A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

Archive by David Steinberg

Lightware Matrix Router Gets Kudos for Performance at Sochi Winter Olympics

Well before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia the Main Operations Center was installed inside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) building to run the day-to-day operations of various elements of the Olympic Village and venues, including transportation systems. Russia-based Live Sound Ltd. and its head of broadcast technologies, Andrei Mazurov, designed and installed central switching for the Center’s large videowall using a Lightware 65×65 MX-FR65R multifunctional matrix router. The company’s California-based arm, BBRS, Inc. handled procurement and part of the design work, including vendor communication. Lightware USA is the US distributor for Budapest-based Lightware Visual Engineering products.

The Main Operations Center was a powerful complex consisting of dozens of computers, monitors, a large multiscreen videowall, numerous management systems and many kilometers of wire. The big videowall, which displayed one continuous image or multiple views, showed operations personnel feeds of the sports competitions and the press room where Russian President Vladimir Putin, IOC members, heads of state and other VIPs held press conferences.

Lightware scored points for many of its features, which met the demanding applications of the Main Operations Center. “The most important requirements for all internal systems were superior reliability and intuitive, easy management despite the complexity of the systems. Operators did not have time to study all the details of the systems,” Mazurov recalls. “Based on these parameters the best solution for switching the videowall was the Lightware 65x matrix router.”

He notes that the modular design of the matrix allowed the technical team to configure the system to meet the objectives of the application. “The router offers more than 30 different modular I/O cards, which allowed us to interconnect many devices with different interfaces,” Mazurov explains. “The high quality of the both the main unit and each module, as well as the dual hot-swappable power supplies, raised the reliability of the device to the highest level.”

The router’s simplicity and ease of use meant “there were no problems even for users unfamiliar with the system and without prior experience with Lightware,” he adds.

Also scoring points for ease of use was High Resolution Systems’ UDC Raptor, which controlled the Lightware matrix. Raptor is a Linux-embedded server that significantly lowers costs to users compared to full-blown Windows servers; it supports the same user-friendly interfaces as popular UDC (Universal Device Control) software.

Mazurov says that the IOC “praised the work of all the organizational services working during the games and chief among them was the great job performed by the Main Operations Center where the multifunctional and extremely reliable Lightware matrix router was at the heart of the system.”

About Lightware USA

Lightware USA is the US distributor of professional AV products manufactured by Lightware Visual Engineering in Budapest, Hungary. With the flexibility of the Lightware product line, the Lightware USA team is able to assist with the design for some of the highest performance systems in the world. Router sizes ranging from the robust UMX4x4-Pro up to the impressive 160×160 25G Hybrid give Lightware USA the edge over the competition when it comes to routing multiple video sources to the ever changing variety of displays in the industry. Their array of solutions for extending the highest resolution video formats including 4K and 3D over Cat or Fiber put Lightware USA on the forefront of cutting edge technology.

For more information on these products, visit www.LightwareUSA.com.

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Lady Gaga Launches ArtRave Tour with Clay Paky Fixtures

Lady Gaga has launched her tour, ArtRave: The Artpop Ball, and Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 innovative, LED-based moving lights and Clay Paky Sharpys are along for the wild ride.

ArtRave marks Lady Gaga’s fourth concert tour. It is in support of her third studio album, “Artpop” and kicked off May 4 in Fort Lauderdale. It will play 78 dates in North America, Europe, Oceania and Asia.

PRG has provided 120 B-EYEs for the tour as well as a large complement of Clay Paky Sharpys. Lighting control is performed with three full-size grandMA2s and 10 NPUs.

“Production and lighting designer Roy Bennett’s approach to the show was to make it an immersive rave that reflected Gaga’s non-stop party aesthetic,” says programmer Jason Baeri. “That means active, alive, vibrant and high energy — it requires us to be just as active on stage as in the crowd. The audience is every bit as much a set piece as they are a room of spectators, so we had to include them as part of Gaga’s same party not just watching the spectacle from afar. Cue wise, that’s almost like programming two shows at once: Both had to behave as one cohesive element.”

Bennett describes the set as three stages connected by Lucite catwalks over the audience so the crowd can dance while watching Gaga perform above them. “It’s very interactive. She plays off the audience with her dancing and a big rave vibe,” he says. Bennett had previously used B-EYEs for Lady Gaga’s gig at the Roseland Ballroom. On this tour they are mounted above the upstage video wall, which measures 3×40 feet. “They mainly act as eye candy,” he explains. “They’re working great; they’ve been very reliable.”

For the ArtRave tour the lighting designer has deployed the Sharpy rig “all over the place: the main stage, front, rear, side, as well as on the pods over the audience. The Sharpys act as our other main effects light. I always have at least 100 if not 200 hundred on shows.”

Baeri cites the data management challenge the tour poses given “the immense amount of pixels we’re controlling. There are about 120 B-EYEs on the show, all in full-tilt mode, which adds up to over 4,500 pixels of just B-EYEs — and we use them in every configuration possible. Gaga’s music is extremely detailed, so we’re using every part of that light for the various tones and inflections in every song.”

Solotech is the video contractor and 8th Day Sound the audio contractor for the show.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “It’s great to once again be a part of a Lady Gaga project and it’s always a pleasure to work with the very talented Roy Bennett. He and Jason are doing a great job on this tour.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.

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Clay Paky Sharpys and grandMA2 Consoles Hit the Road with Journey and the Steve Miller Band’s Summer Tour

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Journey and the Steve Miller Band are in the midst of their 2014 summer tour, and Clay Paky Sharpys and grandMA2 consoles are along for the ride that will take them to 30 cities across the U.S. and Canada. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor for both equipment brands in North America.

The tour unites two of the iconic groups that helped define The San Francisco Sound. In careers spanning 40 years, Journey has sold 80 million albums worldwide and the Steve Miller Band more than 30 million records.

Tour Tech East Ltd. in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is providing lighting support for the tour supplying 34 Sharpys, 20 Sharpy Washes plus a pair of full-size grandMA2 consoles with two NPUs. Senior account executive Tracey Ploss has worked with Journey and the band’s lighting designer Kevin “Deuce” Christopher for eight years.

“Last year Deuce used a couple of Sharpys, but this year he specifically wanted Sharpy Washes for the tour so we added them to our inventory,” says Ploss. “We’ve made a significant investment in the Clay Paky fixtures.” Sharpys are very popular with Tour Tech customers for their output, size and low power consumption. Fixtures are currently out with Styx and Foreigner, and the Calgary Stampede deployed a large number for its famed rodeo.

grandMA2s are the “console of choice” across the board, too, notes Ploss and are “especially in demand for their networking capabilities.”

Deuce, who has been lighting designer for Journey since 2004, says he “probably doubled” the number of Sharpys in his new tour rig. “There are 12 on the side trusses and four each per overhead truss for a total of 12 more. Plus one each on ten US Towers that top a wall of 20 Sharpy Washes,” he explains. “A video display, comprised of PRG/Nocturne V-28 and V-9 LED panels, is directly behind the band above the towers. It looks like there’s a wall of light with the video display resting on top.”

He says he “wanted to do something a bit different” in creating an interesting background for the band, “but the budget didn’t call for elaborate custom sets. So Tour Tech helped me deliver the desired effect without going custom.”

Tour Tech fulfilled Deuce’s idea of using black A-Type, 30×30-inch x 8-foot truss turned upright on casters. “At the bottom of each bay there is a wooden insert. Each Sharpy fixture is placed on the insert – all of the fixtures actually sit in the truss and none on top,” says Deuce. “Using the truss as set pieces housing the lights allows us to have a tidy pack in the truck, ease of placement and removal from stage, and convenient movement for set changes with our three-band bill.”

The Sharpy Washes enable him to “go from a very narrow beam for nice graphic geometry to a wide beam for a silhouette look on the band and wash out in the audience.” Their light output also had to be able to stand out against the video display.

The Steve Miller Band’s lighting designer, Andrew Richter of IOD Group in New York, has used Sharpys and Sharpy Washes “extensively” the last two years. “The pure power from such a fast and compact fixture makes it ideal for all but long-throw, wide-beam applications. I prefer the Washes in a mid-stage position for our non-shared rig due to their speed and depth of color rendering.”

The scenic design for the band calls for Richter to block off the Sharpy Washes on the rear lower truss with a fiber optic drop and a full stage drop designed by Stanley Meyers for “Jet Airliner” in which the Sharpys play a key role.

“The ‘Jet Airliner’ stage drop consists of a large central jet aircraft pointing upward with layers of smaller aircraft in a Japanese rising sun homage,” Richter explains. “I really wanted to create a sense of the jet in motion. My long-time colleague/programmer Scott McCowan and I worked on several different intensity chases and color bumps to a less than desirable effect. Ultimately, we thought of the old anime/manga ‘speed racer,’ where the primary subject is stationary and the windows show movement quickly zipping by.”

They achieved a similar effect by deploying Sharpys from a side position so they “graze the drop with the imagery of lines of clouds zipping downward past the static aircraft wings and fuselage creating movement,” he says. “It’s the perfect synergy of the right light and brilliant programming to create the vision I wanted without video, without animation wheels but using purely the speed and position recall accuracy that only a Sharpy can deliver.”

Deuce has been a fan of the grandMA “almost since its introduction,” he reports. He recently migrated to the grandMA2. “I like the ease of taking a tour show file into a festival situation and having the same sort of consistent show in a few hours,” he says. “The networking capabilities allow me to bring in as many universes as necessary.”

On the summer tour the grandMA2 is controlling both lighting and video consisting of two Control Freak Multitap Custom Servers. Deuce programmed Journey’s portion of the show and operates the board. “I really like the layout view for easy selection of fixtures and different video elements,” he says. “I can work pretty quickly. I also like the larger work surface and screens.”

Richter is also a long-time MA user and programmer. “The MA line of products has been my favorite for several years now. I really like some of the advancements the grandMA2 offers,” he says. “I believe it’s hands down the most flexible, tour-ready, reliable, and efficient console on the market today.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Deuce over his last few Journey tours – he’s always thinking of new ways to bring their performance to life for the audience. I knew the Sharpy Wash would be a nice addition for them and I was very excited that he liked it so much. Tracey and the Tour Tech East team are also great to work with, so the entire project has been a pleasure for A.C.T,” commented A.C.T Vice President, Automated Lighting, George Masek.

For Journey, Kevin Cassidy is the crew chief, Rob Kern production manager, Armando Figueroa in charge of power distribution and control, Oscar Carnales lighting tech, and Cole MacDonald FOH systems tech. Scott McCowan programmed the Steve Miller Band show.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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Richard Bevan Promoted to Senior Vice President/General Manager of WorldStage West

WorldStage is pleased to announce that Richard Bevan has been promoted from Vice President of Production Services to Senior Vice President/General Manager of WorldStage West, located in Tustin, California. He will be reporting to WorldStage President Josh Weisberg.

“Richard has been a key member of the management team for many years, and I’m delighted to announce his new role and responsibilities at our West Coast operation,” says Weisberg. “This is a very natural progression as his role and influence within the organization has grown continually over the past years, supported by his deep knowledge or our industry and his terrific work ethic.”

Bevan says, “I’m honored by the trust that Gary Standard, (CEO) and Josh Weisberg, (President) have shown in me. It’s my goal to ensure that the quality of work we do remains at an all-time high as we continue to continue to grow the business in new and exciting ways.”

In addition to his general management duties, Bevan plans to continue to manage key accounts at WorldStage West, including projects for such end clients as the Milken Institute Global Conference, Adobe, Oracle, Nissan, Infiniti, VMware and Cisco.

“The West coast office is experiencing substantial growth,” Bevan says. “With the economy continuing to pick up steam and the event business hitting on all cylinders, we’re seeing significant new business adding to our roster of repeat business.”

Bevan joined Video Applications Inc., which merged with Scharff Weisberg Inc. to form WorldStage, in 1996 when the company launched its audio division. He came on board as a Senior Audio Engineer and witnessed the rapid growth of that division. “We grew from supplying audio services to about 20 percent of our shows to 80-90 percent of our shows over a four-year period,” he notes.

Bevan assumed the post of Director of Operations while still playing a leading role in the audio division. Later, he took over engineering administration and in 2011 moved into account management with the position of Vice President of Production Services.

Born and raised in Newton, Kansas, Bevan began his career as a touring audio engineer with A1 Audio in Hollywood, California. He was front of house audio engineer for Tony Orlando & Dawn at the age of 20 and several years later became audio engineer for the legendary Johnny Mathis, a post he held for eight years.

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.

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GO AV Adds UDC 400 from High Resolution Systems for Control of Blackmagic Design’s 2ME ATEM Switcher

High Resolution Systems’ UDC software-based Universal Device Controller (UDC) and UDC 400 is delivering additional functionality to GO AV’s Rudy Tessmer who’s taking advantage of UDC support of Blackmagic Design products to automate his Blackmagic Design 2ME ATEM production switcher.

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, GO AV provides video engineering and video equipment rentals for corporate events. It acquired UDC when compatibility with Blackmagic Design devices was introduced. UDC’s support of Blackmagic Design products offers Tessmer an easy and cost-effective way to automate his switcher and control an array of other equipment.

“For the same price as buying Blackmagic’s remote panel, which controls only the switcher, I invested in UDC, which allows me to control the switcher and PlaybackPro, record with my Ki Pros, and turn my projectors on and off or put them into patterns — all with one device: That’s very powerful,” Tessmer says. “It also gives me an unlimited ability to build macros and presets so I can create a look with the hit of a button.”

Tessmer has done six shows for the financial and insurance and IT sectors since taking delivery of UDC in May. “UDC makes my ATEM look like a high-end switcher with automation and recall ability,” he says. “UDC is easy to use, customizable and adds value to my switcher package. Using UDC with my Blackmagic ATEM switcher gives me the abilities of a more expensive switcher at a price I can afford. And I get additional device control – all in one tool.”

High Resolution Systems known as HRS Control is a company with a strong systems engineering and applications background. Its founders have decades of experience in the audio visual rental and staging industry, broadcast applications, A/V installations and system design. This combined experience allows them to provide the highest possible quality solutions to its customers in the most efficient manner. For more information, visit www.hrscontrol.com.

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Electrosonic Provides AV Expertise to New Discovery Park of America

Discovery Park of America has opened in Union City, Tennessee, offering visitors a world-class entertainment and educational experience with more than 70,000-square feet of exhibits on nature, science, technology, history and art. Electrosonic provided audio-visual equipment for most of the ten exhibit galleries in the three-level space of the new Discovery Center.

The primary benefactor of Discovery Park of America is the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation, which has donated approximately $80 million to the creation of the park and endowed a program for its continuing operational support and expansion. As long-time supporters of education in the area, the Kirklands have given Discovery Park the mission of enhancing the educational experiences of children and adults, and inspiring them to see beyond their current level of knowledge.

The Discovery Center’s diverse array of galleries include Children’s Exploration with fun Water Works experiments; Natural History with a number of dinosaur specimens; Regional History with a 20,000-gallon aquarium; and Transportation featuring 60 years of the American automobile.

Fabricators Maltbie, a kubik company, brought Electrosonic aboard at the new attraction. Electrosonic has partnered with Maltbie on a number of projects over the years.

The simulation theater in the Regional History gallery gives visitors a taste of what it was like to experience an earthquake along the New Madrid fault, which formed nearby Reelfoot Lake in the northwest area of Tennessee some 200 years ago. Electrosonic installed 270º wraparound screens and five ceiling-mounted Christie DS+6K-M projectors to deliver the visuals sourced from a 7thSense server. Special effects audio and tremors simulate the earthquake for the standing audience.

In the Native Americans gallery, a holographic storyteller recounts the legends and beliefs of the area’s indigenous people. Electrosonic furnished four 46-inch LCD monitors for the exhibit, which brings the mythical figure to life with a Pepper’s Ghost effect.

Electrosonic also provided many Samsung 32- and 55-inch LCD displays for the galleries along with Innovox Audio speakers for individual exhibits. The entire facility is controlled by a Medialon system programmed by Electrosonic.

Electrosonic located the equipment room on the middle level of Discovery Center, which made cable pulls more efficient. The equipment room is at capacity, but two additional equipment rooms are available above and below the main equipment room. Conduits connect the rooms for easy expansion as needed.

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is an international audio-visual company that creates tailored, state-of-the-art solutions for a wide range of markets including theme parks, museums, control rooms, and corporate meeting rooms. Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has built a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic provides a comprehensive scope of services including technical design, projector lamp sales, maintenance and operational support.

Learn more about Electrosonic. Visit http://www.electrosonic.com

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grandMA2 Consoles with VPU plus Amp Up the Visual Energy at the Electric Forest Festival

Dodd Technologies, Inc. of Pendleton, Indiana provided a pair of grandMA2 consoles with VPU plus for video control on the main stage of the Electric Forest Festival, a four-day, multi-genre event featuring electric music and jam bands held on the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan. grandMA2s were everywhere at Electric Forest: A total of five (four full-size grandMA2s and one grandMA2 light) were on hand during the show. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of MA products in North America.

Brought on board by Lambda Productions, Dodd Technologies was tasked with managing the content for two 8-meter screens configured upstage in a diamond-shape panel. The company created content for bands that didn’t already have big-screen imagery and routed some media to the screens for the DJs.

Dodd operated two powerful VPU plus video processing units with SDI inputs, which were connected to the grandMA2 consoles for state-of-the-art video control that was highly intuitive, familiar and easy to use. “We’ve used the VPU plus before and like them because, operationally, they’re very simple to connect to the console and don’t rob the consoles’ parameters,” says Andy Meggenhofen, lighting and production designer with Dodd Technologies. “They don’t eat brainpower on the consoles, and that’s not true of all systems. We can put the servers anywhere but still manage content. We can ingest media on the spot and distribute it through the network while we’re doing another show or programming – without being disrupted.”

Meggenhofen praises the SDI inputs. “The processing is so quick – latency is just a frame or two. We have a couple of POV cameras on stage and can work with them in realtime. The VPUs provide a lot of versatility and functionality that we didn’t have before. They’re a really viable solution for us.”

The equipment was particularly adaptable to the needs of the Electric Forest festival, he notes. “We didn’t know what a lot of the acts were going to be. We had a lot of media at our disposal and the ability to fade between clips on the same layer – all done on the fly as we went along with the band for the ride! To be able to respond like that with video was huge. We could make things interesting and unique.”

Meggenhofen says the grandMA2s and VPU plus performed “great” during the show. “We had a lot of power at our fingertips to pull from,” he reports. “And the systems’ roadworthiness was amazing. We have constant issues with other media servers but not with the VPUs. We’re really happy with their robust construction, layout, features and support. And there’s always someone there to help us if we need it.”

The extraordinary capability of the equipment was even noticed by the talent. “Andy Cass with String Cheese Incident fell in love with the VPU during the festival,” says Meggenhofen. “He was very impressed. He had used another system but prefers this one now and is specifying it for the band’s fall tour. Everyone who uses grandMA2 and the VPU loves it!”

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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Ohio’s Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency Adds Vista Phoenix for Street Camera System Display

When the Hamilton County (Ohio) Emergency Management Agency (EMA) had a complete technical renovation last year it acquired a Vista Phoenix system for use with its street camera system.

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Hamilton County EMA runs a regional operations center for 12 counties in three states: eight in Ohio, three in Kentucky and one in Indiana. The agency is concerned with all natural and man-made hazards, including international and domestic acts of terrorism and homeland security functions.

Vista Phoenix is a network distributed open content management system for simultaneous encode, decode and display of AV data. “Our main use for Phoenix is to bring in our street camera system for viewing,” says Steven Siereveld, regional operations center manager. “We have approximately 100 street cameras in the Cincinnati area and river cameras in all three states. With Phoenix we can capture all the camera feeds, bring them in and view them in full HD quality on our new main display, a 14×35-foot videowall comprised of Christie Entero high-brightness 67-inch LED cubes.”

Prior to installing Vista Phoenix the Hamilton County EMA brought in the street cameras through a software web viewer and displayed multiple security camera-style views on monitors. “Now we can pull direct feeds from the camera with Phoenix. Our integrator, AVI in Cincinnati, recommended Vista Phoenix as a complement to our Christie videowall and Vista Spyder image processor. It’s a perfect fit,” Siereveld says.

The street and river camera displays are critical for emergency situations. “We need these camera feeds available for emergency viewing and for planned events like the annual River Fest, which draws half-a-million people, and next year’s MLB All Star Game,” Siereveld explains. “So far, we’ve only used Phoenix for testing and drills, but it works well and the quality of the camera feeds is just great.”

About Vista Systems
Vista Systems’ switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching with real-time windowing and composition. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.

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Lady Gaga Launches ArtRave Tour with Clay Paky Fixtures and grandMA2 Consoles Joining Her on the Road

Lady Gaga has launched her tour, ArtRave: The Artpop Ball, and Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 innovative, LED-based moving lights, Clay Paky Sharpys and grandMA2 consoles are along for the wild ride. A.C.T Lighting is in the exclusive distributor of Clay Paky and MA Lighting in North America.

ArtRave marks Lady Gaga’s fourth concert tour. It is in support of her third studio album, “Artpop” and kicked off May 4 in Fort Lauderdale. It will play 78 dates in North America, Europe, Oceania and Asia.

PRG has provided 120 B-EYEs for the tour as well as a large complement of Clay Paky Sharpys. Lighting control is performed with three full-size grandMA2s and 10 NPUs.

“Production and lighting designer Roy Bennett’s approach to the show was to make it an immersive rave that reflected Gaga’s non-stop party aesthetic,” says programmer Jason Baeri. “That means active, alive, vibrant and high energy — it requires us to be just as active on stage as in the crowd. The audience is every bit as much a set piece as they are a room of spectators, so we had to include them as part of Gaga’s same party not just watching the spectacle from afar. Cue wise, that’s almost like programming two shows at once: Both had to behave as one cohesive element, which was made light of, as always, by grandMA2.”

Bennett describes the set as three stages connected by Lucite catwalks over the audience so the crowd can dance while watching Gaga perform above them. “It’s very interactive. She plays off the audience with her dancing and a big rave vibe,” he says. Bennett had previously used B-EYEs for Lady Gaga’s gig at the Roseland Ballroom. On this tour they are mounted above the upstage video wall, which measures 3×40 feet. “They mainly act as eye candy,” he explains. “They’re working great; they’ve been very reliable.”

For the ArtRave tour the lighting designer has deployed the Sharpy rig “all over the place: the main stage, front, rear, side, as well as on the pods over the audience. The Sharpys act as our other main effects light. I always have at least 100 if not 200 hundred on shows.”

Baeri cites the data management challenge the tour poses given “the immense amount of pixels we’re controlling. There are about 120 B-EYEs on the show, all in full-tilt mode, which adds up to over 4,500 pixels of just B-EYEs — and we use them in every configuration possible. Gaga’s music is extremely detailed, so we’re using every part of that light for the various tones and inflections in every song.”

Baeri loves that the console will “let me grab one pixel and turn it on, then a second later grab 2,000 pixels in a deferent direction, as fast as the grandMA2 allows me to. We’re bending the MA-Tricks on this job in ways I didn’t know you could, and we still keep finding new ways to use it,” he adds.

He likes the console’s layout view, too. “With this many individual sub-fixtures, I need to be able to graphically see and access everything at once without worrying about the minutiae of keying in cell after cell on the keypad. With the right combination of layouts, I can create an overview of what every fixture in my rig is doing for a visual snapshot of the whole scene all on one screen. For a rig that fills an entire arena floor, that’s a pretty impressive feature for a programmer!”

The grandMA2 has become Baeri’s console of choice primarily for its data management capabilities. “I’ve had my hands on plenty of platforms, but none let me control as many fixtures with so little effort,” he reports. “Every key on every screen is exactly where I want it. If there’s a function I want that isn’t there already, I make a new key in seconds flat without having to employ long-handed workarounds and new versions of software.”

He notes that the crew had little more than two weeks to put ArtRave together. “Speed was of the essence. I use the grandMA2 because it allows me to put together incredibly complex shows extremely fast without compromising the details that would otherwise be too time consuming on any other platform.   And if I get in trouble, there’s someone on the phone, 24/7 anywhere in the world. No dreaded 4 am ‘leave a message’ help line. I pick up the phone and I’m covered. I can’t tell you what a comfort that is.”

Baeri says the grandMA2 is turning in an “exemplary” performance, “as always. We were bending over 60 universes at a time, and I never saw the NPUs workload exceed six percent. Not once. That’s a lot of universes to keep in time and in sync. I’m impressed, as usual!” he declares.

Solotech is the video contractor and 8th Day Sound the audio contractor for the show.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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d3 Technologies’ Media Servers Enable Mammoth Projection Mapping For “Marvel Universe LIVE!” North American Show Tour

It’s impossible not to use superlatives to describe “Marvel Universe LIVE!” the new arena spectacular – and first-ever live Marvel tour – produced by Feld Entertainment, Inc., which just made its 85-city debut with previews in Tampa, Florida. The live-action, movie-style production features amazing stunt performers, motorcycle chases, pyrotechnics, moving stages and astonishing projection mapping that features a three-story wall purported to be the largest projection surface ever built.

d3 Technologies media servers control a sizable array of projectors and LED for the immersive projection mapping, which has been praised in press reviews for enhancing the audience experience. Projections allow characters to seamlessly travel between The Avengers’ tower and Loki’s fortress; they showcase Tony Stark’s lab, a landslide in the Himalayas and the top of the Statue of Liberty.

Ash Nehru of d3 Technologies, says the size and complexity of “Marvel Universe LIVE!” represents an “unparalleled” usage of d3 media servers for projection mapping where scenic locations and effects map the set, props and arena itself. “There hasn’t been a show of quite this dramatic scale before with this kind of high-quality content,” says Nehru. The production is believed to feature the largest, most sophisticated video projection rig ever taken on tour. It utilizes 27 Barco HDF-W26 DLP projectors, each with 26,000-lumen output.

“Marvel Universe LIVE!” pits 25 Marvel characters in an epic battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power in the Marvel Universe, which has been shattered by Thor to prevent it falling into enemy hands. When his villainous brother Loki schemes to clone the Cube’s powers and threaten world domination Marvel’s biggest Super Heroes – including Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine – must work together to retrieve the fragments from such adversaries as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian and Electro and reunite them.

In development and engineering for two years, the innovative production not only utilizes the entire arena floor but also a multilevel aerial space that puts audiences right in the middle of the action. “Marvel Universe LIVE!” has its world premiere in New York City’s Barclays Center, August 13. The first leg of its North American tour calls for stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Nashville, Miami and Atlanta.

Unprecedented Size and Scope

“Live representation of the Marvel Universe hasn’t existed successfully until this point,” says Bob Bonniol, video system and content designer for the production. His company, MODE Studios, provides turnkey video solutions for complex installations and consulted on the video system design for “Marvel Universe LIVE!” and supplied the projectors, d3 media servers and signal path equipment along with the expert content management, creation and design staff.

“When Disney bought Marvel it was very natural for live manifestations to be explored. It was equally natural for that exploration to ultimately be done by Feld Entertainment, a family-owned company that produces family entertainment,” he says. “They have enjoyed decades of successful collaboration with Disney producing live entertainment, they own and produce the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and their motorsports division produces supercross, ‘Monster Jam’ and the enormously successful ‘Nuclear Cowboys’ stunt shows. This represents a ‘perfect storm’ of expertise that adds up to a tremendous show for Marvel.”

Bonniol says that from the outset director Shanda Sawyer and Kenneth Feld and Juliette Feld “were clear that we needed to completely immerse the audience in the show – that it needed to happen in front of them, around them, above them. We were going to have to convincingly endow real humans with super powers and place them in environments where cataclysmic battles would take place with flying, stunts, combat. It kept me awake at night wondering if we could really do this. And I’m sure I wasn’t alone!”

Bonniol had used d3 servers on a world tour for Mexican singer Paulina Rubio and a Vancouver Opera production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” and his experience convinced him that, with d3 Technologies’ support, he could meet the unique demands of the show.

“We knew we had to track moving scenery, props and performers with mapped content. We were going to be the main ‘engine’ for imparting locations, combat effects and environmental effects and also for taking the audience on astonishing transitional journeys to get us from scene to scene. We needed a serving system that would do all of this, as well as move from city to city and efficiently be re-aligned.”

BlackTrax Integration and Previs

Bonniol worked closely with his associate Pablo Molina to conceive new ways to use localized content. Ash Nehru partnered with Bonniol, Molina and Cast BlackTrax development team to use the tracking data “across enormous resolutions with extraordinary accuracy and limited latency,” Bonniol says. BlackTrax is a comprehensive tracking technology solution that delivers precise 3D and 6D positioning in realtime from BTBeacons (attached to performers, vehicles and moving scenery) to controllers for automated/robotic technologies.

“We’ve been working with BlackTrax for some time. For our needs, it is the most advanced system that we know of.” Nehru reports. “On prior shows we had tracked 10-12 BTBeacons, but ‘Marvel Universe LIVE!’ requires 60. It was a learning experience to scale up and develop a system that could be easily managed by the user. But that has set us up well to provide solutions for other large-scale projects. Cutting-edge projects like Marvel Universe LIVE! really brought this feature we were already developing in d3 to a mature level so this will be something everyone will be able to benefit from soon.”

A d3 media server was also deployed during the previz process. “Since the show required an extended development period for content we were going to have to demonstrate easily and accurately what it would look like for Marvel, Disney and the Felds,” explains Bonniol. “I engaged The Antfarm to create most of my content, and we placed a d3 there at the beginning of the process. There were so many challenges in the content development process: understanding spatial relationships, making perspective work for multiple locations in the arena, sorting out how effects would transition among surfaces. D3 proved invaluable not just for client approvals but also for the content team to visualize all of these challenges and efficiently find solutions.”

“Viewing the content in 3D as they created it meant they were always working in a 3D environment and able to make critical decisions long before show time,” says Nehru. “When you use d3 in previs the savings in sweat, stress and money can be astronomical.”

Dynamic Soft Edge Launches

d3 Technologies also developed a new projector blending tool for the media server, which makes its debut with “Marvel Universe LIVE!” and will be standard in the system moving forward. “Typically, when you have multiple overlapping projectors there are bright areas where they overlap,” Nehru explains. “So you have to use a mask to blend them. It’s a manual and static process; you can’t have surfaces that move through the projector beam. With 27 projectors on ‘Marvel Universe LIVE!’ this would have been impossible.”

d3 Technologies had already been developing a solution to this problem. Marvel Universe LIVE! is the first large-scale implementation of this feature, called Dynamic Soft Edge. “With Dynamic Soft Edge we can generate masks automatically and dynamically so we’re able to move projection surfaces through multiple projector beams and come out with a flat color,” says Nehru. “This has huge implications for productions with moving scenery where there were always restrictions before.”

Bonniol says that “tracking scenery and performers through three dimensional space, having the server system understand how this was happening and be able to adjust on the fly how the projectors were blending and projecting the content is a deceptively simple thing to ask for but devilishly complicated to achieve. We asked for a very difficult thing to be achieved, and in the end it was.”

d3 Technologies also offers quick projector calibration – a huge advantage for a touring production with 27 projectors. “Each venue requires recalibrating, which takes five to ten minutes per projector,” Nehru says. “With 27 projectors, some of them moving-head projectors, more than 50 different calibrations have to happen in a few hours. The d3 media server is the only system that can handle this quickly and effiiciently by allowing multiple people to work in parallel on separate laptops.”

Bonniol calls d3 his “media server of choice when faced with sets that need projection mapping. I find d3′s programming interface to be intuitive and powerful and, right now, I think it’s absolutely the best choice for a media server that provides robust tools and process for mapping video onto non-traditional shapes and structures.”

Emmy Award-winner Joe Stewart is the production designer for “Marvel Universe LIVE!” and Norm Schwab is the show’s lighting designer.

About d3

d3 is the world’s first fully integrated visual production system for video professionals, combining a real-time 3D stage visualizer, timeline, video playback engine and projection mapping tools into one product. d3′s unique integrated workflow assists the designer at all stages of the project, from pitch through development to final delivery. www.d3technologies.com For more information contact Judith Hornman at d3 Technologies: +44 207 234 9840 / judith.hornman@d3technologies.com

About BlackTrax

CAST BlackTrax is the multi-award-winning realtime tracking technology solution that delivers precise streaming 3D & 6D positional data to controllers for targeting the connected automated robotic technologies already used extensively in event and entertainment production, and houses of worship. www.blacktrax.ca. For further information, please contact Katinka Allender, Publicist, k.allender@k-communications.com.

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