Strollers on a portion of the Chelsea Market passage of the High Line got to strut their stuff, pose and collect nods of approval as they walked a virtual runway to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Lifetime's "Project Runway." WorldStage, the new brand for Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications, Inc., facilitated the installation of a dynamic, 20-foot long interactive videowall, which used innovative human tracking technology to mix the realtime virtual emotions of show host Heidi Klum, mentor Tim Gunn and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia as they reacted to the fashion sense of passersby seeking their moment on the runway.
The interactive installation was conceived by US-based Civic Entertainment Group and UK-based Nexus Interactive Arts. The videowall, just the second of its kind in the world, was in place for four days on the High Line between West 15th and 16th Streets; it was launched with a private, red-carpet event for VIPs.
WorldStage provided the 24 NEC X462U LCDs, which comprise the display, and designed the ground-supported truss structure. Media was driven by three Power Mac Pro towers, supplied by WorldStage, using custom software designed by Nexus Interactive Arts.
"As walkers came in view of the wall, they were greeted by the panel of celebrities from the show," says Tony Rossello, director of events/venues at WorldStage. "Behind them was a webcam that captured them entering the video field; the webcam was monitored by a curator located in the area of the videowall. The curator cued the video to react to the walker - standing, clapping, gesturing if the walker took a turn on the runway. There was also an audio component so people could hear the panel's reaction; we installed a pair of Meyer UPM speakers on the floor behind a draped wall."
The content for the videowall was entirely live action. Nexus Interactive Arts filmed each of the celebrities in a greenscreen studio so programmers could capture their emotions, idle states and transitions from one mood to another. The programmers interpolated between bored, pleased and ecstatic emotions so it appeared that the panel was interacting among themselves - gossiping with the person next to them one minute then delivering a standing ovation the next. The result looked as if the "Project Runway" celebrities were behind the monitors' glass, looking walkers up and down and appraising their looks with encouraging nods and cheers or a sign that they could do better.
Rossello notes that the NEC LCDs in the videowall performed above and beyond expectations. "We chose the product for its resolution and the proximity of the audience. The monitors were not designed to work outdoors in inclement weather and high humidity. We had both - a torrential rainstorm, although the videowall was covered, and humidity beyond the product specs. But we pushed the envelope and were very successful with them."
At Nexus Interactive Arts, Evan Boehm was the project's Director, Ulla Winkler was Senior Interactive Producer and Luke Ritchie was the Executive Producer.
For WorldStage, Fred Liberatore was the video engineer, freelancer Jason Nerenberg the lead LCD technician and freelancer Jeff Wong the rigger.
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.