LA PROPOINT BUILDS WORLD’S LARGEST 3D SCREEN FOR KING KONG ATTRACTION AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
LA Propoint featured in Sound & Communications Magazine’s “92 Seconds on Skull Island” Article in May Issue
Fire on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot in Spring 2008 wiped out several movie sets, damaged the famous Back to the Future clock tower and destroyed the popular King Kong tram-tour attraction from the 1980s. It was decided not to build a new Kong animatronic but, rather, to update the popular attraction by replacing it with King Kong 360 3-D, an immersive multimedia experience. It opened July 1, 2010, and features a gigantic 3D projection system with two 187-foot-wide by 40-foot-high screens within a football-field-sized soundstage.
“The full-size mockup at Playa Vista Studios was up almost a year,” recounted Mark Riddlesperger, Founder and President of LA ProPoint. “And they played around with that mockup to finalize the geometry of the screen, do projection studies and sightline studies from the tram, and basically look at all aspects of what the show was going to be. The next step was to actually design, engineer and build the final structure.”
The underlying structure for the custom screens is an aluminum frame supported by steel jacks and covered with luan substrate (lightweight plywood) that was seamed, drywall-mudded and skim coated with a level 5 finish. “Basically, the whole screen is plastered and sanded,” said LA ProPoint Project Manager Andy Hanlen. “It’s a complex toroidal shape, which curves in two directions and makes you wish you paid more attention in geometry class.” The screen is in two halves, on either side of the tramway.
Once the plaster finish had been applied and sanded smooth, two coats of latex primer were applied, and the surface was finished off with Screen Goo. “It was a tricky application,” noted Riddlesperger. “You can’t let an edge of it dry as you go along or you will get a joint. We had two people in the basket of the lift applying the Screen Goo, and two more down on the ground mixing the paint, keeping it mixed and flowing through airlifts, in order to move things along so the people in the lift could remain mobile and fluid and not have to stop. It’s water-based and very metallic; it dries fast.
It is critical that the person applying it understands how to do so evenly, consistently and without blotches during the entire application.” Natural expansion and contraction from temperature swings presented a different challenge. “We couldn’t put in any expansion joints, because Universal required a completely solid, uniform surface,” said Hanlen. “This required that we design provisions into the frame that allow it to move.” “What we built for the final was seven degrees different from the mockup because of crosstalk issues observed by Universal,” said Riddlesperger. “The mockup, which included an elevated platform and a mockup of four tram cars down the middle, was worth its weight in gold. We rigged all the projectors there; we built platforms to give a good approximation of where they would be positioned in the actual venue.”
The screen was built right into the building structure on either side of the tramway. “We laid out the whole thing with SolidWorks design and engineering software, which allows you to manipulate the image in three dimensions,” said Hanlen. “There was also a lot of handworks and a lot of trial and error and head-scratching. Universal built something that has never been built before.”
Since 2002, LA ProPoint has been a leading provider of design, engineering, fabrication and installation of stage and show systems for all aspects of the entertainment industry, from concert halls and theme parks to outdoor amphitheaters and movie sets. Strategically headquartered in Southern California in the city of Sun Valley, the company has a huge reach.
It's highly skilled, experienced technicians, fabricators, and craftspeople regularly take on far-flung projects from the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.