3D + Digital + Stereoscopic Projections
By Bart Kresa
The PALM Expo in Mumbai, India, has become a proving ground for the latest technology in audiovisual and live entertainment. For our client, Christie Digital, the world’s leading innovator of projectors and complete systems displays, it’s time to go big! Each year, we team up with Christie to create a totally custom show that features the company’s latest and most innovative special effects. The objective was to generate buzz that got people talking, or in the case of this year’s show, leave them totally speechless!
We did this by producing a seven-minute live, immersive performance that was shown every half hour for three days during the expo. Officially titled a “Stereoscopic 3D-Augmented Reality Experience with Live Interaction,” (perfect for this crowd of international, high-profile technicians in the entertainment industry), its subtitle – “The Kaleidoscope of Life” — more accurately described how it looked and felt emotionally.
To view the show, which was projected within a domed, custom-built stage, attendees donned 3D glasses and entered a sensual virtual word inhabited by a lone dancer who became enveloped within the different fantasy environments we created. Within these, another layer of visual elements – swaying lanterns, moving particles – were added to create a 3D effect against the 2D background. The dancer’s movements were choreographed to appear as if she was interacting with these worlds.
What makes this all the more astonishing was that this alternative world came to life within a tradeshow booth – not usually the most conducive environments for total immersion or for that matter, innovation. The stereoscopic projections and domed structure enabled us to present a dynamic visual display of 2D and 3D images that transformed the audience’s reality and left them with infinite possibilities.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Stereoscopic technology is similar to that used in the film, Avatar. It feels like a 3D effect yet is stereoscopic because it can be seen on a flat screen. To this flat screen, we wanted to add a truly three-dimensional element – a live dancer on her own stage within the 13-by-10-by-6-meter-tall domed stage which was custom built on site. We wanted her to appear to be floating in space with no wires. To do this we built an elevated stage for her 1.8 meters from the ground that would blend in and appear or disappear with the projections behind and in front of her. The effect we wanted was that she was submerged in the image and able to react to it as well as interact with it. Everything was an illusion.
The design took us three months. We’d design a portion of it, view it through the 3-D glasses, then perfect that one element, moving the image back and forth to get the effect we wanted. We did this with every environment within the dome. Every image was examined and re-examined until it perfectly suited our objective to create an immersive world for the dancer. Finally, we added a layer of images on the floor and that complemented the projections.
Although we were given complete freedom from the manufacturers of these technologies to create this special effect, we didn’t want to continue to pack more into the show. It was very important to us that we be able to create and convey this effect with a minimum of tech; to do the most with the least. Judging by the audience reaction and the fact that people came back to view the show several times (it was repeated every half hour over three days) we feel we were successful both at leaving them so speechless they just had to talk about it!