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World record projection for Queen’s Jubilee

Jo Ruddock 20 April 2012
World record projection for Queen's Jubilee

The Projection Studio, headed by visual artist Ross Ashton, has designed and created a record-breaking video artwork featuring 32 animated mosaic portraits of HM The Queen that is being projected onto Buckingham Palace this week. It is the first time that video projections have ever been used on the front of the Palace. 

The video montage of the 32 portraits is attempting to break the Guinness World Records Title for the Largest Collaborative Artwork, that is the most artists working on the same art installation. The previous record stands at 28,267 artists.

To assist the effort, Creative Technology (CT) has supplied the 24 Barco and Panasonic 18K and 20K video projectors for the project, labelled ‘Face Britain’.  The projectors are ensconced as unobtrusively as possible behind the pillars of the Palace’s front wall. The video is run via a Dataton Watchout control system.

Ashton said: “I am hugely proud and absolutely delighted to be involved in this collaboration, and naturally it’s a great honour to work directly for the Prince’s Charities. There have been plenty of creative and technical challenges and it’s very satisfying to get the opportunity of pushing the boundaries and breaking new ground”.

Children aged 4-16 were invited to produce their own self-portraits by Face Britain encompassing all levels of skill and in any medium. These were uploaded to PhotoBox.

Ashton came up with the idea of animated mosaics. He worked with Moscow-based Boris Glazer to create a bespoke version of his Mazaika software to encode all the photos and then compose the 32 images of The Queen from the 200,000 or so self-portraits that were submitted. Ashton specifically wanted to see the individual photos making up each portrait montage flying together as they formed onto the fascia of the building.

When compositing  the 32 portraits into the 32 minute long video file which runs as a loop, Ashton treated each individual portrait of the Queen as a separate colour way, containing 6,400 children’s portraits. This enabled him to get the desired movement effect. The template portrait of The Queen was supplied by the Sun newspaper’s legendary royal photographer, Arthur Edwards. The Queen herself had to approve all stages of the creative process.

The overall image covering the Palace is 110m wide and 25m tall. Filling the spaces around the actual Queen’s head portraits are a series of animated backgrounds and other picture frames.

Face Britain is intended to celebrate the UK’s children and young people in the run up to HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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