The Snowflake Trail

The Snowflake Trail was a two part festive celebration – a projection mapped spectacular on Marks & Spencer in Liverpool and an augmented reality trail and map. (Main image by Pete Carr for Open Culture)

Brief:

Liverpool BID Company, in collaboration with Open Culture, commissioned us to make a rolling 15 minute projection show to animate the city centre as part of their seasonal programme of events. Inspired by the Berlin Festival of Lights, BID wished to introduce a new and exciting way for visitors to experience Liverpool.

Continuing the same creative themes, The Snowflake Trail also featured a city-wide treasure hunt based on the adventures of Jack Frost; for the second year of the project this became an augmented reality experience. The whole project resulted in a very refreshing alternative to the usual Christmas lights switch on.

Process:

We were thrilled to be involved in such an ambitious project in our home city, and to be associated with such a prestigious company as Marks & Spencer. Using the ornate M&S building as a canvas for our projections was a delight. Compton House, as it is otherwise known, was built in 1867 and is credited as being one of the first department stores in Europe. Built to serve hoards of well-healed visitors as they passed through what was then the busiest port in the world, the building reflects the grandeur of Liverpool’s golden, albeit tarnished, age of industry. The challenge of working with this magnificent building was one relished by our stalwart team of Draw & Code elves.

We used a 3D laser scanner to acquire the exact measurements of the building, a process that included sticking point markers over the whole area, eliciting odd looks from stern security guards! The resulting point cloud data was used to create an exact 3D model of the building. This allowed our brilliant artists to map animation and lighting effects precisely to the architecture of Marks & Spencer, thus creating the illusion of the building coming to life.

The building itself was the main protagonist in the projections as it transformed into festive scenes including an ice palace, a cuckoo clock, gingerbread house and even a Lego castle. A beautiful original soundtrack was composed for the show by our resident musician Chris Barker, complete with hilarious sound effects performed by lead animator Andy Cooper!

Similar themes were carried over into the augmented reality app that was published for the 2015 edition of the Snowflake Trail. The app allowed revellers to bring printed maps to life using their smartphones as well as creating moving 3D art from markers positioned at key points throughout the city.

It was amazing. I went every night and sat outside M&S. It had a massive effect on me, captured me and left me emotional!

Liam Edwards, Chef

Result:

This was the largest projection mapping event in Liverpool in 2014, both in terms of physical scale and also the size of the audience. Tens of thousands of cheery shoppers enjoyed the show over the festive period and it received glowing reviews in the local press and social media. The augmented reality Snowflake Trail and map were also a hit as they vividly brought the artwork to life.


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