Hungarian projection mapping specialist Maxin10sity was recently engaged to create HAILstorm!, a specially designed video mapping show for the University of Michigan’s Bicentenary Celebration.
HAILstorm! told the story of the university's past, present and future with a unique and lasting impact. The mesmerising show was performed four times on Friday 27 October, kicking off the traditional homecoming weekend in the USA, where former students and members are welcomed back to celebrate an organisation's existence.
The custom-designed video mapping was enjoyed by up to 5,000 people – bringing together local residents in Ann Arbor alongside students, staff and alumni. Despite inclement weather, attendance grew with each showing as word spread about the spectacle – and the audience gave it rave reviews.
Maxin10sity’s mapping content was delivered via Pandoras Box media servers linked to eight 30,000-lumen Christie projectors from the Boxer Series, which provided visual imagery on the university’s Rackham Building in Ingalls Mall. All building windows were custom masked for the event. The rental stager used L-Acoustics Line Stereo Main loudspeakers and four stereo timed delays. Sixteen domed ClayPaky Sharpy fixtures in programmed cues via Pandora were also installed to complete the visual look. A total of 21 technicians were on hand for the show, strike and set.
The university first approached Maxin10sity in April 2015, looking to explore the idea of a mapping event to mark its bicentenary. Partnering with US-based technical provider Bluewater Experiential Live Events to manage logistics for the RFP and production equipment, and supported by US producer Keith Oberfield of KBO Events, Maxin10sity went on to win the tender process in October 2015.
“Architectural mapping on this kind of scale is almost unknown in the USA – so we were thrilled when the University of Michigan got in touch with such a fantastic project. It gave us the opportunity to really showcase not only what we as Maxin10sity can do, but also take European art and creativity over to North America,” commented Tamás Vaspöri, Founder of Maxin10sity.
With the concept for the mapping, from writing the storyboard to the animation and music, entirely produced by Maxin10sity, HAILstorm! served as the ‘exclamation point’, not just of events of the day, but to the entire year-long programme of bicentenary celebration events.
Michelle French, project manager at the University of Michigan for the bicentenary celebration programme, commented: “Video mapping is a forward-thinking, innovative way of telling a story through the use of modern technology. We had seen examples of how it had been done effectively at other large-scale events to celebrate milestones and anniversaries. The stunning visuals appeal to an audience of all ages and demographics, which was really important to us.”
The brief for the project was wide-ranging. In developing the concept for the 10-minute show, French and the university’s planning committee determined that it should cover the past, present and future – the university’s third century – and provide a window to life at the university, showcasing the diversity of the students’ work.
Interpreting the university’s brief and bringing it to life was to be at the heart of the success of the event, said Vaspöri. “It was really important to truly understand what the university was trying to portray and achieve, bridging the cultural differences between the European and American way of thinking. For example, the university has very clear ideas on the kind of music that should accompany the images – and we were happy to work with them and our composer to accommodate this in the show.”
Mark F Wilson, creative director for Bluewater Experiential Live Events on the project, described the two-and-a-half-year, long-distance collaboration with Maxin10sity: “Our constant dialogue throughout meant that any challenges we encountered were quickly addressed and overcome. It was great to work with such experts in the field and drive this project to the success that it was; we can’t wait for the next one!”
“I’d love to work on another project with Maxin10sity” added KBO Events’ Oberfield. “It was a fantastic experience and navigating the challenges of distance and time difference were well worth it to have their creativity, expertise and unique signature style on board.”
Reflecting on what drove the event to success, French remarked: “Maxin10sity was very thorough in learning about our campus traditions and proposing a storyboard that was both creative and inspiring; I was very impressed with how they were able to take so many ideas and pare them down into a ten-minute show. Seeing our campus through their eyes and what stood out to them as interesting was a fascinating process, and together we were able to bring our vision to life. Their creativity undoubtedly helped us to meet all of our goals with the project – we thoroughly enjoyed working with this very talented team!”
Vaspöri concluded: “It was truly a pleasure to work on this event and capture the university’s 200 years in a show-stopping 10 minutes to share at this important moment in its history. We’re thrilled that everyone enjoyed the show which was flawlessly executed – testament to the strength of our professional animation production and technical implementation behind the scenes, together with our great partners. We look forward to bringing more of Maxin10sity’s pioneering work to America!”