Every couple of years a really great project comes along that truly inspires, and for QED Heinrich and Palmer's Floe was that project. A jaw-dropping building transformation requiring extraordinary creative and technical vision, made possible by utilising the very latest in laser projection technology.

Commissioned by Hull 2017 UK City of Culture, Floe was created by acclaimed UK artists Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer and ran for three nights in December 2017. 'Virtually' remodelling the façade of Hull's iconic aquarium The Deep, Floe was the final commission in Hull 2017's Look Up programme of artworks in the public realm.

Inspired by Casper David Freidrich's painting The Sea of Ice, Heinrich and Palmer's dramatic transformation was achieved by projection mapping the building and the surrounding area to make it appear to rise from the ground like a wave or glacial formation - the same geological metaphor said to have influenced the building's architect, Sir Terry Farrell.

Working from within the boardroom and on the balcony of the C4DI building situated across the water, space and weight loadings were very limited. So fourteen 30,000 lumen Panasonic RZ31K and three 20,000 lumen Panasonic R21K laser phosphor projectors were dedicated to the task. Without the risks of lamp failure or overheating, the laser projectors provided the confidence to undertake such a large projection piece in a situation where live back-up could not be installed.

The signal distribution and projector control was handled by QED's fibre system, with wireless transmission delivering the signal for the remote projection onto the north facing side of the building situated over 100m away. Signal for the D&B V series sound system that was positioned across the water was also delivered wirelessly.

One of the biggest challenges was how to deal with the multitude of different textures on the surface of the building and the surrounding area. The large reflective metal strip across the centre, white and dark grey concrete, granite, glass, blue tiles, algae, mud and rusty corrugated ironwork all needed to be balanced in the creative process and by the d3 4x4pro media servers used to play back the 8k resolution content.

In many senses it was a classic projection mapping project, using traditional perspective and trompe l'oeil effects, bespoke time-lapse footage, modelling and mapping techniques. By incorporating 4K video taken from within The Deep Heinrich and Palmer were able to play with the building's form and surfaces to literally bring the inside to the outside, and to create such an extraordinary work of art.

QED Key Personnel

Paul Wigfield
Dan Gray
Harry Ricardo
Dave Voyce
Mike Snarr

External Links

Hull 2017 - UK City of Culture

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