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July 3rd, 2014
Precise Measurement Helps Pull Off the Perfect Light Illusion

The Gasometer, which closed twenty years ago in the Ruhr metropolis Oberhausen, was a landmark of the coal, iron and steel industry and is still an emblem of the region. Since 1994, the former gas holder has been an exhibition hall and has made a name for itself in the world of art. It has always been a constant challenge to fill the empty space above the actual exhibition area, with the dome’s dimensions rising to a height of more than 100 meters and its diameter to 60 meters. However, this empty space provides the perfect projection area for the media art of Urbanscreen.

Reality and virtuality

The creators of the light show, world-famous for their illumination of the Sydney Opera House in 2012, use 21 projectors to bring shapes and moving patterns to the inner areas of the Gasometer to fuse virtual art with real space. In order to achieve this effect, the images must be precisely distorted and then adjusted to the shape of the room. The virtual projection surfaces, which are used to digitally create these worlds of light, come alive as a result of these surfaces being precisely measured. Thorsten Bauer, Creative Director at Urbanscreen, makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Leica Geosystems: “The people at Leica Geosystems are our heroes because they’ve developed devices that succeed in transforming enormous spaces into a digital illusion in incredible detail.”

High-precision 3D point clouds

The ScanStation P20, a 3D laser scanner from Leica Geosystems, makes these illusions possible. It delivers millions of individual data points that are combined to create a 3D point cloud. These point clouds depict reality in incredible, highly detailed 3D reality. Using Leica Geosystems’ CloudWorx plugin, a 3D surface model can be created from the point cloud data and transferred to Urbanscreen’s 3ds Max 3D designer software. This model is used as a virtual projection surface or as the background for the perfect distortion of the images, the animations and the videos. Thorsten Bauer describes the process as follows: “We validate reality with the device, transfer it to the digital world, edit it there and then bring it back to reality.” This creates spaces that have a life of their own and sometimes, it seems heaven comes just a little bit closer to the observer.

The “320° Licht” media installation will be in the Gasometer in Oberhausen until 31/12/2014.

You’ll find more information on Urbanscreen’s media art at:

For more information on the ScanStation P20, go to Geosystems – when it has to be right
With close to 200 years of experience pioneering solutions to measure the world, Leica Geosystems products and services are trusted by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyse, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its broad array of products that capture accurately, model quickly, analyse easily, and visualise and present spatial information.

Those who use Leica Geosystems products every day trust them for their dependability, the value they deliver, and the superior customer support. Based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with tens of thousands of customers supported by more than 3,800 employees in 33 countries and hundreds of partners located in more than 120 countries around the world. Leica Geosystems is part of Hexagon, Sweden.