Blackpool’s famous Illuminations are set to be out of this world thanks to collaboration with European Space Agency and astronaut, Tim Peake.
“Chasing Stars” is one of three new digital mapping projections created for the 2016 LightPool show which sees spectacular 3D animations projected on the Blackpool Tower buildings during the Illuminations.
Ross Ashton, Creative Director, and Karen Monid, Audio Designer, from The Projection Studio were commissioned last year to create two shows and this year have created “Chasing Stars” based on the pioneering work of European Space Agency (ESA).
“Chasing Stars” is an eight-minute galactic tour to entertain and inspire the next generation of astronauts and engineers.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is a fantastic coup for Blackpool. Each night during the Illuminations spectators can watch the Chasing Stars show and hear directly from Tim Peake.
“The whole country followed his adventures in space earlier this year and it is a great honour that the European Space Agency agreed to work with us on this spectacular show that is guaranteed to wow the crowds.”
Professor Mark McCaughrean, ESA’s Senior Science Advisor, said: “It’s a huge pleasure to work with the iconic Blackpool Illuminations as a stage to present some of the most exciting space missions of European Space Agency, including Tim Peake’s historic stay on the International Space Station, the Gaia spacecraft surveying our Milky Way galaxy, the ExoMars visits to the Red Planet, and of course the famous Rosetta mission, the first ever to rendezvous with, escort, and land on a comet.
“Our hope is that kids and adults alike will see this amazing show and be inspired to think of how they can go on to explore the world and Universe around them.”
The Projection Studio team travelled to ESA’s Astronaut training facility in Cologne to record an exclusive welcome from Tim Peake to visitors to the LightPool show and to Blackpool.
Ross Ashton, Creative Director at the Projection Studio, said: “We wanted to create something that reflects where we are right now in space exploration.
“We were very pleased to have the full support of the ESA from day one and we have worked closely with Mark McCaughrean.
“ESA and the UK Space Agency were also instrumental in arranging for us to have Tim Peake as our star. It was incredible working with him and a dream come true for the geeks amongst us.
“Having the opportunity to work with ESA and Tim Peake, words fail me. On top of this of course we are working with a true British icon, the Blackpool Tower itself. We can’t wait to deliver this project to Blackpool.”
The team also spent three days in Blackpool with Dr Nick Lister of the Lawrence House Astronomy & Space Science Centre, Rossall School, Fleetwood. They spoke to three groups of children from Blackpool schools asking them to imagine what it would be like to live in space, to visit another planet or to meet an alien. Their ideas and drawing have been incorporated into the show.
Karen Monid, Audio Designer from The Projection Studio, said: “Working with Blackpool’s children has been brilliant. Hearing the children get excited over how they imagine what their future could be was fantastic.
“The level of imagination was truly amazing and their vision of the future was an inspiration.
“From what they were saying it was obvious that they are genuinely excited by this subject and could aspire to careers in science and engineering.”
Chasing Stars is one of three new eye-catching 3D projection shows that will be displayed on to the front of the Blackpool Tower buildings from the start of September. Three new displays have been designed specifically for LightPool this year and are funded by a £2m grant from the Coastal Communities Fund alongside a further investment by Blackpool Council and LeftCoast.
Coastal Communities Minister Andrew Percy said: “Blackpool’s illuminations have always been a star attraction but now thanks to our £2million Coastal Communities Fund grant they are set to be stratospheric.
“The Chasing Stars projection will be a huge draw for tourists providing a real boost for the local economy. It will also be a fantastic spectacle and I’d encourage everyone in the area to head down to Blackpool to see it.”
The other two shows are Down the Rabbit Hole by Czech digital art collective The Macula and Enchanted Blackpool, which has been created by film-maker Cecile Llewelyn-Bowen, using designs by her father, international designer and friend of Blackpool Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. The show is a fairy-tale journey around Blackpool’s classic architecture, as the goddess in the Tower Ballroom comes to life.
All three of the films, along with two popular shows from last year’s LightPool, will be available to watch for free from the Comedy Carpet several times every night, with extra performances at weekends and over the October half term.