Saudi Arabia is an ambitious nation with a vision! More specifically Vision 2030. With this national blueprint they are building on a vibrant society and a thriving economy with a strong focus on tourism and recreation. One of the main projects to realize this is Qiddiya, which is set to be the future capital of entertainment, sports and arts. The iconic destination, launching in 2023, includes impressive plans for theme parks, water parks and a wide variety of cultural attractions.
A first major realization was revealed to the public with a giant mountainside projection on the Tuwaiq mountains during the closing ceremony for the Dakar rally 2020. Initially, the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) reached out to Martin Professional ME with the request to visualize a Qiddiya logo of roughly 100 by 100 meters on the face of the iconic mountain cliff. Martin Professional ME immediately suggested the use of Barco projectors, trusting their astonishing brightness capabilities and outstanding color performances over their long lifetime that have proven to deliver stunning results.
An on-site mockup was built for the customer with two UDX projectors to demonstrate the technological capacities. The results were so convincing, and the decision was made to extend the UDX projection coverage to 440 meter wide. The Barco projection mapping specialists of the Middle East offices joined forces with the design team of Martin Professional ME and executed a comprehensive projection study and a high-resolution laser scanning of the mountain. Ultimately 84 UDX-W40s projectors were used to transform the mountain surface into a dramatic backdrop. The entire projection mapping covers a total area of approximately 32,000 square meters making it the largest permanent projection mapping in the world!
Commenting on the launch of this spectacular project, Michael Reininger, CEO of Qiddiya said: “We received a great reaction when we first used projection to illustrate the potential of Qiddiya at our Ground Breaking Ceremony. This inspired us to create an enhanced and sophisticated light show that uses the latest audio-visual technology that once again, highlights how Qiddiya is set to become the Kingdom’s capital of entertainment, sports and the arts.”
The challenges of projecting a uniform image on a natural canvas with an irregular structure are manifold. The key factor to success was the active collaboration between Martin Pro and the other involved parties throughout the entire journey – teaming up together from prior studies of the mountain, to content design, projection setups with specially developed mounting kits and eventually the live show. In the end onlookers were amazed with the mind-blowing experience.
Martin Professional ME allocated a team of 15 specialists to implement the project. After a thorough examination of the cliff and its surroundings, using the latest technologies such as drones and 3D laser scanning and modeling; the team have proceeded with the scope of work and finalized the project accordingly. The 84 projectors were distributed across 9 different locations using 9 marine containers that have been fabricated to meet the operational requirements of all projectors.
Ahmad Zaim, the project manager shared some of the challenges that he and Martin’s team have encountered during the implementation; One of the main challenges was the dusty desert environment and the interconnectivity of both power and data of the 84 projectors in such setting. In addition to that, the calibration and mapping of such large number of projectors on an irregular curved surface was not an easy job especially when the time frame for the whole project was set to 60 days only!
“Given the scale of this project and the time-window of 60 days to finish. We realized that there will be some serious challenges ahead of us, but our team worked day and night to break all the walls we hit during the implementation. Seeing those 84 projectors producing a single blended image on the cliff for the first time was a breathtaking and unforgettable moment. It was all worth it”, Ahmad Zaim commented.
“We were amazed at the scale of the required and the final outcome after all that work and supervision from the Martin, Barco and Vioso teams. It’s very difficult to put to words but this truly marks the start of something big, not just in Saudi Arabia, but the Middle East as a whole. To be part of this experience is the reason we do this. We are looking forward to the coming challenges where projects like Qiddiya will be a regular scene in the Kingdom. From here we have already looked ahead and have put our foot in, to pursue projects of this size and possibly working with the likes of such big companies like Barco and Vioso again”. Bilal Assidi, Martin Pro regional sales manager.
Martin Professional ME will continue its collaboration with Qiddiya towards its vision and will always be keen for the first of its kind projects. The best is yet to come!