E-Project: Baby, We Can Drive That Car

A patented video mapping technique and a foam model of a car help launch a virtual preview of car manufacturer Nissan's new Infiniti M Luxury sedan.

Dec 14, 2009
By Jacqueline Tobin

Klip Collective created a 360-degree, five-projector video installation for Nissan and its Infiniti M luxury sedan debut. At the launch party, video was projected onto the walls of the tent and a model of a car.
Photo Credit: © 2009 Pier Nicola D'Amico
Klip Collective created a 360-degree, five-projector video installation for Nissan and its Infiniti M luxury sedan debut. At the launch party, video was projected onto the walls of the tent and a model of a car.
Advertising and editorial photographer/cinematographer Pier Nicola D'Amico (Nic to his friends and clients) says he will never forget a call he got back in 2003 from friend and video artist Ricardo Rivera. "Ricardo called me from his apartment after he had sitemapped his kitchen," D'Amico says. "When I got there he presented this room to me which had video on the ceilings and spinning apples on the cabinets and water running down the walls," illusions created by projecting video onto every surface of the kitchen. D'Amico adds, "Everything was mapped to the pixel of the shapes he chose to project on, and it all came from one projector." Rivera and D'Amico were sure there was a commercial use for the technology. That night they came up with a business model and all the possible applications Rivera's technique could encompass, and most importantly, a name: Klip Collective.

The goal of the Philadelphia-based firm has always been to create high-end, large-scale and unique video installations that go way beyond basic video playback. Six years after that phone call, D'Amico and Rivera have a patent on an innovative sitemapping technique for projecting 3-D objects onto any surface that they call The Klip Effect™, which—along with video projectors and custom-made content—allows the duo and their team of filmmakers, photographers and interactive artists to turn any multi-surface environment into a video screen, without distortion and with perfect integration into existing interior or exterior architectural features. They can project onto most any building façade (in October they projected onto the New York Public Library's exterior for an event by beer company Stella Artois) and many of their installations have been featured in hotels, theaters and restaurants around the country.

The Klip Effect™, explains Rivera, "is a patent for projecting digital content onto any surface the projection light covers." The first step of the process is for D'Amico and Rivera to visit the site they want to project onto, map all the surfaces, take the maps back to the studio, render everything in the proper sequence, position and perspective using the Klip Effect™, then take the final cut of the video back to the location—and "perform" it.

Recently, Klip Collective, in collaboration with Stefan Boubil of the New York design agency The Apartment, brought its video projections to the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for a one-of-a-kind preview of car manufacturer Nissan's new 2011 Infiniti M Luxury Sedan. The site-specific video installation transformed Infiniti's tent into a dynamic digital display of video projections with sound accompaniment. The car itself could not be on site, so D'Amico and Rivera transformed a foam model of the 2011 M into a moving 3-D illusion. Video projections from four projectors seamlessly enveloped 224-feet of floor-to-ceiling wall space creating a 360-degree video wall. By mapping video of a moving car onto the foam mold and a passing landscape onto the wall, Klip Collective created the illusion of the M Luxury Sedan driving through a forest, Japanese garden, and on a winding street. (Video of the installation can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/ 6194331 and at http://www.klip.tv.)

"Essentially we had a 70 foot x 50 foot x 70 foot box to work in," says D'Amico of the tent they were projecting in. "We had four high-definition Panasonic projectors seamed and timed together using software. The Klip Effect™ allowed Ricardo to put the projectors in very odd places as well as to correct the perspective and seam all the content together."

D'Amico says that since they would have to project not only onto the tent's "walls" but also on a mold of a car that wasn't going to be there, a lot of pre-planning took place, including building a foamcore model of the space at Klip Collective's studio and using toy cars. D'Amico says they also interfaced for about two months with Da Vinci Fusion (the company that produced the tent), and went back and forth on surfaces and what the walls would be made of and how tall they would be. The foam mold itself—a matte, digital gray—was based on virtual wire frame of the car that Nissan provided. The Klip team used stretchy fabric across the tent walls to project onto.

In creating the projections, D'Amico says the team worked with 8K video files, "not 4 K, not 2K, but 8 K—which are long and skinny. All of that had to be prepared and readied when we arrived on site. There, the projectors are mounted, aimed and locked in place. The projectors cannot move."

Since the Infiniti theme is "Inspired by the Power of Nature," CGI animation (done by RTT USA) was used to render organic shapes on the hood of the car. "Since we had the virtual wire frame for the car from Nissan we were able to 'skin it,' in a sense. and add the grill and the lights and so on, all on screen. It was wild."

A separate projector threw images onto the car itself and four projectors were mapped on the walls. D'Amico says, "It's all just an illusion of a car being there. Ricardo's vision was to have the 'car' drive. . .so the road is moving on the screen, the wheels turn—the foam model is static—and the result is you feel like you are flying along with the car, like a real car commercial."

Photo content came from the image library that Nissan had for the Infiniti, and from atmospherics shot by D'Amico and Rivera: 360 degree forest scenes and landscapes that were taken in the middle of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and The Japanese House in Philadelphia. "So, we shot content for all of June, edited through July and in August they put the show up," says D'Amico. "Once we got on site we acquired our maps and then we rendered, rendered, rendered all the content. Once you have it all rendered, you go back to the site, load it into all the computers and hit play. It's a nice convergence of cinematography, photography and video installation art."

Creative Credits

Klip Collective:Ricardo Rivera – Lead Video Installation Artist and Editor

Pier Nicola D'Amico – Video Artist and Director of Photography

Andrew Warner – Sound Design

The Apartment (Design Agency):Stefan Boubil – Creative Director and Principal, Sound Design

Gina Alvarez – Principal, Brand Strategist

RTT USA (3D Animation for the Infiniti M Launch) :Andrea Gunshera Josh Kohlmeier

DaVinci Fusion (AV Event Support): Chris Read – Network Specialist

Egwrk (Synchronized Playback System): Bill Gastrock – Programmer/Installation Artist

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