Lighting up the Shell Centre for Vodafone / Mayor of London's New Year's Eve Fireworks - the world's first multi-sensory fireworks experience.

QED welcomed in 2014 by projection mapping the iconic 107m high Shell Centre as part of the annual Mayor of London's New Year's Eve celebrations. Watched by over 200,000 people along the Thames Embankment and on TV by 13.7 million viewers on the BBC the event featured the world's first 'multi-sensory' fireworks display with Vodafone's augmented reality smartphone app also enabling millions more to join the experience.

Working in collaboration with Wasserman Experience, event producers Jack Morton Worldwide brought in The Projection Studio's Ross Ashton as projection consultant, with content design and production by Treatment Studio and technical equipment and show operation by QED. Vodafone worked with flavour artists Bompas and Parr to create the unique multi-sensory experience that immersed the audience in exotic flavours such as peach snow, orange bubbles, banana confetti and strawberry clouds, with each flavour specially selected and choreographed to match the pyrotechnic display. Prior to the count-down to midnight which triggered the fireworks the crowd was kept entertained by a specially themed two hour projection show featuring music and audience interaction.

The event was part of 'Vodafone Firsts through which Vodafone inspires and enables people to do remarkable things for the first time using mobile technology'. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "A spectacular display of pyrotechnics that you can taste and even smell! Where else but London would you get such an experience?"

QED last projected onto the Shell Centre for the London highlight of the Cultural Olympics in 2012 but since then the trees in Jubilee Gardens had grown to such an extent that one of the biggest challenges was to design and deploy a structure compact enough to fit into the available space yet still be able house the large quantity of projectors required to illuminate the building. Working with Acorn Event Structures The Projection Studio designed the projection tower to accommodate all the projectors with sufficient ventilation and working space and which could also withstand the extreme weather conditions.

"We had to have full live back-up and so we settled upon using a combination of 24 Christie HD18K and Christie WU20K-J projectors configured in a doubled-up 2 x 6 array" said QED director Paul Wigfield. "Because we couldn't physically fit any more machines into the space we decided to maximise the brightness by re-lamping every projector, allowing us to hit the building with a staggering 480,000 lumens of illumination. The compact chassis of the Christie Roadsters and their ability to withstand the harshest site conditions meant they were the best projectors for the job, and fitted with QED's specially designed video stilts they were able to be deployed at extreme angles with precision adjustment."

Head of Digital Media, Richard Porter led the QED team working closely with the Projection Studio and Treatment to ensure that everything was meticulously planned. The building was scanned, modelled and uv mapped to create the highest possible resolution template, with d3 utilised for pre-visualisations as well as for the show playback. The system had to be rock-solid in every respect especially considering that it had to process 21 megapixels per frame with the ability to switch live to back-up, so the entire system was set-up and tested for two weeks in QED's R&D facility prior to final delivery on-site.

The AV system comprised seven d3 media servers fitted with 1.5TB of SSD per node and connected to a Lightware FR-33 DVI matrix with distribution and output monitoring via QED's bespoke fibre-optic system. The servers were locked to a GPS time-code signal to ensure that the countdown to midnight was totally accurate and the projectors were constantly monitored throughout using Christie's projector network management software. Six of QED's 12-channel fibre optic multi-cores fed all the projectors with DVI signal and Ethernet control, enabling Dan Gray and Viral Patel to work simultaneously with Richard Porter on the d3 line-ups, whilst Dave Voyce took charge of the projection system and the technical infrastructure.

QED Credits

Richard Porter, Head of Digital Media
Dave Voyce, Senior AV Technician
Dan Gray, Senior AV Technician
Viral Patel, AV Technician
Mike Snarr, AV Technician

Production Credits

Mark Bustard, Special Projects Director, Wasserman Experience
Jim Donald, Head of Production, Jack Morton Worldwide
Paul Visser, Senior Production Manager, Jack Morton Worldwide
Ross Ashton, Projection Consultant, The Projection Studio
Ben Collier Marsh, Art Director, Treatment Studio
Sue Dhaliwal, Producer, Treatment Studio


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