Mayakovsky 3D mapping by Sila Sveta
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annamaria monteverdi/ Settembre 5, 2016/ FOCUS

The show ‘Mayakovsky’ is a unique project by Sila Sveta — the Grand Prix winner of the Art Vision Modern competition at the 5th Moscow International Festival ‘Circle of Light’ in 2015.

3D architectural mapping inspired by the Soviet avant garde movement incorporated an unusual soundtrack — a recording of Mayakovsky’s poetry. Projection on the Central pavilion of VDNKh Exhibition Center was a complex combination of graphics, text visuals, and video footage. Regardless of the difficulty of its technical execution, the final project looks very minimalistic and stays strictly within the intended stylistic frame of the Soviet era.

Vladimir Mayakosvky is the biggest poet of the 20th century, and one with a very complex fate. Chained within a statue on a square named after him, he still looks harshly upon everyone. A rebel in a yellow vest: the first rock star of the USSR, a poet, an artist, a director and a wild romantic. With his art he participated in the creation of an utopia that ultimately swallowed him in the end. We are in the right era to remember this great poet.

Process

The first stage of a projection mapping show production is the script written by the Creative Director. Based on the script, the first graphic drafts are created by the project’s Art Director, who also compiles a moodboard with visual references. Below is the moodboard for Mayakovsky.

The screenplay is divided into 3 parts.

1. Old World – Revolution.
In this part the viewer sees an era of Tsarist Russia shortly before its fall. The façade of the palace is projected, which deteriorates in seconds. It swells down like paraffin candles. At some point a huge figure of Mayakovsky shatters the palace.

2. New World – Structure.
Built from a scratch. Words and objects in the style of suprematism are used as blocks for construction. A new world is being built based on poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky. The content shifts from smooth lines to more acute forms. Tatlin’s Tower reveals from the depths of the Earth. It perfectly falls under the architecture of the building.

3. World, where he won’t be
Heavy units of the Soviet Empire style start to cover this reality. Mayakovsky continues to build his world, but lacking the inspiration. In the end the viewer sees the same 1. Pavilion, which completely covers the “new world” of Mayakovsky. Only huge legs/feet are seen through. Mayakovsky is so big that he couldn’t fit into the new reality. He eventually freezes like the monument on the Mayakovsky square.

Vladimir Mayakosvky is the biggest poet of the 20th century, and one with a very complex fate. Chained within a statue on a square named after him, he still looks harshly upon everyone. A rebel in a yellow vest: the first rock star of the USSR, a poet, an artist, a director and a wild romantic. With his art he participated in the creation of a utopia that ultimately swallowed him at the end. We’re in the right era to remember this great poet.

Yury Kolokolnikov is a Russian theatre and cinema actor.
In the 2014 he has acted a part of Styr at the forth season of the famous American TV series “Game of Thrones”.

Before production of any mapping show starts, it is vital to understand its setup — the 3D mask of the building. The shape often influences the picture and the final composition. Therefore, it is important to evaluate in advance the building’s complexity and other features which might impose constraints on the work of designers. For example, the building where Mayakovsky was shown has distinctive columns and many bronze decorations, which reflect the light and make it impossible to put any small graphic details in these areas. All architectural details must be taken into account during the whole production process.

The next stage is the storyboard — a visual script of the future show, usually with visual references and comments. In the case of Mayakovsky, the story was choreographed by the poetry itself — we picked lines from the poems we wanted to visualize directly or through metaphors.

When the storyboard is approved, the project proceeds to the production phase. At this stage we create style frames — detailed still images which show the style, color, and lighting pattern of the final content we are aiming for.

It is customary to test and project style frames on the building’s scale model to see if any changes are needed. In the case of Mayakovsky, at some point we decided to step away from a vivid combination of colors and limit ourselves by red, black and white.

The show screenplay was divided into three parts and illustrated with the final style frames.

1. Old World — Revolution

In this part the viewer sees an era of Tsarist Russia shortly before its fall. The façade of the palace is projected, which deteriorates in seconds. It swells down like paraffin candles. At some point a huge figure of Mayakovsky shatters the palace.

2. New World — Structure

Built from scratch. Words and objects in the style of Suprematism are used as blocks for construction. A new world is being built based on poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky. The content shifts from smooth lines to more acute forms. Tatlin’s Tower reveals from the depths of the Earth. It perfectly falls under the architecture of the building.

3. A world where he doesn’t belong

Heavy units of the Soviet Empire style start to cover this reality. Mayakovsky continues to build his world, but is lacking inspiration. In the end the viewer sees the same 1. Pavilion, which completely covers the “new world” of Mayakovsky. Only huge legs/feet are seen through. Mayakovsky is so big that he couldn’t fit into the new reality. He eventually freezes like the monument on the Mayakosvky square.

The next stage is the production of an animatic. Approved style frames are given out to motion designers to be used as a guide to compose the 3D animated show.

At this stage we have still pictures and also short animations to be tested on the scale model of the building. By making small changes to the animatic, adding color, textures and other details, we gradually turn it into the final content for the show.

The show also included video footage, therefore Chromakey shooting was required during the production stage. We teamed up with a Russian actor Yury Kolokolnikov to bring the caracter of Mayakovsky to life. In addition, we came up with the idea of using a huge animated head — a 3D portrait of Mayakovsky — in one of the scenes, so we made a 3D scan of the actor’s face.

The project’s Art Director Ilya Balakin comments: “We aim to find an application for all the latest technologies appearing on the market. We create art predominantly based on the capabilities of these technologies. One could say that the pre-production stage is pure art, regardless of the tech specifications and setup. At this stage, we develop ideas in order to come up with an overall concept. But later, some limits occur: we have limits of the building itself, of the projectors, therefore we have to focus on these issues and take them into account”.

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Team

Starring: Yury Kolokolnikov as Mayakovsky
Creative Director: Alexander Us
Co-author: Alexander Shein
Executive Producers: Alexey Rozov, Denis Astakhov
Art Director: Ilya Balakin
Project Manager: Sveta Yermolayeva
Supervisor: Maxim Chepukhalin
Designers: Oleg Barankin, Danil Tabacari, Sergey Maslov, Vitaly Babich, Maxim Bitiukov, Arthur Kondrashenkov, Denis Sidorenko, Vitaly Zykov, Vlad Kiselev, Daria Shurkina, Kostia Zankov, Adeliya Koldarova
Sound Design: ::vtol::
Filming Crew: Evgeny Arkhipov, Anton Arkhipov
Editing: Evgeny Arkhipov