Empire State Building Projections Celebrate Harper’s Bazaar’s 150th

April 21, 2017 Projects

When Harper’s Bazaar was planning how to commemorate their sesquicentennial celebration in grand style, they turned to Obscura to make it truly epic.

Inspired by our work projecting images of endangered species on the Empire State Building for the film Racing Extinction and for CNN’s 2016 election night coverage, Harper’s wanted to make New York’s most iconic building the centerpiece of their celebratory fete.

But there was a twist: their birthday party would be at the famous Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, and so this time we’d be projecting on the north façade rather than the south.

So we dispatched an intrepid team to scour mid-town Manhattan in search of a viable projection location, which took some time, effort and shoe leather, but we ultimately found what we needed — the roof of a glamorous (we kid) parking garage on West 35th Street (we bought out the parking spaces).

The location secured, we plotted our technical plan to arrange 69 Christie Digital HD20k J-series 20,000 lumen projectors on the roof and have them hit the building at a terrifically extreme 51º angle while maintaining crispness and brightness that could be seen a mile away at the Rainbow Room.

Simultaneously, we worked closely with Harper’s to select the best images and transform them from print to projection, and in some cases animation and parallax — no mean feat, given the dimensions, colors and aspect ratio of the building façade.

Obscura’s media team created a 30-minute program featuring the best in photography from 150 years of this cultural institution’s history that would honor the world-famous photographers, fashion designers and models who have been part of Harper’s throughout the years.

“Harper’s was the world’s first fashion magazine, the first to show photography, the first to show nudity and even the bikini … it always likes to surprise and delight its readers,” said editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey.

And that being the case, it makes perfect sense for Harper’s to partner with Obscura to surprise and delight the world.

By Will Chase