Pop Up Confessional

The Challenge

We were given the task of creating a mobile booth that could move across different locations in NYC. The booth needed to house a sound proof recording studio and a space for the recording crew and their equipment. The booth also needed to embody the concept of a contemporary confessional where the confessions made to an invisible artificially intelligent entity were recorded with hidden cameras. We needed to create an environment that facilitated this conversation.

The Solution

Pop Up Confessional is a mobile automated confessional booth that traveled to three different locations in New York City in May 2016. It was at Central Park and Flatiron Plaza in Manhattan and Willoughby Plaza in Brooklyn. The confessional encourages people to talk about the hidden and unseen aspects of their lives. The ‘priest’ in this case is an artificially intelligent entity called the 'Conversational Companion' or 'CoCo' for short. The confessions allows the AI program to build upon its conversational capabilities thereby becoming a better conversationalist. Confessions that fit the directorial vision of Third Party Films will be edited together for an HBO pilot. Participants booked their time slots for confessions online, but there was also a lot of interest from the general public, as several people walked up to the booth and volunteered to take part in this intriguing social experiment.

The Technical Details

The outer shell of the confessional is created using a refurbished shipping container and the inner booth is created using a steel frame, cladded with ½” ply and special sound insulating foam. The video booth has DMX controlled lighting as well as 5 camera 4K video recording. The confessional screen is made of etched acrylic inspired by traditional confessional booth patterns. It is embedded with DMX addressable RGB LEDs on the edge of the acrylic allowing the screen to change dynamically throughout the interview. The confessional booth AI robot is programmed in node.js and python, and uses wireless internet to process the voice to text.

Partnerships & Community

The confessional is a brain child of Third Party Films and funded by HBO. The project was fabricated and engineered by Dash 7 Design.

Commissioning Partner

Third Party Films


Concept Design, Physical Design


May 2016


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