At The Sochi Olympics, Everyone Can Be A Star


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This February, there's more reason to tune in to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia than just the sporting events - The chance to see thousands of lucky visitors make their own mark by having their faces displayed on the side of the Olympic Village's 2,000 square-meter (21,527 square-feet) MegaFon Pavilion.

The brainchild of London-based architect Asif Khan, the MegaFaces facade, which is affixed to the wall of the pavilion works just like a Pin Art toy, except on a magnified scale.

People wishing to have their faces displayed can check in at one of numerous 3D booths set up all over the country, by Russian mobile phone company, Megafon. Once there, they will be photographed from five angles so that every nuance of their face can be captured.

The MegaFaces software will then transform these images into a 3D model, and scan them onto the facade of the pavilion screen that is made from a pliable fabric membrane. Underneath the screen, lie 10,000 giant mechanical pins called actuators, each of which are able to extend to a length of 2 meters (6.5ft.) so that each person's distinct facial features and expressions can be accurately produced at this vastly magnified scale.

If that is not cool enough, the tip of each pin is fitted with an RGB light which allows for the portraits to be produced in color! Because the portraits on the pavilion screens change throughout the day, the pins themselves are constantly shifting positions, making it magical to watch. At night, the faces will be illuminated.

With over 170,000 people expected to line up for their once in a lifetime 'Mount Rushmore' moment, the organizers will not be able to project the images instantly. Instead, each person will be given a card telling the them exact time their portrait will be projected. With three images being displayed simultaneously for just 20 seconds, participants will have to be diligent about keeping their appointment!

But in case they don't, MegaFon is planning to film the project's display in its entirety and post it on a website so that not only the participants but also, the rest of the world can watch and download videos of the thousands of faces that will continuously be morphing into new ones.

The good news is that when the Olympic Games draw to a close on February 23rd, MegaFaces will be moved to Russia's capital Moscow, where it will undoubtedly become a premier tourist destination.

The facade at the MegaFon Pavilion is not the first unusual design that Khan has contributed to an Olympic Games. At the 2012 London Olympics, the brilliant architect conjured up the 'Beat Box' Pavilion that allowed visitors to play music on 200 red and white plastic cushions that had sound and light technology implanted in them. Khan's other installations include 'Parhelia' an indoor ice halo constructed with Swarovski crystals and 'Cloud' a floating roof made from soap, water and helium gas.


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