A look behind the scenes of our awarded Weaving Time installation for Pointe-à-Callière in Canada.
Last year we were approached to come up with interactive experiences for an exhibition about Incas in Pointe-à-Callière in Montréal, Canada. We had never visited Montréal. We still have never visited PaC. Or Montréal. Or the final installations we created.
Living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic often raises questions about the way we collaborate with our partners on the other side of the pond. Over the years we’ve become pretty skilled at conference calls, digital mock-ups, illustrative instructions, and clear communications, which makes us able to visit projects overseas just once or twice, but in this case not once! A conscious decision on our side, while it saves time and cost, we also prefer to not travel unnecessarily.
Real versus the digital world
Whether we work on something locally or not, matching digital content to our physical world is always challenging. Visual feedback on turning a knob, readability of text between projected and printed graphics, smooth transitions between projection and background, and many more ‘small’ details are vital for the success of immersive experiences. It’s great when we can play with things in front of us, but when working remotely we need to be creative.
How that works? We’ll take you through some of the challenges of one of the two installations for PaC, Weaving Time, that came along and give you a look behind the scenes on how we approached them.
The patterns in this installation had to be a modern interpretation of the original patterns from the old fabrics of the Incas. With the technology of today, we are able to make the most detailed visuals for print, but the pattern tiles on the projections would never be able to match that level of detail. As the main goal for the installation was the experience of weaving, it meant that you should see your pattern being added to the fabric. Therefore the printed pattern tiles needed to be adjusted to match the limits of the projection. We had 36x36 pixels for each projected tile, so we worked with the same grid for the printed tiles. The tiles were fabricated on location, small animations of instructions helped our local partners to produce the tiles.
The loom itself would be designed by our local partner, but the setup and use of the installation were designed by us.
Visitors are supposed to create patterns with the physical tiles that they then weave onto the digital fabric in the room. The connection between the physical and the digital patterns was vital to the illusion of them being one and the same. Sending drawings back and forth let us come to the best solution.
We want the visitor to experience the fabric being wrapped around in the room. To optimize the appearance of the fabric, we applied light texture and slight motion to the banners of fabric in the room. Trying to find the sweet spot of light movement that was believable, we tried out different animations in our studio. A much-encountered trap is when one designs only in the computer and fails to test on the correct scale, so we projected in the studio to find the correct movement.
For the final installation on location, we wanted the client to be able to make small adjustments to the projected banners for fine-tuning. We implemented adjusting commands that could move, rotate, and scale the projected banners.