Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

In Canberra’s centenary year the annual Enlighten Festival was particularly spectacular. This is the third year that Electric Canvas has been involved with the Festival, projecting colourful images onto the facades of a number of Canberra’s landmark buildings. These buildings included: the National Library of Australia, the Questacon Building, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the Museum of Australian Democracy. As part of the event, the Canberra chapter of the IES invited members and guests to a behind-the-scenes tour.

Led by Brian from Electric Canvas, we started from the perfect viewing location on the mound at Reconciliation Place. From here all but the National Gallery installation were visible.

The first location we looked at in detail was the National Portrait Gallery. This location has the added difficulty of being situated on a downward slope. Brian emphasised the importance at this location of detailed surveys and accurate scaffolding builds to allow for perfect image projection and overlap without the risk of equipment rolling down the slope.

The exterior locations of these projectors added additional stresses on the equipment. Each projector has a plastic cover over it to protect from the possibility of rain. The rain-proof enclosure required the addition of fans to keep the equipment cool and functional. Even with this level of protection, the occasional bug or moth may fly in and be baked onto the film necessitating hand cleaning, which also damages the film.

The lamps used in the projectors are 6kW 80,000lm Xenon lamps, similar to those used in conventional cinemas. Brian informed us that with the high amounts of light and heat on one location, the film will bleach in some areas. Film flutter and lamp flicker are two other issues that arise using the traditional film technology.

With the susceptibility to physical damage, it is interesting to note that what Brian is most concerned about are not the projectors, but issues surrounding the network and computer controlling the device. He mentioned one issue with WiFi network equipment being disrupted by trams in Melbourne, along with more common operating system issues.

After long set-ups and the painstaking attention to detail required by Brian and the other members of Electric Canvas, the result is a successful installation. Everyone on the tour was impressed with how well the colourful facade lighting came together as well as with Brian’s wealth of insider knowledge.


text : Scott Leslie-McCarthy