Nine Christie® Roadster HD20K-J 3DLP® projectors showcased local artists and their creations – including the area’s own Johnny Hart, creator of the beloved BC comic strip – onto five historic buildings at the annual LUMA Projection Arts Festival earlier this month. The brainchild of Tice Lerner, Nick Rubenstein and Joshua Bernard Ludzki, the event, now in its second year, featured animation by noted motion design firm Favorite Color, and included work from other animators including the winner of a juried competition. With New City Video & Staging doing the installation, the event drew over 25,000 visitors from all over New York State and surrounding states to the downtown core.
“The idea for LUMA started from a discussion I had with Joshua Bernard, who is notable for his event planning and work in broadcast. We discussed doing a single projection on a building in downtown Binghamton and it progressed from there. When we decided to do this, we had this vision of doing something large, but not commercially oriented. We wanted it in the spirit of a film festival,” said Tice Lerner, co-founder, LUMA Projection Arts Festival. “I brought in Nick Rubenstein who came here three years ago from Hollywood where he was doing a lot of animation and post-production for the major studios. We started from the ground up with no experience in projection mapping.”
Christie enters the picture
“Last year, being brand new, we didn’t have the knowledge of finding the best channel to just make things happen so we used a variety of projector manufacturers,” said Lerner. “But that changed this year with Christie. I spoke with Christie’s Patrick Ellis about LUMA and he went out of his way to connect us with a staging company – New City Video & Staging – to make sure we would have the Roadster projectors we needed at an accessible price. That changed everything for the better for us.”
Last year’s event saw the global debut of digital 3D animations of the BC comic strip with the famous characters shown in all their hilarity on the side of a building. The 2016 festival featured more of the iconic BC characters animated to live music performed by a 48-piece orchestra from the Binghamton Philharmonic.
“My experiences with Christie have been phenomenal. Their technology is far more reliable than any other competitor we have worked with. The brightness, contrast, and general performance of the projectors are a step ahead. More than that, though, it is my experience with Christie support. Their people can not only answer the technical questions right away but they have a passion for the technology and the art of projection.”
A resurgent community draws record numbers downtown
The show’s success has surprised Lerner and his team. “Last year we expected a few thousand to show up at most, but instead, we had over 20,000 people attend and an estimated fifty percent more this year. We have a thriving arts community with some famous artists and we let them run wild with their creations.”
The entire community – Binghamton University, the City of Binghamton, and the Hart family – are all huge supporters of the event. Lerner said the City works closely with the festival by closing off streets, sponsoring the event and marketing the event, which is the biggest show downtown Binghamton has ever seen, drawing crowds from local universities and a large cross-section of regional residents.
“This festival is tremendous for Binghamton because as a college town, the larger events we have are often student-oriented and not always family friendly,” added Lerner. “This event changed everything and broke every demographic. We had every age, both genders, people from every walk of life and people from out of state who had heard about LUMA and wanted to see it.”
“Binghamton is a rust belt community that is starting to gentrify and grow with lots of new businesses and restaurants in recent years,” Lerner concluded, “and events like this really help direct the growth of the city in a very productive way – and that is what this is all about: community building. When we built this we were careful to do two things: firstly, to source as much as we can locally but secondly, also to source out of the area to fuse the two so that we can bring in new, fresh ideas while keeping that community growth and local involvement.”