- Friday, May. 6, 2016
Airbus Americas recently opened a space-age experiential showroom in the reception area of its Washington, D.C.-based Safety and Technical Affairs office, which hosts daily interactions with federal agencies and the diplomatic community.
The new showroom, known as the Experience Center, was developed by an all-star team of contributors. Among them are brand experience design agency Hornall Anderson in association with architects VOA Associates, strategy agency Glover Park Group, design companies Leviathan and Schema Design, exhibit fabricator Xibitz, and A/V integrators Avidex.
"For us, this project began with a call from Hornall Anderson, where we were invited to help design and build a captivating branded experience that would allow visitors to learn, interact with and gain a holistic view of global aerospace leader Airbus," said Chad Hutson, Leviathan's president. "Over the past couple of years, we've built immersive interactive exhibits for museums and brands incorporating exciting new technologies, and we're also well known for creating original content. We're proud to say we have taken those capabilities to the very highest levels for Airbus."
Visitors arriving at the Safety and Technical Affairs office will immediately notice three main aspects of Experience Center: The Oculus, the Briefing Room and the Fleet Wall. Here is a quick description of each facet, with some detail on how they were brought to life.
Stepping into the Center's Arrivals zone, spellbound visitors can gaze up into a six-foot round portal in the ceiling, where an orbital window presents a glowing view of Earth from space. Outlined with the words "The Sky Connects Us All," the view is elegantly overlaid with real-time flight path data. As the Earth slowly rotates, data visualizations provide a running tally of Airbus' daily commercial departures, passengers carried and cumulative miles flown. The effect is a sublime introduction to the global connections being created by Airbus every day.
"The content appearing in the Oculus was produced by our artists here in Chicago using an ultra-high-definition post-production workflow," explained Leviathan's creative director Kyle Shoup.
"The massive original sequences were created in Autodesk Maya and rendered in 2D and 3D, and then composited using Adobe After Effects," he continued. "Real flight data was distilled and converted into flight paths in Houdini, then composited into the final picture along with updated data."
The Briefing Room
A series of four floor-to-ceiling door panels – each adorned with a single word to state "We Make It Fly" – open into the expansive Briefing Room. There, visitors behold a massive, moving view of the earth's surface on an immersive screen. The presentation can be driven by an interactive touch display, providing instant access to Airbus's history, community and culture, as well as information on manufacturing facilities and available products.
The Briefing Room's interactive features were engineered by Schema Design, with Leviathan's video content again starring on the screen, dramatically presenting Airbus and its story. Leviathan's original motion content also strategically invites visitors along and transitions them into the next experience.
The Fleet Wall
The next stop on the Experience tour features a large, iconic architectural structure that interactively shifts its appearance based on visitors' mode selections. Through an interactive touch screen, real-time 3D rendering and artful projection mapping, visitors can rotate aircraft 360-degrees within a virtual animated hangar, or even view the entire Airbus fleet floating in the sky. When not in use, the wall defaults to one of several ambient visual modes designed to organically augment the space, providing an intriguing architectural feature that enhances the environment in ways that are both subtle and powerful.
"As a fully interactive experience projected onto a sculptural wall, Fleet Wall was a considerable challenge," Shoup added. "Using Touch Designer, we designed a series of projected environments that allow visitors to explore each product by rotating them in real-time via touch screen."
To create their presentation elements, Leviathan's team began by meticulously designing the virtual hangar environment where the entire Airbus family of products is housed. This immense space appears to extend far beyond the Fleet Wall's surface. Each product category has a hangar environment that is unique, while still fitting within the unified Airbus design framework. Selected aircraft appear as highly-stylized 3D models, augmented with hologram-like glows and technical wireframe lines wrapping the contours.
"We modeled the aircraft in Maya, but carefully optimized them to work efficiently in a real-time environment," Shoup confirmed. "Transitions, ambient content, skyscapes, hangars, and a rotating video wall were created in a variety of 2D and 3D packages, then combined within Touch Designer to add interactivity."
"It is incredibly exciting to manipulate these massive aircraft with such simple gestures, as if they are as light as a feather," concluded Leviathan's executive creative director Jason White. "That is a magic takeaway moment that just can't be achieved with traditional video. We were challenged to create the most engaging installation we could achieve, and here it is, ready for the world."
Complete project credits are available upon request. To learn more about the Airbus Americas Experience Center, visit http://airbus.com.
Leviathan (http://lvthn.com) is a conceptual design company that creates engaging narrative content and experiences for brands and entertainers worldwide. The bold images we conceive appear on stages and architecture, in themed destinations and on screens of all sizes, accompanying famous faces and household names. Our teams build experiences to enthrall audiences, initiate conversations and keep crowds coming. Every day, Leviathan's artists and engineers help transform the worlds of commercial advertising, live events, film, television and environments. What do you want to build?
Creative Director: Kyle Shoup
Producer: James Turek
Co-Producer: Gina Giambalvo
Sr. Engineer: Adam Berg
Technical Director: Bradon Webb
Programming & IT: David Braun, Lucas Schira
Design: Alexis Copeland, Gareth Fewel, Marco Giampaolo, Anthony Malagutti
2D Animation: Nik Braatz
3D Modeling: Andrew Butterworth, Jesus Bibian Jr., Tobias Mattner
3D Animation: Nathan Davies, Casey Hupke
Executive Producer: Chad Hutson
Executive Creative Director: Jason White
Editor: Kirill Mazor
Design: Gareth Fewel, Catherine Kim
Producers: Gina Giambalvo, Erica Grubman
3D Animation: Andrew Butterworth, Nathan Davies
Color: Tom Rovak
Sound Design: Dustin Camilleri