Las Vegas Sun

July 5, 2015

Currently: 92° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Ask mr. sun:

How did TV ad makers drape Hoover Dam in orange cloth?

Sun Coverage

Mr. Sun,

I have been watching the AT&T commercial about phone coverage, showing orange bolts of cloth dropping from the top of Hoover Dam and Strip hotels. My question is how did they do that?

— Mary Gagan

Mr. Sun is too busy burning hydrogen to look specifically at how the computer magicians behind the ad made all of the iconic locales — the St. Louis Arch, Hollywood sign, downtown Los Angeles — appear to be draped in orange cloth. I’ll focus only on Hoover Dam.

On March 23, the crew making the commercial filmed a single bolt of the orange cloth — 5 feet wide and 10 feet long — being rolled over the edge of the dam. At 10 feet, the cloth barely kissed the dam’s 726.4-foot face. But it was the only real footage the producers needed to simulate the dam being blanketed in orange cloth.

Visual effects company MPC describes the simulation process on its website. Fabric was shot at high speed on “large models” so it could “be composited onto the live action element.” Experts in computer-generated imagery then created a program “that could simulate realistic vertical and horizontal rolls, with wind and surface resistance.”

In the case of Hoover Dam, such simulated footage would be needed because draping real cloth over the structure gets dicey — a lesson learned in 2002, when the Bureau of Reclamation draped a flag over the dam to celebrate the agency’s centennial.

“With wind, it caused some logistical challenges in not getting snagged on some of the operational equipment,” spokeswoman June Wolfe said. “It made for a magnificent photo, but it was not a dam operator’s friend.”

To watch AT&T’s “blanket” commercial and read a very technical description of how it was created, click here.

Questions for Mr. Sun should be sent to

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 4 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. I have a question Mr. Sun.

    How come Las Vegas Sun doesn't post POSITIVE news. Lots of great things going on in town, but it only posts negative garbage.

    I boycotted RJ, however they still send there crap to me, so by accident I read the latest LAS VEGAS BUSINESS PRESS (some reason I thought it was a Sun publication), and its FULL OF POSITIVE INFORMATION of new businesses in town, millions of dollars being spent here, etc... etc...

    Get with the program.


  2. sevenhills-Interesting post..Maybe you should lead by example and change the tone of your own posts from negative to positive.

  3. It's over a month and we STILL have the same question. Someone is asleep at the wheel!

  4. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz