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MINI Art Beat: Behind-the-Scenes Illumination


MINI Art Beat has been turning heads and ruling the streets of central London for a week now, and we thought it was high time we took a look at the unique technology behind it. Next time you open the Facebook app or tweet your next photo or Vine video with #MINIartbeat, do it with some know-how of all the incredible things going down behind the scenes.

MINI Art Beat
An exclusive peek at the interior complexity of MINI Art Beat. © MINI

We can't deny it: transforming a MINI Countryman into the MINI Art Beat car was no easy feat. Wiring it to fully interactive and high res customisable perfection was about as NOT NORMAL a venture as they come. But if there's anything we've learned, it's that with a whole lot of dedication and the brilliantly creative community of MINI fans, anything is possible.

We spoke with some of the project's key players to understand how exactly your photos, videos and Vines go from live, raw star power to fully-produced and interactive compositions that light up London.

MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
Phillip Mayer, AI Technician, coordinating the flow of media. © MINI

The star of the show - aside from you, of course - is truly the custom-fitted surface that completely wraps the MINI Countryman in 48,000 LEDs. Each strip was attached using a variety of application methods, ranging from Velcro to magnets. When you submit your MINI Art Beat photo or video, it begins a wild and meticulously engineered journey through multiple servers via a bonded LTE signal (fun fact: the AI servers MINI Art Beat uses are the very same the Olympics did!).

Such an incredible technology-driven endeavour could never have been possible without the super-nerd skills of TAIT. Their team of whiz kids, who have done projects for rock stars like The Rolling Stones, mastered an intricate web of wiring to provide a smooth and seamless LED surface that didn't compromise the iconic MINI shape. Their hard work made sure MINI Art Beat would still be instantly recognizable on the streets, despite its glowing second skin.

But not everything can be pre-programmed. Editors sit in a separate camera car live-cutting your MINI Art Beat photos and videos into complete clips on-site - whether the car is parked during the day or cruising like a night owl after dark.

MINI Art Beat
Live-editing station inside the camera car. © MINI
MINI Art Beat
MINI Art Beat parked during the daytime at London’s Waterloo Place, where a static camera also joins the party. © MINI
MINI Art Bat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI

Unlike normal vertical LED screens you see in city squares and stadiums, the interior and exterior LED mechanism of MINI Art Beat allows for all kinds of movement - after all, it still has to hit the road and hug corners like any other MINI. With drivers and editors constantly jumping in and out of the car, engineers were challenged with developing an entirely unique system of manoeuvring through an otherwise common LED cable system. Speed, vibrations, and other such variables all had to be carefully considered, with each one posing a brand-new puzzle for our crew of specialists. Adaptation to exceptional conditions was the name of the game.

MINI Art Beat
© MINI

Prime example: rain. London was unquestionably the destined heart of this project, but while the city, council and police were all unbelievably supportive, we knew the weather might not be. Technicians had to determine without previous experience whether such a unique and curved LED surface would manage if London's notoriously damp climate came into play.

MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
LED Technician and Motion Mechanic Ian Lidstone with MINI Art Beat. © MINI
MINI Art Beat
Massaging the LEDs. © MINI

There were very few no-brainers, but, a car like MINI Art Beat is designed to defy all odds. And that couldn't have been done without the best and brightest in very specialised fields. Animators, designers, LED mechanics, AI technicians, filmmakers, digital strategists, programmers and project managers.

MINI Art Beat
The crew. © MINI

But in the end, cruising through the boroughs of London, all it takes is a pair of drivers, a live-editor, and the star of the show - you.

MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI
MINI Art Beat
© MINI

--
Catch MINI Art Beat through August 19th on the streets of London. Or follow the action LIVE as it streams
here.

And don't forget to jump into the limelight yourself!

MINI Art Beat. Driven by your Style.
#MINIartbeat

MINI Countryman
Fuel consumption combined:
7,9 - 4,4 l/100 km, CO2 emission combined: 184 - 115 g/km, more information.

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