An Electric Holiday At Barneys, Part 2

Electric Holiday graces the windows of the Barneys New York flagship Madison Avenue store, for a display that is less conventional, perhaps, than those one would expect to see, courtesy of the folks at a Disney and designed by the three principals of NYXdesign: Emanuel Treeson as design lead, Abigail Rosen Holmes creating the media design, and Brian Gale creating the production design. The design makes use of Christie MicroTiles, Traxon Mesh, d3 Technologies media servers, and Galaxia Electronics A-deco pixel strings. (Check out the video footage here and the full image gallery here.)

Disney’s eight-minute moving art short, accompanied by an original score by Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino, features Disney characters walking in a Paris runway show, each wearing a one-of a-kind look created by famous designers including Nicholas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, Oliver Rousteing for Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Peter Copping for Nina Ricci, Proenza Schouler, and Rick Owens.

The eight windows come alive via various configurations of 425 Christie® MicroTiles®, generating the equivalent of a 600sq-ft image spread across 2,275 sq-ft. of building, amounting to 50 million pixels of resolution and using15 simultaneous HD video streams, over five d3 Technologies Media Servers. Additionally, 476sq-ft. of Traxon Technologies Mesh and 600’ of Galaxia Electronics A-deco pixel strings decorate the windows.

“Barneys approached Disney Special Events after some of its creative folks had seen the Main Street Electrical Parade, and this inspired the Electric Holiday idea and the brand marriage,” says Gale, who had just designed the Electrical Parade at the Tokyo Disney, so it was a natural fit.

“We had to address the challenges of working in this 13’ wide by 6’ deep box,” says Treeson. “Knowing we had to have a fairly large image surface that had the quality projection was a given for the moving art piece, and when Abbey, Brian, and I started look at options, we knew we needed something very shallow but that still had the depth of color and smooth quality of projection we wanted.”

To get a big impact from the very small box, Gale, who dealt with 24 versions of the designs of the windows, wanted to present the idea of concentric rings, “that the show has these outer rings that you can see from down the block, and it draws you down as a larger landscape, but then as you closer to the window, it gets more and more immersive—rings of scale that draw you in, and there’s a show at each different level or distance,” he says.

Sean James, VP of Christie’s Managed Services, notes that the windows were pre-staged in full scale at Disney’s Burbank, CA warehouse months prior to load-in at Barneys. “There were challenges in terms of getting the content right for the tiles, with tens of millions of pixels, so we had to make choices—aesthetic and creative choices—in terms of how we wanted it to look, but staging the windows in advance helped us make sure there would be no surprises on site and that it was representative of the vision Disney and Barneys wanted to create,” he says. MicroTiles also comprised the video wall for the live opening event.

Rosen Holmes focused on creating content, other than the centerpiece Disney moving art piece, working with animators from Peter Nigrini’s studio. “When working on the moving art with the Disney team, what you see first is line art, so some details of color and tone don’t become apparent until quite late in the process, which was actually a challenge for us,” says Rosen Holmes regarding working on the content to complement the eight-minute featurette. “We understood the feel at first from the line art, but you don’t see the detail of tone until very, very late in the process. That was one of the things that drove us back to make substantive changes to our initial work. We had developed demo pieces of content for tests of the windows, but at that time, they were just pushing images through the server, and nothing was mapped, so we had to rework some of the footage once we saw the greater detail. After testing the windows, preprogramming also occurred in LA where we got more feedback, and then once we got the animation and the physical space and the layout, we had a tremendous push in the ten days leading up to opening.”

Because the experience had to work on different scales, drawing pedestrians in from as far as down the street, but also serving those standing right in front of the windows, Treeson notes, "We had to find ways to articulate in different colors and animation styles through After Effects the heart and soul of the original score.” The moving art eight-minute clip runs separately via a DoReMi Labs animation server, while Barco ImagePROs via a Crestron control setup switch the content between the two versions seamlessly.

The designers give specific props to Robin Seefeldt, master electrician, who reverse-engineered the windows in Burbank, complete with full kits of parts, power supply, and more, so the team install everything in the correct order once in New York.

For the opening night press event that featured Disney characters and special guests, including an appearance by Sarah Jessica Parker, additional staging and lighting were supplied by Atomic Design.

Check out the windows at Barneys New York through the holidays at 61st Street and Madison Ave.

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