Sydney Opera House ‘From the Sails’

  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Installation Design

Commissioned By:

Sydney Opera House

Designed In:


From the Sails: Light Years was a captivating 17-minute motion artwork commemorating the Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary. Designed for the wider public, it showcased the landmark’s rich history through stunning visuals and an original score, enhanced by innovative audio technology that provided perfectly synchronised sound for an immersive experience.

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Image: Daniel Boud, Courtesy of Sydney Opera House
Image: Photographer James Horan, Infinity Squared
Image: Photographer James Horan, Infinity Squared
Image: Photographer James Horan, Infinity Squared
Image: Daniel Boud, Courtesy of Sydney Opera House
Image: Daniel Boud, Courtesy of Sydney Opera House
Image: Photographer James Horan, Infinity Squared
Image: Photographer James Horan, Infinity Squared
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  • The design challenge for From the Sails: Light Years was to create a captivating visual and auditory experience commemorating the Sydney Opera House's 50th anniversary, whilst tackling the complexities of synchronising audio and visuals across a massive public space. A crucial part of the challenge was to enable audiences across a significant distance to listen to the audio from anywhere around the quay, without jeopardising the immersive experience. Moreover, the design needed to capture the iconic landmark's essence and rich history, resonating with diverse audiences and reflecting the cultural context of this highly celebrated Australian institution.

  • Addressing the design challenge, we drew on past experience synchronising audio to develop an innovative mobile solution. Utilising live audio-visual synchronisation technology adapted for the web through a simple QR code scan, we delivered a device-agnostic, low-latency experience with top-notch security. With just 25 milliseconds of latency, our solution created a truly mesmerising experience, seamlessly blending story and spectacle. The film showcased the site's history, from its origins as a First Nations meeting place to its current cultural significance, providing a genuinely transporting experience. Onsite and in sync, the artwork captivated audiences through precise audio narration, fulfilling its dual purpose.

  • From the Sails: Light Years has had a significant commercial and societal impact. The innovative synchronisation technology introduced a new type of audio-visual experience, revolutionising engagement with large-scale public events. As a fitting launch to the year-long celebration of the Sydney Opera House, the project captivated local and global audiences, with 180,000 viewers tuning in via Facebook Livestream. The seamless fusion of film and audio fostered a deeper connection to the landmark's history and cultural significance. Overwhelmingly positive reactions highlighted the project's extensive societal impact, nurturing a sense of national identity and global appreciation for this iconic cultural institution.

  • Our team, featuring an award-winning motion artist and subject-matter expert, crafted an experience showcasing the Sydney Opera House's history and legacy as a performance venue, public building, and World Heritage-listed masterpiece. The film represents significant moments from the past 50 years, highlighting the contributions of diverse artists, performers, and audiences. We seamlessly integrated footage and images, creating a visual narrative flowing across the sails while reflecting on the creative future of the Australian community. The film starts with a reflection on Tubowgule's ancient promontory, featuring a prologue by First Nations artist Jake Duczynski from Studio Gilay. We drew inspiration from architect Jørn Utzon's organic growth principles, celebrating textures and shapes found across Gadigal Country and acknowledging local cultural practices. Our film honours the diverse individuals who've shaped the iconic building, including Jørn Utzon, Ove Arup, Peter Hal, Anita Levy, welders, carpenters, engineers, and construction workers. An iconic performance by American bass-baritone artist Paul Robeson is also featured. Altogether, this design solution pays tribute to the Sydney Opera House's rich history and legacy, emphasising the importance of First Nations stories and the venue's ongoing cultural significance.