Lighting and Video Projection at Erchless Castle, near Beauly. 4 April 2017.

Tucked away, out of sight, on the A831 where the River Glass meets the River Beauly is Erchless Castle. If you’ve ever travelled from Beauly to Cannich there’s every chance you’ve driven past the castle and never known it, like I have at least a half dozen times in the last twenty years. The entrance is merely an indistinguishable junction joining any other track road anywhere across Scotland, and given that it’s on a fairly tight corner it’s easy to miss given that all your concentration is focused on making that bend safely. Hidden away through thick high trees that tower the mountainous slopes on either side is the Erchless Castle Estate covering hundreds of square miles.

Built originally in the 13th century, remodelled in the 17th, and again in the 19th century the castle was owned all that time by the Chisholm’s until 1935 when it came into private ownership of Highland Estates Ltd. The castle transferred hands several times until eventually in 1982 it was inherited by Erik Robson.

The building has two distinct looks; the first looking more like a traditional castle of the 13th century period, but a Baronial-style wing was added in the 1800’s. For this particular project I didn’t know exactly what I was going to arrive to. None of the photos I had seen online gave very much away. Getting my bearings and orientation didn’t actually happen until my arrival when it became apparent that the castle backs onto the main road. After being given a tour of the building by the wonderful South African caretaking staff I took a wander around the grounds and became familiar with my blank canvas. It seemed very obvious to project onto the front of the building on the original castle walls which weren’t as wide if I were projecting onto the newer wing.

With me I had brought some fairly simple kit. A pop up marquee tent (which was an absolute must given the on and off nature of the wind and rain in mid-April!), two stands, a short piece of ladder truss, a 6000 lumen NEC projector and my trusty custom built Windows 10 powered lighting PC. I set up about 45 meters back from the castle, before getting to work setting up 32 LED wash lights around the building, more or less pointing at a 45 degree angle. Once I had finished around 6 PM, I got warm inside the castle eventually heading back out again around 8.30 once it had came down pitch black!

The beauty of the light show I’ve developed is it can lend itself to almost any type of show or performance, whether it’s a rock show, a dance night and in this instance, an 800 year old castle! I knew I wouldn’t be doing projection mapping – simply just projecting graphics onto the side of the building. I never had the time nor the budget to develop custom graphics for the castle, nor had I been to the castle before to map out templates of the buildings front. But it came out a lot better than I had expected. The combination of the lighting and the projection worked very well, the mixture of different colours across the various contours of the walls worked perfectly. It looks less like a screen in the dark, as without the lighting you might never know there was a building there.

 
The video in my opinion is an excellent demonstration of what’s possible with such an exquisite canvas; you really can’t appreciate the experience of projecting onto a five story castle without being there to experience the scale of what you’re looking up to. Whilst I’ve added music it’s worth noting that all I could hear during the projection were the voices around me, and the occasional dog barking miles off in the distance. This type of light show is the very straight forward to pull out of the hat when limited time constraints and budget are key concerns for a client, and you too can be caught up in this kind of event if you reach out to us.