BBDO New York helped to kick off Creative Week 2012 with GE's "Throttle Up," an interactive holographic experience that invites visitors to partake in the intricate process of building one of the brand's GEnx jet engines, via a Kinect-enabled interface.
The exhibition was assembled at Brooklyn's DUMBO waterfront district over a period of 7 days with the help of a 20-person construction team. It's free to the public and running all this week through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 56 Water Street in Brooklyn, next door to St. Ann's Warehouse.
To help realize the 20' by 30' foot installation, BBDO used pre-existing technology like Soft Kinetic camera tech and paired it with one-of-a-kind content. It enlisted Musions Systems Limited for the hologram elements, Oscar-winning shop Framestore to create the essential visual effects (drawn from actual 3D designs provided by GE's engineers), and Stimmüng for original music. The agency also tapped Float Hybrid Entertainment (founded by John Gaeta, who also won an Oscar for visual design for The Matrix) to build the game engine.
Upon entering the exhibit the visitor sees each of the 200 individual, uniquely-designed pieces that make up a jet engine--at first as they float disparately in space, but with a few gestures, the user brings the weightless cloud of material together to form a GEnx engine.
The experience also features sound effects of actual jet engines--just one of the extra sensory details that help the user forget it's a virtual experience at all. According to BBDO creative director Scott Ex Rodgers, the effect is achieved using a 21st-century version of the old magician's illusion known as Pepper's Ghost. Using two projectors on the ceiling, the images are bounced off a screen on the floor and reflected onto an invisible foil screen placed at a 45-degree angle. Similar technology was used to resurrect rapper Tupac's image on stage at the Coachella music festival last month, but Mr. Rodgers said the difference is that these are images you get to control and interact with--simply put, it's IMAX meets Kinect.
"It's really meant to be an epic, awe-inspiring feat and marvel of technology," he explained. "It's a little bit of a peek behind the curtain as to what G.E. gets up to on the day to day."