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Leviathan Leverages Cinema 4D to Contribute Extraordinary Video Content to New 150 Media Stream Public Art Initiative

Leviathan, a specialized creative agency working at the nexus of design, digital media, and interaction, was recently tapped to provide a sophisticated content management system and contribute video content to 150 Media Stream. The public art and “living sculpture” was revealed in conjunction with the recent opening of 150 North Riverside, Chicago’s exclusive, new 54-story commercial skyscraper.


The project was a massive creative and technical undertaking that included Leviathan in collaboration with Riverside Investment & Development and architect Goettsch Partners among many others. The display system was designed by McCann Systems in cooperation with Digital Kitchen along with content curated by Riverside's Creative Director Yuge Zhou.

Now considered Chicago's largest video wall, the 150 Media Stream installation is permanently located in the lobby of 150 North Riverside. It features a “…3,000-plus square foot canvas…comprised of 89 individual vertical LED displays of various heights and widths, as well as integration of negative space between each blade…” and video imagery that is constantly changing and revolving. It will serve as a digital sculpture for tenants and visitors and feature commissioned works from both established and new artists from around the world.

Cinema 4D has been in use at Leviathan for the past seven years to create motion graphics on varied projects including the main titles for SundanceTV's original series The Road Road, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Numbers in Nature interactive exhibit, the 2013 John Deere Product Launch, and more.

Leviathan leveraged Cinema 4D for the video installation primarily for the concepting and design phases of the project to efficiently create prototypes for a number of procedurally driven real time visual effects. “Cinema 4D was used in the 150 Media Stream production pipeline to help design integrated components of the sculpture in order to deliver an intelligent content library with elements that would refresh on a daily basis,” outlined Jason White, executive creative director at Leviathan. Senior creative director Bradon Webb added, “We chose Cinema 4D as our design tool because it allows us to rapidly explore the visual effects and at the same time know that we can later export the geometry and textures that could be used and converted into real time code.”

“One of the challenges we faced when creating content for 150 Media Stream was the sheer quantity of media needed to keep the installation fresh and interesting. We turned to Cinema 4D to help meet our demanding schedule and visualize numerous concepts quickly and efficiently.” Webb explained.

For the Natural Forces Snow effect, Leviathan created snowflake patterns using a series of cloner geometry objects resulting in unique radial patterns that were exported and instanced onto a particle system in the real time engine built using Derivative’s Touch Designer. “We previsualized the ground layers in Cinema 4D using the MoGraph Shader Effectors’ displaced grid geometry, which gave the scenes enhanced depth by adding rolling hills and accumulated ground snow over time,” adds Bradon Webb, senior creative director at Leviathan.

In the Pixel Fountain concept the MoGraph module in Cinema 4D was used to create pattern animations that were rendered to sequences of black and white movies and used as triggers to drive the particle simulations in real time. “What Cinema 4D excels at is rapidly creating multiple variations of pattern animations,” said Webb. “These patterns were stored as a library and sequenced in real time, which helped streamline our workflow and save time.”
For the Picture window effect, Leviathan previzualized the motion of wall tiles opening and closing. Using a fracture object and effectors in Cinema 4D gives viewers the impression of a moving wall while many layers of geometry stacked together provided a complex layered look.

“We also used Cinema 4D  to previs the motion of the glass shapes in Color Theory,” said Webb. “Being able to use the simple Cloner and Effector systems in Cinema 4D was a benefit that allowed us to define the motion we wanted and sell the concept to the client before executing the real time code,” said Webb.

Additional information on Leviathan’s creative involvement in 150 Media Stream is available here, along with complete project credits:

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