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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Austin TX During SXSW

Just wrapped up SXSW Interactive. I went down there with Red Bull to takeover venue and create an interactive immersive environment that seamlessly intergraded into the aesthetics of the venue (More like venues) as there were two clubs joined together with different themes.

“HiLo” was a sexy club with a 70’s lounge vibe, attached to it is “Betsy’s” a Pinup girl theme with exposed brick and stain glass windows and dilapidated wooden doors and windows as decor.

The planning began months ago with John Taylor and I going out to Austin to do a walk through of the venue and John (Parts) did a full-scale sketch up of the two venues. Now the venue owner has a “to scale model” to a 1/8th of an inch.
We arrived in Austin on March 5th to begin load in of all the equipment and installations.

We had a crew of 8 to build and manage all installations. Most of the projectors had their own Mac Mini running content to the projectors. We were using odd aspect ratios like 600x800 vertically or 600x2400.
In this blurry picture we are using a matrox triplehead2go over 3 projectors. This is Brooks flash animation with the event logo
So all the Mac Minis were networked together and “Parts” had a G5 running Remote Desktop as the central brain. We could reroute the video clips from any Mac Mini to any other machine.
One the video clip that was 600x2400 Brooks create a beautiful growing vine with the event key logo intergraded into it. He did it in flash so we could have smooth playback on a large format. We were projecting on a dark green concaved surface so we kept the backgrounds black and the vines and logo gold. Since the screens weren’t edge blended it didn’t matter if the projectors didn’t perfectly match up pixel for pixel.
As seen in this photo we created a vintage cabaret, pinup style content with a red curtain mask. Betsy’s had Red Velvet curtains so we wanted to keep that same aesthetic.

Meagan shot some of her own Cabaret content so we could incorporate it into a LCD display behind a shutter window. The effect turned out awesome. It was just one of the many little installation piece that let the attendees discover and explore the venue.
“Parts” as production manager had commissioned two small bar top refrigerators customized with a LCD screens in the door. The content was a snapshot of the Red Bull cans in the fridge. It appeared as if you were looking at a normal Red Bull Fridge but then video would start playing on the LCD and the cans would fade away.
Each night we had a different partner to co sponsor the event. We also had DJ’s spinning nightly and we setup a VJ suite to mix in co sponsored content or live camera footage of the Play Motion unit. Play Motion was the highlight of the installations. Camera detection, interactive playback of the video screen. People absolutely loved it. The camera detects movement and creates dynamic, playful interaction with what is being projected on the screen as people dance and play in front of it.

Check out the latest from Serato. We discovered that it has a pong game built into it, so the crew retrofitted a coffee table from the venue to hold two turntables. Then participants could play pong using the turntables as the paddle controller. Rotate the record forward and backwards to make the pong paddle move up and down the screen.

As an experiment I set up a midi keyboard connected to a VJ application on the dance floor side of the video booth. This allowed the participants the opportunity to contribute to the visual performance. On the first day I had mapped effects on the black keys of the keyboard and video on the white keys.

A lot of people didn’t understand the method of using the black keys to add effects to the white key clips. The result was less than interesting visuals. On the other days I set it up to be more foolproof. The results were great and the quality of clips and effects were better. Note: I don’t think I would give this much control to the audience if I were in a setting that wasn’t so much about interactivity and/or if the screens were really large. There is something to be said for experience and having an eye for VJing.
Here's the booth

In this photo we are back lighting a wall with Element Labs versa-tubes being controlled remotely by a Sony DS2 action pad.

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