Cultivating the future of design

Boston College Pops on the Heights

CHestnut Hill, Massachusetts 

In 2015, our team was approached by Rafanelli Events to design the concept and content for the stage surround of Boston College’s “Pops on the Heights,” an annual gala fundraiser and performance by the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra to raise funds for student scholarships at Boston College, held in Conte Forum, a 9,000 seat auditorium on the college campus.  Pops on the Heights has had a long tradition at Boston College, starting in 1992. The 2015 event marked the first year that Pops on the Heights featured a stage surround with projected content.  We were honored to have been selected to create the theme and content for the show.

Since then we have had the great pleasure of working with the talented team at Rafanelli Events for four years.  Every year we develop a unique concept and create a two hour show of original content based on the show that the Boston Pops puts together each fall for this exceptional event.

 

Pops on the Heights 2018


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In 2018, Studio HHH took a different approach to content creation. Driven by a desire to depict the incredible natural beauty of the campus, we departed from an exclusively 3D animation approach and included original edited video produced by our team.  We were inspired to showcase the work of students from a variety of departments.

We approached the teachers of the studio art department and teamed up with the Advanced Mixed Media class at Boston College, taught by Professor Sheila Gallagher.  We worked with the students to hone in on a concept for the 2018 event and landed on the theme “BC through the seasons” as a metaphor for the student experience over 4 years of campus life.  We also worked with the class to determine the video content and animation style and developed a “double exposure” theme which allowed us to show the visual metaphor of the student experience through the beauty of campus by overlapping video images for captivating ephemeral visuals.

The Advanced Mixed Media class constructed and painted a large scale eagle, the mascot of Boston College. The construction process was documented in intervals. The eagle started out in black and white and gradually gained more colors and patterns revealing a multitude of transformative layers. The entire process was turned into a timelapse animation and showcased during the intermission of the show.  As the Pops began playing again, the painted eagle lifted off the canvas into a 3D animated painted eagle and soared over campus. As the eagle arced over Conte Forum, the projected paint fell from its feathers and the eagle became illuminated with gold confetti cascaded down into the auditorium as Lionel Richie took the stage.

 

Pops on the Heights 2017

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In 2017 Boston College celebrated its 25th Anniversary of Pops on the Heights, and the culmination of a three year arc of concept and content for this show. Featuring guest conductor John Williams and guest vocalist Jennifer Hudson.

The year’s theme centered around the exterior of Gasson Tower, and the campus mascot, the Golden Eagle, at the entrance to Boston College. The content was closely tied to the decor and event theme “historic glamour,” depicting the exterior of the tower and  emphasizing the striking architectural detail. The high contrast warmly lit night shots were all created in 3D animation.

As the guest vocalist Jennifer Hudson entered stage, the golden eagle, depicted atop it’s grand pedestal overlooking the campus entrance, spread its wings and took flight.  A cascade of golden light activated through the entire audience (via the LED bracelets on the wrists of the audience members). From a static statue to a grand creature in flight, the eagle became a metaphor for the scholarship recipients that the event benefits.

The highlight of the show was when John Williams stood up and conducted Star Wars with a projected surround video of a journey through space that culminated into a warp speed travel back to BC campus and Gasson Tower, perceived through the lens of a glass orb, as though all in a dream.

The technical focus of this year became about the in-depth 3D modeling and character animation of the golden eagle.  From a 3D scan of the eagle, our team transformed sculpture into an animated life-like creature with each feather articulating as it moved across the screens.

Year after year this fundraiser has proven to be a huge success.  It raised a record $14 Million in 2017 which was distributed to over 300 scholarship recipients.

 

Pops on the Heights 2016


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In 2016 Rafanelli asked us to return to produce and execute another exciting gala event for Boston College “Pops on the Heights.” This annual fundraiser dinner features performances by the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra and raises funds for student scholarships with guest performer Kristin Chenoweth.

The 2016 performance theme was "Light the World." Our team chose to focus on the architectural gem of the campus, Gasson Tower and the marble statue that resides inside the tower of Angel Michael slaying the dragon.  The story was unveiled through performances starting with a projected scene of the vibrant stained glass as the Pops performed Singing in the Rain.  A micro-landscape featured the folds and curves of the marble statue as the orchestra performed the Star Wars theme song.

After intermission, as guest vocalist Kristin Chenoweth entered, the projected interior of Gasson Tower was brought to life with animation magic depicting color and light across the architectural detail and bringing the interior alive with celestial sparkle. The light then traveled throughout the interior of the rotunda before emerging out of the top of the tower to reveal the night sky.  The finale reveals Gasson Tower from aerial perspective, as fireworks burst in the sky.

One of the most successful aspects of the content was the integration of IMAG (live image magnification) into scenes and animated content. The PopsOrchestra, the Boston Chorale, student performers, and guest vocalists were all captured on live camera which seamlessly streamed into the surrounding content.

 

Pops on the Heights 2015


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The stage was surrounded by a 40’x70’ blank projection fabric drape at both the right and left of the stage with three hanging baffles above the stage and transformed into a giant screen surrounded by projection mapped 3D animation content for the duration of the performance.

In 2015 the theme of the evening was “The History of Broadway.” We worked with the Boston College fundraising team and the Rafanelli Events design team to craft the concepts that would become original animated content depicting the architectural evolution of Broadway theater design. Throughout the evening, the stage morphed from a classically gilded theater, to a bulb lit marquee, and finally to a neon marquee for the finale.

The 2015 performance featured three guest vocalists, the stars from the recent movie release, Twenty Feet from Stardom.

Our team produced a video depicting campus life by telling the gripping story of five scholarship recipients.

Solar Forest

Cambridge / Boston, Massachusetts / New york, New yOrk

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This dynamic outdoor light installation highlights the global need for clean, non-polluting light and an opportunity to celebrate progress in solar innovation and renewable energy

Karim Badwan worked closely with Studio HHH to design a custom rigging system that suspended the sculptural cascade from three large trees on the lawn of CIty Hall. The upper structure was fabricated from aluminum tube which kept the sculpture lightweight with minimal wind load. The structure was made in five segments for efficient shipping and transportation in a standard vehicle.  Each Solight cube is made from high performance fabric and designed to collapse in a rotational fold.

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Solar Forest was made possible by a generous contribution from SoLight.  Representing the 360º extending around our globe, the installation featured 360 Solar Helix lanterns which were donated by founder/designer Alice Chun of SoLight Design.

This immersive artwork was originally created for the Cambridge Science Festival and debuted as a 3 week installation on the lawn at Cambridge City Hall in the Spring of 2017. The project had a second exhibition in November at ILLUMINUS 2017, where it was showcased for two weeks in Post Office Square.

After the installation was decommissioned, the lanterns were shipped directly to a rural community in Puerto Rico that was left without power after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

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Thank you to Alice Chun of SoLight Design and LuminArtz for their incredible support in making this project possible.
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This installation was intended to welcome the public and to activate the space both day and night. The lanterns extended down from the canopy 14’ to ground level so that the hanging elements rotated in the breeze. This installation invited people of all ages to take a moment to engage, explore, and play with the dancing light.

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Serpentine

Boston, Massachusetts

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This installation is designed to be viewed from three specific vantage points, with the experience of the sculpture changing dramatically depending on the location it is viewed from. The speed of the content mirrors the speed at which one approaches the sculpture from these particular viewing angles.  For those walking in from South Station, the sculpture will appear to be a singular orb with swirling content. For those with longer dwell-time at the cafe seating, the experience is of a slow moving hue shift that wraps the full length of the serpentine form. While those driving past will see a meteor shape with cascading content moving in their direction. Through these separate moments of circulation, the artwork becomes not just a static representation, but a dynamic expression of the way people move throughout their day.

Serpentine is an original site specific public artwork designed for the Atrium at 100 Federal in Downtown Boston and commissioned by Boston Properties. The sculpture consists of eight individual hanging elements, enveloped in projection mapped video art. The movement and color crossing all surfaces folds the individual elements together into a singular whole, creating a serpentine like form arcing through the large glass hall.

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Lumina

Worcester, Massachusetts

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Lumina is a temporary immersive installation located at the Worcester Art Museum for the 2018 holiday season.  Hundreds of strips of silk fabric were hung in a staggered trapezoid pattern from a monofilament structure 16 ft high. The installation is brought to life by projection mapped animations of iconic works of art from WAM’s permanent collection onto the layers of suspended fabric.  A stained glass window comes to life; a winter scene from a Japanese print begins to snow down; a Kandinsky painting unfolds into moving shapes. The animations and concept were created by Boston artist, Sam Okerstrom-Lang. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the silk and become immersed in the dancing patterns of light while experiencing classic works in a new and engaging way.

Perfect for all ages, it’s an irresistible setting for photographing family and friends. Lumina is free with Museum admission and on display through mid-January 2019.

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Concept Design: Vanessa Till Hooper
Visual Artist:
Sam Okerstrom-Lang
Project Management: Jessie Klein
Installation: Jessie Klein, Emily Castro and Stephen Gleason

Produced by Studio HHH and LuminArtz, a non-profit organization
that produces the ILLUMINUS festival in downtown Boston
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Photo synthesis

Boston, Massachusetts

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The ILLUMINUS 2017 festival premiered with an opening reception in the white marble lounge of 50 Milk Street.  While much of the purpose of the festival is to showcase art on a large scale, ‘Photo Synthesis’ is a microscale projection mapped installation spontaneously created by Vanessa Till Hooper and Pamela Hersch.

This project was achieved through projecting directly onto delicate white orchids. The ‘canvas’ is a work of art in itself as every movement the flower makes is unpredictable and changes the shape of the images.  Eighty guests watched as the flowers metamorphosed from city scapes and night skies to tango dancers and fireworks.

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ILLUMINUS

Boston, Massachusetts

Founded by Jeff Grantz in 2014, ILLUMINUS was produced by Materials and Methods and now produced by Studio HHH.  The contemporary arts festival features original installations, video projection, and performances. Artists explore light and sound to create immersive experiences, turning the city into an interactive art gallery.  ILLUMINUS is Boston’s contribution to the global Nuit Blanche (White Night) movement established in Paris and now in many cities worldwide. The idea is to turn our gallery experience inside out by bringing art to the vibrant city streets through a shared collective experience.

Studio HHH sees the value in investing in the art’s community.  ILLUMINUS is an opportunity for us to support artists who engage in digital technology and new media in innovative ways.  We provide expertise to artists who are new to the process of working with emerging technologies such as projection mapping and audio/visual equipment integration.  We delight in supporting artists to push the envelope of how art can provoke ‘illuminating’ experiences. Our team facilitates the festival production with Vanessa Till as the Creative Director, Stephen Gleason as Graphic Designer, Emily Castro as Artist Liaison, and Pamela Hersch as projection specialist.  Our studio directs the curatorial process as well as hosts the artist opening reception.

We are now entering our sixth year of planning for this one of a kind event that transforms the streets of Boston into a showcase for emerging artists experimenting in the field of multimedia, light and technology based art.


ILLUMINUS 2018


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In 2018, Illuminus was held in Downtown Boston.  This year we presented a new selection of over 20 artists to the festival, including the main facade which was populated by work from six female artists.  Antipode Tunnel, a cross-continent collaboration between two artists, held a line of eager viewers both nights. The haunting shadow of a live dancer mimics a hybrid creature in a projected light tunnel embodying the hopes and fears of human beings. Heart Hug, a work by two artists from Russia, encourages spectators to hug beneath a sculpture of a heart which lights up when they participate. The more people hug, the brighter the heart shines.  Boston 2070 was a temporal sculpture by local artist Teresita Cochran representing the cityscape of downtown Boston as it faces the inevitable future of dramatic sea level rise.  Over 100,000 people attended the dynamic event.

 

ILLUMINUS 2017


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The festival continued in 2017 and brought on new creative projects like Gridlock, Lanterns Story, Slowdance, Digital Graffiti and Solar Forest, the featured artwork from Studio HHH that was exhibited in Post Office Square for four weeks following the festival.  The event brought over 20 artist's unique works and attracted over 80,000 guests during two nights in early November.

 

ILLUMINUS 2015


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The festival grew considerably in 2015 featuring the work of over 40 artists and drawing a crowd of over 30,000 attendees.  ILLUMINUS became established as a premier emerging arts event in Boston. ILLUMINUS 2015 took place on Lansdowne street behind Fenway Park and the back of the “Green Monster.” This second festival was hosted in partnership with HUBweek, founded collaboratively by The Boston Globe, MIT, Harvard University, and Massachusetts General Hospital to showcase innovation in Boston while serving as the closing event for the weeklong civic activation.

 

ILLUMINUS 2014


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The first ILLUMINUS festival in 2014 took place in Boston’s SoWa Arts District at a former power station on Harrison Avenue. It featured the work of 30 artists and attracted nearly 10,000 people. The overwhelming response and number of attendees revealed this approach to showcasing contemporary art as an important undertaking and inspired us to continue the festival each year.

The Uncommon Project | Emerson College

Boston, Massachusetts


“The purpose of The Uncommon Project is to make a meaningful and significant contribution to public art in Boston; to provide artists with new and dynamic opportunities to showcase their work; to inspire, embrace, and celebrate our great city’s emerging diversity and to expand the College’s reputation for innovation in the arts and communication in Boston and around the world.” - Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College

Vanessa Till Hooper acted as co-curator, selecting work from local artists, Emerson faculty, and students.  The projected work activated the facade of the Emerson College Little Building at 80 Boylston Street from December 2017 to January 2018 during the building's construction and renovation.  By viewing work on an exaggerated scale, such as artist John Craig Freedman’s work of a human eyeball rapidly scanning the sight, the building transformed into an engaging experience, viewable from the Boston Common and  surrounding areas.

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This project was conceptualized by the President of Emerson College, Lee Pelton.  He envisioned it as “the largest ongoing projected art canvas in the United States” as well as an opportunity to establish the College’s dedication to innovation in the arts.  It was the goal of Lee Pelton and the creative team to make sure this project was accessible to and appreciated by everyone in the community.

Our team collaborated on this project with the curatorial oversight from Emerson’s Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and Distinguished Curator in Residence, Joseph Ketner.  The College partnered on the project with the Emerson Urban Arts program and the faculty Public Art Think Tank (PATT) in coordination with Elkus Manfredi Architects and the creators of Boston’s ILLUMINUS festival.

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Audemars Piguet | Product Launch Event

New York, New York

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Benson gave a detailed presentation about his artwork, “We’ve only had the capability to see such distant worlds up close for a few decades, and then we’ve only managed to do so in fragmentary glimpses. So part of my motivation is to pan through the visual record, and assemble those glimpses, and transmit my own personal fascination with these objects by using individual spacecraft frames to produce mosaic composite vistas.” The wall at the far end of the room slid apart, revealing stairs to a cave-like gallery where Piguet watches glittered under a single beam of light.

For this event, our team custom fabricated six seamless lightweight projection screens (8' H x 12' W) that connected to three more continuous screens. We used six projectors with short-throw rear-projection lenses to allow guests a close range view without interfering with the beam of light.

Our team worked with Sam Okerstrom-Lang to projection map this seamless immersive environment while transforming an old church in Manhattan into a cocktail lounge, an IMAX dining hall, and a product showcase gallery.

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Watchmaker Audemars Piguet allowed us complete freedom to conceptualize an installation based on the launch of the Royal Oak watch. This project started with the experience of the guest and then the immersive environment was created around that ideal experience.

Beginning in an elegant cocktail lounge surrounded by massive NASA photo prints, guests were led to a dining room wrapped in a 360 degree IMAX-like projection. In the middle of the octagonal room were two black tables set with candles and orbs to reflect the light of the projection.  As a multi-course meal was presented, diners were suspended in planetary and astrological imagery - with close up images of the moon’s surface taken by NASA cameras and transformed by artist Michael Benson.

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Assembly Row Holiday

Somerville, Massachusetts

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Three giant snowflakes, each 10’-12’ in diameter, were hung from the iconic steel arches that tower at the end of the Row as an homage to the rich industrial history of the complex.  

The ground level installation was designed to be an ideal backdrop for holiday photos and social media posts. It featured stacks of round birch and pine logs, smaller reclaimed wood and steel cog snowflakes, and a large snowflake at the center made from vintage Radio Flyer sleds.  

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In the plaza, there are was a small village of cabins and clusters of stumps that acted as casual seating.  The cabins were depicted in simple stick-frames of the iconic cabin shape with internally glowing bands of LED light. Surrounded by giant logs topped with puffy white cushions that suggested a snow-top mushroom cluster.

The installation was unveiled at the “Light the Row” ceremony by Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

The Assembly Row Shopping Center in Somerville engaged our team to create a fresh, fun, and festive installation for the Holiday Seasons.

The installation was conceived as a celebration of the season and of the rich industrial history of Assembly Row. The design process began with an investigation of the iconic elements of the winter months that make our collective memories of this season feel so magical; sledding in the snow, stacks of cut logs for the fire, falling snowflakes, and most of all the soft glow of sparkling lights.

These inspiring elements were then re-imagined with a contemporary aesthetic, leading to the creation of an the installation that featured giant snowflakes fabricated out of reclaimed local barn wood and vintage industrial steel cogs brought in from the midwest with internally lit programmable LED lights. A  ground installation of snowflake and timber framed log cabin shapes invited visitors of all ages to come and play.

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