Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

Interview: Dr Blighty projection mapping expert Paul Wigfield

We shine a light on the technology behind the Dr Blighty projections with Paul Wigfield, director of QED, the company behind the projection mapping that's enabled the beautiful and poignant transformation of the Royal Pavilion this Brighton Festival. 

How did you get involved in the project and what is your role?

I've been discussing this with the Festival over the past two years as it seemed a fitting way to mark its 50th anniversary. Our role was to produce and deliver the entire project.

It’s quite an ask - what did you think of the brief?

Our brief was to produce something spectacular for the Festival, but really it was the building itself that defined the brief, challenging us to tell the story of its role as a WW1 Indian military hospital.

What are the challenges of projecting onto a building of that scale?

The building is big, but by no means overwhelming - it's the immense amount of intricate detail that's the biggest challenge.

We therefore decided to cover every feature from every possible angle in order to project both onto and behind all the columns, as well as onto the onions and other architectural features. This enabled the content creators Novak to design uninterrupted continuous material that flows across all surfaces.

It's hard enough to project onto a large building from so many different angles, but even harder to create a digital canvas for something so heavily featured that still enables a story to be told and which can be appreciated by a large audience from all viewing angles.

It is a truly pioneering projection mapping project of the most intricate detail and quality, and we've had to deploy 500,000 lumens of projection power to enable it to happen before nightfall.

What does video mapping actually entail? Can you take us through the process in layman’s terms?

It's a lengthy and detailed process, however the concept and workflow is relatively simple. We first laser scanned the Pavilion and the surrounding environment and built a 3D model from the data. We then created a UV map of the building for the creatives to use as a content template. The UV map is essentially a flattened out 2D template that divides the building into the specific sections. It's like a jigsaw puzzle where all the individual pieces are sent to each projector and reassembled when projected back onto the building to create a completely seamless image.

Here we are sending 22 individual synchronised HD outputs from the media server in order to achieve coverage required. We knew it would require a large number of feeds but we didn't know quite how many until we pre-visualised the building with test content.

How did you feel when you saw it realised?

Absolutely amazing. I managed to resist the temptation to see it before the opening night as I wanted to fully experience and enjoy it from the perspective of a member of the audience. It's the culmination of many months of hard work and of many years waiting for the opportunity to arise.

We simply had to do justice to the Royal Pavilion, to honour the WW1 commemorations and to celebrate 50 years of the Brighton Festival, so we put all our resources and skills behind it.

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Dr Blighty is a Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.