Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar

Forget chocolate – we designed the world’s biggest advent calendar, with a special daily surprise for Edinburgh’s Christmas audience. Double Take Projections transformed General Register House, Princes Street; one of Edinburgh’s most prominent buildings, with a spectacular Christmas projection mapping show. Our team took on the monumental task of producing a different animation for each of the 25 days of advent. Our stunning visual spectacle treated spectators to glimpses of archives of winters dating back to the 1700s set to a soundscape reflecting each year. Its impact stopped shoppers and visitors in their tracks. 


Christmas Projection Mapping Show

Client – Edinburgh’s Christmas
Location – General Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Date – 1st-25th December 2017
Project Partners – Underbelly, Edinburgh Council, Waverley Gate, Catalyst
Archive Partners – National Records of Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, National Library of Scotland, Scran, Canmore, Edinburgh Zoo, Looney Dook
Soundtrack- Canongate Studios
Projector Spec – 4 x EB-L25000U 25,000 lumen laser projectors

Fascinating Winter History

Double Take Projections were commissioned by Underbelly on behalf of Edinburgh City Council to project some of Scotland’s fascinating winter history on to the iconic building which houses Scotland’s national records. The Christmas light show was a free event, new to Edinburgh’s Christmas action-packed diary, as part of a drive to ensure attractions were spread out around the city.

We were asked to design a Giant Advent Calendar to project 25 glimpses of Edinburgh winters from years gone by; one revealed each day throughout advent, offering an entertaining take on history for passers-by to enjoy. The 25 windows of the building provided a perfect backdrop for our projection mapping; allowing us to put a calendar door on each one.

We choreographed and filmed our selected actors using a green screen infinity cove to create the illusion of them walking the length of the building, pulling walls down and effecting the geometry and colour of the facade.

Historic Archive Projections

Archive of the city dating back to the 1700s was supplied by partners including Historic Environment Scotland, Scotland National Records of Scotland and National Library of Scotland, among others. Our team of graphic designers created an innovative programme of animated projections set to a fitting soundtrack. Our countdown of clocks, cogs and numbers took the audience on a fantastic time travel back through years in Scotland’s history with our original videos together with historical images.

Using imagery sourced from Edinburgh’s archives, our projection mapping show presented Edinburgh’s giant advent calendar, telling stories of Edinburgh’s past, using the facade of this iconic Edinburgh landmark as its canvas. Many are familiar with Edinburgh’s rich history and folklore, renowned architecture and classical beauty and although every nook and cranny have a story to tell, some stories are told more than others. We used some of the lesser-known and unusual stories. The scenes include the construction of the Scott Monument, the opening of the Scottish Parliament and the ascent of the first air balloon in the UK.

Countdown of Clocks, Cogs and Numbers

Over 500,000 people witnessed our Christmas projection mapping show. They were treated to an explosion of animated archives, time-travelling giants, the Balmoral clock turning and Bay City Rollers blasting out over Princes Street. General Register House was a perfect position for the show with it being situated on one of the busiest crossroads in the country. The outdoor projection show went viral on social media with over 116,000 views on our Facebook platforms alone and with international press coverage.

As part of my 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology work with HES, I worked with Double Take Projections on the creation of a digital advent calendar using extensive imagery from the National Record of the Historic Environment and the Scran resource that we maintain. I found Double Take to be highly professional project partners, and we were able to establish a highly effective work pattern from the start, enabling us to deliver the advent calendar on time. I enjoyed working with them: they were completely respectful of licensing and copyright matters that are paramount within an archive, and the nature of our collaboration led us to collaborate further on promotional lectures and events.
Neil Gregory, Deputy Head of Engagement, HES

“Every year thousands of people come to General Register House to search our records and find out more about their families and about Scotland’s people and history. We’re delighted to share our building for Edinburgh’s giant advent calendar and give people a glimpse of just some of the treasures we hold.”
Tim Ellis, Chief Executive, National Records of Scotland


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