This Winter, Step Into ‘SuperReal,’ An Immersive Digital Experience

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This season, experience a winter wonderland, a neon-bright city and a rainbow of interactive balloons all from inside a downtown New York city landmark.

“SuperReal” is an all-ages, immersive and interactive video art exhibition that takes place inside the Financial District’s Cipriani (25 Broadway). The full show runs 45 minutes long; ticketed guests are let in in 30-minute intervals. The show debuts on Dec. 15 and runs through Jan. 9.

Once inside, viewers step into an original digital video projection that encompasses the entire space of the 1920-era building. Video content is projected across soaring walls, arches and the ceiling. If the imagery looks seamlessly integrated, that’s because it is.

Nearly two years in the making, SuperReal is a unique collaboration between multimedia agency Moment Factory and Cipriani. The multi-million project began with a full scale scanning of the interior spaces, which became the storyboard templates for a team of around 80 designers, motion engineers and other artists. There’s even an interactive element, where balloons on the walls appear to burst in reaction to gestures that people make.

“It’s not about showcasing the technology, it’s about hiding it,” Moment Factory director and producer Jamie Reilly says. “So that it seems seamless and it looks magical.”

SuperReal deploys projection mapping, which scans the building’s interior shapes and forms. “[The video] doesn’t lie flat when you’re projecting on the walls,” Reilly says. “That’s why it looks so real. We’re using every shape, form and line to create something customized to the space.”

Because the space is landmarked, nothing could be added to it. So custom metal arches were built into the space, to hold 17 high-resolution projectors that beam 22,000 pixels across the 15,000-square foot room. The full show tops out at over 40 terabytes.

In addition to adding a vibrant, dynamic facade to the century-old walls, the vignettes take viewers on a journey from contemplative scenes to playful moments. Cipriani decorates the room with a wide mirrored floor and bean bags; the show is particularly popular with children. (Over 20,000 tickets sold during SuperReal’s first run this summer.) “There’s a sense of freedom,” Reilly says. “There’s nothing to break.”

The technology also points to the future of event planning, such as big ticket weddings, runway shows and corporate parties. Rather than spending a lot on flowers, for example, which will be discarded at the end of the night, events held at this Cipriani can feature custom art on the wall, or use imagery from a growing library of vignettes.

“It’s a new way of thinking about how you present the environment,” Cipriani’s Guiseppe Cipriani says. “It allows us to reinvent the idea of decor and entertainment in a dynamic way, so that the event becomes an opportunity to take guests on a bit of a journey throughout the evening.”

This past fall, for example, streetwear brand Kith held their fashion show at Cipriani, and projected “KITH” on the main wall, in a way that looked like a stone plaque had been etched into the walls. A similar image can be set up for weddings, with the couple’s names “etched” into walls.

“There’s also a sustainable factor,” Cipriani adds. “Once your space has been set-up, it is fixed and costly to change.” However, with a dynamic video installation, a wedding can start with cocktails in an Italian garden, and finish in a winter wonderland.(Weddings with three video scene changes at Cipriani start in the $20,0000 range.)

Given the cost of mapping the entire space, and building bespoke video content designed for the room, the technology can’t be shown or experienced anywhere else but this particular Cipriani.

“I like to call this destination entertainment because it can only seen here,” Reilly says. “We can’t take this concept anywhere else because everything has been built to bring these walls to life.”

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