3-D video gives 'tour' of expanded convention center


Outdoing TV host Robin Leach of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," Pennant Productions Ltd. hopes to take viewers on a more extravagant trip -- a three-dimensional animated video tour of the Baltimore Convention Center.

The five-minute odyssey serves a simple purpose: to sell Baltimore and, even more, to sell convention space to prospective clients.

"What makes this better is, you can fly through the building," said Will Schwarz, president of Baltimore-based Pennant. "You can really get a sense of the dramatics this building would present in a way you couldn't possibly do by physically touring it."

Indeed, the convention center doesn't even exist yet -- at least not the $150 million, 160,000-square-foot expansion scheduled for completion in the fall of 1996.

In lieu of the real thing, the computer-generated video sweeps through the center, offering panoramic views and a sense of scale with imaginary football fields and a field-goal kicker sending a pigskin through the 3-dimensional cavern.

The pitch seems to work: Convention officials give credit to the video for helping lure the Construction Specification Institute's 1998 annual convention here.

The 3-D video, part of a marketing tool gaining in popularity, cost the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association $42,000.

"It's a great way," Mr. Schwarz said, "of seeing something that doesn't exist."

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