AQUATIQUE Vivid Festival


One of the highlights of Sydney’s Vivid Festival of Light, Music and Ideas is the Aquatique International Water Show, which takes place in Darling Harbour. The Pulse was commissioned by Destination NSW to create all the content for the 2014 show.


We were briefed by the award-winning Director, Ignatius Jones, to create five shows based on five separate themes – Dances, The Night Fantastic, Love, Joy and Women Rock. These performances were to play on loop every night for the whole two weeks of the festival and each one needed to synchronise to its own track list of popular songs.


The black silk of the night-time harbour, the misty spray of the water fountains, the towering cityscape backdrop – we had a wonderful, open setting to play with. So the Aquatique team wanted to use everything at its disposal – including projections, water jets, lasers and fireworks – to create an unforgettable show. This meant a crucial part of our process was ensuring that our content was choreographed to coordinated with everything else; as the lights, lasers and water jets were controlled by other event partners.

We had great commercial songs to work with, so we began by crafting our animations based upon the structure, tone and energy of those tracks. This formed the audio-visual core of the performance, from which everything else was based.

The canvas for our projections was a series of arch-shaped water fountains, requiring us to design for their specific shapes and sizes.

Our content was a mix of animations and live-action, which involved filming dancers from the Australian Ballet, The Lion King, Strictly Ballroom, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Jeep Productions.


Funnily enough, the resolution on water screens is excellent. This is because the water droplets constituting the screen surface are actually smaller than the projected pixels. However, for large screens like the ones we were using, the water droplets tend to “atomise”, creating a cloudy effect around the outside edges.

Our solution was to focus on bold designs that would maintain their integrity, even on the perimeter of the screens.

One of the major considerations for working with water screens is their susceptibility to wind. This meant that everyone working on the show, in each of their respective disciplines, had to plan for a canvas which could change its size and shape.


The Aquatique International water show stirred hearts and captured imaginations – evident in the huge crowds that swelled around Darling Harbour night after night during Vivid.

Using all of the tools at our disposal, The Pulse and its collaborators delivered an all-encompassing harbourside spectacular. What’s more, our company was fortunate enough to win numerous local and international awards for the show’s content.