Edge Walk at the CN Tower – 2013

CNTower_YDS

This project was an adventurous job to say the least.

The client was The CN Tower, a major tourist attraction found in Toronto, Canada. For those who don’t know it is the world’s largest free standing tower measuring at 553 meters. They have an attraction at the tower where a person can exit out onto the roof of the tower and walk around the entire outside edge of the structure. The person wears a harness which is attached to the tower itself. The person has the freedom of walking, running and dangling off the edge at 356 meters up. Talk about crazy right?!

Ad-dispatch was asked to re-create the experience of viewing the Toronto Skyline from the vantage point of someone on the Edge Walk experience. The clients requested that someone from Ad-Dispatch give this extreme experience a try to truly be able to capture the feeling of dangling off the side of the tower. Somehow, I ended up being nominated for this; probably because I was  the only one who would do it. I was never afraid of heights, in fact I  enjoy the areal perspective. So the company sent me off to Toronto, this was also a great excuse to see my family and friends in Brampton, Ontario. Unfortunately, I had to do this in January and 350m in the sky is not where you want to be in a Canadian winter.

I was supposed to go up for the experience on January 4th, 2013. However the excursion was postponed due to cold weather (-35 degrees) and strong winds. I have to admit this made me very nervous about the whole thing, what have I gotten myself into? I may freeze to death or be swept off the roof. We decided to go on the edge walk on January 5th if the weather permitted. Although I was nervous I still wanted to do it, I mean I came all that way from Halifax.

On January 5th I get an early morning e-mail: The walk is on! I went down to the CN Tower and signed up for what I hoped would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The CN Tower Edge Walk crew was very friendly and went over all the safety procedures. After our briefing me and 5 other people got into the elevator and headed up to the roof of the tower. When we got to the top we were all collected inside a small room with a big metal door. Even though the door was closed we all knew what was outside of that door; Toronto in all her glory. We all got strapped in to the harness and they opened up the door, a gust of cold air and the light of the afternoon sun hit us all in the face.

The CN Tower crew member walked us out onto the edge. The platform was a 1.5 meter across and spanned the entire circumference of the roof of the tower, this platform had no railings. As soon as I got out into the open air I was nervous. The crew member walked us around the tower and gave us a tour of Toronto from 356 meters up in the air, it was amazing. We were asked to lean over the edge and trust that the harness would hold us. Let me tell you, I thought I wasn’t afraid of heights, but when you are leaning over the edge of that platform every instinct you have is telling you to stop.

I went to school in Toronto for 4 years in university and it was only at this moment, so high looking down upon all the tiny people and cars that I truly fell in love with the city of Toronto. The light glistening off the glass on the buildings, the traffic moving along the roads like little ants, the fact that birds were soaring in flight below my feet; these are images and feelings I will never forget. At that moment I knew I had the best view of this great county and the marvels of its people’s ingenuity. Oh Canada!

I was so nervous when those doors opened, but after our 20 minute tour was done I did not want to leave, I mean there was so much to take in. When I got back in the elevator and made my way back to the ground floor my adrenaline was still pumping. Now it dawned on me, “how the hell am I going to make this into an app?”

CNTowerCertificate

I knew right away that this had to be a 360 degree gyroscopic experience, there was no other way to simulate the feeling of all that visual candy. We hired a photographer to go up a few weeks later to take some photographs so we could stitch them to create a 360 panoramic experience. Unfortunately, the photos were not taken with a gyroscopic tripod and the center pivot of the camera lens was shifted between the different angled shots. This created a parallax issue with the stitch that caused parts of the image to distort incorrectly.

Here is the final image of the Stitched texture:

CNStitch2

As you can see the tower and the walk way are horribly distorted and are not acceptable for a seamless stitch.

So the answer is: replace the distortion with 3D assets between the globe geometry and the camera. Any distortion with the ground and buildings had to be re-painted by hand. From my experience I knew we had to have the big metal door, the anticipation before the door opens and the user talking the first few steps out into the open was something we could not miss. Because we created the structure of the tower in 3D we had the ability to re-create this experience. We added some sea gulls flying bellow and some planes flying at eye level.

Here are some images from the app that reveal the 360 degree environment that I stitched.

CN1  CN3 CN2

We had many unique problems to solve in order to execute this experience so the client would accept out work. I won’t go into the problem solving methods of the animation and development team, those are shop secrets 😉

I’m also not going to show you the 360 panoramic scene itself because I want you to download the app and experience it for yourself. If you have an Android or Apple smart phone please download the iRis AR app, also please rate it.

This project ended up making the clients very happy, I have heard a lot of great feedback from people who have downloaded this app. This was a great success for Ad-dispatch and an unforgettable project for me personally. This app went on to win a Merit Award at the 2013 Ice awards in the multi-media category.

The one lesson I took away from this project was No Guts No Glory

Credits: San Mathew, Stephanie Munn, Jon Eisner, Matt Fegan, Lionel Mille, Astral at home, CN Tower Edge Walk

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Update:

 Edge walk

The CN Tower Edge Walk  was a unique and exhilarating experience, and a great way to see the beautiful city of Toronto. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thrill. If you think I photoshoped myself into the above picture think again! Here are some videos of my CN Tower Edge walk.

If this is not something you would do for a million dollars, you can enjoy the experience with both feet planted on the ground with Ad-dispatch’s augmented reality iRis app.

For more information click this link:

http://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/what-s-up/now-at-the-cn-tower/edgewalk-augmented-reality-app.html

Edge walk_group

CNTowerCertificate

 

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