Artistic Image Creates 3D Animation For Stone Mountain Park’s New Lasershow
Press Release from Artistic Image
Full Spectrum LLC’s Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision
Atlanta, GA. – An Atlanta favorite seen by more than 25 million people for almost 30 years the Lasershow at Stone Mountain Park is a tradition at the landmark site. Artistic Image (AI) created 3D animation and 40-minute video enhancements for Full Spectrum LLC’s new Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, which has dazzled visitors since its debut. The show uses Stone Mountain as a projection surface with digital video projection delivering 3D-like effects without the glasses.
The original lasershow featured neon laser lights, fireworks, graphics and stories choreographed to a pop musical score transforming the park into a natural amphitheater. In the new Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, Artistic Image’s 3D animation maps the mountain, turning the stone into a display surface taller than the Statue of Liberty and five times the size of an IMAX screen.
AI, a multi award-winning hybrid creative, production, CGI, animation, print, editorial company, took the complex animation from concept to completion. Their team creating a sequence of computer generated scenes that takes visitors backwards and forwards in time: a waterfall cascading down the mountain; a volcano spewing lava down its sides and bursting a hole in the stone to reveal a world inhabited by dinosaurs; a Civil War infantry battle fought by soldiers who then crumble and dissolve, revealing the gigantic trio of southern heroes (Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson) carved into the 825-foot granite outcropping; and a futuristic vision of an Atlanta where personal flying vehicles are the mode of transport. They also designed an animated robotic Stone Mountain miner character that guides viewers through the diverse events that the enduring mountain has witnessed – and may see in centuries to come.
Adding to the complexity of the animated scenes were challenges posed by the mountain as a display surface. “Sometimes the animation obscured the mountain, sometimes it enhanced the mountain and sometimes we used the carving to the animation’s advantage,” says AI’s director of design and VFX, Ed Dye. “We also created a variety of video montages and other graphics to support the lasershow.”
AI devoted about three months to the project from concept to completion. During that time Stone Mountain Park built a facility to house the new Barco projection system required for the lasershow.
“The show is unique because unlike projecting against a building, which acts like a flat screen with an edge, when you project images on a surface with no defined edges it’s more difficult to pull off the illusion,” Dye explains. “The irregular surface of the mountain, with its 45-foot deep carvings, cracks, ledges and natural imperfections, also posed a challenge for aligning the projected imagery. We matched the camera lens in the 3D animation software with the angle of the projected image, then the projectors corrected for alignment as needed.
“Creating content that would look spectacular on the carved, gray mountain” posed a further challenge, according to Dye. “We had to create just the right amount of contrast and make the correct color choices – by over-exaggerating and over-saturating the colors – that would make the animation pop against the dull background. We even had to amplify the miner character, adding a black glow to separate him from the content behind him.”
With just one month to test the animation on site before the show went live, AI did three rounds of tweaking during test projections to make everything work the way it was envisioned.
The company’s team of animators and compositors used Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects as their primary tools for the project.