Horse Guards Parade brought to life for the 75th anniversary of VJ Day

Creative Technology and BBC Events bring the Horse Guards Parade to life for 75th VJ anniversary

Horse Guards Parade has been brought to life with an audio visual show for the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Aired on 15 August, the BBC commemorated the 75th anniversary of VJ Day with the spectacular, located at Horse Guards Parade in London.

It was an unprecedented opportunity to use the venue, available only because of the unforeseen social distancing restrictions put in place which had halted the usual timetable of parades and public viewing access.

The decision was made by the BBC to cover almost the entirety of the Horse Guards Parade with projection, which scaled from the Old Admiralty all the way through to Dover House. The buildings, complete with complex geometry, proved a challenge for the company tasked with producing the show, Creative Technology (CT),  after it was given just over a month to pull together the large scale event that would normally take months of preparation.

Moving full steam ahead, CT’s modelling team provided a high poly mesh scan which was then reduced into something usable and dropped into a software application called Mapping Matter. The team then used this to create a highly precise study to help determine the number of projectors required to achieve the target lux of 300 and to work out how to minimise any shadows created by the statues in front of Horse Guards or by the lighting towers located in the centre of the parade ground.

VJ Day Production

CT used 69 projectors to create the visual spectacular

CT’s lead projection engineer, Matthew Mark, worked to get all 69 projectors tested and configured in the limited time frame, utilising CT’s MTP 12 core fibre distribution and custom MTP to LC breakout boxes to distribute the main and backup signals to each of the seven projection towers.

NoNonsense was on-hand to build the seven projection towers, each one standing at ten metres high and four metres deep, the largest of which was able to house up to 12 projectors, with VYV UK also onsite as part of the team to help align all 69 projectors.

Will Harkin, project engineer at CT, commented on the event: “I’ve worked on many large scale projection jobs over the years, but I really feel, despite the limited time available to us, that this was our best one yet! I strongly believe that, without the great team we have at CT, delivering a job of this complexity and size to the high standard we achieved in the timescale we had would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Hopefully all the passion and expertise put into this project will shine through to the viewers at home as we mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.”

BBC Events turned to its regular outside broadcast supplier and group company of CT, NEP UK to supply its expanding OB unit, ‘Ceres’. The large OB unit allowed for a COVID-secure working environment and was based around 24 camera positions with eight cameras moving between numerous positions over each of the six nights of shooting.

Richard Lancaster, commercial director at NEP UK said: “It’s always a privilege to work with BBC Events, and this shoot was particularly special, the projection together with the stunning location and acts involved provided some lasting memories for all involved.”

Content for this spectacular was created by Kate Dawkins, Diana Henry and their team of animators, succeeding in producing 38 sequences of content for the event.

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