NEW YORK — On August 1 a team of artists and conservationists projected an incredible 15-minute light show onto 350 feet of the Empire State Building, showcasing a wide variety of endangered animals.
This was the first time anything of this magnitude and complexity has been attempted on the iconic building.
Thirty-three floors served as the canvas for the project, which was created by Oscar-winning director and Oceanic Preservation Society founder Louie Psihoyos, in collaboration with artist Travis Threlkel of Obscura Digital, Oscar-nominated composer J. Ralph, the Discovery Channel, Vulcan Productions, the Li Ka-Shing Foundation, and Empire State Realty Trust.
Psihoyos and Ralph worked together on the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Cove,” and are working together on a new documentary called “Racing Extinction” — one of the reasons they have created the light show.
Tech Insider joined a group watching the historic spectacle from a nearby roof. Check out a selection of amazing images from the night.
Cody Sullivan contributed to this post.
The light show displayed animals including Cecil the Lion, a snow leopard, a golden lion tamarin, manta rays, snakes, and birds.
The images were projected by 40 stacked, 20,000-lumen projectors, shown in this image, on the roof of a building on West 31st Street.
Throughout the event, the LED lights atop the Empire State Building were coordinated with the projection by the building's lighting designer.
The visual stunt was a first. According to the New York Times, moving images have never been displayed on the building before.
The Obscura Digital team has previously pulled off light stunts for 'Racing Extinction' on the Guggenheim and the United Nations buildings, but the August 1 event was at a completely new level. The light shows are meant to draw the world's attention to what we are losing as more and more animals go extinct.
There were three years of appeals processes before the show was approved by the city, and after finally getting approval, the team had just four weeks to set up the projections. The show reportedly cost more than a million dollars to put on.
That's not even counting the incredible shindig they threw. Hundreds of people (including Tech Insider) attended a watch party on the roof of 230 Fifth Avenue.
The view from the roof was amazing. The crowd stood in stunned silence during the 15 minute light show and the debut of the two new songs that will be featured in the film.
Composer Ralph collaborated with Sia on 'One Candle,' and with the musician Antony Hegarty on 'Manta Ray.' Both songs will be featured prominently in the movie.
This red bug was one of my favourite animations of the night -- it crawled up the side of the building.
The light show was highly visible from the streets of New York for about 20 blocks south of the building. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks to watch. The 15-minute light show played on a loop until midnight.
There was even a cute animation of a gorilla climbing the Empire State Building, a la King Kong. It was surprisingly realistic:
So why do it? 'Film can change the world,' Psihoyos told The Verge. 'I call it a weapon of mass construction. I'm hoping with this film and this event, we can raise awareness and start a movement.'
The 'Racing Extinction' documentary will have a limited theatrical release in the fall, and its international broadcast premiere on the Discovery Channel on December 2.
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