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>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’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.

This is what one of the creators had to say; “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.