136,000 candles set light to Leipzig Town Hall

2015 is special year for the city of Leipzig. 1,000 years ago Bishop Theitmar of Merseburg wrote of a small town called “Urbe Libzi”; never knowing it would become the largest city of Saxony, Germany and home to over half a million inhabitants; established as a major trading centre for the Holy Roman Empire and in the 21st century as a major European hub for music and publishing.

Throughout June, the city has celebrated this anniversary with a wide range of events and activities, culminating in the City Festival from 5-7 June 2015.

To mark the occasion, the festival organiser’s chose to celebrate the anniversary at the old town hall with more than just a firework display. Organiser Bernd Hochmuth explains; “For twenty-four years, we have been the organisers of the Leipzig City Festival and we are always looking for new cultural challenges. Our driving force is to constantly develop the City Festival as a reflection of community life.”

So for the City festival finale a professional mapping show with music and pyrotechnics created, taking citizens, festival-goers and onlookers alike on an insightful journey into the history of Leipzig. “Buildings move, and tell a story; messages can be conveyed very powerfully through them. We also wanted to be the first city festival in the region that provided a show like this,” says Hochmuth.

The creative spark for the project came from light designer Christoph Drews, who had already worked on the Coburger Designtage 2014 [2014 Coburg Design Days] and Luminale 2010 in Frankfurt. For Drews, the focus of the show was the interplay between video footage and pyrotechnics on the façade of the old town hall. Leipzig’s 1,000-year history served as the running theme of the show, providing its structure. “High and low points of the city’s history were depicted chronologically and in abstract form. The focus of the display was to convey the atmosphere of the events, rather than the historical facts,” says Drews.

The team of BIG cinema decided to use four Christie D4K35 3DLP® projectors, which were each equipped with 1.2-inch digital cinema optics with a focal length of 1.45-2.05.

“To play the video content, we needed the highest possible resolution and the maximum light output – that’s why we chose the Christie D4K35. It means we can achieve a total light output of 136,000 lumens,”, Bernstein continues, “the projector has native 4K resolution with 4096 x 2160 pixels, which means it achieves a level of quality otherwise only seen on the big screen at cinemas. It has been specially designed for the professional AV market.”

A computer-assisted 3D model of the real building was produced beforehand. In practice, accurately installing the projectors meant that a high-luminosity and high-definition 3D effect could be projected directly onto the building. With the projectors integrated warping and blending technology (Christie Twist) pixels were easily mapped onto the projection surface with the correct pixel-to-pixel alignment.

The hard work paid off, several thousand visitors were drawn to the old town hall. “We were delighted with the final result – it wasn’t just the resolution and light output that were right: the colour reproduction was very natural, too, making it perfect for the content,” says Bernstein.

Organiser Bernd Hochmuth, too, was more than happy with the result. “We wanted this projection mapping to be a visitor highlight at the City Festival Week during the 1,000th anniversary celebrations. This was a total success. If the project can be successfully refinanced, then the projection mapping could become the top attraction at the Leipzig City Festival, for both artists and visitors,” concludes Hochmuth.