Events are back and they are aiming to be bigger and better. Proving this statement valid is Vivid Sydney 2022 which expanded in scale and ambition for this year’s event. Technical Direction Company [TDC] was once again tasked with providing the requisite technology systems to make Vivid Sydney 2022 shine and impress. TDC explains how it delivered a spectacular Vivid Sydney 2022 event with Barco projectors and processors playing a starring role.
TDC is a leading supplier of video technology and production for the events and entertainment industry. It has a history of creating jaw-dropping moments and pushing the boundaries of spectacles and attractions. Michael Hassett, founder and managing director of TDC, details: “This was our 11th year working with Destination NSW creators of Vivid Sydney and the show has grown significantly. Vivid Sydney 2022 was almost twice the size from the previous iteration of the event from our perspective. The core elements of Vivid Sydney, such as outdoor projection, remained and there were a number of new additions and attractions such as Vivid House which incorporated projection and other display technology for an indoor environment. When it came to Vivid Sydney, and events in general as well, there is a high expectation to do things better.”
The increased scope of work was a challenge for TDC. Did the new scope require more technology or was it a case of getting the most out of the existing fleet of solutions? Zac Sandell, senior technician at TDC, answers: “It was a little bit of both. Vivid Sydney 2022 was definitely the largest outdoor projection mapping project that TDC has ever done to date, and it also incorporated a lot of other elements. From our side, it was a matter of tackling the event one building at a time. We are fortunate at TDC to have an amazing team of professionals and we were able to dip into our pool of freelancers to ensure that we had the human resources to deliver the best event for our client.”
TDC turned to its fleet of Barco projectors, which includes the latest UDM and UDX-4K models, for Vivid Sydney 2022. A total of 120 Barco projectors were used across 16 sites for the event. In addition, Barco S3 and E2 units were employed for signal transport and conversion.
Hassett talks about the selection of Barco solutions for Vivid Sydney 2022: “I’ve been a Barco customer for at least the last 30 years, and I would say the reason for that is the development of their projectors and their suitability for the rental market. In the early 2000s, when the DMD projectors first came into existence and the models changed Barco projectors continued to use the same lenses as their models evolved. From our perspective, not having to buy a whole range of lenses for new projectors in our fleet was a big advantage. Buying news lenses pretty much doubles the cost of acquisition for new projectors. Up till very recently, we have been able to use a large portion of our lens inventory right up to the current UDM and UDX products. On top of that, the performance of the Barco projectors has been keeping pace with our requirements. These factors have made it very easy for us to continue with Barco.”
Claudio Cardile, managing director Australia and New Zealand, Barco, says: “Feedback from our partners is extremely valuable and drives Barco’s R&D efforts. We are always looking to take our projection and processing solutions to the next level, and this is guided by the requirements that our partners communicate to us based on their experiences of using and deploying equipment in the field.”
TDC dove into the project and Sandell details: “A few sites for Vivid Sydney 2022 were done in a very similar manner to how they have been presented in the past, so we had a good blueprint to work from. With the newer attractions added to the event we had to start from scratch and as the designs took shape we were aiming to utilize more of our newer stock and equipment with these portions of the project. The projection mapping at Customs House is a great example because the design and execution of the project relied on the capabilities of the Barco UDM projectors that are part of the fleet. The results were fantastic.”
The end result of TDC’s efforts was a spectacular Vivid Sydney 2022. Highlights from the event include the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s 90th Birthday which comprised projected images from the Historical Archive and Digitisation Team at Transport NSW shown on the surface of all four pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge and ‘For Sydney With Love’ which featured work from painter Ken Done displayed across the 32m by 18m façade of Customs House.
Regarding the challenges faced during the course of the project, Sandell says: “The weather was one of the biggest challenges, we had a very ‘wet’ summer and the rain continued through the months. We were fortunate enough to not get too much rain during the event, but in the leadup to the event including the bump-in the weather was definitely a problem.”
He explains how the challenge was overcome: “We built the towers for the projectors to be mostly moisture resistant and we have had quite a few years of experience doing so. We have a system for heating and cooling when the projectors are on or off that factors in the moisture levels so that we have the best operational conditions for the projectors. I can say that the Barco projectors did not miss a beat and in fact we had to cut down on some of the cooling units in some of the towers because the UDM projectors did not require that much air extraction which was quite convenient.”
Robustness is a key feature of the Barco UDM projectors, and they are built to perform at the highest levels in all kinds of environments. Additionally, a light and compact form factor coupled with the capability to be rotated 360-degrees in any direction allows technicians complete flexibility when deploying the UDM projectors.
Analyzing the project after its completion, Hassett says: “The new Barco projectors provided significant improvements for us for a number of the buildings and installations we used them for. They gave us a tremendous amount of flexibility and we were able to rotate them through the jobs. They are low-powered machines and they run on a 10-hour power supply which is great. But most importantly, they are bright and they look magnificent. For the installations where we used the Barco UDM projectors, people commented how much better they looked.”
Cardile adds: “The Barco UDM delivers over 20,000 lumens of brightness and is the best in class when it comes to performance. The proof is in the pudding and it is great to see that our work in creating our projection solutions is helping our partners, like TDC, deliver spectacles that make an impact on viewers.”
Musing about the way forward for outdoor spectacles, Sandell says: “Projection allows any surface to be a canvas and in the case of Vivid Sydney 2022 it allowed artists to manipulate and augment the architecture of the buildings in Sydney. I can’t really see LED being able to compete with the flexibility and creativity that projection unlocks.”
Hassett concludes: “The reality is that you can’t cover a building in LED with the same effect that projection creates, painting a building in color, almost like magic with no evident technology. In this area of creating outdoor spectacles, it is more efficient to use projection and the projectors themselves are becoming better, smaller and delivering higher performance. When it comes to the Barco UDMs, it is such a great form factor to use for projection onto buildings. The UDM’s footprint makes it easy to deploy for sites where space is at a premium and create an image that projects perfectly onto a unique surface. Compared to this, wrapping surfaces in LED is a much more difficult task and I see no competition for projection in this area.”