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Michiel Peeters (TivoliVredenburg) - We want to make visual art a more prominent part of our programme

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visualisation music video art TivoliVredenburg Michiel Peeters

Public spaces are being dressed up with visualisation, music video and art in many places, including TivoliVredenburg. Either through projection mapping on buildings during events, or via LED panels in shop windows and abris, but also as digital art during performances and lobbies in theatres. In TivoliVredenburg, in the heart of Utrecht, they even create separate events for it. Canvas is a programme led by Michiel Peeters, programmer at TivoliVredenburg. Together with colleague Tessa Hagen and Mo from Mr Beam he curates this visual stage that provides space for a diverse arsenal of animation talent.

When did you first encounter animation ?

'When I moved to Utrecht 13 years ago, I could be found on the dance floor every weekend. DumDum and RAUW in Tivoli Oudegracht were 2 parties I always attended. For these parties, visuals/animation were always important. That was the first time I came into contact with it I think.'

How did Canvas come into being? Why do you choose programming specifically for animation and motion design?

'For our annual NYE (New Years Eve) Festival, I was looking for a way to unpack. The heart of our building, where on this date visitors celebrate the countdown by 1,000 simultaneously, needed a draw. In the past, we had mapping done on the surface that is now Canvas, but we wanted to take that to a new level with NYE. Once we had done that, I thought: we should have this as standard. Then I started shaping the concept in terms of content and researching what was and is needed in terms of facilities and finances. With support from our partner ABinBEV/Bud, we were able to realise Canvas.'

'Canvas is now a 150 sq m stage for animation, motion design and video art in Park 6, the heart of our building. We want to give a stage to young/talented and professional image makers here. It was born out of a drive to be a more open and atmospheric building. A place where people are more likely to go before going to a concert or club night, or just stick around after. We also want to make visual art a more prominent part of our programme.'

What plays a role in talent selection? and what about the technique of it all ? 

'Tessa, Mo and I make a selection based on a CV and cover letter. For us, a good story, or starting point, is as important as experience. The only requirement is that the works must be accessible to all ages.'

Click here to read more about the specific technique of visualisation for music video and art in TivoliVredenburg / Canvas. Tjanne van de Velden, Coordinator Theatre Technology - Light / Video / Rigging tells more about it.

Canvas is a video installation in which a three-dimensional interior wall is beamed through five Epson Laser projectors. These five projectors are controlled by a Pixera-One media server and the transport of the signals is done by LightWare converters using HDbaseT as a protocol. Since the Epson projectors also accept HDbaseT directly as input, this allowed all peripherals to be placed in one service box with only five Cat5 cables to the projectors.

The projectors vary in strength; 1x 6000 anti-lumen, 2x 8000 anti-lumen, 1x 12000 anti-lumen and 1x 15000 anti-lumen. This was chosen because not every projector lights an equally large area on the total. 

Different lenses were also used because the projection angle and the projection distance are unequal. Animators are asked to submit their content with a resolution of 4K and an aspect ratio of 1:1 (4096×4096). Within this image plane, all the different surfaces from the folders are placed in two dimensions, making it more efficient for animators to render their content. The mapping in the media server then translates this content into the various signals for the projectors.

Since the media server has only four outputs and we wanted to use five projectors, we found a creative solution. The projectors all have FHD resolution, which allowed us to provide signal to two projectors from one output;

By increasing the resolution of one of the media server's outputs to UHD, and having two projectors zoom into this signal at their own place, we are providing two projectors with content using only one output.

The result is an installation that can linger for years yet remains innovative every time. A real extra "stage" in Tivolivolivredenburg!

What kind of visitors does Canvas attract, is it a general audience or a so-called 'makers for makers' audience?

'Canvas mainly gets a lot of views from the visitors already in our building. That makes the audience profile very broad. Our ambition in the future, for example with our new batch of 'What Does Freedom Look Like?', is to attract a new target group that is prominent lovers of visual rather than audiovisual art. What is very nice to see are the different reactions. Sometimes that creates an atmosphere full of hilarity and comedy and other times tension or melancholy.'

Is there a connecting factor between animation and motion design? Do new collaborations arise through such a programme?

'That is my ambition, though. With our new batch, we have also added an audio component. The works are introduced and explained by the artists themselves and accompanied by music. I would like to link image makers and musical artists in the future to take the next step in that.'

Technology must be a challenge, what are the fixed and variable data at TivoliVredenburg, is 'everything' possible?

'Within TivoliVredenburg, there is a lot of expertise in audio and visual technology. With all the different types of productions that come across our floor every day, we gain a lot of knowledge that we were able to bring to the development of Canvas. One of the bigger challenges regarding Canvas was positioning the projectors to project onto as large an area as possible. The projectors have to hang out of the area of audience and therefore cannot be on the floor. At the same time, the projectors must hang still so that the mapping values remain intact. I would say, almost anything is possible.'

Besides Canvas, you programme all kinds of performances. What do you take into account when booking? Do visualisation, music video, art and the additional technical challenges play a role in this at TivoliVredenburg?

'We always programme from content. Of course there are preconditions, but with our relatively new building we can meet a lot of artists' needs. We have seen in recent years that artists are bringing bigger shows more often. In some cases, that is with visuals, often precisely in combination with their own light show. Since the period we have been dealing with Corona, we see less room for visuals,'

Will there be a new one soon call for Canvas?

'The second batch of "What Does Freedom Look Like?" was able to run for 1 month. That series turned out really crazy so we want to give it the stage for now. The aim is to present something new again at the end of this year. Although we are not yet sure what form it will take. Perhaps we will choose one instead of 15 makers, or we will develop an app that allows the public to draw..;

Canvas @ Tivoli|Vredenburg

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This article originally appeared on platform Animation31 A survey of animation and motion design made under country number 31, Netherlands.

Udo Prinsen

I am animation director and moderator of Platform Animation31. With that platform, we provide a quick connection to and overview of animation and motion design talent in the Netherlands.View Author posts

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