Red Bull Mind Meld at the ULTRA Music Festival
COW Library : Digital Signage : Debra Kaufman : Red Bull Mind Meld at the ULTRA Music Festival
ULTRA Music Festival in Miami, even the iconic InterContinental hotel got into the groove, its 29-storeys transforming into a psychedelic mural for the "Red Bull Mind Meld" experience. Electronic artists Tiesto, Avicii, David Guetta and others provided the soundtrack for 165,000 fans who witnessed the bricks making up the InterContinental come tumbling down. As the façade of the hotel completely crumbled, Integrated Visions Productions projected an array of colorful line art that gyrated to the beat of the techno music and then turned into a hypnotizing psychedelic mural.
Integrated Visions Productions projected an array of colorful line art that gyrated to the beat of the techno music
Integrated Visions Productions, a multimedia design lab based in Atlanta, Georgia and dedicated to producing production-mapped content, created more than 30 custom 3D animation modules for the ULTRA Music Festival, integrating extreme sports and cultural footage from Red Bull into the mix. Integrated Visions is no newcomer to the specialized field of video projection mapping, having created an art installation at the Panama City Beach's 2011 Christmas Spectacular and a themed weekend show at the Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland, CO.
The size and height of the Intercontinental Hotel meant that Integrated Visions had a lot of content to create. "It took us six weeks with 12 animators to create all the content," explains partner Bryan Blessing. "We had access to all of Red Bull's content pool, and everything else was created by our team of animators. We work very closely with the University of Georgia's animation department; our partners are all alumni." Most of the animations were built and executed in Autodesk Maya, with assist from Adobe Photoshop.
To create this complicated live visual experience, Integrated Visions Productions had teamed up with SenovvA, which has more than two-decades experience in technical and visual solutions for the broadcast and film industries, including the 2012 Oscars®, Jason Wu for Target's Launch in New York and the DUMBO Arts Fair.
SenovvA brought on 12 large-format Barco HD projectors and UVA's D3 media playback system to produce a 20,000+square-foot projection. "The media management and playback system developed by UnitedVisualArtists (UVA), a lighting company and VJ crew that also does software development, is custom software application that was built exactly for this kind of use," says Blessing. "It has a much more powerful processor and manages a lot more media inputs and outputs than a Mac."
SenovvA brought on 12 large-format Barco HD projectors
SenovvA's projection plan broke the surface into three zones; the company then side-stacked four of the Barco projectors to saturate each zone with color. By layering the images produced by the projectors to fit exactly, pixel-by-pixel, SenovvA Senior Producer Dave Taylor created a single seamless image in each zone for a total of 7,776,000 pixels (1920x4050) on the wall.
"The biggest challenge from a creative standpoint was the resolution," says Blessing. "That was determined by the size of the building, with 1920 as the width and 4050 as the height. When you're rendering files at that resolution, they can take lots of time. For one of the modules, the spinning cubes with Red Bull took 37 hours across 11 computers to render."
The event was live for four hours a night, for three nights. "We created 40 loops or vignettes of between one and three minutes in length and just looped those for five minutes at a time," says Blessing. "It didn't allow us to do mixing or blending like a normal VJ would be able to do. We just went from one loop to the next because of how the media management system was set up. We saved about 12 of the loops for the second night, and six to ten the additional two nights, so all 40 ended up on the wall."
Projection mapping is a hugely labor intensive job prior to the event, and more ephemeral than most video content, which has an afterlife on Blu-ray or DVD. "That's one of my favorite aspects about it," says Blessing. "It lives online but the impact is so much greater in person. It's magical on the Internet but the actual experience is a rarity. When you see it live, whatever the deception is, you fall for it."
Although projection mapping has its roots in the light shows of the 1960s and, segueing in the late 1970s and early 1980s into slide projectors and then video, the massive video projection event like the one at the ULTRA Music Festival is still relatively rare in the U.S.
"For the first time in the U.S., you have hundreds of thousands of people seeing it in front of their eyes," says Blessing, who reports that one event in Russia, a celebration of that country's history, played before half a million people. "It's difficult in the U.S. because there aren't a lot of cool unique buildings so we're faced with lots of reculinear surfaces."
"Most of these events take place in front of a small number of people," he says. "That, and the ephemeral nature of the execution give it a potency and cachet that I find appealing."
In May, Integrated Visions Research plans its next performance, at the Gowanus Ballroom, an industrial space in Brooklyn, NY. You can see it online after the event. Or, if you want the cachet of being there, head over to Brooklyn to see it live.
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