How the Apollo 11 rocket was projected onto the Washington Monument

Earlier this month, I was in Washington DC during the Smithsonian's festivities around the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first human moon landing. As you likely saw, UK-based creative studio 59 Productions and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum collaborated on an astonishing audiovisual experience centered around a lifesize Saturn V rocket projected onto the Washington Monument.

Over three nights, several hundred thousand people turned up for the "Apollo 50: Go for the Moon" show that also involved several ancillary screens and an incredibly loud sound system. It was truly breathtaking.

Thanks to my kind colleagues at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, I was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the installation and had great conversations with 59 Productions directors Richard Slaney and Lysander Ashton and producer Ollie Hester. Their studio's work lies right at the intersection of art and science, my favorite zone of exploration. I particularly appreciate that 59 Productions' roots are in theater and live performance that blends the virtual and real. As Lysander told me, they don't consider the buildings or other physical structures upon which they project video to just be display surfaces. "Rather, they are characters in the performance," Lysander said.

Enjoy the video below about how "Go for the Moon" happened here on Earth.