Grand opening at National Kaohsiung Center of the Arts

National Kaohsiung Center of the Arts (Weiwuying), the world’s largest single-roof performing arts center, celebrated its grand opening with a memorable extravaganza attended by over 20,000 people and broadcast live to an audience of millions. The 2018 opening ceremony brought together traditional dance and theatre performances, opera, street culture, music, puppetry and a dazzling multimedia show experience, “Arts for the people.” Created by phase7 performing.arts, the internationally acclaimed Berlin artist collective, this part of the ceremony featured a towering “living” statue, mapped using Dataton’s WATCHOUT multi-display system.

WATCHOUT on stage and in control

Studio Eigengrau, Germany, was responsible for the motion design and the coordination of the mapping, including programming and operating the WATCHOUT system. In this case, WATCHOUT played an important role for the mapping – and show control.

“Going into the project, we knew we had to be very flexible regarding the mapping,” explains Daniel Bandke, Studio Eigengrau. “We also needed a stable system for synching different technologies and with some backup elements for live vocals on different layers, in case a microphone drops out. We solved it by using a MOTU 8-channel audio interface assigned in WATCHOUT to send different outputs to the mixing console.

“We had a stereo mix on 1/2, channel 3 was the recorded backup track for vocals or solo performers, on channel 4 we had an LTC – timecode generator – running to synch different technologies and on channel 5/6 we had some stereo backup elements.”

The different technologies in this case, include fireworks and drones which were a synchronized element in the show. The team routed the media server outputs to an Encore2 console, allowing interactive video elements and the WATCHOUT show to be handled separately.

“The projection distance was 120 meters which is why we chose the latest generation of Panasonic laser projectors – used for the first time ever in Taiwan!”

Final mapping touches on-site

Mapping the face of the statue presented its own set of challenges. “Having a realistic face on the statue was a very important element of the show,” says Daniel Bandke, Studio Eigengrau. “To ensure the renderings and animation met time and budget requirements, we arranged a video shoot with a Berlin-based Taiwanese model in authentic make-up and used the technology from scan studio “3D your Body“ to obtain a high-resolution 3D model.”

As the sheer size of the statue meant the face had to be hand-cut in Taiwan, Studio Eigengrau knew they would never get a 100% matching face on site. “By using the face as a separate layer in WATCHOUT we had some more options in scaling and rotating independently from the rest of the head. The warping tool in WATCHOUT was our hero as we had the chance to correct the differences from our model to the statue on-site, positioning elements like nose and eyes inside the face to make it look more realistic.”

With almost a decade of experience in projection-mapping and WATCHOUT show programming, Daniel Bandke is no stranger to large-scale productions for a vast audience. Together with Hajo Rehm, he is the founder of Studio Eigengrau which is a new motion design company specialised in production for shows of any scale, based in Berlin. Just a few months after the Taiwan opening, they were once again entrusted by phase7 to program and run the central WATCHOUT system at the opening ceremony for the 2019 culture capital, Plovdiv.

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