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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

“The overlap was based on the viewing angle, and the printable surface behind each successive beam or curve,” explains Day. “We wanted to cover all the printable surfaces that overlap to give the illusion of more depth and viewing angles – so that even if you weren't looking exactly where you were ‘supposed’ to look, it still would pull a distorted version of the correct viewing angle.”

He estimates it took more than 110 work hours to build the model then design the templates for printing. They also had to work up precise installation instructions, where to begin, what image to start with, and where to work from there so the effects seen on their computer could be accurately re-created in the tunnel.

“We never tried anything like this before,” says Jones. “Usually, each side of the walls are treated individually, and the graphics for the ceiling are treated as separate pieces. Because of the 3D aspect of walking through the tunnel, however, their accuracy had to be more intricate and more precise.”

From design to print
In early April, Titan 360 delivered their files to Imagic for the output work. Imagic’s Allman agreed to print from their templates, with the understanding that if they didn’t translate well to the space, that was not the print shop’s responsibility. “With a few modifications, we dropped their files into our templates and printed what they provided,” he says.

As with other installations for the tunnel, Imagic employed a variety of printers and media, based on the requirements of that section of the wrap. For the curved walls running the length of the tunnel, the company’s Inca Spyder 320OVM UV flatbed was used to print a total of 33 flexible panels of 2-mil Kömmerling Komatex rigid PVC at 720 dpi, 17 panels were used for one wall, 16 on the other.

The floor graphics and ceiling panels were printed with the shop’s HP Scitex LX800/850 with Latex inks, at 600 dpi, though different media was used. The floor graphics were printed as five 54-inch-wide panels onto Flexcon’s Flexmark V400F white opaque vinyl. Images for the 20 beams overhead were printed at various sizes (as required) onto 3M Controltac IJ180 graphics film. No laminate was used for any part of the project, allowing for the graphics’ eventual removal to be simplified, says Allman.