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Behind the scenes Beyonce at the UN

In a collaboration with the United Nations, Kenzo Digital, Droga5 and Beyonce, Collab worked together to combined technology and design to create a live performance/viral video for World Humanitarian Day (WHD) 2012. The central concept was to transform the iconic General Assembly of the UN into a living canvas, and connect it with every country on earth that is affected by the initiatives that stem from that very room.

The process involved constructing the largest indoor concave projection screen ever built, engineering 10,000 pounds of steel to truss the screen over the world’s leaders, and projection-map the UN General Assembly Hall. The screen served as an animated backdrop for a live performance of Beyonce’s “I Was Here,” the adopted anthem of WHD. A music video shot during the show helped the WHD campaign reach over 2 billion people globally through the combined social reach of celebrities like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and more.

The project created a lot of excitement for our community at Collab. It gave us an opportunity to come together as a cohesive force for innovating quickly, and creating solutions for bringing this fantastic project to life.

We started by building a miniature version of the Compound curve screen which would eventually become a 12,000 square foot backdrop for the visuals. Our wood shop and digital fabrication lab creates a productive environment for all of us to work on projects efficiently. Building models and creating physical Prototypes for these kinds of experiences and installations gives us a level of insight which cannot always be understood in a digital space.

We used the model for understanding the relationship between the content we were developing, and the particular shape and viewing experience we wanted to capture for the video. We find that it is always important to build physical models to develop content and consider every aspect of the experience for the audience from where they are sitting.

At the same time we began to develop a strategy for building the screen which would become the canvas for the content. Working side by side and having all of the talent so closely connected made it much easier to manage the production. The project was an incredible collaboration between a group of talented animators, engineers, architects, producers, and artists, sharing space and working together to create something spectacular. More details can be found by visiting our site which features our collective work.


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