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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

Once the printing was done, the big question still loomed: Would the arch wrap deliver as promised. “We knew on paper and computer this should work, but until it was actually installed we didn’t know if it would work,” says Chase.

“By the time we got down to the installation a lot of people had been involved, and we still weren’t absolutely sure,” agrees Jones.

In late April, she was at the tunnel, working with the Titan 360 installation team as they followed the simple but exacting instructions provided by Attraction Studio’s Day and Williamsen. Over three days, the tunnel took on the aura of a stone arch.

“The best part was being in the tunnel the last day it was being installed,” says Jones. “Everyone was ecstatic! It really gives you the feeling you are in the wilderness.”

Viewed from just outside one end of the tunnel, the wrapped beams line up perfectly for a 3D rendering of Delicate Arch. It gradually changes overhead, below, and on both sides as pedestrians walk its length, as if hiking through the park. At the end, QR codes on the wall encourage visitors to learn more on social-networking sites and begin planning their Utah vacation.

Entering the tunnel from the other direction, signs overhead promote the state and its attractions, finally advising strollers to turn around and experience the arch. “It was a lot of fun to watch the reaction of people, their awe as they walked through and began taking out their phones to take pictures of it,” reports Jones.

When word and pictures of the wrap reached Struck, the entire team was “thrilled our client was able to take the leap of faith and trust us with this idea, and we were able to make it happen!” says Chase.
Attraction Studio’s Williamsen headed to San Francisco the first week of May to see for himself, and was interviewed by local media while there. “I thought it was awesome,” he says. “The arch looks outstanding, and the reaction of people has been great.”

As part of the state’s first advertising campaign targeting San Francisco, it’s already had measurable impact. By late May, he could report Web traffic from the Bay area had climbed nearly 700 percent over the previous May. “The tunnel wrap has been effective in generating significant PR and social-media buzz about Utah,” he says. “We will certainly consider other forms of unique advertising in the future.”

A proving ground
In that sense, the wrap has been something of a proving ground for what’s do-able with today’s technology and the collective talents of all involved. “We knew it was possible,” asserts Day. “It all comes down to the measurements. Even though we never actually visited that space, we were still able to pull it off because of the accuracy of those measurements.”

Jones predicts, “This will be a key promotional tool, both for the state and for what it’s possible to do in that tunnel. It just shows what’s possible when you think outside the box and aren’t afraid to try something new.”

Give praise, where due, says Imagic’s Allman. “I thought from the start it was a great idea – if they could pull it off,” he admits. “I give a lot of credit to those who came up with this concept, the designers who created it and built the templates, the installers, and, of course, the print shop, too.”
Yes, the print provider: For without the magic of digital printing, there would be no practical way to bring a slice of Utah’s breathtaking landscapes to the San Francisco underground.