Tokyo Art City is an ambitious and beautifully executed art exhibition about Tokyo by NAKED Inc that is composed of projection mapping, illumination and large models of Tokyo's many landmarks. Under the concept of "City is Art" virtual and real Tokyo are synchronized over past, present and future. The team made extensive use of TouchDesigner for projection mapping and to control vast lighting arrays of LED as well as lasers to bring the "city to life".
Tokyo landmarks such as the Tokyo Station building, Tokyo Tower and a complex transportation network of Tokyo can be experienced through scale models combined with projection mapping and particles of light and sound. Human activity within the city is also animated and experienced in various ways.
There is a story in this exhibition that particles of light which express human activity are part of the city spread out over distance in space and time.
NAKED: Images, shifting dramatically are synchronized with lighting. For example, we animate lighting inside tubes controlled by programming in TouchDesigner. We tried to express the transportation network with this system.
Transportation networks symbolizing human activities move around the sky, land and underground, and affects communication between human and city in the physical space. Flashing lines show the railway of Tokyo, telling the story of human activities, especially physical transportation.
The first edition of Tokyo Art City is finished, but the second larger edition with updated content will be released in June 2017 in TOKYO DOME CITY, Tokyo, Japan.
Three parts of this exhibition as described below by the authors were produced with TouchDesigner.
Shining Rail Way (Programmed by Bungo Nakmaura)
The trains running in clear tubes are made up of LEDs. To imitate this futuristic tube railway, I programmed the LED animation running these "trains" to control more than 6000 LEDs in the clear tubes (150m in total), and 17 universes. I mainly used Python programming within TouchDesigner to control amount of LED illumination. and used a Replicator TOP to dynamically change the LED interaction. To express imaging of fade passing and crossing trains, we experienced concerns that frames per second would fall under 20fps however we had not used moving images during processing.
This project required that we link the projection-mapping of stage effects to the timeline, so I use the Animation Operator to animate all of LED effects and emissions. There were complex interactions and over 50 animation channels to control the LEDs!
In the 5 days we had to construct the entire system and make it work, we produced a very complex piece that expressed how LEDs can be an "art" that express the future images. Thanks to TouchDesigner's speedy system like verification to adjustment, installation art "Trains running in clear tube" was realized - we tried to realize our vision of a future city that everybody dreams about.
Tokyo City Lights (Programmed by Satoshi Nishina)
For this part of the project, I was controlling a variety of LED lights using DMX signals generated in TouchDesigner. Designing an effective LED lighting along with projection, there are some tasks to overcome in order to produce a synthetic visual event.
First of all, we needed to go through a quite complicated process of lighting layouts as all the dioramas which were used as subjects of projection and also rigged with lights could not be set up at the beginning of the construction. So we used their 3D models, positioned 3D primitives resembling LED lights and manipulated their texture colors to visualize what they looked like.
That became a useful tool to previz and plan the lighting setup in an unknowable 3D space. It did not only simulate the 3D visual but also generated DMX signals from those texture colors, so that it made the process easy to animate lighting.
Next, time control and synchronization were the keys of this project. In the venue, we had approximately 60 projectors driven by individual media players, and each of the projectors mapped onto dioramas.
One reason we used that many projectors was to provide an immersive environment to our audiences. In terms of immersiveness, lights and projection are not easy to coexist at the same time as brightness makes projection flimsy. To synchronize media players and TouchDesigner I used UDP. Sending UDP to media players at the beginning of every scene and triggering animation in TouchDesigner to actuate LED lightings.
That enabled highly accurate synchronization between projection and lighting. For instance, a projected particle goes around clockwise, after a little while it suddenly stops then all the LEDs light around in the same manner and it switches back to projection and so on.
Subway Laser Tracker (Programmed by Bungo Nakmaura)
This project was our first laser installation! I used EtherDream and EtherDream mk2 with two laser projectors to design a laser tracker to simulate a running train on the route of the train map.
Originally, laser animation control is used to the designated application (laser move apps), however, I could control lasers with TouchDesigner! Various device and sensor controls demand deep knowledge for device application or computer programming but TouchDesigner provide an early control method. So, we deeply considered animation and concept and in this project I mainly used the SOP operator to control the laser but it is one of way to control laser.
NAKED Inc. was established in 1997 when a group of visual and CG directors, designers and writers established a creative company. Since the beginning of working together we continue to be active in film, advertising, television, art installations, and various other endeavors, regardless of the medium or genre. Now we combine various technologies, art fixtures, direction and choreography. In recent years we have started to work with projection mapping in a comprehensive direction and choreography of space through the use of light. More than 1.3 million people have been exposed to events and shows that have been planned, produced, and directed by NAKED Inc.