In 2011, when we were just a budding company with no real business model, we jumped at any chance to create an experiential installation. When our friends Kurt Firla and Elliot Mealia called and asked if we wanted to create an amusement park ride that videomapped a TTC streetcar and took riders on a fantastic voyage around Toronto, (including stops under the lake, inside a giant raccoon, and through time and space), we obviously had to say yes.
From the start, we faced major challenges. One was a complete lack of budget for the huge number of artists working on the actual animation and effects for the installation. The other was hacking together a wraparound display that could be easily reset and started each time the ride was boarded, allowing as many people as possible to experience the ride in the 12 hours it was alive.
Kurt and Elliot somehow convinced the TTC to lend us a streetcar for the night. The screens were made with spandex, and held on by magnets (since we weren't allowed to use any sort of adhesive on the streetcar). The projectors, some donated by Barco and some rented from Evolution Technologies, were connected via a Matrox device and controlled via a clever app.
In the end, our low-budget project was exhausting, rewarding, hilarious, and a true testament to what a group of super talented friends can pull together when they share a vision and have a little support from their city.
Would we do it again? Absolutely. But we'd never do it without a budget. Fortunately, we know how to do it on far less of a budget than a company like Universal Studios, so with any luck we'll have an inspired client in the future who's willing to invest in an experience like this.