The Wooden Toy, Amon Tobin, ISAM

AMON TOBIN is testing the boundaries between visual, sculptural and musical experience even further!

By Nota Tsekoura, on 27th Jul, 2013 17:51

Amon Tobin, ISAM & THE WOODEN TOY                                             music + art + entertainment 

This is not the first time that Amon Tobin challenges himself and collaborates with other artistic practices. In Tobin's projects we have seen that music does not stand alone but co-exists with art in order to communicate an intersection between visual, sculptural and musical experience. His installation “control over nature” was conceived along with the Saatchi gallery artist Tessa Farmer, proving his interest on the relationship between sculpture and music. Additionally, when referring to his album ISAM as “sound sculpture” he reinforces our belief on his intention in exploring these connections.

Testing the boundaries between visual, sculptural and musical experience even further,

Amon Tobin designs a world tour that transforms his album ISAM into an experience of cinematic proportions! Wooden Toy is the fruit of this vision, designed to bring artistic dimensions to his tour. A stage of 90 x 30 feet, composed of 138 individual cubes was built to foster an elaborate project, where physical and digital media are combined to result a class aesthetic projection mapping.

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Building up the idea, Amon Tobin, Vello Virkhaus and Matt Daly decided to incorporate live-action into the overall ISAM narrative. V-Squared Labs [experience visuals] and Leviathan [production studio] team up to execute this vision and to bring out an impeccable experience. The final overall project brings his work on the spot of interest due to its ability to stand between sound design, psychedelia and sci-fi, art and entertainment.

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Monitoring the building process of Wooden Toy, great interest is located in several stages throughout its development. The dynamic transforming journey seen on the final outcome could be witnessed in the process of the project's development as well. One of the thrilling aspects of its creation has to do with the use of recycled materials like old piano parts and typewriters to build up live action puppeted sculptures. At the Redmoon Theater Company a collection of objects that was sorted according to materiality, color and texture were paired with others and assembled together in a sculptural collage by the artists. The use of old technology in a new way holds the attention on the filming process since the shooting was made on a 7D camera using a variety of lenses such as an 80-200mm as primary lens and an 80mm tilt shift as a secondary one. On an engineering level, projecting the visuals required non existing precise alignment tools, a challenge that leaded to a custom mapping system solution by the engineers of Leviathan. The final mapping could fit the visuals to the stage with a margin of error under 1/8 of an inch. This solution along with interactive controls and visualization utilities could give Amon Tobin the flexibility to manipulate the video content of the concert in real-time.

Along these lines, art and technology meet up to create" a hyperspace hallucination" and wakes up the child we hide inside us.

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Technology used for the wooden toy project:

-High definition [Canon] 7D camera using a variety of lenses for filming.
-[Windows™ Kinect™] cameras for real time data gathering from the DJ booth for live 3D media playback on the stage.
-computer software to create a 3D model of the stage to fit the individual templates and live-action footage.
-CG animation created with [Maya] 3d animation software using [VRay] as a render engine
-custom mapping system to fit the visuals to the stage
-[Dragonframe] stop motion software to align a 3D render of the stage
-[Mudbox] digital sculpting and digital painting software
-[After Effects] visual effects for introducing lighting effects, smoke, grit, and debris floating in the air to layer.
-image modeling application for stitching images captured in 360 together and create a 3D mesh

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project credits : 

Amon Tobin Manager: Jeff Waye // Ninja Tune
Experience Design:
Director: Vello Virkhaus // V-Squared Labs
Show Programmer: Peter Sistrom


Creative Director: Bradon Webb
Producer: Brandy Olsen
3D Animation: David Brodeur // Katrina Nelken
3D Prep: Craig Zacok
Illustrator: Mike Coon
VFX: Tim Sepulveda
Compositing: Chris Beers
Editor: Mike LaHood
Assistant Fabricator: Kevin Primm
Executive Producer: Chad Hutson
Executive Creative Director: Jason White
Chief Scientist: Matt Daly


Director: Matt Daly
Director: Bradon Webb
Producer: Brandy Olsen
VFX Supervisor: Tim Sepulveda
DP: Mike LaHood
Gaffer: Derick Smith
Grip: Emily Hindin
Builder: Jack McLaughlin
Production Assistant: Anirudha Hanamantache
Puppeteer on Act 3: O’Connor Hartnett

Editor: Mike LaHood
Design: Gareth Fewel
DP: Mike LaHood
DP: Aaron Edwards

Special Thanks to Redmoon Theater for their continuous generosity, hospitality and support.
copyright: ©2012 Produced by Leviathan

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