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CNET News Video: Lighting up the Sydney Opera House

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CNET News Video: Lighting up the Sydney Opera House

3:35 /

As part of the annual Vivid Festival, the iconic Sydney Opera House is covered in large-scale projections each night. We take a look at how UK company 59 Productions is making it happen.

[MUSIC] It's pretty hard to think of the Sydney skyline without picturing the Sydney Opera House. This year, as part of Vivid Festival 2014, UK company 59 Productions. Are responsible for lighting the sails and bathing it in animations and visuals every single night. I'm Lexy Savvides for CNET. Let's go behind the scenes and take a look at some of the tech that's making it happen. [MUSIC]. [MUSIC]. We're using 14 Kristy 20 K projectors. Mounted on the [UNKNOWN] of the Opera House. They are converged, multiple units on to each of four areas on the sails. So we've broken the Opera House down in to four channels, basically. And we're using multiple projectors on each of those channels. Each one of those channels is controlled by a [UNKNOWN] server, again with a central control system which manages the play out of all of those machines. It's a fairly standard linear playback system, with quite a lot of complex work on the content to make it really mount on the Opera House. I've never really been to Sydney until this week. but. One of the processes that we employ with a lot of our work. Whether it's in a theater or in Opera House. Architectural math on the outside of the building, is that we actually create a real-world 3D model, in our studio. So, for Sydney, we had a 3D print made. An architecturally accurate, 1 to 300 model, which we then projection mapped in the studio. So, we were able to create a very accurate representation, albeit, much, much smaller. So that when we arrived here. In fact, 24 hours after the plane touched down we were looking at images on the side of the Opera House. It was very pleasing to see how close they were to our kind of real world visualization that we've been able to make. So, on the one hand we, we work with 3D models tactile things you can move around and check different project triangle and so on. But we also re-visualize. In CG. So we're using Cinema 4D to actually move around the Opera House to create kind of virtual shots and virtual moving shots to get a sense of what it might actually look like as you travel around the harbour. As well as creating a lot of 2D, 3D, two and a half D, animation work, we combined that with a lot of live action filming, so after we had our 1 to 300 architectural model made, we then took it. Cost of that. And created a number of kind of replica models in a number of different materials. So we used plaster, gel wax, wax, copper, aluminum. Various different materials. And we then filmed those at 4k resolution. 120 frames. Or 240 frames a second. High speed in order to create sort of what we call an organic effect. So things like water running down the outside of the opera house. Like superheating the copper version of it. Like smashing the Glassworks version. Like melting the wax version. Like hurling paint at some of the plaster versions. So while with this kind of backbone of digital animation, we've composited that together with a large amount of live action. Which gives it a kind of hopefully much more tactile, much more visceral feeling. And, there are moments when you're not quite sure if there's a lighting effect on the Opera House, or whether it's projection, or whether it's somehow messing with the materials of the actual surface. Even though many of the visitors might not know about the tech behind the scenes, there's no doubt that the finished results of lighting the sails is something special. [MUSIC]

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