Total Production

The North Face Launches its NightRay Outdoor Fest with d3

December 2015

When The North Face held its first NightRay Outdoor Fest at the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France it commissioned 'Ascent'.

'Ascent' was an interactive campfire sculpture from London-based art and design studio Nocte. Nocte selected a d3 2x2plus to fill the role of media server for the centrepiece sculpture enjoyed by several hundred participants.


The one-night, all night The North Face NightRay Outdoor Fest was designed to inspire people to live a life of exploration. It featured workshops, talks and activities to feed the body, mind and soul. When the sun set nature’s nighttime playground was revealed with night hikes, storytelling, live bands and DJs, dancing under the stars and gathering round Ascent.


Known for its responsive light-based creations, Nocte was commissioned by The North Face to create a sculpture for the festival that would captivate the audience. They created Ascent, an interactive installation that both blurred and highlighted its surroundings through light.


“Basing our design process on an interactive campfire, we created a bespoke LED sculpture as a centerpiece, complemented with DMX lights underneath audience seating. This created an enclosed and inclusive space,” explained Andrea Cuius, Director of Nocte.


Social media drove the interactive element.  “In collaboration with PR company Octagon, we developed a small web server to catch all the tweets including #neverstopexploring in real-time and feeding the data to d3, so whenever a tweet was received the LED sculpture, as well as the DMX audience lights and the screen content, were immediately responding.”


Cuius has worked with d3 for many years, usually through United Visual Artists as a creative coder. “It’s a really powerful tool which I can customise by creating modules and devices, so in this context I could use d3 as an open platform with industry strength and standards,” he said.


Cuius also chose d3 because of the amount of video content that needed to be sequenced and played back for the installation: He ended up with 400Gb of high-resolution video content, which required a powerful media server.  “With d3 I could load and play back a 90GB HAP video in an instant and seamlessly scrub the timeline to preview the content. All in all, the system was rock solid. It handled 400Gb of content, DMX outputs and several highly demanding custom modules running for 24 hours straight.


“Because of the nature of the project and the different outputs connected to the system, d3 was fundamental in the preproduction stage. I needed a tool to easily pre-visualise and sequence all the different fixtures in one place, as all elements were meant to work together to create a unified experience for the audience.


“d3 was used to simulate the entire environment, helping me to get a feeling for the overall lighting and the audience experience.”


Cuius especially appreciated d3’s flexibility with screen content, which helped him on site: “We originally planned to install a custom-shape projection screen on the LED sculpture, but due to weather conditions we were forced to move the video content to a video wall.”


He concluded: “Thanks to the way d3 manages video projection, I could easily move the 400Gb of content in less than an hour without going through the long process of rendering and encoding.”


Set fabrication for "Ascent" was done by Wyliewood.

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