This is called The Prow, a light sculpture that can also serve as a very different kind of digital sign at its location, the splashy new HQ of Warner Media in New York.
I wrote earlier in the month about the digital job done for workplace and visitor communications over 27 floors of a new building in Hudson Yards, but the video and explainer only touched briefly on the light sculpture portion.
The Prow (dictionary definitions tend to call a prow the front of a boat, so not sure about the name’s origins) is described as a “data-driven light sculpture that rises 65 feet through four floors of the building’s iconic wrap-around staircase, and includes an immersive audio component.”
The sculpture uses roughly 258,000 LEDs, set in a cylindrical array. There are more than 350 rings, set at an angle and suspended by wire rope.
ESI Design and WarnerMedia worked closely over the multi-year design process to develop the form and select the content of The Prow. The Prow plays two key modes — Visualization and Brand — which can be changed in real time via two displays. Visualization mode draws from WarnerMedia’s universe of movies, trailers, and TV episodes, and artistically interprets them on the light sculpture.
Rare Volume developed the software that pulls the colors from the frames of WarnerMedia content. Every frame of video is being analyzed for dominant colors with high saturation and brightness. The selected colors are used to create particle effects to play back on the Prow in real time. Additionally, the software is looking for large changes in brightness or saturation as the video plays which often signals a shot change. These detected shot changes create a burst of activity in the visualization.
The colors dance abstractly in one of three styles: rings, streams, and fireflies. Custom software algorithmically analyzes the color of the source video and animates it live on the sculpture.
Here’s the video …
This whole install would be a great AV tech on-site tour when some normalcy returns, if the Warner Media and ESI could arrange and stage. Hint. Hint.
Also an obvious awards entry.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.