Giant 3D displays up above as organisers take advantage of giant National Stadium roof for NDP

This year's National Day Parade features 29 large aerial props with 3D projection mapping to create special effects on stage.

SINGAPORE - Organisers of this year's National Day Parade (NDP) are making full use of the new National Stadium's high-domed roof, which stands about 80m tall, by suspending giant props from it.

The 29 props include a moving unicorn that is 2.7m tall, 3m wide and weighs 175kg, and clusters of futuristic buildings standing up to six stories tall and weighing up to 338kg each.

Hoisted from the stadium's dome roof, the large props are made of lightweight materials, and are supported by cutting-edge technology that allows projectors around the stadium to accurately illuminate them with elaborate animated patterns despite the props' movements in the wind.

For example, the 3-D model skyscrapers of the Sky City are studded with 250 markers that are constantly monitored by 30 infrared cameras. The cameras feed the data into a computer system that calculates the exact positions of the markers in real time. This enables the 66 projectors to make split-second micro-adjustments, not only to follow the moving targets but also to "deform" the images to fit onto the skyscrapers' changing three-dimensional shape.

The show's technical director Kenny Wong, 49, said: "It's arguably the most technically challenging NDP we've ever done."

Multimedia director Brian Gothong Tan, 36, added: "Every year we have been projecting on the floor, and that has been quite boring so we wanted to do something that's vertical instead, but not only vertical but 3D."

But Mr Wong stressed that the technology was not the main point. "We always start with a story - what is the story we want to tell."

Indeed, the props include eight giant boulder-like structures that help tell the story of the Singapore stone, a stone found at the mouth of the Singapore River in the 13th century.

Mr Wong said: "You are a lot closer to the action than if you were at Padang or even at the floating platform. So it's that intimacy that allows us to tell this story."

He also commended the creative and production team that made it happen. "Technology is dumb. It's the people that make it smart."

For those manoeuvring the props on the stage, it is a carefully choreographed ballet with gentle giants. Large props manager Lieutenant (LTA) Bruno Pereira, 29, said: "My concern is always the safety of my soldiers, because these things weigh typically 800 to 1,000kg."

Follow the latest NDP 2016 news here at str.sg/ndp2016.