Netflix Times Square
So Much Dimension
When is a billboard in Times Square not just another billboard?
When it's a billboard within a billboard, a billboard that is flown away before our eyes, and when giant wave crashes over it.
Partnering with Netflix, we developed and produced a series of 3D anamorphic billboards for Queen Charlotte, Extraction 2, Black Mirror, Squid Game: The Challenge and the runaway hit live-action anime series One Piece.
What's "3D anamorphic" you say? That's tech speak for when it looks like stuff is jumping off a digital billboard at you. The math involved is a little mind-bending, and the renders made our render farm break a little sweat, but we're just the right mix of crazy to make it happen.
The First Ask
Netflix first approached us with a simple, but unusual ask: Could we replicate their real-life Sunset Blvd marquee billboard as a 3D digital billboard in Times Square? And could it support a multitude of different color schemes, weather scenarios, shows and have a toolkit that allows for fast copy versioning? Yes, yes and yes!
Our initial designs focused on dialing in an environment for the billboard. Would it feel like LA or NYC? Would it be day or night? What would the weather be like? These questions drove our creative exploration and ultimately the final scenarios.
Using a combination of Google Earth, billboard dimensions and 3D camera solves, we recreated the exterior of the 1500 Broadway building -- minus the aggressive pigeons that call the Square home. Using our existing 3D animation pipeline, we then dialed in a perfect viewing location. One, not in the middle of traffic or on top of a steaming Con Edison manhole.
Once this viewing position and angle were locked, we were able to define our 3D scene so we could design and simulate with the real-world billboard defining the parameters of our canvas.
We created different variations of the marquee billboard with different reveals, weather, and neon color schemes. All in all, we delivered 90 different versions of the marquee billboard in an ultra-fast toolkit that allows Netflix to respond to creative needs faster than a cabbie weaving through J-walkers.
Can't Stop, Won't Stop
In addition to the nearly 300,000 pedestrians per day in Times Square, our billboards were getting buzz within the big N, and soon more requests poured in. A golden world for Queen Charlotte, an eerie dystopian vibe for Black Mirror, a chillingly familiar space for Squid Game: The Challenge and a thrilling mission for Extraction 2.
Having proved what we could do with a short schedule, it was time to flex our capabilities with a larger scale project. The challenge: promote the live action version of One Piece, a fandom favorite anime series, to the general public. Collaborating with Netflix, we developed a sequence with the ship, the Going Merry, sending a splash of water outward as it executes a turn. This must-see experience quickly turned into a fan favorite, generating lots of in person and online traffic. Once Piece went on to break streaming records set by Wednesday and Stranger Things.