’s neo-classic facade provided
(AI) with the perfect canvas for creating a larger than life spectacle for the closing weekend of Chattanooga’s RiverRocks Festival. The visual FX company’s team of artists designed a series of 3D/2D scenarios that integrated the building’s windows, columns and other architectural details into the animation with interactive mapping that transformed the Hunter Mansion into everything from a pinball machine and aquarium to a pencil sketch of itself that’s erased into the night sky.
tasked AI with designing and producing the six-minute animated 3D projection for the annual event, which celebrates the outdoor lifestyle with activities that include rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, biking, as well as concerts and other entertainment events. The projection show ended the festivities with an evening display of lights, imagery and music that magically brought the historical museum to life.
The multi-imaging production company provided Artistic Image’s creative director, Ed Dye, and his design team with the concept for a series of animations and an eclectic mix of subjects that included “Pencil Sketch,” “Pop-Up Book,” “Paint,” “Gears,” “Pinball Machine,” “3D Shape Shifting,” “Seasonal Effects,” “Window Scenes,” “Orbs of Light” and “Aquarium.” Full Spectrum also provided AI will all of the logistics, programming data, systems specification, on-site operations specs, and other technical requirements for the complex presentation.
“This project gave us the opportunity to bring Full Spectrum’s innovative concept to life and design a large-scale mapping that uses a building as an element of the visual story, rather than taking the traditional approach and hiding it with the projection,” Martin explains. “When paint runs down the façade’s window ledges the doors and columns interact with it, affecting its path; when the building is transformed into an aquarium, fish swim in and out of the windows and water appears to be filling the museum and then pouring out of it.”
“This project drew upon the talents of numerous multi-disciplined artists, and incorporated a mix of mediums,” notes Dye. “Each of the 10 vignettes was design to have its own distinct look, but at the same time complement the other animations and work as an integral part of the video.”
For “Aquarium,” AI used a combination of 3D and 2D animation. The fish were created in 3D and animated with a “wiggle” effect to simulate swimming, and 2D was used to simulate the actual movement of the fish as they swam in and out of the windows. “The challenge in this scene was achieving the look of water both inside and outside of the museum,” says Martin. “We experimented with size and shadows to create the illusion that the fish are moving closer and further from the building, and used select stock footage, which we colorized to seamlessly integrate into the action to add depth and a level of realism.”
“Seasonal Effects” took the audience on a trip through the seasons, starting with animated ivy tendrils curling up the columns and ending with leaves blowing past the building and icicles shattering and crashing the museum, as if it were made of glass. “Window Scenes” allowed spectators to peek inside the façade’s colorfully framed windows to see silhouettes of dancers and musicians at play.
“Pencil Sketch” employed a fusion of a number of different techniques. AI VFX artist Daniel Wiggins created the pencil and eraser in 3D, and hand drew the pencil sketch, which he scanned into the animation to maintain the authentic look of the original drawing. FX artist Andy Sapp created the 2D elements and composited the scene.
“Incorporating the museum’s architecture in the animations was challenging,” says Martin. “The façade is red brick with the moldings, columns and windows in white. We had to use lots of contrast on the dark brick to achieve the look we desired. We chose colors and finishes that were pleasing to the animations, and stood out in all their glory against the brick façade.”
“The columns were another issue since they actually stand 15 feet in front of the building,” she notes. “The animations for the columns were created and projected separately in order to create a seamless look. We also had to take care that the art didn’t exceed beyond the columns, or it would create discord with the animation projected on the façade itself.”
The “Pop-Up Book” scene was a tribute to the Hunter Museum’s collections and showcased pieces of art while transforming the façade into a three-dimensional paper pop-up. By contrast, “Pinball Machine” was pure fun, and featured a fast-moving game of animated pinballs tearing across the exterior of the mansion and up and down the columns.
AI’s animators and VFX artists used a mix of technology for the project, which included
software to craft the video.
“Merging the concepts for the 10 vignettes was no simple feat,” Martin adds. “Transforming the written ideas into awe-inspiring art that excited not only the audience but also Full Spectrum and our team, was a great achievement.”
“Projection mapping is a complex process and this project was very much a team effort,” notes Dye. “Full Spectrum always brings a level of technical expertise and creativity to each project that inspires our artists. Steve Carroll, Paul Creasy and Chad Kuney worked closely with us throughout the design and production of the animation, and gave us creative feedback along the way. It a great creative partnerships and the joint effort produced another projection that we’re all proud of.”