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Posted on Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 9:30 a.m.

'Superhero' game experience lights up Burton Tower at Top of the Park

By Jennifer Eberbach

People flew, flipped mid-air, and threw energy balls across the facade of the Burton Tower, on Friday night. At least digital projections of themselves did. An interactive experience, at the intersection of video gaming and art, is happening at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park, this weekend.

Burton Tower is being transformed into an enormous videogame screen for "Superhero" by Madrid-based group Wildbytes.

The interactive experience will happen on the side of Burton Tower twice more, from 9:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., on Saturday, June 29, and Sunday, June 30.

"SuperHero" utilizes Kinect cameras - the movement mapping cam is used with Xbox 360 - and projects real-time video images of participants onto the sides of large buildings.

Put your arms up straight and your character will launch into the air. Lean back and forth to change direction. Other movements create a force field or make a character throw balls of light.

Like in video games, crossing over special items on the screen triggers things to happen. Fly through a red mushroom to make yourself bigger. Aim for a tube of toothpaste to watch it explode. What happens in the projection is at the whim of the participant. One criticism, although the backgrounds and objects on the screen change, there could have been more. After watching for a while, the repeating palette started to seem somewhat limited.

Many of Friday night's participants were young children with their parents. Those parents that spoke with at the event said they were glad they kept the kids up.

Two of the first kids to take a try, Jillian and Griffin White really liked seeing themselves projected on Burton Tower.

"It was really cool to see myself actually flying," Griffin said after taking his turn as a superhero. He especially liked the part when his character multiplied into a hoard of him.

Jillian was impressed by how well it worked, and she found it easy to do. "It was even better than I thought it was going to be," she said.

Gabriel Wolmark, 9, jumped off the game platform with an excited look in his eyes. "I thought it was awesome!" he exclaimed.

Adults enjoyed it too. Kathleen Engel and Liz Barry had a go on Friday. "It was something different to do, so different," Engel said. Barry had fun trying to fly over special objects - toothpaste, a DNA strand, a cell. "After you get your bearings, then it's fun to try to be more deliberate about it," she said.

The "Superhero" experience is one of the events happening "Superhero weekend," at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park. All weekend long, you are encouraged to dress like a superhero.

On Sunday, June 30, the U-M Museum of Natural History will test super powers at the Top of the Park's "KidZone."

The Power Center will cap off the weekend with "The Intergalactic Nemesis in "Book One: Target Earth," a sci-fi themed theatrical experience, on Sunday, June 30, at 5:00 p.m.