Limelight Academy in SydneyChallenges and Happiness in the Limelight

Label:Academy Projection 

Author:István Dávid

Date:03 June 2019

We are just over our second Limelight Academy Projection Mapping Masterclass, and our hearts are full of gratitude. We had an amazing time with our second group of applicants from different parts of the world. Read Limelight Co-Founder István’s thoughts about the program.

This time we had six attendees from six different cultures and with different backgrounds, which made our time together truly exciting in many ways. Also, we had three girls in the group, which I loved – it’s very important for us to give opportunities to female artists, who are still relatively rare on the mapping scene.

This time we traveled a lot more than before, but a site visit proved to be very important for us to be able to explore the building and the façade, which was extremely challenging in terms of projection. We always need to see what type of surface we are working with to understand what type of content we can develop for it. When we say that masterclasses are focused on information and experience that we’ve gained in the past 15+ years in projection mapping for buildings, we are talking about how to create content that will work well with difficult surfaces. People would still think that projection mapping is creating video content or animation and projecting it onto a building as a larger screen. Our masterclass explains how a great video mapping artwork is a lot more complex than just that. Integrating architecture in the work is not only using architectural details in it, but using colors, styles that are visible on difficult surfaces, too. The surface of the silos in Norway is quite easy in this sense, but here the sails of The Concourse with their reflective surface are extremely challenging. We had a lot more time to create the artworks, but everyone needed to create longer pieces of work, 3-4 minutes each. It might sound easier to have a longer period of time for creation, but as this was a side project for everyone, it was a long process, and it’s always difficult to stay focused for 6 months while it’s not the only project you work on.

In these 6 months, we had regular Skype consultations, and with all the different time zones it was extremely challenging both for us and the team. Having sessions at 7 am or 10 pm was kind of normal just to find the hour when we are all awake at the same time. We also had some difficulties to get everyone to Australia for the workshop – Viktor was denied his visa and spent the entire time in Kuala Lumpur waiting for it, holding his presentations via Skype never making it to Sydney for the workshop. Ky Duyen also missed the first two days due to visa issues, but thank god she managed to arrive, and after the workshop we were able to spend some days together exploring Sydney and giving her a private presentation of what she’d missed. We had some challenges for sure, but it was an amazing experience with all the cultural differences and backgrounds. We all think and communicate in different ways, and despite of all the hardships we learned so much from it.

I think basically everyone went through a fantastic improvement process, and it’s important to mention that due to our selection criteria and philosophy, these artists’ skills and software knowledge were quite diverse. While some of them were already on an advanced level in terms of using 3D animation software programs but had no experience in projection mapping, others had no experience in working with 3D but knew more about projection. Projection mapping is a very complex art form, and everybody learned and developed a lot during the masterclass – including us. I’m extremely proud of Alice, who was a 2D artist creating in a style that is rarely seen in projection mapping. Our idea for her was to work with 2D animation in a software that she’d been comfortable with. We thought that she may learn a bit of 3D and use some minor 3D elements here and there. During the process, she got so much into 3D software use that she ended up creating her artwork mostly in 3D. If you’ve ever tried these software programs, you know how much work and effort it takes to learn using them, and it was amazing for us to see her developing into a 3D projection mapping artist from a 2D animator/motion designer.

I’m very proud of the fact that while everyone had a great initial concept and idea of a storyboard, it all changed after the workshop and during the creating process, and improved by the results of experiments or new inspiration of local culture, or just the time we spent together or the waves hitting the rocks of Bondi Beach. It’s amazing to observe and aid this process of creation and see those high-quality artworks at the end. This is why we have this program, and it’s truly inspiring for us to take part in the development of talented people from all around the globe.

The most memorable moment in every masterclass is the moment when the artists see their work coming live on the façade for the first time. After 6 months of hard work and looking at it on a tiny screen, finally seeing it in real size is definitely a moment to remember. Another one is the moment the audience sees it for the first time, and you see them enjoying it. We faced many technical difficulties with projection due to the reflectiveness and shape of the surface, and it was a miracle to make it work at the end, but we did! Another great thing in our masterclasses is having hundreds of funny and awkward moments – thank god we have Kevin to capture all of them, check out our photos and videos for these!

It’s been a long way for everyone, and I think they all should be proud of their achievements. The final artworks are amazing, and while they have learned a lot about projection mapping, we had a tremendous amount of fun together as well. In terms of learning, I can say that the site visit is essential, and we were able to integrate that into the next masterclass as well as a longer workshop of 5 days instead of 3. We’re working on long-term plans to make more time for the application process so more people can apply and be part of this amazing experience with us.

It’s been an honor to work with one of the biggest light festivals of the world in an amazing country. Australia has a special place in our hearts now that we spent a wonderful time in Sydney working with the WCC in Chatswood and the Vivid team, which was pure joy. We’re grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to be back! Technically it was very challenging to make projection work on such a tricky surface, and it was also difficult to manage a group of artists from around the world in terms of communication with all the different time zones, but the result was absolutely worth it! One of the best moments was when we sent the previews to the festival, and they realized how amazing these “student” works will look like. It’s quite common with our masterclass that just because it’s an education/mentorship program, people would think that these works will be nice but still “student only.” Having this preconception, these works with their surprisingly high quality far exceed people’s expectations. It was amazing to see all the happy faces around us at the opening of the festival, and we’re already in discussions about a long-term agreement, so we hope to come back soon and mentor other great talents for the festivals in the coming years.

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