Company Post

Ghost Box Case Study

Developer: Leviathan

Main Tools: Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects for content creation, Derivative's TouchDesigner for content customization and hardware integration.

Leviathan Showcases its Innovative Ongoing Ghost Box Experiment

Leviathan's Chad Hutson explains: When you want to prove something is possible, sometimes you simply have to build it. A culmination of ideas once pitched to clients, such as projection mapping a moving object and integrating a Pepper's Ghost 'hologram' effect, are now reflected in a single experiment we call Ghost Box. Using projectors housed in a portable enclosure and providing control by a tablet or phone, our team sought to demonstrate how most any product of any size can be brought to life by projection with you as the director.

First designed as an interactive Pepper's Ghost art installation complete with a musical score by Waveplant, Leviathan then tried a more commercial approach to the GHOST BOX experience by rebuilding it as a miniature car configurator. Users could physically rotate the model car, as well as choose the color, wheel and trim packages, all of which were projected onto its surface in real time.

With the number of projection mapping projects we've produced,” Hutson continues, “we've always wanted to raise the bar and integrate new features, but clients often don't feel comfortable with pulling the trigger unless they know for sure it'll work. So we combined several of these proposed features, engineered how we could test them all on a smaller scale, and then built a prototype as quickly as possible to see the results. 

Though not Leviathan’s first choice the "arcade style" enclosure provided a unit that was self-contained, portable and that controlled the lighting of the projection space. Multiple projectors, reflective surfaces, a product and setting as well as a PC all had to fit inside. The team forged ahead first to resolve the technical challenges, before deciding upon content… which why the first iteration was more of an abstract art installation. “We knew we foremost wanted to demonstrate an interactive Pepper's Ghost scenario,” Hutson added, “so as long as the content was well designed, anything could work.” Knowing the firm’s client base is interested in such technology, Leviathan’s team eventually realized they needed a more commercial spin, hence the car configurator being built off the original installation within a matter of weeks.

As with all of its projection mapping projects, Leviathan relied heavily on Derivative's TouchDesigner for customization of content and outside hardware integration, while Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects were their primary content creation tools.

Leviathan's creative technologist Harvey Moon confirms that TouchDesigner was the core of the project. "It handled all of the media assets, projection mapping on the car, and communication between the rotating platform, the audio system and the tablet UI," he said. "The entire system was running in real-time on a single computer. Processing was used to generate the user interface on the Android tablet. MAX/MSP was used to generate the audio loops and effects. TouchDesigner tied it all together, generating the content and transmitting the commands for audio and kinetics. TouchDesigner communicated by way of serial to a servo, changing the position of the car."

Congratulations Leviathan and big thanks to Roger Darnell of DWA for supplying us with detailed project information!

See Also: CreateDigitalMotion