Epson 15,000lm used for World first as Stonehenge

Projection mapping specialists Motion Mapping have made history by bringing prehistoric monument Stonehenge to life with a spectacular video projection display for a show by DJ Paul Oakenfold.

Prior to the performance nobody had been allowed to perform at the site in Wiltshire. Even the aptly-named Rolling Stones had been refused permission for fear of pumping bass and large crowds causing damage. This issue was overcome by Oakenfold who opted for noise-reduction technology in the form of silent disco headphones and only invited 50 of his closest friends.

As the DJ performed in front of one of the wonders of the world – with DJ pal Carl Cox guesting back to back – Motion Mapping’s stunning digital displays dazzled the select group of guests as the sun set, which you can see in the following video…

Monumental mapping

The unique event was the brainchild of Alon Shulman, a special advisor to English Heritage and Oakenfold’s business partner in promotions and events company, Universe. Shulman envisaged the show as a fundraiser for English Heritage which would also introduce the Wiltshire monument, parts of which date back 5,000 years, to a new generation.

“We had the huge responsibility of transforming Stonehenge artistically like never before,” says Stuart Harris, owner and creative director, Motion Mapping. “There was a lot of discussion about content, making sure it was fitting with the stones and the type of gig whilst being respectful to the heritage. We used 3D models and software such as Cinema 4D and After Effects to create content and adjust any existing content we had. The night before, we did a test run with the projectors and kit to make sure the day of the show we could get things going in a very short turnaround.”

Motion Mapping used a combination of Epson’s EB-L1755u projector with the U03 lens for the stones and paired with the W05 for the DJ booth. The size of the projectors along with their brightness was an ideal match for the show which relied on only one team member to move them.

“The other big bonus is that you don’t get the colour wheel effect and as the event was being filmed for the album we wanted to make sure it looked perfect,” says Harris. “The colours are always really bright and vibrant and the lenses are excellent which is exactly what we needed.

"We also have a great relationship with Epson rental specialist PSCo so it was a great match.”

A pair of Green Hippo’s Karst media servers also played a key role in the project, with one as a live back up. Harris finds they provide the best interface for precise mapping projects. Datapath’s Fx4 controller was then used to split the signal over 100m HDSDI cables to the three projectors.

For Motion Mapping, the biggest challenges were placement and time rather than the surfaces. “The stones are a good surface but we were very restricted about where we could place the projectors as it’s a live geological site. This is why we used the short throw lenses,” he says. “As nothing from the test could be left overnight and the public left at 6.30pm we only had 30 minutes to move all the kit up to the stones, set up the control and all the projectors in daylight before the guests arrived. It left us about 10 minutes from the projectors going on to guests arriving.”

But as the sun set and darkness fell, all challenges had been overcome and the projections created a hypnotic, almost spiritual event as the bright spotlights danced on the surfaces of the rock. As Oakenfold wrapped up his latest extraordinary gig (he has also played the Great Wall of China and Everest Base Camp), the DJ commented that it doesn’t get much better than “playing music in the open air at Stonehenge and seeing the joy on the faces in the crowd.”

 Motion Mapping

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