The WinterFest Festival is a sensory spectacular held in the heart of Hong Kong during the Christmas season. An eight-minute animated show is projected once every half hour onto the walls of Hong Kong’s Cultural Centre building, requiring a large AV setup of several projectors, lights and loudspeakers. Creative projects company Artists In Motion makes it happen, creating, coordinating and conducting the entire show. The event consistently attracts over 400,000 people each year and is centrally located in Tsim Sha Tsui, visible from across the Kowloon Harbour.

Creative Director, Richard Lindsay, seems unfazed by the scale of the extraordinary visual experience: “Well, it is big, but it’s like anything — you break these things down.”

Artists In Motion is Sydney-based, but the majority of its projects are based overseas. Last Christmas was the sixth consecutive year Artists In Motion had conducted the WinterFest show — that includes everything from writing and animating the story, to projecting it on the 50m-high, 280m-wide Cultural Centre.

The only thing rivalling the logistical challenge of such an event is what goes on behind closed doors. The Winter Festival is an initiative by Hong Kong’s tourism board with the purpose of promoting Hong Kong as a must-see tourist destination. Lindsay says convincing the board that an engaging story would be more well-received than a tourism advertisement isn’t always easy.

“One thing we have to do is educate the client. You’ve got to think about the audience, the audience’s perspective, and what they want to get out of it. You have to make it entertaining.”

“The problem when you do something like this with a tourist board — and they’re lovely people — is that they want to do something that’s a little more advertising-like. But by respecting the people and providing some great entertainment for them, you’re giving them something they can enjoy.”

SPL-related complaints were common from the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, as performances would typically be occurring inside the building while the Artists In Motion crew conducted PA tests.

“It’s mainly because if we have big bass, it sends ripples through the building. But of course you need to have some serious bass in order to live up to a proper soundscape. So we play around with the Centre’s tolerance and what they’ll allow us to get away with,” says Lindsay.

“It’s a strangely shaped building,” says Lindsay. “It’s this skinny-curved wall with restrictions on where people can view it from, and that’s part of the challenge.”

There’s a lot to be considered when putting together a show like this — the scale of the building relative to people’s perspective, the audience’s viewing angles, ensuring quality sound gets to all viewers, synchronisation of projectors, audio and lighting, the list goes on. Spectators could even install a smartphone app for a personal, live music feed. The wealth of knowledge gained by Richard and the team having already run the show several times proved invaluable.

The team controls the audio, lighting, playback systems, and projection from a 12m-high projection tower that sits right on the water — one of several projection towers strategically stationed around the venue. Each tower’s structure has to allow wind to pass through to keep it from blowing over mid-show, and all equipment rigged on it is weather-proofed.

Artists In Motion took out the Platinum AVA Digital Award for last year’s WinterFest. The company puts on a similar spectacle for Chinese New Year, which Richard says has seen record audiences come out to see it this year — upwards of a million people between both WinterFest and CNY.

More locally, AIM plays a large role in Vivid, Sydney’s annual festival of light and music.

Artists In Motion: www.artistsinmotion.co