Working in a century-old building that had been decommissioned for almost two decades had its challenges: water leaks and power cuts posed obstacles to installation and the team worked alongside heavy renovations to the building. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, causing the team to work under stringent protocols and precautions to get the job done safely and effectively. Designing the 40 minutes of custom animation that would be projected on each of the many surfaces in the building presented its own set of challenges. The goal was to project onto not just the four walls, but also historical artifacts already in the space — some of which were rusted and absorbed more light, others which were too reflective. The animation team needed a style that would look consistent across the many materials, yet visually stand out.
While the intent of the project originally began as a traditional, seated multimedia show, Thinkwell saw even more promise in the beautifully empty power plant. The project began when the Niagara Parks Commission took ownership of the century-old hydroelectric power station and decided to convert it into a one-of-a-kind tourist destination with a nighttime-only light and sound show in the building’s 61,000 sq. ft. cathedral.
After touring the station, Thinkwell envisioned a fully interactive and immersive experience — one that the audience wouldn’t just watch, they would experience all around them.
Design + Execution
Animation was created to not just paint over the surface, but bring the building to life with magical realism, so the line between the digital world and the physical world was blurred. In the end, a hand-drawn animation style was chosen for the projected graphics for two reasons: one, logistically, it would allow for the use of thicker, high contrast lines to allow the viewer to see the detail against mixed surfaces; two, stylistically hand-drawn animation would add a human touch to a historical building that was also hand-drawn, then constructed by the human hand.
Antoine Roy-Larouche (producer)
Charlotte Allard-Mejia (production coordinator)
Émilie F. Grenier (creative director)
Sindre Ulvik Péladeau (artistic director and motion designer)
David Drury (music composer)
Atomic 3 (light design)
Philippe Hughes (interactive sound design)
Frédéric Trétout (interactive motion design)
Andre Bendahan (videographer)
Eric Hoff, Sara Beil (story)
Sébastien Rompré (technological lead)
Julien Roy (technical director)
Estelle Jugant (designer)
Jean-Christophe Deschênes (integrator)
Rodolphe Busuttil-Décousus (integrator)
Charlotte Lerat Saint-Blancat (technical coordinator)
Hugo Boujut-Burgun (lead r&d)
Vincent Castonguay-Drouin (lead developer)
Jonas Lhoste (developer)
Marie-Ève Bilodeau (developer)
Julien Lafortune (developer)
Samuel Dansereau (developers)
Ventin Group (architecture)
MT Planners Ltd (landscape architecture)
FORREC (planning firm)
Thinkwell Montréal (digital fabrication)
Niagara Parks Commission (photography, videography)
Thinkwell Media (videography)