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Ross Ashton’s The Projection Studio once again entertained the sold-out crowds at Edinburgh Castle with stunning projected visuals for the spectacular 2012 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The show action featuring a cast of nearly 1000 performers took place on the Esplanade down below the Castle walls in the centre of the Tattoo’s new, purpose-built state-of-the-art amphitheatre, which includes a special climate controlled projection room. The Tattoo’s Chief Executive and Producer for the second year running was Brigadier David Allfrey, a big fan of large format projections, and this year’s event theme was HM Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the year of Creative Scotland.
Creative Scotland included specific sections of the show and dances celebrating iconic items of Scottish culture like tweed and whiskey, plus the industrial revolution. The giant images ran for most of the final third of the event – as darkness fell and enveloped the magnificent surroundings. Ashton used four PIGI 6K projectors with double rotating scrollers, fully loaded with film, which were supplied by White Light. The fourth projector washed the floor area immediately in front of the Castle Gates, where all the entrances and exits happened. Ashton particularly enjoyed creating artwork for the ‘Superheroes’ section, for which he transformed Edinburgh Castle into Gotham City for Batman and into a massive spider’s web for Spiderman amongst others. This was followed by a rousing rendition of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ – with a flourish of James Bond to follow up on the Queen’s spectacular parachuting entrance into the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games with Agent 007!
The projection was programmed and operated via an OnlyCue PC based system by Karen Monid, who utilised her extensive knowledge of the hardware and software platform to produce intricate, fluid movements on the PIGI scrolls, incorporating all the wipes and dissolves in a highly rhythmic and unique style. Edinburgh TattooHarrison External Display Systems has won a prestigious contract to supply the world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The Darlington-based firm has supplied 70 glassfibre flagpoles and 119 flags for the celebrated event, which takes place on August 5 to 27 and has participants from across the world. The Tattoo hosts an outstanding celebration of talent from four continents including singers, dancers, gymnasts, pipers, and an amazing motorcycle display team against the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Harrison EDS manufactured 58, six metre flagpoles and 12, eight metre flagpoles which will take pride of place in the historic castle’s esplanade.

The glassfibre flagpoles have been especially finished to suit the rigging of the tiered seating and the firm created bespoke pots for the flagpoles to be fixed into for the duration of the event. 83 knitted polyester national flags have been made to represent all the nations taking part and a further 36 flags to represent UK, St Andrew and military flags. The spectacular attracts 217,000 visitors and is televised in 40 countries with a further 100 million people seeing the event on television worldwide.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a charitable organisation and has donated more than six million pounds to military and civilian charities. Andrew Hobson, managing director of Harrison EDS, said: “We are extremely proud to have been selected as the supplier for the flags and flagpoles at such a prestigious event as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Ross Ashton and The Projection Studio are again WOW’ing the crowds at the world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, with fabulous giant projections mapped onto the castle wall which run throughout the epic spectacle as soon as dusk falls. The event’s Chief Executive and producer is again Brigadier David Alfrey and this year’s theme is ‘Our Wonderful World’ which celebrates the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’ highlighting the country’s outstanding natural beauty.
Ashton – who has just had a new three year contract for designing the Tattoo’s projections confirmed – comments, “I am absolutely delighted to be back at Edinburgh and working on another world class Tattoo. Ashton and his team worked with original sources produced by a selection of new and emerging creative talents studying at the City of Glasgow College. The PIGIs are supplied by White Light and the scrolls are all fully loaded with film produced by Ashton. Ashton’s favourite pieces of the show include the visuals he produced from scratch for the Ministry of National Defence (MND) band from the Republic of Korea, whose performance is themed around ‘Spring’. For the Mexican Marching Band and Mariachi Dancers and their ‘Day of The Dead’ performance, Ashton took a plethora of traditional Mexican Day of The Dead celebration images and combined them with modern and more abstract interpretations created by the students – to great effect. Another favourite is the “Ice Palace” mapped projection for the Mongolian Army “Winter” section.
Ashton and Steve Larkins produced the PIGI films and the projectors were programmed and are being run on an OnlyCue system by Karen Monid.

The show features a cast of nearly 1000 and will be enjoyed by over 217,000 spectators throughout the month of August.
All these and more gave Ashton plenty of creative headroom for projection fun, together with the Superheroes section. He is very aware of the drama and additional WOW factors that projection can bring to the whole performance, and challenged me to come up with some interesting visuals”. Projectors 1 and 2 were at the same level, with Projector 3 slightly lower to cover the right hand edge of the Castle wall which slopes away down the hill. He also created the Tattoo’s own ‘SuperScot’ character, complete with a prominent Scottish lion on his chest – a real winner with the public!
The Castle walls became Westminster Abbey with the projections, and the cast became the congregation as the massed bands played music from the actual service sixty years ago. It is always an honour and this year’s brief brought new and exciting challenges to the visual equation”.
The students were commissioned by the Tattoo to create a selection of the materials that Ashton could then use to re-model into the specific scrolling projection artwork needed for the PIGI projectors. Whilst there he extensively photographed the Gyeong-Bok Palace in Seoul focusing on its architectural detail and artworks and has been able to work some of this into the projection art for this act.
The action takes place on the Esplanade down below the castle walls in the centre of the tattoo’s new purpose-built state-of-the-art amphitheatre.

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