With the theme "Connect to Life," Intel's innovative booth at CES 2012 in Las Vegas featured a giant ecosystem of animated creatures whose interactions reflected the digital world in which Intel operates. Foghorn Creative created the live interactive display across "The Wave" with support from WorldStage, the new brand for Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications Inc., which designed and installed a very complex projection mapping system that offered maximum reliability for the multi-day exhibition.
At CES, Intel showcased their second-generation Intel Core processor-powered Ultrabook devices as well as several Intel Atom processor-based Intelligent Systems. Numerous other Intel-powered devices from leading manufacturers were also displayed, including Intel-based smart phones.
"Technology makes things exciting, but it's how the whole digital world all works together that makes it interesting," says Foghorn owner and creative director Don Richards. "That was Intel's vision for their compute continuum. Each year they work with us to come up with something really cool so when you walk into the booth you are immediately in awe. For this show, we were tasked with creating an abstract visualization of that node of continuum, something with an immediate 'connect to a richer experience of life' theme."
Foghorn devised live interactive content for an overhead wave-like screen, designed by 2LK, that was part of the booth's organic-looking infrastructure. Visitors approached input stations where cameras scanned their hands or any other object, and seconds later they saw the scan generate an animated organism based on the scan outline. The organism, or creature, then became part of the intricate choreography of abstract creatures on the big screen.
"People created shapes that went on to have lives in The Wave - kind of a sky aquarium filled with bioluminescent-type creatures," says Richards. "The shapes became part of a creature in front of you that was animated to fly or swim away, to chase prey or to seek mates. The visitor had a real 'connect to life' moment, and WorldStage was brilliant enough to make it all projectable."
He notes that The Wave was mocked up full-scale months in advance of the show. "In conjunction with the booth producers, The Taylor Group, we created a full-scale mockup of the installation in advance to assure flawless execution. WorldStage took on a lot of the technical project management for the entire projection and the AV side of the project."
The Taylor Group's Benjamin Judah added, "The timelines for this project were very ambitious but the whole team was extremely efficient and effective and the mockup really made a difference."
Joshua Weisberg, president of WorldStage, says, "This was one of the most complex mapping projects we've attempted, given the space limitations at the booth location and the unique shape of the structure - all of which had to support a live interactive application. The prep for this project included a lot of time translating the mapping configuration into shapes that the interactive system could approximate faithfully. Effective teamwork between us and the application developer, Stimulant, helped find a solution that worked for everyone."
Spending a lot of time with the 3D model and a partial full-scale mock-up also enabled WorldStage "to come to the convention center with a good deal of confidence," says Weisberg. "The install went very well with great results, thanks to an outstanding on-site team."
He explains that the booth's rear-projection surface was serpentine in shape and each portion of the surface was different from every other. A severe ceiling height limitation significantly reduced the options for projector placement and lensing, too. In addition, traditional mapping methods available through media server platforms were not practical since The Wave was a live interactive: None of the content was pre-produced.
WorldStage opted to run the interactive computers directly into the projectors, which kept the system relatively simple and very robust. This method also made use of the mapping capabilities of the projectors, rather than an external mapping device, which would have made the system more expensive and less reliable.
WorldStage did extensive computer modeling - Weisberg himself tallied more than 100 hours - to insure that the images could be crafted from the projector locations available. In some cases, the company had to jam projectors up into ceiling coves to create more lens throw.
In addition to projection, WorldStage equipped the interactive system with sound, installed the user kiosks and provided an NEC LCD monitor wall for a separate interactive automotive experience in the Intel booth.
"WorldStage was amazing and performed flawlessly," Richards reports.
"Don's creative was the best!" says Weisberg. "We had a really great team on this project. The guys from Stimulant, which developed the interactive software, were great. And rigging engineer Michael Chrisman did an amazing job getting all the gear up in the air."
2LK London was the designer of the booth; Rick Voigt was executive producer. San Francisco-based Stimulant developed the interactive software under Darren David.
At WorldStage the executive systems designer was Josh Weisberg, the account executive Richard Bevan and the project manager James Sarro. Florian Mosleh was the mapping consultant and Terry Nakamura the projection engineer.
Judah concludes, "From an AV standpoint, this has been the most efficient group I've worked with. It was a very tough environment with a lot of challenges but everyone was always phenomenal to work with. They were always proactive, everything was on time and the booth was amazing."
WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.