Moscow sees a world record for huge outdoor projection-mapped celebration
By Vincent Rice
January 30, 2012
So how do you show off the fact that you are Russia's largest private bank and at the same time curry a little favor with Moscow's ruling elite? You entertain 800,000 Muscovites with a world-record 25,500 square meter (275,000 sq. ft.) audio-visual projection show to celebrate Moscow City Day, of course.
Alfa-Show 4D was conceived by Alfa-Bank to celebrate its 20th birthday. Viktor Shkipin, Alfa-Bank's Director of Marketing, explained that the bank has a long tradition of organizing magnificent celebrations. "Our choice of medium for Alfa-Bank's anniversary celebration was no accident," he said. "We consider our bank to be the most technologically advanced in Russia, so we chose the most technologically advanced public event medium available today: huge multidimensional video projection."
The global recession and the end of profligate spending by banks clearly hasn't hit Moscow, yet. However, Shkipin compared the price tag of the show to the price of a month-long top-quality federal TV and outdoor advertising campaign evaluated at US$6-8 million (EUR4.5-6M). "This year, we decided to forgo TV commercials and do the show instead," he explained. "We are positive it will work better than any TV commercial."
The chosen projection surface was the main facade of the Moscow State University on Sparrow Hills. Though it's debatable whether the surface area of 25,500 square meters is a world record, the use of 81 high-powered hi-def video projectors most definitely is. The projectors in question were a mixture of 15 Christie 3-chip DLP 30K lumen Roadies and 66 20K lumen Roadsters, organized by the Russian subsidiary of global lighting company ETC. The large number was required not only because of the size of the surface, but also because the sides of parts of the building had to be covered seamlessly.
As might be imagined, that number of specialist projectors had to be sourced from all over Europe and in the end over 200 trucks delivered the required equipment and scaffolding on which to mount it. Over a thousand people worked on the project, including students from the university who helped to cover all the windows of the facade in white vinyl to provide a consistent projection surface.
The show's 81 projectors were joined by 40 powerful light cannons that shot columns of light high into the sky. The presentation included 5,000 pyrotechnic and firework charges and 50,000 balloons. Symbolic snow fell on the crowd, and thousands of soap bubbles floated up into the sky. The fourth dimension of Alfa-Show 4D was provided by urban climber Alain Robert, known for climbing the world's tallest buildings without safety gear, clambering over the university high-rise as part of the show. Thankfully, he didn't fall off.
Over the course of the show's 30 minutes, the facade of Moscow State University lived through a series of transformations: it turned into a giant aquarium, only to freeze and disintegrate; it became, in turns, the Taj Mahal, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower; and it even looked for a time like a huge birthday cake. Images flickered through the ages, evolving into easily recognizable signs of our modern world. The recurring image of the Alfa-Bank logo fitted seamlessly into the plotline, providing a unifying element to the visual presentation - and of course reminding everybody who was paying for it.
Show designer David Atkins summed it up. "This was a unique project. It was the first time a building of this size was used for 3D projection, and the first time someone climbed a building while images were being projected on it. This show was a first for so many things."
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