When you have a dream that your office building has a giant shark swimming through it, maybe it's time to see your HR counselor. Instead, Gil Cowley of Discovery Communications sought out Ann Wawer of CMEANN Productions.
Could CMEANN make a shark big enough and realistic enough to look like it was passing through the DIscovery Channel's headquarters in Silver Spring , MD to announce the Discovery Channel's Shark Week ? Sure it could !
First, CMEANN built a scale model of the building to see how big was big. Then clay models of a dorsal fin, side fins, a head, and a gigantic tail were produced to make sure the proportions worked. Next , patterns were produced, fabric cut and sewn, and graphics added to bring the shark to life. Structural engineers were employed to figure out wind calculations to make sure that the shark would be installed safely on the building. Professional riggers and the CMEANN supervisors worked non-stop installing the shark over a two day period, insuring that "Chompie" would make his scheduled appearance on the building bright and early Monday morning to greet commuters at the Metro Transit Center across the street.
Chompie's debut sparked media attention throughout Shark Week, showing up on news and entertainment broadcasts from coast to coast, print media, and numerous internet blogs.
GIANT INFLATABLE SHARK
The Shark consists of five pieces - the head (39' H x 50' L x 39'W) , two side fins (12' H x 48'W x 11'D, each) , a dorsal fin (39' H x 28' W x 11' D), and a tail (72' H x 24' W x 12' D). Deflated, each piece will fit into a crate 6' long x 3' wide x 5' high.
If the Shark were real, it would be about 446 feet long from the tip of his nose to the back of his tail, about 113 feet tall from his belly to the top of his dorsal fin, and about 200 feet wide from tip to tip of his side fins. And he would weigh about 84,000 pounds ! Thats one BIG Shark !
Installation on the building was done by a professional rigging company over a two day period.The pieces will be hoisted into place by crane, where cables and ropes tied them down to the sides and top of the building, and to concrete weights below on the ground.
The Shark is a cold air inflatable - it must be continuously inflated by air during the time it is installed on the building.It will take 10 air blowers blowing 2000 cubic feet per minute of air each to keep the five pieces inflated.
It took 11,720 yards of fabric to make the Shark - that's 6.65 MILES of fabric !Also 36.7 miles of thread, and 3/4 of a mile of seatbelt webbing.The only non fabric part of the inflatable is the 2 inch "D" rings that will be used to attach the shark to the building with cables and ropes.
Making the shark started out with building a scale model of the building, and adding "shark parts" until they and the building looked natural together.That gave the height width and depth of each piece. Then individual scaled clay models were built, from which pattern pieces were derived.The patterns are scanned into a computer program and "nested" to the fabric length and width.The file is then sent to the digital fabric cutting table, where a robot arm cuts out each pattern piece, marking them as to piece number and sewing direction.
It's then on to the sewing tables, where CMEANN's expert inflatable sewers stitch each piece together, following sewing directions and the clay model. It took an average of 1280 man hours per shark piece to sew the fabric together.
Test inflation takes place along each step, until each shark piece meets CMEANN's stringent requirements to be the best it can be in inflatable form.
At that point, the very best airbrush artists in the business brings each shark part to life, adding subtle details to make the Shark a reality !
The head is 50 feet in length.
The tail is 72 feet in height.
The shark was designed to look like it was swimming through the building.