Buellton, California
Walk Into Wildfire, embers in the foreground, 3 screens in the background
Photos by Jonathan PJ Smith

The Ember Field – Walk into Wildfire at the Buellton Rec. Center

Buellton Rec Center basketball court
Buellton Rec Center basketball court

Ethan Turpin, of the Burn Cycle Project, hired The Environment Makers, once again, to help design and make the latest, large, three-screen, immersive installation of Wildfire. Each, in its turn, has had its challenges and the exhibition we collectively concocted for Buellton, California, was no exception.

We planned on setting it up in an inside basketball court at the Buellton Rec Center. In the center of the court, was an enormous, cartoon logo of their mascot, a bulldog. It didn’t go with the ambiance we intended to create and needed to be hidden. We opted to cover it, and much of the surrounding floor, with 1100 square feet of mulch. This gave more of an impression of being in a forest and meant that we could also project embers onto it to make it look as though a fire had just rolled through. To this, we added actual burned branches and logs that were also projection mapped. The results proved to be incredibly realistic. 

The show was opened by the Mayor of Buellton and was a resounding success. 

Covering the floor
We started by covering the floor with long strips of ram board then placed the screens and pieces of burned wood.
A thin layer of mulch was glued to the ram board to act as a “gripper”.
The final layer of mulch was added.
The footage for the ember floor was filmed at Mark Goerner’s place. At times we used a blower to get the right effects.
The color corrected composite movie for the branches.
The color-corrected composite movie for the embers.
How the embers look in the projection mapping application.
What one of the finished movies for the ember floor looked like.
The show’s on.
Walk into Wildfire.

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