The Day we Scanned the Kyiv Opera House
In 2021, somewhere into the second or third Covid wave, I got a call from a colleague who runs the Monark 3D scanning company in Paris. They were looking for someone to operate the Faro S Lidar 3d scanner in order to scan the world-famous Kyiv opera house for a new Coca-Cola advertisement.
The Lidar laser scanner is used for environmental measures can that captures millions of data points to measure an object or space using infrared laser technology that produces detailed 3D images in minutes. The images include millions of 3D data points, known as cloud points, that can be combined with texture photography that is made with a DSLR camera.
I did not hesitate before accepting the project. I had heard about how dangerous Kyiv had become over the last few years and had been warned about travelling there. Also, my family history gave me a curiosity about travelling there. My grandfather (the father of my father) escaped the Russian pogroms that targeted Jews and many others in between the first and second world wars. Those pogroms wiped out my grandfather’s village, and he fled to Argentina, where he died in exile before I was born.
My grandmother’s (My mother’s mother) family escaped even before the first world war from Ukraine (they were Ukrainian Jews) after the Ukrainian and Russian pogroms that wiped up big of my family that were murdered in mass graves that probably did not discover till this day. They had a big world around in a refugee boat till they reached Argentina, where both my parents were born and decided to get on the pioneer’s boats in the 60s to help to construct Israel country, where I was born and raised, but that is for another story.
Travelling with the talented French team from Monark which included Jérôme Battistelli and Johan Giner., we arrived in Kyiv with one day to scan the entire Kyiv Opera House — a daunting task!
I couldn’t have been more surprised, as we stepped off the plane, we were welcomed with open arms by our Ukrainian production counterpart and taken to a top-notch hotel where we were treated like VIPs. For us, Kyiv was rich, luxurious, and safe. (Paradoxically, the Ukrainian production team is called ¨ Shelter ¨)
When we arrived onsite in 2021 long before the war in Ukraine, it was apparent that this magnificent Opera house had seen better days. However, the majesty and the history of this important cultural institution were evident. The massive chandeliers suspended from the dark wooden rafters, and the worn framed posters from shows of yore belied a rich, important legacy. We worked quickly and efficiently and managed to complete the scan as the production company did their work alongside us.
After dinner, we had a drink in a nearby restaurant and got a close-up look at Kyiv’s nightlife. It was full of chic bars and stylish young people, exciting street art, good music and DJ’s, excellent cocktails and Vodka, and ordinary families doing normal things. It was familiar, lively and almost like being at home on a Saturday evening in Tel Aviv. My first trip to Kyiv turned out to be reassuring, delightful even.
These days, watching the news and seeing what is happening in Kyiv makes me squeamish. The horrors of what the Russian army is doing ripples through my bones. My family knows these horrors all too well.
Wrapping up we finished our coca-cola commercial, drank our cocktails and headed back to Paris leaving Kyiv behind but taking with us at least a bit of its history for our ad, for posterity and for an uncertain future.
So yes, 3D scanning in Ukraine at Covid times can give you a very nice Coca-Cola publicity film music video. I cannot really recognize the Kyiv Opera house we scan, but I suppose everything changed those days by others.
And some photos