Projects: Empire State Building Gets Projection-Mapped To Aid Endangered Species

August 26, 2015 by Dave Haynes

Snow leopard on Empire State Bldg - (lr)

I saw Twitter posts about how the Empire State Building in New York got projection-mapped earlier this month in a big public statement about protecting endangered species, but I was waiting on better pix and details before writing anything.

Got that stuff now.

On August 1st one side of the iconic skyscraper – 375 feet high and 186 feet wide- was subjected to a projection-mapping display put together  between Obscura Digital and filmmaker-photographer Louie Psihoyos. The event used 38 of Christie’s Roadster projectors to light up 33 floors. 

Says a news release:

The show, “Projecting Change: The Empire State Building,” presented a veritable “Noah’s Ark” of endangered animals, according to Psihoyos. Using photography from his colleagues at National Geographic, he produced a looping reel that included manta rays, birds, reptiles, lions, and even a gorilla that “climbed” to the top of the building.  The multimedia production, which ran from 9 p.m. through midnight on Saturday, August 1, proved to be a “show stopper” on the streets of the city.

It is now a hit on YouTube, where the video has already garnered more than 100,000 views.

“We call projection mapping presentations of this magnitude, ‘weapons of mass instruction,’” says Obscura’s Travis Threlkel, who worked closely with Psihoyos to stage “the most dramatic” event possible to bring attention to the world’s endangered animals. “It took us four years to finally bring Louie’s extraordinary vision to life, but we only had three hours to tell his story. As such, there was no second chance. We needed projection technology of the highest quality, performance and reliability, and for me, the only choice was Christie.”

The video is also instructive on the challenges of mapping buildings, as projecting light on a tower lined by windows means that light is just going right through the windows. You could ask all the tenants to pull the blinds,etc, etc, and good luck with that.

Solid, light surfaces NOT in the middle of a world capital make for better surfaces, but this is still an impressive feat.

Pedestrians view leopard on Empire State Bld - (lr)

Christie Roadster Projectors (lr)

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