The “XI Gallery” recently opened in New York’s Meatpacking District—a hybrid art installation and showroom for architect Bjarke Ingels’ luxury residences and a hotel under construction at “The XI” (pronounced The Eleventh) building a few blocks away. Its feature commanding most attention, from both invited guests and the street, is a curiously shaped, 33-foot-wide model of Lower Manhattan, comprised of more than 10,000 miniature 3D-printed and hand-cut buildings. Technology West Group installed and commissioned 7thSense Delta Media Servers to bring projection mapping life to “The Egg”.
Es Devlin—renowned for her stage design for theatre and artists such as Beyoncé and Kanye West, her pieces at Victoria & Albert Museum and Art Basel, an Olympics closing ceremony, and most recently, a projection mapped story at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity—is the artist behind The Egg and two other pieces in the gallery.
Devlin’s Manhattan is warped and fitted inside a quarter ovoid shape, using relative scaling tricks to force a unique perspective of the cityscape (including an unashamed emphasis on The XI building). This butts to a mirrored ceiling—a motif employed throughout the gallery—completing the appearance of an egg cross-section.
The Egg video system comprises seven Barco F80-4K9 4K DLP laser projectors, fed by two genlocked Delta Infinity media servers, via HDBaseT extenders. Intricate alignment of each projector image relative to the model is accomplished using Delta’s “3D Calibration” tool, combined critically with an accurate laser-scanned model of the built object.
“It takes a team with a lot of respect for accuracy to get a clean mapping result on an object this detailed,” said Ken Showler, experience director at 7thSense Design. “A little ‘off’ in the 3D model goes a long way. DBox and Farkas Falop have done an amazing job producing this model and content, positioning TechWest and my crew to produce an alignment we are proud of. Very little traditional 2D pixel warp was used beyond the 3D calibration stage here, and so the accuracy of 3D parallax was minimally compromised.
“Blending projectors is also a significant challenge on a model like this. For each given pixel of the 3D surface texture, there are a bunch of factors that should drive the decision of how much light is best to take from each projector, to achieve a uniformly lit result using the best quality available pixels. Some model surfaces have one projector hitting them, while others have two, three, or four. Each lens will be a different distance from each given surface, and each lens may have a different field of view, resulting in differences in brightness across the model. Each lens also has a depth of field, and an incident angle at which it hits each given surface, resulting in brighter and less smeared pixels on one surface versus the next. This decision process is managed by an emerging Autoblend tool that will become available officially with our next-generation software release. We used an early implementation of this on The Egg with great results.”
“With the detail of the client’s vision and the unique surface that we were working upon, we felt that the Delta Media Server platform was the only choice for a reliable and configurable server for this creative project,” said Brad Cornish, principal at Technology West Group. “The team at 7thSense helped deliver a solid and reliable system, while also keeping a flexible platform for the artists to work upon."
The XI Gallery is located at 25 Little West 12th Street and opened to the public on May 14.