Nocte: Ascent, 2015

Arts & design studio Nocte put a d3 2x2plus to work for Ascent, their interactive campfire for the NightRay Outdoor Fest which was held 12-13 September in France.

Background

Lasting one night only, the North Face NightRay Outdoor Fest aimed to bring together outdoor-fans in celebration of the adventurous human spirit and the curious mind. Festivalgoers could enjoy a night filled with workshops, talks and inspiration set in the beautiful French countryside.

London-based creative studio Nocte, known for its responsive light-based creations, was commissioned by festival organiser The North Face to create a sculpture for the festival that would captivate the audience. Nocte responded with Ascent, an interactive installation that both blurred and highlighted its surroundings through light.

Director of Nocte, Andrea Cuius, explains the design: “Basing our design process on an interactive campfire, we created bespoke LED sculpture as a centrepiece, complemented with DMX lights underneath audience seating. This created an enclosed and inclusive space.”

The interactive element was driven by social media, Cuius goes on to explain: “Another interesting aspect of this project was the interaction with the audience: in collaboration with Octagon, we developed a small web server to catch all the tweets including #neverstopexploring in real-time and fed the data to d3, so whenever a tweet was received, the LED sculpture, as well as the DMX audience lights and the screen content were immediately responding.”

d3 Solution

Cuius has been working with d3 for many years, usually through United Visual Artists as a creative coder. He chose d3 for its flexibility and robustness: “It’s a really powerful tool which I can customise by creating modules and devices, so in this context I can use d3 as an open platform with industry strength and standards.”

Another reason to choose d3 was the amount of video content that needed to be sequenced and played back. Cuius ended up with 400Gb of hi-res video content, for which he needed a powerful media server. “With d3 I could load and playback a 90GB HAP video in an instant and seamlessly scrub the timeline to preview the content. All in all the system was rock solid. It handled 400Gb of content, DMX outputs and several highly demanding custom modules running for 24h straight.”

Besides the sheer playback power, the preproduction process was also improved by using d3. Says Cuius: “Because of the nature of the project and the different outputs connected to the system, d3 was fundamental in the pre-production stage. I needed a tool to easily pre-visualise and sequence all the different fixtures in one place, as all elements were meant to work together to create a unified experience for the audience. d3 was used to simulate the entire environment, helping me to get a feeling for the overall lighting, and the experience for the audience.”

Specifically, Cuius appreciated how flexible d3 is with screen content, and mentions this helped him greatly on-site: “We originally planned to install a custom shape projection screen on the LED sculpture, but due to weather conditions we were forced to move the video content to a video wall. Thanks to the way d3 manages video projection, I could easily move the 400Gb of content in less than an hour without going through the long process of rendering and encoding.”

Images: Sandra Ciampone
Video: Sandra Ciampone (filming), Giorgia Polizzi
Sound Design for video: Fraction

PR Agency: Octagon

Production

Tour/Event Name:

Nightray Festival, organised by The North Face

Credits

Show Producer:

Nocte

Show designer:

Nocte

Set designer:

Set Fabrication: Wyliewood

Equipment

d3 gear:

d3 2×2plus

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