Transforming the Glastonbury fields into a ‘futuristic’ universe

Since 1970, an ever-increasing number of Europeans have blocked the end of June in their agendas for ‘Glastonbury’ - a five-day music festival near Pilton, Somerset (UK) that hosts contemporary music, dance, comedy, theater, circus, cabaret, and other arts. Year on year, the number of people attending Glastonbury has spiraled. As the largest greenfield festival in the world, the festival welcomed around 200,000 people in 2014 to see leading pop and rock artists, alongside thousands of others appearing on smaller stages and performance areas.

The unique Shangri-La experience
Glastonbury Festival takes place in a beautiful location and the site is enormous: 900 acres in the Vale of Avalon. Since 2009, one of the most popular areas on the grounds is Shangri-La, a 40-acre site that serves as the after-hours epicenter, i.e. the place where partygoers go once the final bow has been taken on the Pyramid Stage. The Shangri-La is a unique place with extraordinary installations, artworks, venues and performances set up to create a wholly immersive world. For the 2014 edition, Shangri La's creative director Debs Armstrong took technical producers PF Events on board. They called in the help of XL Video to manage two specialist video installations.

The cloud of Heaven
The main projection feature in Shangri-La was in the Heaven area, where a 44m long wooden art-wall structure composed from a myriad of hand-cut tessellated triangles was set up to represent the cloud of Heaven. A concept by Andy Cross from AN-Architecture, the structure was brought alive by eight Barco FLM-R22 projectors, run as four doubled up pairs for optimized brightness. They were installed on four towers lined up with each corner of the wall and cross-projected onto the surface, thus adding movement and texturing to the impressive structure. In addition to this, VJs collaborated with the XL team by supplying audio generative content that was played out through the system, and other artists created a raft of bespoke video material for the project.

The Pyschotron
Related but separate to the Heaven installation, XL also supplied projection, media servers and playback control for The Pyschotron, an artwork by Doug Foster comprising an 8m circular screen mounted in the roof of a geodesic dome with visual art beamed onto it. The projectors were two more Barco FLM-R22s. They were doubled up and driven by redundant Mac Pro servers running Milumin software for both mapping and playback - which allowed the systems to be independently mapped in great detail and played back synchronized for five days without missing a beat.

Futuristic universe
Technical production manager Seain and the PF events team supplied audio and lighting systems to five stages in total across Shangri-La, making sure that all - Heaven included - were accompanied by a mind-blowing audio visual experience. The motivated team and excellent audiovisual equipment did a great job to transform this small corner of Somerset into ‘a futuristic universe’ for five long days …


Copyright pictures: XL Video