Showtime: Penny Dreadful

Van Wagner
Our Role
Concept, Development, AV, Vinyl Design, Installation


To amp up excitement for the premiere of their new series, Penny Dreadful, Showtime and Van Wagner Experiential commissioned Future Colossal to create an innovative and artistic experience to reflect the powerful aesthetic and themes of the series. This technologically intensive project was simultaneously installed along the busy streets of both LA and NYC; and for it, we invented a brand new display technology called Live Vinyl.  The full campaign experience consisted four cohesive interactive experiences: the Live Vinyl wall, shareable augmented GIF station, peephole kinectiscopes wall, and cinemagraph display wall.


The project, which was half art installation and half advertising campaign, transported pedestrians into the eerie world of Penny Dreadful. Utilizing our talented team of 3D artists and game engine technologies, we created a digital version of Victorian London, which was enhanced by the glow of live vinyl. As pedestrians walked past the live vinyl wall, they’d suddenly be stalked by shadowy Victorian figures, which they could then interact with further by stopping.  Each shadowy character had it’s own artificial intelligence which allowed them to make their own decisions, and interact with pedestrians in natural human ways. Depending on the level of pedestrian activity, different effects would transition across the scene, such as the illusion of bats flying out at you and the city catching on fire.  The resulting experience was both playful and unnerving.


This tech intensive project utilized 26 computers, 180 sq ft of LED panels, 14 video screens, 4 lidar lasers, Kinect depth sensors, and a display technology that we invented called Live Vinyl. The main experience was powered by the Unity game engine enabling us to create our own interactive version of Victorian London from scratch. The virtual world was built to transition through a series of different effects depending on the level of pedestrian interactivity. At times, bright moonlight would shine down on the streets, or wind storms would blow fog through and extinguish the flames of street lanterns. Other effects included rain storms drenching the town or animals representing themes from the show attacking from off the screen. All the while, the artificially Intelligent characters were interacting with pedestrians. The experience was designed to both grab peoples attention as they passed by and entertain them for long durations if they wanted to interact further.

Live Vinyl

Live Vinyl is a new display technology that we developed which combines high resolution vinyl print with low resolution LED walls. This creates a display that is both image and video simultaneously. Using projection mapping techniques and aligning the printed and video graphics perfectly, we are able to bring the printed image to life. Lighting and shadows change within the Victorian London scene as the moon moves across the sky or lightning strikes. Bats, wolves, horse carriages, fires, crows, and other happenings would seem to pop out of the experience as people interacted with it.

Augmented Gif with Social Sharing

Through the use of the Kinect v2, pedestrians were digitally projected into a scene from Penny Dreadful to create their own socially shareable gif. Using depth data from the Kinect sensor, we were able to create a 3D version of each pedestrian, cut them out of the background and composite them into the Penny Dreadful set.  We also adjust their color and applied virtual light sources onto them so that they appeared fully immersed in the Penny Dreadful scene. Pedestrians were sent a link to a personalized microsite, via text, where they could view and share their gif across Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Peephole Kinectiscopes

Digital kinectiscopes lined the facade allowing people to glimpse into themes of the new TV series. These peephole like displays were a huge attraction and created an eerie, voyeuristic experience. Some of the peepholes had interactive touch controls, arrows right and left, that allowed viewers to pan around virtual rooms and toggle through props from the show in a stop motion like rotation.  Others had more emotion grabbing tricks such as a vampire popping into view suddenly to scare the viewer.

Display Wall

A series of cinemagraphs showed each of the show’s main characters as living portraits. The character and backgrounds remained frozen, except for the occasional movement which revealed hidden aspects of the character’s personality. Malcom and Vanessa both turned their heads to track pedestrians as they walked by. On the same wall, a large screen displayed the Penny Dreadful trailer, and gave pedestrians a more in-depth glimpse into the show.