Blog for Motion Mapping
A world first: lighting up Stonehenge with star DJ Paul Oakenfold
When the legendary Paul Oakenfold became the first DJ to perform live at Stonehenge, we were invited to bring the prehistoric monument to life with a cutting-edge video projection display.
Teaming up with the star performer at such an iconic venue, one that must be treated with the utmost respect, was full of challenges. But that’s just the way we like it. And it rocked!
No-one had been allowed to perform at Stonehenge before, even the aptly-named Rolling Stones had tried, for fear of pumping bass and large crowds causing unimaginable damage.
But Oakenfold, officially the world’s most successful DJ, overcame these issues by using clever noise-reduction technology and only inviting 50 close friends. That noise-reduction? Silent disco headphones! Everyone present heard the music in their headsets but if they took them off, and the traffic from the nearby A303 nearly drowned out the noise from the speakers at the DJ booth.
As he performed his music in front of the incredible stones, with DJ pal Carl Cox guesting back to back, our stunning digital displays dazzled across the monument as the sun set.
How the Paul Oakenfold Stonehenge gig came about
The unique event was the brainchild of Alon Shulman, a special advisor to English Heritage and a partner with Oakenfold in a promotions and events company.
As the boss of Universe, the promoters behind the Tribal Gathering festivals of the 1990s, Shulman wanted the show to be a fundraiser for English Heritage as well as introducing the Wiltshire monument, parts of which date back 5,000 years, to a new generation.
Given Oakenfold’s extreme precautions, English Heritage agreed to the show. A year’s delicate negotiations and preparations had borne fruit.
Motion Mapping brings Stonehenge to life
The surreal experience of a live DJ set was improved further with a stunning digital video projection show bringing the stones to life.
Motion Mapping had the huge responsibility of transforming Stonehenge artistically like never before. With just a small team, we had only half an hour after Stonehenge closed to the public before guests arrived. In that small window, we needed to get our equipment on-site and set-up.
And the effects were sensational. With the headphones on and Oakenfold’s music pumping, the projections helped create a hypnotic, almost spiritual occasion. One guest confided: “I had a bit of a moment in the middle of the stones.”
As the sun set, and darkness fell, the digital displays on each giant rock came into their own as the bright spotlights danced into the sky, as if protecting Stonehenge from aerial attack.
Paul Oakenfold lives the dream
As he wrapped up his latest extraordinary gig (he has also played the Great Wall of China and Mount Everest base camp), Oakenfold reflected that it doesn’t get much better than “playing music in the open air at Stonehenge and seeing the joy in the faces in the crowd”.
“We did it!” he saluted at the end after playing his new album, called Live from Stonehenge. Indeed, he had, and we were proud to play such an important part in it.
His set will be released as a charity album, raising funds for English Heritage, which is now entirely funded by charity.
Projection mapping for your event
Having transformed Stonehenge like no-one ever has before, imagine what we could do for your event?
Corporate events, brand launches, weddings, concerts – our hi-tech projection mapping brings any event to life.
We’ll use buildings, objects, even cakes to produce dazzling and vibrant digital displays.
Contact us today for a chat. We’d love to work with you.