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A Virtual Walk-Through

(July 2012) posted on Tue Jul 10, 2012

Transforming a San Francisco subway tunnel into Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Mike Antoniak

Chase pulled together the copy, graphics, and photos of Utah’s national parks, and an image of the Delicate Arch by photographer Steven Simon, which would be basis of the wrap. Titan 360 provided them with a series of approximately 50 print templates from Imagic, the Los Angeles print provider that outputs all graphics for Montgomery Street Station installations.

“Ultimately, what we do is print rectangles,” jokes David Allman, a partner in Imagic. “We’ve built templates for the entire environment that we use for the ceiling walls and floors.”

Scanning the space
As representative as those templates are of the many surfaces within the tunnel, the team at Attraction Studios decided they needed something more precise to be able to achieve the 3D effect of the arch.

“We have to have accurate measurements down to the quarter-inch,” says Day. “If they aren’t perfect when we do our rendering, it won’t work. We knew the print templates would have to be derived from our model of the space.”

Before they could build a virtual rendition of the tunnel, they needed precise measurements of the tunnel and the location of every space to be wrapped. They subcontracted that work to Calvada Surveying, Inc. Using a mobile 3D laser scanning system, Calvada scanned the length of the tunnel, a process that took several hours.

Williamsen then took that “point cloud data” to re-create the entire length of the tunnel and all its surfaces with precision accuracy in SoftImage XSI, a 3D modeling software program. Using iMagic’s templates as a reference, he converted the image into manageable print areas, which, in sequence, would suggest movement through the arch.

Particularly challenging were the images for the ceiling. Unlike the floor and walls, which run continuously for the length of the tunnel, the ceiling is actually a series of 20 protruding beams and soffits, broken up by light panels. As if that weren’t vexing enough, the dimensions of these beams also change over the course of the tunnel.

Visually, the goal was to trick the eye into experiencing the graphics overhead as a single image, rather than a series of separate images spaced along the tunnel. They achieved this by slightly, but precisely overlapping the images from beam to beam.