Half the World Away was a 270 degree projection shown at Connections, an art show for DMA students. The project served as a collective group immersion experience taking the audience on a tour of scale, starting from the outer reaches of a fictional universe that contains earth and going all the way down to the record player that produces the track for the song in the experience.
Powers of Ten is one of those pieces that pretty much needs no introduction. If you haven’t seen it, the 9 minute video is worth a detour. It takes viewers on a tour ranging from 100 million lightyears away, all the way down to 0.000001 ångström in a human’s hand cell. The inspiration from this work by Charles and Ray Eames is obvious, though one notable difference is the continuity of sound in my piece Half the World Away.
The Showcase Space
The show was held in the EDA room at Broad Art Center, the main event space for UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture. The central part of the room has 2 large parallel walls and 1 smaller perpendicular wall, spanning a collective area of almost 1600 sq ft. The small front and center screen is 22′ x 15′, while the side walls are approximately 42′ x 15′. Although the diagram doesn’t show it, we needed 5 huge projectors—2 for each long side and 1 for the short front—to cover all surfaces.
The Technology Stack
When the video transitions to earth, I captured successive screenshots from google maps at different altitudes and stitched them together to create an illusion of approaching earth.
The space scene was created entirely in Cinema 4D. The stars were generated using a particle system, and the planets were wrapped with video texture created with photoshop distortion animations. The final space scene was rendered as PNG frames that were re-assembled in Adobe After Effects and edited in with the other video.
Fun Fact: Because the dimensions of the projection were so large, I had to render the space scene from Cinema 4D across 10 different computers, and it still took more than 18 hours on each computer. I had to do this several times as changes had to be made more than once!
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