The first-ever projection mapping on the facade of the White House took place at Halloween, during Trick or Treat festivities for nearly 5,000 military families and local schoolchildren.
The event began after school and continued until early evening. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama distributed treats as 85 costumed acrobats and entertainers transform the South Lawn into a magical Enchanted Forest. As darkness fell, the White House was illuminated with coloured lights and gobos, and a 4.5-minute video loop was mapped onto the iconic columns and balcony of the iconic residence’s South Portico.
Created by alumni of University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), the video loop played until 23:00 and was visible to passers-by: Frankenstein-style electricity crawled up and down the portico’s columns; sparks made the columns appear to sway. A gigantic full moon rose and set; ghosts darted back and forth and huge black cats stalked the White House. Tumbling jack-o-lanterns piled up between the pillars. Skeletal bare trees were outlined against a purple landscape where bats flew and spooky eyes glowed. Even presidential dogs Bo and Sunny made an appearance before the orange, white and blue star-spangled ending.
Production company supported UNCSA in staging the event. WorldStage project manager TJ Donoghue, fellow UNCSA alumnus and senior technology specialist Michael Kohler and senior projectionist Dennis Alfonso travelled to Washington on two days before the event to join the UNCSA faculty and students in setting up the equipment. WorldStage provided a pair of d3 Technologies 4x4pro media servers with VFC card option for the five-output show. d3 Technologies sent specialist Zak Haywood to man the media server. Nationwide supplied five Christie HD20K-J series projectors, which were mounted on scaffolding on the South Lawn.
“We do a good bit of work with UNCSA,” said Donoghue. “Norman Coates [director of lighting design at the School of Design and Production and the founder of the Winston-Salem Light Project] called me and told me about this opportunity with the White House, so of course we jumped at the chance to be involved. It was great to work on this groundbreaking project with the UNCSA team of faculty, students, and alumni, and with event producers Jonathan Deull and Philip Solomon of Way2Much Entertainment.”