A Personalized Spectacle

Engaging Festival Attendees with Interactive Art

This engagement provided an opportunity for attendees at the celebrated Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California to put themselves inside the spacesuit of a 50′ tall roving astronaut sculpture.

The immense moving astronaut sculpture certain to become the central visual touchstone of Coachella featured … an opportunity for selfies on the grandest of scales …

LA Weekly

Producing this experience required a number of technical innovations. Coordinatiing with the artist team that built the astronaut and a projection-mapping vendor, a system was designed and installed that could fill the astronaut’s visor with images, using multiple projectors and media servers. This provided a large-scale canvas for video and visual effects. LED panels were installed on the astronaut’s chest to form a dynamic name badge, and a camera system was mounted on the helmet for a “POV view” that could be channeled through the on-board media servers along with the other video content.

The most important goal was to add an element of interactivity and personal engagement to the large-scale art piece: to involve the audience, to give members of the audience a chance to identify with, or – better yet – to become the Coachella astronaut.

To bring the audience into the experience, a custom video capture and playback system was implemented, with a portable camera rig that included a tablet-based app for control of video capture and playback on the on-board media servers. This was used to capture video clips of attendees, as well as of several of the world-class artists performing at the festival. For attendees, playback was sequenced in such a way as to allow individuals time to capture images of themselves as the astronaut, which of course were shared abundantly on social media channels. In the case of performing artists, the massive astronaut was often positioned near the stage so the artists could look out over and see themselves looming over their audience. The on-site producer directed festival-goers and performing artists alike to engage with the experience.

Extending the Experience to the World

The on-site production demanded constant interaction with the social media team as well as artists’ representatives — content was captured on-site and the team also pulled images from remote fans to integrate into the experience. When these “selfies on the grandest of scales” were displayed on the astronaut the team would coordinate acquiring images of the unfolding event to push out to social media channels. The result was an epic experience not just for the audience at the event, but for people around the world — bringing awareness and excitement around the event to an even greater level.

Skrillex looms over the festival crowd as the face of the Coachella Astronaut