Carisma Large Format Media innovates beyond the usual bus wrap.
When Carisma Large Format Media first met with Sony to discuss a nationwide promotion for “The Angry Birds Movie” in late 2015, the ideas grew as wild as putting real bird feathers on the side of a bus. But the New York-based print provider had recently invested in an enormous Massivit 1800 3D printer, and “Angry Birds” seemed like the perfect chance to show off its capabilities. A new idea for revolutionizing the common vehicle wrap was born. Carisma began creating a process to affix 3D embellishments to the sides of double-decker buses; meanwhile, Sony began gearing up for another blockbuster: “Ghostbusters.” As it became apparent that the “Angry Birds” buses were a success, talks for a new rendition of the 3D wrap concept began.
“There was a ton of back and forth,” says Fran Gidalowitz, director of marketing and sales. “When we’re doing print it’s very easy to show people what it’s going to look like, but when you’re dealing with 3D you really have to be visual. You really have to understand the depth and the perception and the angles.” The team from Sony flew to New York a number of times to collaborate with Carisma staff, which includes a dedicated 3D artist, on the concept for a new fleet of double-decker buses that would hit the streets of four target cities exactly one month before the movie’s release. The fleet included five buses in Los Angeles, three in New York, one in San Francisco, and one in Chicago.
We were much better prepared for ‘Ghostbusters’ than we were for ‘Angry Birds,’” says Gidalowitz. Some head-spinning challenges had already been solved, such as the development of a framing system that uses the curvature of the bus to hold the embellishments in place without having to drill into the vehicle itself. But others, such as managing the staggering weight of any 3D-printed pieces, still required some ingenuity. Planning the execution of each element of the wrap took a couple of weeks before they were ready to fire up the printers.
Upon discovering that a 3D-printed ghost would weigh about 200 pounds, the team decided the 3D-printed piece might be best utilized as a mold in tandem with a vacuum former. Ultimately, many of the pieces that make up the ghost were vacuum-formed PETG wrapped in 3M IJ3630 backlit vinyl, which was printed on Carisma’s Seiko ColorPainter H2 series solvent printer; this brought the weight down to a breezy 10 pounds.
The remaining part of the “Ghostbusters” symbol, the red “no” sign, was created using illuminated Plexiglas. The full symbol – which measures 14 feet in diameter – is set off from the bus by about an inch due to the framing system; Carisma used this space to fit in LED backlighting. The “Who You Gonna Call?” tagline was also created using illuminated Plexiglas.
The bus itself was wrapped in roughly 1000 square feet of 3M IJ3552C vinyl laminated with 3M 8519 luster laminate before any of the embellishments were installed. Each of the 10 buses took a team of four roughly one full day to complete the full installation, and because the process required a fair amount of prior knowledge, Carisma flew its own team to each city.
Even the logistics of transporting a 14-foot “Ghostbuster” across the country were a challenge, ultimately requiring an extra-tall tractor-trailer to be hired. But the effect, says Gidalowitz, was worth it: “You see these buses going down the street of New York City in the middle of the night, and the only thing you see is the ghost glowing and the logo floating through the sky … it’s a tremendous impact.”
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