Motion

Telestron

By:
Bradley G. Munkowitz
Bradley G. Munkowitz
A.J. 8 A.M. 9 D.B. 7 D.S.H. 8 F.A. 7 G.R. 9 J.S. 8 M.P. 8 P.K. 8 P.T. 9 Creative 8.1 A.J. 9 A.M. 9 D.B. 8 D.S.H. 8 F.A. 9 G.R. 10 J.S. 8 M.P. 8 P.K. 7 P.T. 9 Design 8.5 A.J. 8 A.M. 9 D.B. 9 D.S.H. 9 F.A. 9 G.R. 9.5 J.S. 8 M.P. 10 P.K. 7.5 P.T. 8 Craft 8.7 A.J. 8.3 A.M. 9 D.B. 8 D.S.H. 8.3 F.A. 8.3 G.R. 9.5 J.S. 8 M.P. 8.7 P.K. 7.5 P.T. 8.7 Total 8.4
The Day For Night Festival is one of the premier Art and Music events in the United States – where every year the pinnacle of talent showcase their latest creations for 20,000 eager Houstonians who descend into an abandoned Mail sorting facility to have their minds blown. VT Pro Design, having successfully debuted their epic creation Bardo in 2016, predictably were asked to return in 2017 to exhilarate audiences once again. This time around, VT Pro’s creative director Michael Fullman reached out to his favorite Mr. Munkowitz to collaborate on an entirely new concept – a spectacle of immersive theater at a scale that would inspire and propel beyond anything they’ve done before. At its foundation, the installation was an exploration of the absence and presence of light and how it defines a space. The team wanted to play with dramatic scale, and to do so they employed two Kuka 210’s as Robotic Conductors, wielding large, fabricated geometric shades to manipulate the various light sources and cast brilliant arrays of graphic shadow work throughout the space. Conceptually, they wanted to recreate one of the ancient world’s most sought-after immersive experiences, invoking a ritual that harnessed the spiritual forces of nature to create a transformative experience. This ritual was housed in a darkened chamber called the Telestron (an adaptation of the original Telesterion), deployed cutting-edge robotic and light projection technology to bring the audience into an experience of the diurnal cycle (sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight). In other words – a complete Day for Night.
The Concept

The goal was to create a theatrical piece that felt immersive and all-encompassing – a total takeover of the senses. The team knew the massive scale of the robots paired with the sophistication of the Day for Night crowd and an epic Sound System could render a sensory explosion for the audience.

The core concept of Telestron was that it was recreating one of the ancient world’s most sought-after immersive experiences – essentially all the attendees were taking part in a sacred ritual. This ritual was housed in a darkened chamber that was, in the ancient Greek festival at Eleusis, was called the Telesterion, which they adapted to Telestron. This ritual intended to “harness the spiritual forces of nature to create a transformative experience.”

The team then got specific about what forces of nature they wanted to portray – and chose the Diurnal Cycle as the informing palette. They loved the poetic symmetry of the cycle being a Day for Night progression, and also how it influences the seasons and the positioning of the sun, which was assigned as the primary light source. They then designed each season of the cycle, which focuses on the time of year, the position of the sun, and how that affects the symbolism and character of the light. All of which were controlled by the ‘lantern bearers’ which were the robotic conductors, and were imbued specific personalities and behaviors to accurately represent the character of the light.

Once they went through the four seasons as their own acts, they then made a chaotic and emotionally charged fifth act to render an artistic interpretation of the current state of the natural cycle – one with the warming planet has become much more turbulent and chaotic; and as a result felt an obligation to communicate that visually and sonically.

It was all quite abstract, but gave the team so much structure to work with – sometimes with these massive and complex projects there’s a major need for a conceptual framework to work within. Establishing the concept early and sticking with it really helped guide the process and kept the team focused on the high-level vision of the installation throughout the production cycle.

The Production

Starting from the ground up, Telestron involved a couple of different key factors. VT Pro’s Design, fabrication and physical production, electronics, show control systems, etc. The two Robots and their risers, and then the timeline programming of the show.

For all of the physical pieces, VT Pro pre-built the entire setup in LA at their studios. The reflecting pools were the more elegant solution for keeping people away from the robots and custom pool liners and frames were made to support them. The robots themselves were sitting on weighted pedestals that were then bolted directly to the concrete in the location.

Attached to the robots were our icosahedron shapes that we engineered and designed in house. They consist of a few different elements, The frames themselves were built with channels on the interior that let us sink LED Pixel tape into the complete geo. We then hid that pixel tape with frosted gray diffuser frames. In each vertex we also had a really bright LED Cob which we wired into individual dimming control. Then finally we had our moving light in the interior of the shape which allowed us a focusable and movable light source in the shape to get our natural texture through its faces.

From a control side we would animate all of the robot moves in 3D and then load those paths onto the robots controllers. From there our team built a master control system in Touch Designer that triggered the robots, controlled the LED Pixel Tape, and sent out a master timecode clock that was then being read by our lighting console as well, which we used to program the two moving lights, and the room lighting as well.

Final
Making of Video
Client
Day and Night Festival
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