Creative Work by Sean Pruen
07969 789 402 |

Title: Give Beautifully

Client: Stella Artois

Agency: Mother London / Mother NYC / Madre Buenos Aires

Awards: FWA Site of the Day / FWA Cutting Edge Award

Year: 2015

Location: NYC, USA / Buenos Aires, Argentina

To encapsulate the message of Stella Artois' global Christmas campaign 'Give Beautifully' we designed an interactive installation that gave the people of light polluted cities; New York City and Buenos Aires the chance to look up at the stars.

Image credit: Dapper Lou

It was our aim from the beginning to create an experience that delivered a feeling of wonder. That majestic sense of ‘wow’ you get when you look up at the milky way on a cloudless night, far from the noise of the city. An immersive experience, rich in organic natural beauty that you want to reach up and touch.

Made with over 2500 individual LEDs, the canopy was broken into three layers: a bespoke star cloth of single LEDs, hundreds of larger static LED balls and 149 kinetic globes. The latter were rigged on dmx controlled winches and when guests reached up for them, they slowly descended down to their position. The whole canopy was suspended above a mirrored floor, doubling the amount of stars in the space.

Five of the kinetic winch globes allowed for photo capture from above. When these stars were reached for, the canopy pulsed in a brilliant flash of white, and a DSLR hidden above captured the gaze of the people reaching up below.

The installation was written in C++ using openFrameworks with various libraries and our cameras were controlled by Raspberry Pi and Python scripts, which sent pictures to an iPad interface for people to share after the experience.

To create the essential interactive aspect of the installation, we used a technology called RadarTouch. This created a 2D laser plane in the air just above peoples heads and when the plane was broken we could determine the person’s hand position, giving us pin point accuracy over the 20m² space.

I designed simple pixel animations that drove both subtle movement of the winches and the luminosity and colour. This video driven approach gave us a beautifully elegant workflow to have full creative control over the output.

The final 7.5 minute animated sequence was then paired with an 8 channel, dramatic sound scape which modulated around the space. And when photo stars were triggered individual star sounds were played via a midi signal. These sounds were actually the sound of stars that were developed by Physics Professor: Dr Zoltan Kollath who interpreted star light frequencies into audible samples.

When we first revealed the installation to the public a grand piano was placed below. A specially invited audience then witnessed a special performance by singer John Legend.

For this opening performance I designed a set of special animations which could be dynamically controlled using an OSC interface. I was able to bring animations in and out on the fly throughout the show responding to Mr. Legend’s performance.

We also made the whole installation sound reactive so that when he performed the lights brightened via FFT graphic visualisations. This created a fantastic audio/visual synergy throughout the show and allowed us to have some fun when the public had gone home.

In Bueno Aires we recruited some local dancers to Tango beneath the stars and shot this video just for the fun of it.