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  • Technical Producer
  • Technical Designer
  • Creative Consulting

Colours and Shapes was approached by visionary director Nettie Wild and the team at Cananda Wild Productions to bring an unprecedented cinematic vision to life: transform an urban bridge into a wild river.

Her vision was to immerse audiences in the surreal natural beauty she observed in migrating sockeye salmon. Over the course of two years of technical development, Colours and Shapes had the pleasure of leading this project to completion in the Summer of 2017.

Early Development

Colours and Shapes partnered with Canada Wild Productions early in the production process. The ambitious vision for UNINTERRUPTED was laid out in a series of collaborative workshops with a diverse team of cinematographers, technologists and producers.  Everything from filming methods, 3D technologies, VR, projection and site considerations was discussed and considered.

The Challenge

Over the course of these initial meetings, we established just what we were going to do: projection map the entire underside of the Cambie Street Bridge. In addition to this we would install a custom multi channel audio system that would surround the viewer. Finally, we determined the show would run for an entire summer.

This presented a series of major technical challenges. How do you film content to be projected on a bridge? How do we factor in the viewers perspective when filming underwater? How do we effectively cover the entire bridge with projection? How do you edit a film for delivery on such a complex surface. What sort of system will we need to build out to run this show?

As we asked these questions, we came to the core challenge that Colours and Shapes tackled: how do we create a canvas for storytelling on this bridge?

Design & Production

Technical design for this project began by capturing an extremely detailed 3D model of the site by way of a series of 3D LIDAR scans. Working from this accurate scale model of the site, we produced a series of projection studies to consider the various ways we could cover the bridge with projection.

As we explored how best to create a canvas that the film makers could work from, we devised a method for the editor to pre-visualize the show from a customized editors workstation. Working closely with VYV out of Montreal, we built a previsualization suite that allowed the filmmakers to fully previsualize the content on the bridge in an accurate 3D model all while staying insight a common real-time editing workflow. For maximum realism, an Oculus rift headset was worked into the system to allow for full stereoscopic VR.

While the filmmakers were building the content for Uninterrupted, the Colours and Shapes team was busy on the engineering and installation front. We established a projection methodology that allowed us to achieve incredibly wide coverage of the underside of the bridge by using only eight strategically chosen projection locations. To accomidate this, a custom truss system was created and custom brackets that held projectors in precise angles and orientations were built. All of this infrastructure would have to be attached to the bridge structure and preserve a minimal aesthetic.

The Results

After five years of development and over two years of technical planning and design, Uninterrupted opened on June 28th to dazzle audiences. The sheer scope and scale of the structure and the stunning immersive quality of the cinematography are truly breathtaking. Nettie Wild’s creative vision was brought vividly to life in what will sure to be remembered as an artistic gem in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

Colours and Shapes made our fish do the impossible — swim across the Cambie street bridge. This team met huge storytelling challenges with art, technology and deep collaboration. They pushed new technologies to their limit. They found elegant solutions allowing us to edit intuitively and our fish to be luminescent and in focus over a bridge half a mile deep and 30 feet high.  We took heartstopping artistic risks together — as a director, I would work with Colours and Shapes again in a heartbeat. It doesn’t get better than this.

Nettie Wild