Edinburgh Castle facade to be transformed by light show

The facade of Edinburgh Castle is set to be transformed into a spectacular light show which will tell the story of the city's past.

Monday, 1st August 2016, 1:10 pm
Updated Monday, 1st August 2016, 2:13 pm
Edinburgh Castle will be transformed by the light show
Edinburgh Castle will be transformed by the light show

Almost 15km of cables, 42 projectors and 350 million years of history will come together on August 7 for the launch event of the city’s summer festival season, the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time.

The Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time is a free, outdoor event which will see the western façade of Edinburgh Castle and Castle Rock used as a vast 7,000m2 canvas for digitally animated projections inspired by the city’s past, on Sunday 7 August at 10.30pm. The work pays tribute to the inspiring landscape of the city and explores the geological concept of ‘deep time’ (pioneered by Edinburgh resident and enlightenment thinker James Hutton) through 350 million years of Edinburgh’s history. The Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time, created by multi-award-winning 59 Productions, is set to a specially compiled soundtrack of music by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, with an audience of up to 27,000 watching from the event arena.

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Edinburgh Castle will be transformed by the light show

More than 20,000 tickets for the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time, the UK’s largest ticketed event of its kind, were snapped up on the day they were released earlier this month (Monday 11 July) and the International Festival urges those lucky enough to have booked tickets to collect them from the box office before 5 August, to avoid queues during a very busy period. A second, very limited release of tickets will be available online on Monday 1 August.

Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time is one of the largest architectural mapping projects ever undertaken by International Festival Artistic Associates, 59 Productions. The Tony Award-winners created the acclaimed event The Harmonium Project which opened the 2015 International Festival, and were behind the video design of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. 59 Productions are renowned for projection mapping some of the world’s most iconic buildings, from the Sydney Opera House to the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

After choosing the location for the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time and defining the visual canvas, 59 Productions used cutting-edge 3d animation and projection techniques to create the event. They worked in partnership with University of Edinburgh academics to develop a visual narrative and storyboard that would tell the complex geological story. This storyboard was transformed over two months into animated sequences choreographed to the musical soundtrack. Edinburgh Castle and Castle Rock were elaborately modelled in 3d, based on in-person site surveys, laser scans of the site and aerial and terrestrial photography. This model formed the template for the animation production. It was then 3d-printed to create a metre-wide scale model which was used to pre-visualise the entire production.

Edinburgh Castle will be transformed by the light show

Leo Warner, Director of 59 Productions: “Edinburgh has one of the most distinctive topographies in the world, and the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time is a celebration of the city and its distinctive architecture: the bedrock on which it is built, and the people who have made, and continue to make the city the vibrant cultural and intellectual hub that it is today. This event also pushes us our team beyond where we went with The Harmonium Project - the projector count alone, and the mounting positions on roofs, present a practical challenge which far surpasses the projection challenges of even the Olympic Opening Ceremony. In terms of scale, it’s three times bigger than The Harmonium Project, but then, it had to be epic for Edinburgh – and these are the kinds of creative challenges we enjoy best.”