An unusual show, in an unusual place, at an unusual time: A stunning otherworldly production for the UAE’s 49th National Day.
Forty-five minutes outside Abu Dhabi, in the middle of the desert landscape, lies Jubail Island and its majestic mangrove forest. As the sun sets, The Seed of the Union begins: on the still water, a 15-meter, 150-ton, illuminated cube rotates as razor-sharp projections flit over its surfaces. It is, in one word, ethereal.
Commissioned for the UAE’s 49th National Day (December 2 2020), the multilayered production recounts the country’s history, its current resilience, and a rich, inspiring future.
PHOTON ensured the mesmerizing and minutely detailed video designed by Luke Halls Studio was seamlessly projected on the kinetic illuminated sculpture.
This was no small task. Designed by Stage One, the cube features both sharp edges and layers of freehand-cut openings on different faces of the cube. With a 3D scanner, we created an approximation of reality then fine-tuned our 3D model until it matched exactly. PHOTON impeccably aligned and blended 12 projectors over these unconventional surfaces at all times, without any shadows, differences in brightness or holes. With our SLAC, it takes less than five minutes to calibrate all projectors and cameras.
Yet the uncontrolled environment of an outdoor setting presented no shortage of challenges—including sand, wind, reflections off the water, and the sun. Our powerful IR emitting markers, COPERNICS, would be drowned out by the infrared light from the setting of the most powerful star in our solar system. We had to find a different way to track the moving cube. Luckily both our technology and our team are responsive and adaptable. We decided to link PHOTON to the data from the automation console to track the cube. Within days, our developers back home in Montreal upgraded PHOTON so that it could read Stage One’s most recent automation data protocol correctly.
Given the current coronavirus pandemic, in-person attendance of the one-time show was limited to the Royal Family, with the production broadcast live across the UAE. But just as the team began take-down, they received a call to halt. The Royal Family decided to keep a shortened version of The Seed, so that people could see it in-person, from socially distanced seating on the beach. “It was magic enough to really get people’s attention,” Nicolas Dupont, PHOTON Specialist at VYV, explains. “When the client likes the show so much that they want to keep it, that’s the dream.”
Our programming team went back to work to make the show possible without our on-site support. Now, with one button to calibrate and one button to run it, an operator can smoothly manage our technology.
LarMac + Flash Enternainment
Nick Levitt (LarMac Project)
Siobhan Shaw (LarMac Project)
Es Devlin (Es Devlin Studios)
Video Content Designer
Charli Dakin (Luke Halls Studio)
Scott Willsallen (Auditoria)
Anthony Bezencon (VYV UK)
VYV System Integrators
Richard Thomas (VYV UK), Nicolas Dupont (VYV CA)