound track was a fusion of sound effects and music, much of it specially written by her for the piece. Other parts were sourced from record labels Naxos and Boosey & Hawkes plus some original recordings, including some red kites, a local bird of prey.

(Jim Evans)

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