A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

Archive by David Steinberg

The Musical “Rocky” Makes Broadway Debut with d3

America’s inspirational underdog, boxer Rocky Balboa, comes to Broadway with the musical “Rocky” opening at the Winter Garden Theatre. Video designer Dan Scully chose a powerful d3 4U v. 2.5 media server from d3 Technologies to help tell the story of Rocky’s challenges and triumphs in the ring and out.

“There’s a nice rhythm to how video has been worked into the show,” says Scully who teamed with video designer Pablo Molina on the production. “We’ve tried very hard to be specific and precise in our cueing and use of image. I’ve used d3 before, and our video programmer, Ben Keightley, has six years experience with d3. I can’t imagine building the show on another system.”

Media is interwoven throughout Rocky’s iconic tale. A pair of 12′ x 10′ flying video walls function as a stand-in for media reports that track the upcoming championship fight. A pet shop scenic unit features 24 video monitor “fish tanks”. Rocky’s grueling training regimen is projected by an array of Christie and Panasonic projectors. “All the departments did a great job recreating the famous training montages from the movie,” Scully reports.

For Rocky’s final fight the production tears down the fourth wall and essentially turns the show into theater-in-the round, he says. Theatergoers in the first 8 rows of the orchestra move on stage, a large jumbotron-style screen appears with supporting flying video walls for IMAG.

Three d3 4U servers, provided by Sound Associates in Yonkers, New York, are currently used on the show; another is on hand as a hot-swappable back up unit. “The features I rely on most are automation tracking and projector 3D calibration,” says Scully. “We have a lot of scenery moving quickly throughout the show. We need a way to glue content to surfaces or have surfaces reveal content as it moves across the stage. I’m able to tell Ben to put this image on that wall as it tracks onstage, spins and moves upstage. The first time you see it it’s almost like magic.”

Keightley echoes Scully’s sentiments about d3′s ability to serve up media on a variety of displays, many of them in motion. “This show has a lot of architecture and infrastructure so we’re interfacing with a lot of different devices,” he says. “Knowing the exact state of each device at any given time is really important. I have to know that this machine is going to send content for that screen out of these outputs, and that the matrix will route content in a specific way for a particular scene. I have to be able to easily take stock of the status of close to two dozen outputs.”

Scully notes that, in his experience, “a lot of show and video playback systems give flexibility at the cost of complexity. But d3 offers all the flexibility I need with an interface that’s responsive and quick to use. Projection design used to move slower than other departments, but that’s no longer the case. It’s important for me to move at the speed of the rest of the production while still having the flexibility to do really complicated sequences. Half of that ability is due to d3 and the rest to Ben programming it: He can make the system move at speeds that are surprising for the complexity of what we’re doing.”

Keightley likes “how deftly” he can change outputs on the d3 system. “I send video to 16 display devices but I do it using only about half as many outputs because as soon as I go black I can instantly reroute the devices I’m sending video to.”

“The d3 system thinks like we think,” Scully points out. “It works like the tools we use to make content; I understand what’s going on because it looks like my video tools. d3 was built by people who use it so it operates like designers think not like software engineers think.”

He also gives kudos to d3′s “support and systems integration” for “Rocky.” “They made half a dozen different controls for us to use, including implementing the camera switcher, controlling the signals to the monitors and the matrix switching controls. This system isn’t just off-the-shelf computers. The d3 team stands by the product 110 percent, and it’s great to have that kind of support.”

Sarah Jakubasz is the associate video designer on “Rocky” with Greg Peeler video technician and Andrew Bauer video editor.

Based on the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, “Rocky” has been brought to Broadway by a five-time Tony Award-winning creative team, including director Alex Timbers, songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and book writers Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone.

About d3

d3 is the world’s first fully integrated visual production system for video professionals, combining a real-time 3D stage visualiser, 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. For more information contact Judith Hornman at d3 Technologies: +44 207 234 9840 / judith.hornman@d3technologies.com

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Technology Day for Control Rooms and Collaboration Systems Announced for April 16th at Electrosonic’s Burbank Headquarters

Electrosonic has announced its Technology Day for Control Rooms and Collaboration Systems & Tools, a free event scheduled for April 16, from 11am to 5pm, at its Burbank, California, headquarters. Electrosonic, a leading AV design and systems integration company, has successfully hosted Technology Days for several years.

Electrosonic’s Technology Day will feature live technology demonstrations and informational sessions. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience the latest collaboration tools designed to improve productivity and save costs by enhancing remote/field access and communication. They will also learn about the latest control room technologies and discuss custom solutions with system designers and engineers.

Additional information can be found on the event page: www.electrosonic.com/tech-day-burbank.

“Our upcoming Technology Day gives attendees in the utilities, oil & gas and emergency services markets a chance to see the latest equipment, expand their knowledge and network with other professionals,” says Electrosonic’s Todd Miller, VP of Control Rooms. “It’s a real opportunity for close up, hands-on demos and one-on-one information sharing – the kind of experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.”

Technology Day attendees will see the newest visual collaboration and sharing tools, control room display technology and real-time network video streaming. Exhibitors at the event include: Cyviz, Jupiter Systems, Mitsubishi Electric, Extron, Barco, Russ Bassett Corporation and Telamon Corporation.

Informational sessions are also scheduled. Randy Pagnan of RP Visual Solutions will address “Visualization – Focus on Control Rooms and Immersive Applications,” and discuss current trends in control/command centers and control room display technology. Telamon Corporation’s Suzanne Beck will present “Value Added Partnerships,” a how-to guide to making and keeping partners that complement your business model with the goal of providing additional products and services to the end client.

Electrosonic VP of Control Rooms, Todd Miller, will also be on hand to lead a tour of the Electrosonic facility where the event is staged, including a visit to the new Network Operations Center (NOC) to view the company’s remote management capabilities. Miller will also give a presentation focusing on Electrosonic’s custom end-to-end solutions from system design through commissioning, maintenance and service.

Technology Day will feature hors d’oeuvres and raffle giveaways. Attendees may RSVP by visiting the event page at www.electrosonic.com/tech-day-burbank.

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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Vista Systems Spyders Start the Day Inside and Outside NBC’s “Today” Show

There are Spyders on the new set of NBC’s iconic “Today” show, and the image processors from Vista Systems play an important role in delivering the engaging visual look of the program to audiences nationwide. The first new set in seven years combines modern and homey vibes and showcases multiple high-resolution LED displays of various shapes and sizes. The redesigned set for Studio 1A skillfully unites the interior home base with fans and happenings outside in Rockefeller Plaza.

Three Spyder X20s drive LED displays provided by D3, a global technology company that designs, engineers and manufactures turnkey LED display and lighting solutions. Two Spyders, a main system and back up, are dedicated to the interior set where D3 has positioned a retractable 1.9mm high-resolution LED display at the studio’s main interview area; a curved 2.5mm high-resolution LED display above the anchor desk; a 2.5mm high resolution LED column display; and a modular 1.9mm high-resolution LED window display capable of separating into six different panels and rotating 180 degrees to face Rockefeller Plaza.

D3 had previously designed the custom LED video and ticker display system that wraps the entire corner of the studio’s glass-walled exterior. The 8×8-inch modules consist of over 1,000 6mm LED panels; one Spyder is devoted to this display, which serves as a dynamic backdrop for special events and show features-and showcases live video and text headlines.

“There are five display elements in the studio, and all are different sizes, resolutions and shapes including LEDs, microtiles and video walls,” said Meric Adriansen, managing partner at at D3. “They all need to be driven by a variety of different content: DVI signals, HDSDI signals. Spyder can configure all sources to all five displays. It’s the most flexible device for sizing, positioning and scaling the video and graphics.”

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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Gemini Light Sound & Video Takes Delivery of Clay Paky Sharpy Wash Fixtures

Dallas-based Gemini Light Sound & Video has invested in 30 Clay Paky Sharpy Washes and plans to add more of the popular fixtures to its rental inventory. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Clay Paky lighting in North America.

Gemini Light Sound & Video is an equipment rental and sales company and one of the largest dealer in the southwestern U.S. Gemini owns the area’s biggest inventory of conventional and moving lights, consoles, high-end audio systems, projectors and switchers.

“We got 30 Sharpy Washes in our first order and will have more coming – I can’t keep them in stock,” says Gemini accounts and project manager Jason Cain. “Their size, speed, color saturation and output are second to none. The Sharpy Wash is an all-around great light. No wonder it’s in such demand. We’re the first in the southwest to have them.”

Gemini used 18 Sharpy Washes on the recent National Cheerleaders Association’s High School National Championships at the Dallas Convention Center, which was covered by CBS Sports. “They were a good choice for that event,” says Cain who served as lighting designer for the show. “You could zoom them in and get a tight beam. You get that Sharpy feel but can also blow them out and soften them up to get a good white light.”

Gemini placed the Sharpy Washes upstage where they provided front light for the entry of the cheerleaders and back light for their performances. “We also used them for flash-and-trash,” Cain reports. “We got bouncing colors, pan and tilt, and strobing. It was great!” He notes that “the trim was at 42 feet, and at that distance they had plenty of power.”

Following the cheerleading championship Gemini deployed Sharpy Washes on a number of corporate events and at shows featuring Grammy Award-winner Lorde at the Southside Ballroom in Dallas and in Houston.

Cain praises A.C.T Lighting for its “amazing” customer service even though he really hasn’t had to take advantage of it. “I know they would do anything to support us, but at this point everything is working perfectly!” he reports.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “Gemini Light and Sound is a great company that serves a great market. We look forward to a long and growing relationship them.”

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Clay Paky Sheds Light On The Interactive Achievement Awards and AVN Awards in Las Vegas

Awards season is in full swing and every genre of entertainment has a gala awards ceremony. Clay Paky Alpha Spot lighting fixtures and were on hand for both the Interactive Achievement Awards at the D.I.C.E. Summit, which celebrated the best in interactive entertainment, as well as the AVN Awards for the adult entertainment industry.

The Interactive Achievement Awards was held by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The honors are also known as the D.I.C.E Awards, the acronym for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain – the core tenets that power the annual D.I.C.E. Summit.

Lighting designer and programmer Chris Lose pixelmapped the entire stage with stock graphics and custom content implemented by the grandMA2. The pixelmapping enhanced sets crafted by creative director Chris Wu.

Lose also selected a complement of Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1500s as front wash fixtures. “They were very impressive,” he reports. “We were able to get a nice CTO look and a lot of rock ‘n roll looks out of them.”

The AVN Awards take place annually during the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. Dubbed the Oscars of Adult by Entertainment Weekly, the show is broadcast on Showtime Networks and everyone who is anyone in the adult industry attends.

Chris Lose served as house lighting designer for the AVN Awards at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; Jeff Ravitz was the show lighting designer and David Zuckerman the programmer.

Lose again deployed Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1500s for the ceremony, finding them “great for the camera as well as for nice rock ‘n roll beams. They just punched through everything else that AVN brought in.” Lose notes that the HPE 1500s are particularly effective for making skin tones look good on screen.

“I’m pleased with their lack of maintenance, too,” he says. “I haven’t had to work on them once. They always work perfectly and are super bright.”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “I’m glad that the Hard Rock has had so many interesting shows that our lights can contribute to. Mr. Lose is a great designer and this is a great venue.”

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

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WorldStage Delivers First 3G Press Event for Mercedes-Benz at 2014 North American International Aut

When Mercedes-Benz took the stage for its press event at the 2014 North American International Auto Show at Detroit’s COBO Center, it deployed what is believed to be the country’s first 3G HD-SDI fly pack, now available from WorldStage. The auto show marked the tenth anniversary of WorldStage’s partnership with the brand and client Fischer Appelt, and it was the first entirely 3G event for WorldStage.

“Mercedes and its German engineering team always push the envelope, and they encourage their vendors to do the same,” says WorldStage senior account executive Michael May. “They have always been on the leading edge of new AV technologies. Years ago, they were the first to use our HD fly pack and now are the first to take advantage of our 3G fly pack.”

3G technology for rental and staging breaks out of the limitations of 1080i displays to allow 1080p displays at 60 fps for smoother motion with fewer artifacts. The impact of much higher bandwidth and progressive video is immediately apparent on videowalls, LED walls and big-screen displays.

The Mercedes press event at the auto show is always high profile. This year Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland performed and webcast feeds took the show around the world.

Mercedes showcased an extra large LED wall, supplied by XL Video in Europe, which spanned the entire back wall of its booth and was one of the larger displays on the auto show floor. The WorldStage 3G facilities package supplied cameras, playback, switching and servers to drive content to the wall.

“We did a lot of prep work in our shop in Tustin, California prior to the show,” says May, “performing software upgrades and integrating new and older equipment so everything was 3G-ready. When we arrived at the auto show it was well below zero outside and the truck was delayed 24 hours by storms. That cut our install time, but thanks to the extensive pre-production effort, everything went off perfectly.”

WorldStage provided four Sony 2500 3G cameras for live image feeds and IMAG; two were mounted on pedestals, one on a Steadicam and one on a jib. A Sony MVS-7000 3G switcher took all of the camera feeds to the LED wall and other displays. Two EVS LSM-XT3 3G servers played back the prerecorded content.

WorldStage also furnished a Yamaha LS9 digital audio console and Riedel digital intercom system.

“Mercedes prefers to run the show like a TV studio,” says May. “The challenge is to create that type of environment in the tight confines of a trade show floor were every inch of floor space is critical. It requires a lot of planning and coordination but as this team has worked together for so long, it’s almost second nature.

3G video technology is just beginning to make inroads in the media and entertainment world. Motion pictures and video gaming are expected to be early adopters for enhanced digital cinema and game playback, but May thinks rental and staging won’t be far behind. “Once the corporate world sees 3G in person we expect to get a lot of inquiries about our 3G system.”

At WorldStage Geof Gibson was the project manager and Riedel intercom technician, Shane Zinke was video engineer, Shawn Hutchinson video technical director and Michael Kacunel audio mixdown engineer.

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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Electrosonic Helps English Heritage Unfold the Legend of Stonehenge

Since its opening on the 18th December 2013, the new Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre has welcomed over 50,000 visitors. The centre makes dramatic use of high resolution projection technology to help visitors learn about one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments. Electrosonic was responsible for the audio-visual systems design and integration.

The centre, located 1.5 miles from Stonehenge itself, is the first phase of English Heritage’s £27-million project to transform the visitor experience of this iconic site. To date, it is their largest ever capital investment project.

The visitor centre uses audio-visual technology extensively to give visitors an enthralling introduction to the legend of the stones, exploring the history and debate surrounding this ancient monument. One of the main highlights is the ‘Standing in the Stones’ exhibit, a 360-degree virtual experience. Installed by Electrosonic, the exhibit lets visitors stand in a virtual Stonehenge as it is today and in the past. The three-minute film, based on state-of-the-art laser scan images of the stone circle, transports viewers back in time through the millennia, enabling them to experience the summer and winter solstices.

Robert Campbell, Head of Interpretation at Stonehenge, says, “Electrosonic brought a can-do attitude to this complex and high profile project. This was essential in getting the exhibition open on time and working well.”

An exhibit like ‘Standing in the Stones’ requires great care in execution. An important part of its development was the ability to preview it in a full scale mock-up at Electrosonic’s workshop at its head office in Kent. This procedure helped the producers, Centre Screen Productions, assisted by Studio Liddell, check the content at full size, whilst ensuring English Heritage could be confident in the outcome and be aware of audience circulation issues.

“Standing in the Stones” uses six Panasonic PT-DZ770 single chip DLP(tm) projectors with 1920?1200 resolution and nominal 7000 lumen light output. These are sourced from a 7th Sense Delta server via Atlona extenders. The audio chain includes a BSS BLU 100 DSP, four Crown CTs600 amplifiers and seven Tannoy Di5 loudspeakers augmented by a ceiling mounted sub bass loudspeaker.

Visitors move from ‘Standing in the Stones’ into the next exhibition area housing more audio-visual elements. The ‘Meaning’ section includes four portrait format 32-inch LCDs showing a linear programme on the debate around the ‘Meaning of Stonehenge’. ‘Landscape’ the largest audio-visual element, is a giant image of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site projected onto a wall screen which shows how people changed the over the pre-historic period by building different monuments. The exhibit uses three Panasonic PT-DX610ELKsingle chip DLP(tm) projectors with XGA resolution and nominal 6500 lumen output sourced from a 7the Sense Delta server via Atlona extenders.

The visitor centre also contains an education space which is equipped with appropriate room control and audio-visual facilities. The space can be divided into two, one half has a ceiling mounted Panasonic VW435NEA LCD projector with WXGA resolution, and the other half has an 87-inch Smartboard touch screen. Room control is by a Crestron MC2E controller and wall panels allow the connection of “Bring Your Own” sources.

Haley Sharpe Design managed the production of the exhibition, with The Hub as exhibition fit-out contractor and Goppion as the supplier of the display cases. ‘Standing in the Stones’ was produced by Centre Screen productions, assisted by Studio Liddell and with a sound track by Peter Key. The content for the “Meaning” displays, the LCDs within the display cases and for the ticket office audio guide was produced by ISO Design, and the “Landscape” content was produced by Squint Opera.

Electrosonic engineered the AV system under a direct contract with English Heritage.

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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OneRepublic Wraps Its “Native” World Tour with Clay Paky B-EYEs, Sharpys and grandMA2 Control

OneRepublic’s headlining “Native Tour” wraps in the UK March 24 after spending last year circling the globe and breaking new ground as the first tour to utilize Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 innovative, LED-based moving lights. A complement of Clay Paky Sharpys was also on hand, and the tour was programmed and operated from a grandMA2 light platform. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Clay Paky fixtures and MA Lighting in North America.

The American pop rock band toured Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand last year in support of its third studio album, “Native.” OneRepublic’s tour has continued in 2014 with more dates in Europe and the UK.

On this final leg of the tour lighting designer Chris Lisle has carried over a diamond-shaped theme from last year, which features trusses, video screens and even some of the same fixtures. “The show has some big visual moments, so I had to come up with a design to meet that need,” he says. “The band likes cutting edge, so using the latest technology is important to us.”

Programmer Scott Chmielewski notes that, “Chris always designs his projects with the artist in mind and tries to keep the focus on the music. It’s important for him to make sure that the technology doesn’t overshadow the talent but still has the capabilities he needs. This has been a very technology-heavy show, but it was used tastefully and was well in control.”

Lisle was introduced to the B-EYEs at LDI and “knowing the feel that the band wants in their show, it was a no-brainer to use them,” he reports. “We used all 12 upstage on the diamond pods, both floor and flown, and facing directly out toward the audience. They have so many tricks up their sleeves that I think we used them at just 50 percent of their capacity.”

He notes that the band was “amazed” to see the new B-EYE fixtures during rehearsals and immediately asked what they were. Chmielewski says, “these guys have been around the world over and over again on countless shows and stages so you’d expect them to look past new toys like this. But not this time!”

Lisle explains that he let “the fixture show itself off gradually throughout the show. First it was just a wash light, then we added a couple of ‘inner/outer’ ring tricks, then a couple of ring chases, and ultimately the lens spin tricks toward the end of the show.”

Chmielewski likens the B-EYEs to a “firecracker – knowing that the fuse is always lit and about to go off. For a portion of the show they were used as typical wash lights, but we were able to mimic the effect of every kind of traditional fixture from big to small and use the entire bag of tricks a programmer has with color, dimming and pan/tilt effects. Plus, they added an entirely new set of looks that were quite literally the first of their kind. As a programmer, I spent hours just exploring these new abilities and looks, and when we finally used them in the show they became the centerpiece of the design.”

Lisle says that two weeks into the final dates for the tour the B-EYEs were working “amazingly well” and proving to be “a very solid fixture.”

“Through marathon programming sessions they didn’t have a single issue, and we were really putting them through their paces,” Chmielewski adds. “I was surprised to see just how few moving parts were involved in creating whirlwinds of amazing effects.”

In addition to the B-EYES 30 Sharpys were an integral part of the lighting design since Day One, Lisle says. “I love the fact that they can punch through video intensity when needed. They also gave us some great beam/aerial effects. You can’t beat them for speed: They were super-fast for the ‘techno’ moments of the show.”

“The Sharpys were a perfect complement to the B-EYEs in the rig,” agrees Chmielewski. “It takes a lot of power to compete with the look and brightness of a Sharpy, but the B-EYEs held their own.”

Chmielewski programmed the tour on a grandMA2 light with three active NPUs. A back up grandMA2 light was also available on the road.

He calls the platform his “weapon of choice” for the past few years. “Its ability to continue to build and refine a very powerful and custom toolset for programming is unrivaled,” he says. “All of the integration of MA 3D, grandMA2, onPC and VPU makes everything seamless as the ability to previs everything, including Art-Net merging, media and every fixture type, is an enormous asset. Add to that the fact that once the show was programmed, it was one show file on one USB stick.”

He notes that the show featured LED nodes embedded into the LED wall. “We had almost 5000 very bright, forward-facing LED fixtures, each DMX-controlled from the console,” Chmielewski explains. “Using grandMA2′s Art-Net merge capabilities, we were able to merge data from the media servers and have both media control and typical DMX control of all the nodes as well as the 5000 fixtures on the Matrix 5×5 blinders.”

Lisle calls the grandMA2 “an amazing console – even more so when you have a programmer like Scott who can unlock all of the tricks within it. The desk is just so powerful. I never heard, ‘it can’t be done’ from Scott during the programming process.”

Chmielewski gives kudos to “the team at A.C.T, which is always on for us as we continue to push new technologies from consoles and previs to the newest lighting fixtures. There is no way we would be able to create and achieve what we do without the help of their east and west coast teams.”

The equipment was supplied by Neg Earth, UK.

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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NPI Audio Visual Solutions Adds First Vista Systems’ Spyder to its Inventory

Cleveland-based systems integrator NPI Audio Visual Solutions has invested in its first Vista Systems Spyder X20 for use in live events and for its demo room where the company showcases equipment for permanent installations. NPI serves customers nationwide with a primary focus in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia.

“Our installation/integration division provides engineered AV systems for broadcast facilities, corporate installations, K-12 and higher education, mobile facilities and portable AV flight packs” says director of sales Sam Avellone. “In addition, we have a staging and rental division, an in-house AV services division for hotels & conference centers, corporate event production, and an HD video truck, trailer and portable AV flight pack systems for live event production, broadcasts & web streaming, with an in-house production studio for content development, editing & duplication.” “So we can pretty much handle anything in the AV realm (sales, rentals & production).”

Recently, NPI was looking for a device to “zone content and edge blend,” Avellone explains. “After a little research we discovered that Spyder was the product that delivers those capabilities.”

He notes that NPI has developed a control system for scoreboards, which Spyder has augmented. “A lot of the scoreboard companies only have one video input on their control system which limits what they can display on the scoreboard. But now that we have Spyder we can plug in a head end system that allows them to also show branded/sponsored videos, advertisements and instant replays which can be placed ( in any configuration ) on the video display. The customer gets a next-level scoreboard and a system that not only enhances the “in-game” experience, but can also generate revenue for them”.

Avellone reports that the Spyder has been “working great and everybody is happy with it. Vista trainers came here to provide training for our technicians, and they’ve been great in terms of sales support, too. We did a tradeshow with Vista for the annual Ohio Association of Broadcasters Engineers conference. Vista was very helpful in assisting us to show off the product and even came and worked the booth. Spyder looked great and got a lot of attention on the show floor.”

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.

For More Information about NPI Audio Visual Solutions, contact Sam Avellone -
Director of Sales ( Phone : 216-514-5023 / E-mail: sam.avellone@npiav.com )

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Alcorn McBride Helps Animate Big Tex

A new and improved Big Tex was back welcoming guests to the 2013 State Fair of Texas thanks to SRO Associates and Texas Scenic and the innovative implementation of Alcorn McBride’s V4 Pro frame-accurate controller and AM4 Digital Audio Machine.

The iconic giant cowboy had been greeting fairgoers since 1952 when it was destroyed by fire near the end of last year’s State Fair. The rebuilt Big Tex was bigger and better than ever tipping the scales at 25,000 pounds and towering over the fairgrounds at 55 feet tall. He boasted a new red, white and blue outfit and boots decorated with the Texas and American flags, the State Capitol, bluebonnets, longhorns and other Lone Star State imagery.

Big Tex was no static figure. He waved his hand, turned his head and spoke pointing guests to The Million Dollar Midway and the Texas-size fun and wonders that awaited them. Over a period of 10 months SRO Associates designed and built the shape and visible parts of Big Tex at its studios in Boerne, Texas and partnered with Texas Scenic in San Antonio to engineer the structure and design the mechanisms that make the giant cowboy come to life.

Key to making Big Tex bigger and better was developing a new control system, says Louis Bohn, Lighting Designer & Technology Project Managerat SRO Associates. “Before, the control was hydraulic: There was a button panel like you might see on any fairground ride,” he explains. “But they wanted to add more movement to Big Tex and make those movements more fluid, so we elected to go with large industrial electric motors and a new user interface.”

Bohn had worked with Alcorn McBride on a previous project and turned to the manufacturer for its V4 Pro frame-accurate controller and AM4 Digital Audio Machine, which “really filled the bill” for Big Tex’s audio needs. “We needed a scheduler and interface to drive the motors, a very robust system that would run 24/7 and a system that allowed some audio mixing. That’s how I wound up with Alcorn McBride.”

Big Tex’s moving mouth had to function with the live voice of the giant cowboy as well as with prerecorded audio. “With the prerecorded audio we originally planned to do a timeline of mouth movements to audio. When we decided to actually interface with audio we had to come up with a system to make it more dynamic,” says Bohn.

With five motors inside the head of Big Tex SRO devised the idea of using a light organ device to take the incoming audio signal and split it into low-, mid- and high-frequency signals and give them a visual orientation. “We were able to convert that to numbers and go into the V4 Pro controller and apply numbers directly into SEW Eurodrive’s MOVI-PLC (Programmable Logic Controller), which controlled the motors,” Bohn explains. “We added an audio delay to compensate for the latency of communication. And everything worked fantastically well.”

He notes that “there was no textbook to reference” for solving the audio needs of the giant cowboy so ingenuity and innovation were essential to deliver his much enhanced audio capabilities. With the solution SRO developed, “we could analyze the audio and move his mouth accordingly,” Bohn says. “Based on amplitude, his mouth not only moved at the right time but also differently depending upon the audio. Big Tex opened his mouth more and gestured more depending upon the live or prerecorded audio. That way we didn’t have to preprogram the mouth movements for the prerecorded audio, which wouldn’t look the same – or as good – as the live audio.”

Alcorn McBride engineer Joy Burke says the V4 Pro served as the show controller for Big Tex, starting and stopping his performance via the Showtouch software interface from a touch panel. “The V4 Pro is a very reliable system, rock solid with no chance of downtime. It easily interfaced with the complex systems involved in this show and communicated with the MOVI-PLC as well as the AM4 audio player,” she says.

Specifically, the V4 Pro sent the MOVI-PLC “appropriate commands and toggle bits to allow it to follow the audio file and tell the PLC when to move Big Tex’s mouth up and down,” Burke explains. The V4 Pro triggered prerecorded audio tracks with a timeline and audio tailored to particular times of day by reading the audio values and sending commands as needed. For live audio, when the voice of Big Tex used the microphone the V4 Pro made the figure’s mouth movements coincide.

Bohn says he approached programming Big Tex as a lighting designer, making “individual modules to pull into different sequences. Any single movement required at least 12 bits of data. Big Tex had 80 prerecorded messages, and I didn’t want to do all that programming 80 different times. So the operator simply pressed a single button on the computer to get the whole thing started.”

He reports that Big Tex’s audio “worked really well” and gives kudos to Burke for being “instrumental in helping us line up all these systems. We all worked together to integrate everything, and Alcorn McBride updated firmware to tailor the system for us. Alcorn and Joy were phenomenal and very supportive of the project.”

Bohn believes Big Tex may be improved even further by the next State Fair. “We may add new movements other than his mouth, head and hand. We’d like to be able to have his forearm move for a much more natural wave. That will be a big upgrade.”

About Alcorn McBride:
Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit www.alcorn.com.

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