Audi Late Light Show

Façade Dance

The whole piazza becomes an enormous stage. Audi spent several days celebrating with the people of Ingolstadt ahead of the world premiere of the new A5/S5 Coupé. The focal point was a spectacular video mapping event.

The Audi Forum has undergone a transformation on this spring evening – the front of the restaurant and the museum mobile is covered almost from top to bottom in gray film. Thousands of people mill in the piazza beneath a benign sky. They have come to the free-entry Audi Late Light Show, a video mapping event in advance of the world premiere of the new Audi A5/S5 Coupé. The support program ends shortly after 9.00 pm and a giant ticker appears on the projection surface – counting down the seconds to the start of the show.

A few weeks previously: Tamás Vaspöri and Prof. Dr. Klaus Schrenk are presenting the concept for the Audi Late Light Show in the Audi Forum. Vaspöri is a video mapping artist, co-founder and Managing Director of Maxin10sity from Budapest. Renowned art historian Prof. Schrenk is Artistic Advisor to AUDI AG. “The artistic side of the ‘Audi Late Light Show’ is a spectacular reflection of Audi as a technology company,” he says. “Computer-generated images and sounds create a new image reality; technology and art merge to form a single entity.”

Tamás Vaspöri continues: “The Audi Forum, with its different forms and facades, presents us with a very special kind of challenge that we’re more than happy to take on.” Maxin10sity is one of the biggest creative forces in the sector. The Hungarian company has already shrouded the parliament building in Bucharest and the Karlsruhe Palace with images and music and has received multiple major awards. These include prizes at the 2014 Chartres en Lumières Projection Mapping Contest and at the Moscow International Festival – Circle of Light 2013.

Now the day of the premiere has arrived. On the Audi Piazza, the technology and the audience grandstand have been in place for days. Eight trucks delivered all the gear over the long holiday weekend at the middle of May. It took 140 people to build the setup, which involves no less than 25 kilometers of cable.

Each of the five projection towers is nine meters high and they now stand at an angle around the piazza. Each tubular steel structure comprises five metric tons of technology on several levels – video, light and sound. An anemometer continuously monitors the strength of the wind. The combined 1/2 tower, which points toward the museum mobile, contains the command center, which is where 30 technical specialists will be gathered during the show. The program, which lasts ten minutes and will run twice on each of the six consecutive show evenings, flies largely on autopilot, but human refinement and improvisation talent make it even better.

Inside the towers are a total of 55 high-end projectors. Each of them weighs roughly 210 kilograms and generates light of around 50,000 ANSI Lumens, which is about 20 times brighter than the beamer from a home-movie theater. Nine speaker cubes installed in front of the restaurant building and the museum mobile deliver rich 7.1 surround sound. Thanks to so-called line-array technology, the sound is evenly distributed across its entire width. With its 43,000 watt output, this sound system would also be sufficient for a medium-sized rock concert.

The video and music files that the visitors will experience come from a high-performance media server. It travels to the beamer and speakers split into digital image and sound information with an overall data volume of 6 terra bytes. The projection surface on the Audi Forum covers 2,300 m2, which equates to approximately 4,600 40-inch TVs. The semi-transparent perforated film that covers the restaurant and the museum mobile creates a homogenous, matte surface, while still allowing light to pass into the building – similar to the advertising film on a city bus.

And then, that evening at 9.15 pm, the show begins. It is spectacular and fast – waves, grids, diamonds come together briefly to form the front of the vehicle and the four rings; gear wheels, robots working in the factory – all of it mostly in cool, technical shades of blue and silver. The images flow, spin and merge into one another, the whole show underpinned by electric sound and beats. At one point, the building façade seems to bulge for a moment, then rings of light fly around the museum façade once again – a virtual world full of dynamism and energy. This is augmented reality on a huge scale.

The Audi Late Light Show is more than an audio-visual spectacle. It is also Audi’s way of saying a big thank you – to its employees and the people of Ingolstadt.

“We make facades dance”

Georg Wehle is Project Leader for Niyu media projects GmbH (Berlin) and responsible for the technology behind the Audi Late Light Show.

 

How does the video mapping work for the Audi Late Light Show?
Georg Wehle: We use high-performance beamers to project video images onto building façades clad with a special film. We make the façades come to life; we can give them entirely new structures and make them appear to move and dance. The technology is pixel precise, so our beamers generate one complete projection that creates the same effect viewed from every angle. To achieve this, we first built a three-dimensional map of the proection surfaces.

 

What is the particular challenge here at the Audi Forum?
Wehle: That would be the relatively small distance between the projection towers and the façades. It measures between just 40 and 90 meters. Also, the museum has a rounded façade, but all the image sizes, angles and colors still have to match perfectly.

 

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