Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015 (detail)

Work / Animation

Universal Everything project hand-drawn animations on Sydney Opera House

It may be my former life as a hack but there’s something about the word “biggest” that always piques my interest. That said, ambition only gets you so far and you can’t sacrifice skill or style in a headlong rush for scale. With Universal Everything though, you needn’t worry. On Friday the studio created its largest projection to date, lighting up the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House with hand-drawn animations from 22 of the world’s best creatives. Every year the landmark commissions an artist to work on its curves and Matt Pyke and his team jumped at the chance to take on an opportunity that “epitomises everything we strive for.”

Universal Everything gave the image-makers a keyword as a prompt (e.g. grow, bounce, climb) and tasked them with creating 30-second long cell animations, using a black background as the canvas. The idea was to create a living mural – drawing on inspirations ranging from Roman engravings to modern street art – and the choice to work with hand-drawn animations helped differentiate from some of the super high-tech projections that have graced the famous sails in the past.

“Our analogue animation process reveals a human soul in the drawings – something we hope the audience can relate to,” Matt continues.

“We’ve achieved a playful response to the curved geometry of the building. Our collaboration with today’s cell animators brings a new aesthetic, informed by popular culture – including manga, scientific simulations, psychedelia and modernist graphics.

“This visual interaction within the architecture suggests both activity of the interior, and the physicality of the exterior. Some chapters are a riot of colour, reaching every corner; some are quieter, subtler explorations, evolving organically.”

It took four months to produce and involved animation studios from the USA to New Zealand, Russia to Argentina. Seeing it play out on the opera house was a big moment for the team but Matt hopes it brought to mind something much more personal for those who saw it – namely the “flick book animations in the corners of their school books.”


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015


Universal Everything: Sydney Opera House 2015