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Christie and BARTKRESA Design help stimulate Redwood City economy with projection mapping display

Tekamaki manages entire project using historic Fox Theatre as projection platform

Business in downtown Redwood City, California, has taken an upward turn on Tuesday nights thanks to the Redwood City Improvement Association, Christie, Tekamaki and BARTKRESA Design. Previously the quietest night of the week, more than 1,000 people now flock downtown to see the San Mateo County History Museum lit up in a stunning visual display. 

Influenced by projection mapping projects in America and around the world, Redwood City wanted something to draw people downtown and create a positive economic impact on local businesses. After securing funding to stimulate the downtown Redwood City economy, the idea of doing a projection mapping show became a reality, with the San Mateo County History Museum and Courthouse Square being the obvious choice. 

“I always wanted to do something really unique in the Courthouse Square; it’s considered Redwood City’s living room,” said Eric Lochtefeld, owner of the Fox Theatre, and President of the Redwood City Improvement Association.  

Enter Tekamaki and BARTKRESA Design 

Tekamaki worked with BARTKRESA Design to plan, specify, install and manage the entire project including the installation of the two Christie Roadster S+22K-J projectors on a custom-built cart installed in the Fox Theatre across the street.  

According to Bob Loney, managing partner at Tekamaki, they were drawn to Bart Kresa’s artistic style and Kresa said, “We’d love to do this but we have to go with 3DLP and I recommend Christie J Series.” 

“Bart was calling out specific benchmarks of light levels that he would want to see with his content. So, from that, we designed and selected the gear. We did look at other products, but we were happiest with the Christie,” said Bob Loney, managing partner, Tekamaki. 

“I was approached by Tekamaki to work with them and we agreed to create a 15-minute show that would bring more people to the town, to the square, to the restaurants. They wanted a very dynamic show driven by music and images but said nothing specific about the subject. That gave us a lot of freedom,” said Kresa. 

The performance begins with a 5-minute pre-show, a 5-minute video “that is spectacular,” and a 5-minute wind-down. Lochtefeld also requested various screen saver images to play on other nights, creating one still image.  

“We created a story with part of it showing the history of Redwood City in parallel to the development of the Silicon Valley – from computer processors to the digital creation of life and humans in the future. The architecture gave us a lot of inspiration because we look for ways to transform the building or different ways of expression with the façade,” Kresa continued.

“The 5-minute wind-down created an opportunity for our organization to speak, through the 3D character Gaia that Bart created,” added Lochtefeld. “Gaia comes from the future and says hello to Redwood City.” 

With a throw distance of 178 feet, ambient light was a consideration, yet the Christie J Series easily overcame any concerns about washed out images. However, there were concerns about the museum’s windows.

“This beautiful building we’re shooting on has these great windows but all of them have different coatings. Four out of the five windows we were projecting directly on needed to have a backing or else there was going to be a black hole in those spaces,” said Lochtefeld. “Rather than hang curtains or anything permanent, because this is a museum, we use rolls of liner. Then we race back the next morning before the museum opens and take them down. That gave us 100 percent of the canvas for Bart. It would have been a shame to block out all the windows.” 

Tuesday nights are now vibrant in downtown Redwood City

The impact has been immediate: after only a few months, over 1,000 people are viewing the show each Tuesday and spending the evening downtown. 

“You can definitely see an increase in people coming on a weekly basis; the restaurants are busier and the little shops are busier, with more people coming out to watch the show,” said Jessie McDaniel, marketing & client relations manager at Tekamaki. “Everyone is very pleased and there is a real buzz going on in downtown Redwood City right now; you can certainly feel and see it.” 

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