Diesel Show: Underwater Magic

Diesel’s Spring/Summer 08 catwalk show, staged a few days ago at the Pitti Immagine Uomo fair in Florence, was nothing short of stunning. While regular human models paced up and down the runway, a host of polyp-like CGI characters appeared in mid-air to interact with them within an underwater landscape. And in a unique twist, these animated holograms were entirely viewable from both sides of the stage. But this was no Paul Daniels Magic Show trickery – more a perfect blend of cutting edge digital art and performance.

Diesel show

Diesel‘s Spring/Summer 08 catwalk show, staged a few days ago at the Pitti Immagine Uomo fair in Florence, was nothing short of stunning. While regular human models paced up and down the runway, a host of polyp-like CGI characters appeared in mid-air to interact with them within an underwater landscape. And in a unique twist, these animated holograms were entirely viewable from both sides of the stage. But this was no Paul Daniels Magic Show trickery – more a perfect blend of cutting edge digital art and performance.

Diesel show

Diesel’s Creative Team (under the direction of Wilbert Das) based the show on an aquatic theme entitled “Liquid Space” and brought together Barcelona animation studio Dvein – who worked on the CGI visual effects and 3D animations – and Danish multi-media production agency, Vizoo, who provided the innovative technology for the show, which they had created themselves. Neither studio, say Diesel, had previously worked on anything like this before.

Diesel show
Diesel show
Diesel show
Diesel show

Fascinated by their use of animated holograms in the fashion show environment, we asked Diesel to explain how some of the technology worked. Mysteriously, the nice guy we spoke to wouldn’t give his name, nor could he shed too much light on the unique process they used. Keeping the magic alive you see. But here’s what could tell us about how they did it…

“The visuals are projected through a series of ‘foils’ into mid air, so you see the images in mid-air. The models can then interact with them and walk through them. We used plastic foils placed at 45 degree angles so that the projected light from the ceiling goes onto a foil, is reflected on to another and then into the air.

We worked it so it had a real catwalk feel and so that you could view it from both sides: you can see the models, the holograms and the public from both sides. It’s never been used this way before as the technology has just been used in the corporate world before, for sales presentations, and the visuals have always just been viewed from one side. So we set up two rigs instead.

The animations were done with standard CGI animation software but were made for a 15m by 2.5m screen. It’s all rendered in HD, too, so was quite demanding as it’s 30 frames per second. We worked on the whole thing, from storyboard through to the final render in just two and a half months. Bringing together Dvein and Vizoo gave us this unique, truly holographic, 3D motion graphic experience.”

Now that’s magic, as the high-pitched Mr Daniels would say.

Diesel show
The original CGI artwork

Diesel show

Diesel show
The quality of the HD holograms, as seen live at the show, was incredible

Watch the whole show at the Diesel site or on the old YouTube.

Production managed by Milan-based agency, PRY.

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