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'Let's Glow SF': How high-tech projection mapping aims to bring people back to San Francisco

ABC 7 San Francisco logo ABC 7 San Francisco 12/4/2021 KGO
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A Friday night countdown in Downtown San Francisco brought bright lights and a cause for celebration.

The Downtown Community Benefit District, Downtown SF kicked off "Let's Glow SF," its inaugural holiday projection mapping event.

It is being billed as the largest projection mapping event in the U.S.

For ten days, the high-tech art will cover the faade of several buildings downtown. The 5-minute displays are meant to help boost business in the city.

RELATED: SF officials insist city is safe after recent thefts, urge shopping local for holidays

"We want people to fly into San Francisco, or drive, or take public transportation," Downtown SF's Executive Director Robbie Silver told ABC7 News. "Book hotel room nights, just for this type of event."

The goal is to activate the area, get people out and get people spending money.

Mayor London Breed told the crowd, San Francisco is being defined by a number of viral videos depicting crime- such as mob store takeovers and brazen shoplifting.

"People have tried to define us based on a number of videos which do not show the very best of San Francisco and what we have to offer," she said. "By coming together and showcasing this incredible, incredible light show has everything to do with our resilience, with setting up our own narrative and defining who we are as a city."

VIDEO: 'Magical' holiday lights in SF's Ghirardelli Square brings joy to attendees

One spectator told ABC7 News, "I'm hoping everything's gonna improve."

Addressing safety, Silver added, "All of us are just feeling a bit- really emotional. And we want to come outside, we want safe and healthy activities... and I think this is an innovative first step."

Eighteen laser projectors are spread across four separate locations in the city's Financial District.

  • One Bush Plaza
  • 345 Montgomery St.
  • Pacific Stock Exchange at 301 Pine St.
  • Hyatt Regency at 5 Embarcadero Center

"Coming out of a time where I think we could all use some inspiration and all use a little bit of beauty in our lives, I think that's what we'd really like to see people experience," A3 Visual Chief Technology Officer Sean Mason said.

RELATED: Widmer World Christmas display returns to Pleasanton

A3 Visual is the production company behind the elaborate projector mapping. He described it as one of the largest-scale art forms in existence.

Silver said, "We're going to check in with our restaurants and our bars and see how they're doing sales wise. Because this is gonna happen nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., that gives us a really good timeframe to measure success."

"It's time to shine San Francisco," Mayor Breed told visitors. "And tonight, we will glow."

The event runs through Dec. 12.

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