skip to page content
© 3deluxe

Membrane wall with embedded cocoons

Within two years of planning and building, our client 3deluxe developed an overall creative concept for Sven Väth’s 2,700 m² Cocoon Club. In 2003, we then developed the media concept for several digital scenarios resulting in an exceptional mixture of music and design which made the Cocoon Club a unique location.

360° VJ system

The light design developed by 3deluxe and light designer Andreas Karlen is based on an all-around projection covering the whole circumferential “membrane wall” with animations generated in realtime. It allows changing the walls’ style constantly in sync with the music. All software development was done while the system was running, so every modification was visible immediately.

Membrane wall (detail) © Michael Thron
Main floor at the Cocoon Club © Michael Thron

Our software defined several virtual layers of the club’s atmosphere, which were controlled with a “GrandMA”-light console from MA Lighting. The video-rendering is constructed like an extensive parameterized system so that traditional light and computer animations are perfectly synchronized.

Digital Masking on membrane wall © Michael Thron
© Michael Thron
Room Jockey Easy using a “grandMA” to control visuals © Michael Thron

The light control system was constructed to be part of the performance, supplying the “room jockey” with various instruments. One particular feature was a glass harp composed of optical touch panels that can be played two-handed. It manipulates up to four parameters simultaneously that can be recorded as loops on the sequencer and replayed in the rhythm of the music. Every harp panel works with a X/Y-matrix of 36x48 light barriers.

Digital Masking of Cocoon Portions of membrane wall © MESO Digital Interiors
Media Selector and Animation Controller © Michael Thron

Animations matching the music could be imported live via touchscreen and were directly synchronized with the music. The bespoke selector-interface is used to choose one of the textures, 3D-models, and video clips designed by 3deluxe.

MESO always tries a balancing act between artistic and commercial projects. For a long time vvvv was only a tool for our own projects. But now anyone interested has access to the software. Developing the realtime shader capabilities of vvvv has been a essential part of delivering 3deluxe´s vision of the club.

Aesthetic lighting matrix

The "Micro" restaurant © 3deluxe

Specially programmed PCs allowed the playback of a custom library of videos and various realtime effects onto a matrix of strings suspended from the ceiling. Hand painted masks allowed precise cutoff of the projections, so that only the string matrix gets lighted and visitors are not blinded. All digial lights were controlled via a MicroMA light desk.

Digital Lighting Fixtures in detail © 3deluxe
Reflections on outer membrane © 3deluxe

Individual VIP space

VIP Cocoon Control Interface © Dirk Vollbrecht

The tablet consists of a sharp display, flanked by seven sensor keys which regulate several parameters of the Cocoon’s athmosphere: the volume of the music, the lights (control of the corresponding DMX dimmer pack) and the ventilation intensity. The restaurants’ menu as well as the event program is accessible and – as a special feature – the camera signals from five Mobotix webcams can be called up from various club areas. 

Not unimportant for guests of the VIP Cocoons: Operation can be called via a dedicated button – the individually assigned service personnel is contacted via DECT cordless telephone; secure signal transmission within the building is guaranteed via repeaters installed all over the building. As soon as someone enters the Cocoon, a corresponding message is displayed on the control panel.

VIP Cocoon © Dirk Vollbrecht

Behind the scenes

Control Rooms with 23 VVVV Renderclients

© MESO Digital Interiors
Programming of Membrane Wall Maps © MESO Digital Interiors

The light design developed by 3deluxe was based on an all-around projection covering the whole “membrane wall” around the dance floor. The concept called for animations generated in realtime, so the walls’ style can constantly change in tune with the rhythm of the music. All real-time animations are played out via a computer cluster that holds 23 individual 19" render clients with high-capacity Radeon graphic cards ready for each one of the 23 projectors in use. All render clients of the video network are run by MESO’s multi-purpose toolkit vvvv. A central server controls the whole network, accessible from four workstations within the Cocoon Club. These workstation are equipped with touchscreens to simplify the access to the several parameters of the networks.

VVVV is a graphic computer language based not on the usual text input but on patching of graphic elements – similar to the connection of several subsystems in a modular synthesizer. The coding is executed in real-time when the system is running, so the effect of every modification is visible immediately. This peculiarity allows a smooth learning curve and is extremely advantageous for interactive installations. 

VVVV is delivered with a broad object library specified for the creation of high quality 3D animations and considers all features of recent DirectX9 3D graphic cards. To realize the high aesthetic requirements of 3deluxe several functions to work with , Vertex- and Pixelhaders were purpose-made for the interactive applications in the Cocoon Club. Among other things, the user is able to access the source code of the Pixelhader directly. 

VVVV defines several virtual light fixtures i to control the club’s atmosphere in real-time via the “grandMA”-light console . The video-rendering is constructed like an extensive parameterized light at the desk so that classical light and computer animations are perfectly synchronized. The open UDP-based ArtNet protocol was implemented to facilitate the communication between vvvv and the light console. Several add-on modules were developed as touchscreens to supplement the “grandMA” and to allow easy access to all parameters: with the sequencer module all parameters of the console can be overwritten. Animations matching the music can be imported live via touchscreen and are directly synchronized with the music. The specially developed selector-interface is used to choose one of the textures, 3D-models and videos delivered by 3deluxe.

For a long time vvvv was only a tool for MESOs own projects. But now anyone interested has access to the software. Developing the realtime shader capabilities of vvvv has been a essential part of delivering 3deluxe´s vision of the cocoon club.

Manual Drawing of Cocoon Maps and Garbage Maps © MESO Digital Interiors

To match the real conditions of the club several digital masks were created to prevent that the floor, parts of the speakers or balustrades would be hit by the projectors. These masks were drawn directly in the club on the wall with the help of a graphic program on order to consider even the smallest on site variances. Others masks wer developed for the glass panels and frames of the cocoons to project on them independently to highlight or integrate them smoothly in the light performance.

The images in the club are generated according to several principles. In most cases, a 2D picture (digital or live video, DVD, freeze image) provides the basis and is first contorted in complex forms before it is passed on in the correct perspective to the 23 projectors to cover the membrane wall perfectly. For this purpose, virtual cameras were developed in vvvv – the physical positioning of the projectors must be simultaneous to the positioning of the virtual cameras in the computer generated 3D-world.

The recent version of the software can either project on the holes, the surrounding frames or just on the surface of the membrane wall with a surprisingly variable depth effect. The multiple masked areas can be changed independently of each other in contrast, color and brightness with vvvv’s Pixelhader-program. An additional feature is a special 3D-model that creates a “chrome effect” to arouse the impression of the membrane wall as a shining, metallic material. Other principles of the real-time generation are based on texturized 3-D objects that can be shifted in all directions and are used for the reflection-mapping and parametric animations via B-spline curves and text objects.

The most imporant mask was developed for the membrane wall. At first sight, this this 100 m long wall like a tedious project but could easily be realized because the walls’ homogeneous elements made of concrete (so-called “tiles”) were plugged together after a simple principle with the effect of a complex pattern. To create the mask just one element needed to be captured; the tile pattern itself could be easily reproduced in vvvv without the tiresome business of “copy and paste”.

Digital Masking of front portions of membrane wall © Michael Thron

Curious about our approach? Feel free to get in touch!

Sebastian Oschatz Partner +49 69 24 000 321 +49 69 24 000 321

MESO Digital Interiors GmbH
Gutleutstr. 96 . 60329 Frankfurt . Germany


Max Wolf, Joreg, Eno Henze, Sebastian Gregor, Sven Bauer, Michael Mehling, Florian Egermann