How VR allowed experiential designer Craig Winslow to visualize Burton’s outrageous public art display.
There are very few public art galleries more unique than that of The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. Established in 1996, the non-profit organizations primary goals involve the collection and preservation of classic Las Vegas signage for exhibition and cultural enrichment.
In 2019, museum curators handed over control of the campus to celebrated filmmaker, artist, and animator Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow), marking the first time a single artist had been given full reign of the space.
Of course, where Tim Burton goes big ideas are bound to follow. This is where Craig Winslow comes in. Described by many as a wunderkind experiential designer, Winslow has worked on major campaigns for numerous big-name clients, such as Adobe, Coca-Cola Consolidated, and NikeLab just to name a few. Tasked with bringing Burton’s outrageous vision to life, Winslow used a combination of VR and photogrammetry to explore a 3D model of the exhibit at a 1:1 scale before taking it to the real-world.
“There are certain things VR is super helpful with, where you have your spatial awareness,” said Winslow according to The Wild. “I can’t really show you a 3D render and say, ‘Here’s how wide this inner circle is.’ But you can put on a headset and say, ‘Here’s how wide the halls feel.’ or Okay, I can see the sight lines for these things.’”
Winslow and his team began by capturing a 3D model of The Neon Museum’s main boneyard area using drone photogrammetry. From there, the 3D model was imported into The Wild, an enterprise-level VR collaboration tool.
Winslow and his colleague were then able to move throughout the space as they tested the placement of Burton’s art. This includes an enormous geodesic dome, a glowing neon grid wall, and a 40-foot tall Lost Vegas sign, as well as several references to Burton’s past work, such as Beetlejuice and, of course, Mars Attacks.
At one point Winslow was able to get Burton himself in a headset to check out the virtual exhibit and give his approval on the placement of certain installations. According to Winslow, Burton greatly appreciated the amount of control designers had within the VR space, allowing them to make alterations in real-time and collaborate with others from across the globe.
“It took a few moments to get him comfortable in VR but once it clicked, he got so excited,” added Winslow. “Tim loved it so much. He kept saying, ‘Wow, this is so great. Hey! The dome looks pretty good from here!’”
Burton’s Lost Vegas exhibit ran from October 15th to April 12, attracting a record-breaking 191,000 visitors in the process. Those interested in checking out The Neon Museum while under lockdown can view a $10 virtual tour here.
Image Credit: The Wild