DETROIT and SEATTLE — In mid-January, when international media attention shifted to Detroit for the 2018 North American International Auto Show, General Motors Co. (GM) unveiled a new experiential installation in its global headquarters, The Renaissance Center.
Engineered over the past two years, the project is a collaboration between GM and a Who’s Who of design and creative partners. Spanning five stories, seventeen massive-scale LED surfaces are fed by an artificial intelligence-driven Interactive Content Engine (ICE) capable of delivering an infinite array of hallmark branded content, resulting in unique experiences in the space every day. The iconic experiential development welcomes both visitors and employees with a visual brand voice interspersed with immersive spectacle.
The creative challenge of GM World was presented in a request for proposal, with the winning concept coming from Neumann/Smith Architecture and experience marketing house EWI Worldwide. EWI executives including Chief Creative Officer Chuck Bajnai then tapped Bob Bonniol of MODE Architectural (MA) to contribute creative in the design development phase.
“This development fuses architecture with stunning, future-forward media applications to showcase the themes of craftsmanship, community and global impact,” Bajnai said. “At GM World, every moment of every day, those who visit will find themselves immersed in the values and culture of General Motors in profound and uplifting ways.”
The opening of the space corresponded with the celebration of Chevrolet’s 100 Years of Trucks. With this as a core theme, the objectives were to combine epic cinematic sequences, custom brand pillar experiences, and the immersive assets created for auto shows for GM and its Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC brands.
Drawing from his high-level involvement with the technical and creative development process for GM World – which builds on his role leading creative direction for Chevrolet’s auto show installations from 2014 through 2016 – MA’s Bonniol shared some insights into the partners’ biggest challenges, as well as their solutions.
“Naturally, a great deal of attention went into creating all of the screen content for GM World, where the stories of GM’s roles as innovators, environmental stewards and manufacturers are crafted at the highest standards, and then made immersive,” Bonniol began.
As media content creative director and producer, Bonniol worked with EWI and his frequent collaborators at Ant Farm, melding original live-action production with animated content, all of which was mastered to resolutions exceeding 28k. “One of my very favorite things about working with the team at GM is their consistent willingness to push creative limits,” Bonniol continued. In addition to the brand pillar content, eight spectacular themed productions were brought to life, taking over the entire space with vision and atmosphere. Examples include the Rube Goldberg-inspired “Rube,” a glorious, peaceful immersion into an old growth “Forest,” and “Crankshaft,” a sophisticated, cinematic vignette transforming a giant engine into a heartbeat of action at a massive scale.
As a next step, Bonniol and his colleagues addressed the challenge of managing a vast array of premium content in an intelligent way. The team channeled GM’s attention to innovation in creating new software to deliver performances that are deftly curated by machine learning, while also providing far-reaching programming capabilities for human curators. For instance, on any given day, a curator might choose to exclusively showcase the Chevrolet brand, with an emphasis on trucks and common activities for truck owners. Spearheaded by Bonniol together with Ant Farm’s Rob Troy, the aforementioned ICE – by definition, an Expert System employing artificial intelligence – is their bespoke solution.
“At any given time, the ICE is able to sort through its entire library and select clips matching the relationships defined by all parameters it’s given,” Bonniol added. “It then assembles them artfully – which is where it has to be intelligent. Applying a variety of rules to edit clips together, ICE creates live mosaic edits of the sequences that play out across the 17 screens.”
Rounding out the technical details, the installation’s playback system uses Pandora’s Box from Christie Digital, programmed by UVLD’s Cameron Yeary; its show control layer uses Medialon Manager, programmed by Pablo Molina. The ICE system was prototyped and programmed using Touch Designer from Derivative by Keith Lostracco. In the project’s creative development and previsual phases, MODE made extensive use of Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft PowerPoint.
Learn more about GM World by visiting http://gmrencen.com.
About MODE Architectural
A facet of MODE Studios, MODE Architectural specializes in the design and implementation of video and interactive features in permanent installations. Led by Emmy Award-winning designer and director Bob Bonniol, MA’s skilled designers and technicians conjure custom video artworks that fuse vibrance, flexibility and extraordinary branding with integrated architectural video elements, projection mapping, media-charged facades, engaging interactivity and stunning content. With deep expertise in evolved storytelling – as well as all products, systems and processes for manifesting complex video installations on time and on budget – MA’s installations are known for becoming immersive cultural hotspots. Learn more: http://www.modearchitectural.com.
Source: MODE Studios, Inc.
“GM World” Photos by Jason Rzucidlo / AmericaJR