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Archive by David Steinberg

Prelite Studios and New Sketchfab Tool Help Boston Scientific Previsualize Show at Moscone Convention Center

When Boston Scientific held a corporate event with entertainment as part of a recent trade show at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, lighting designer Jeff Johnson opted to use Prelite Studios’ previsualization services to make the most of very limited time on site.

Johnson, a longtime Prelite customer, worked on the project for the Chicago office of Lightswitch. BI Worldwide was the event production company with Amy Oriani producer. “Our biggest issue was that we had to load in at 9 pm Monday, there were rehearsals at 10 am on Tuesday and the show was slated for 6 pm that night. There was no time for any programming at the Moscone. Thanks to Prelite we were able to come in on Tuesday, update the focus positions of about 120 moving lights and away we went!”

Prior to the show Adam Rechner set up the Prelite system at San Francisco lighting company Island Creative Management where he sat down with Johnson and local IA programmer Dave Juarez to build the show.

Even before everyone assembled for the Prelite session Johnson took advantage of Sketchfab, a new tool in the Prelite toolbox. Sketchfab publishes and shares 3D models, enables files to be displayed in the WebGL browser and permits the user to interactively view files and adjust renderings with a multi-material editor.

“The set was one giant screen about 80 feet wide,” Johnson recalls. “One of our concerns was that all of the fixtures were out of the way of the projectors. By using Sketchfab we could make sure that the lights were out of the projection cone when we moved in. Prelite told us Sketchfab would be quick and easy, and it was. They emailed me a LINK, I opened it, flew around the lights to identify any potential problems then sent the file to the technical director, Walter Ahlbrand, to check out. It was cool for all of us to see the same thing online.”

Johnson notes that the two-hour Boston Scientific show included several hundred cues and play ons and play offs for an array of performers, including an opera singer and a string quartet, whose acts were punctuated by panel discussions.

“Using Prelite ultimately gave the client and production company a better looking show,” he says. “They were very happy with the results. They liked the fact that when they walked in Tuesday morning we were ready for rehearsal. No time wasted.”

About Prelite

Prelite was founded in San Francisco February 2000 by Tom Thompson and Norm Schwab as a place for lighting designers and programmers to use technologies to previsualize lighting projects. Its success led to the launch of Prelite NY in June 2001 by Kim Grethen and Rodd McLaughlin. The bicoastal company provides studios where previsualization and creativity take center stage away from the distractions and interruptions of a chaotic work environment and where clients save time and money and minimize stress. Prelite also offers on-site previsualization services for those who prefer the convenience of working at the venue. For more information, visit www.prelite.com or contact Thomas Thompson at 415-883-7727.

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Clay Paky Sharpys are Winners at “Miss America 2014” Pageant

The Miss America pageant returned to its Atlantic City origins this year and lighting designer Allen Branton was charged with lighting the cavernous Boardwalk Hall and making sure 53 beautiful women looked their best whenever the TV camera turned their way. He was aided by Clay Paky Sharpy and Sharpy Wash fixtures from Atomic Lighting in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Branton marked his sixth consecutive year lighting the pageant, which was televised on ABC-TV. After spending a number of years in Las Vegas the show moved back to Atlantic City where “the venue, audience and scenery doubled in size,” he reports. “Given the size of the hall and way the show was set in the room, every single element of production had to be rigged from overhead – and there’s no permanent rigging infrastructure. So there were 240 individual rigging points for lighting, sound, video, scenery, cable management, cameras. Atomic provided and managed all that, which we hadn’t needed in Vegas; their attention to detail is second to none.”

Branton mounted 24 Sharpys on truss for “Miss America 2014.” “Sharpys are a dramatic little effects light for music and variety programming, particularly for their size and cost,” he says. “They’re a wonderfully fun and dynamic tool. In beam arrays they add spice and energy to the Sharpy Washes.”

He also employed two dozen Sharpy Washes as utility and backlights positioned on truss in the gaps formed by the finger-like arches that created a ceiling over the stage. “Having a light with that much output in that small a physical package came in handy,” he says. “The Sharpy washes provided a nice delicate array of light for 53 women who needed a hairlight from the overhead zone. I’m glad we had them.”

Branton notes that while “the faces of the 53 women competing change” over time, the Miss America pageant is remarkably consistent in its format and goal. “People tune in expecting to see these women in (quite literally) their best light; we never know which ones will be in close up. So we have to make their close-up photography really consistent woman to woman, act to act, show to show, year to year,” he says.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, comments, “It’s great to see our lights on such a high profile program with one of the best designers in the business. We’re proud that Mr. Branton loves them so much.”

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

About Clay Paky
Headquartered in Seriate (Bergamo), Italy, Clay Paky SPA has a history of designing and manufacturing innovative professional show lighting. The company was founded in 1976 by entrepreneur Pasquale Quadri who anticipated the enormous impact the evolution of technology would have on the show and entertainment worlds.

For more information on Clay Paky products, please contact:
Francesco Romagnoli francesco@claypaky.it
Davide Barbetta webmaster@claypaky.it

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Smart Monkeys, Inc. Soars With Massive Project at the New Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport

Airports wing passengers to their destinations, but they’re not often known as destinations themselves. All that may change with the dazzling architectural entertainment aspects of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), for which Smart Monkeys, Inc. provided technical consulting, systems design, programming and implementation. People may start buying plane tickets just to view the innovative media features enhancing passenger departures and arrivals.

The Integrated Environmental Media System (IEMS) has been designed to create both an unprecedented passenger experience and a new source of non-aeronautical revenues for LAX. Developed by MRA International in concert with Los Angeles World Airport’s (LAWA) executive team, the IEMS built within the Bradley West terminal architecture offers the first corporate sponsorship programs in a U.S. airport.

The IEMS consists of seven media features, with approximately 9,600 square feet of combined active display area, designed by Marcela Sardi of Sardi Design, who also acted as creative director for the content.

“We worked two years and a half on the IEMS,” says Alan Anderson, Technical Director at Smart Monkeys, Inc. “The scale of the project is absolutely massive, and it was all produced in one go – not over a period of time.”

“Smart Monkeys was invaluable to this project,” commented Mike Doucette, Chief of Airport Planning at Los Angeles World Airports. “Their breadth of knowledge and ability to manage such a large project under all of our time and critical constraints was critical to the success of this project. We couldn’t have done this without them.”

“All of the media features are inside the TSA security zone, not in the terminal’s entry, so access to the hardware was going to be limited,” Anderson notes. “The system had to be able to run 24/7 and be operated by a terminal media operator who could take 100 percent possession of the system. Since the media features were open to corporate sponsorship, we had to guarantee a system that could display sponsor branding accurately and with minimum downtime to provide revenue for the airport. These considerations guided our choices.”

After Sardi Design recommended Smart Monkeys, Inc. MRA International interviewed them and discovered that “they understood the issues immediately. They really had deep knowledge, unlike anyone else we knew. Environmental media is very cutting-edge, and Smart Monkeys was the most experienced of anyone out there,” said Mike Rubin, head of MRA International Media Features Enhance the Passenger Experience

Of the seven media features comprising the IEMS, six are dedicated to departures and one to arrivals. Montreal’s Moment Factory was executive content producer for the features; LA’s Digital Kitchen was content co-producer responsible for giving expression to the LAX brand across the features and developing the Destination Board content.

The Welcome Wall greets arriving international passengers as they exit passport control and descend to baggage claim. A dramatic 80-foot portrait-mode LED wall bisects the passenger departure bridge with content ranging from stunning atmospherics to joyful scenes of greeting.

The Bon Voyage Wall delivers a unique send off for departing passengers as they clear security and cross the departure bridge to the Great Hall.

The Story Board is a 120-foot long multi-panel LED display that spans the west end of the Great Hall and is suspended on custom trussing so the panels appear to be floating.

The Time Tower is built around the Great Hall’s elevator tower. The 72-foot high, four-sided media feature has an upper surface composed of high resolution 6mm LEDs and a base of 10mm LEDs behind diffused glass panels whose interactive surface reacts to the gestures of passengers as they approach.

Above the Time Tower is the curved Destination Board, which displays flight departure information while entertaining passengers with visual data on destination cities. An arched LED crest displays graceful patterns related to the display.

Two Portals provide a transitional experience as passengers leave the Great Hall en route to their departure gates. Each Portal consists of ten 28-foot tall columns of vertically-stacked 55-inch LCD monitors. As passengers walk by the Portals their movement causes the content to move and transform.

Key Factors for Functionality

To ensure the redundancy and robustness of the IEMS, Smart Monkeys, Inc. devised a strong network backbone, created control and data management systems, and specified video servers and players that would withstand the rigors of almost constant operation.

Electrosonic was the integration company for the entire system. Their scope included backend equipment and control room out to the media features and gate displays. The two teams worked hand-in-hand for over a year to bring the system to life.

“Selecting devices for what they do and stacking them in a rack is one way to design a system,” says Stephan Villet, Lead Designer at Smart Monkeys, Inc., “but we believe that there is a dramatic difference between Systems Integration and a fully Integrated System. Our entire industry is talking about AV/IT merging, but using an IT network to transport media and replacing AV-specific connectors with RJ45s is just scratching the surface.”

At the heart of the system is the Smart Monkeys, Inc. ISAAC platform (Integrated Scheduler and Automation Controller). This platform is a Virtualization cluster, comprising enterprise servers and a SAN. The technology allows for unparalleled reliability, redundancy and scalability in an incredibly compact system.

“The equipment takes up just 8 RUs,” Anderson explains, “instead of two or five racks if everything was on individual servers.”

Choosing an enterprise-level IT solution to operate an AV system “is a more pragmatic approach to AV,” he notes. “Our point of view is that the entire world runs on IT; IT doesn’t stop at the doorstep of AV. It can be very useful to an AV installation.”

It’s Smart Monkeys, Inc.’s ISAAC intelligent platform that “makes the system a smart system and not just a playback system,” Anderson points out. “We designed and programmed a system that allows the operator to schedule all the media in the terminal from a single scheduling-engine interface.”

Seven Grass Valley K2 quad-channel play-out units, 20 X-Agora dual-channel interactive players and more than 20 SpinetiX single-channel HD digital signage players can play back media anywhere. Considering the complexity of controlling all the media in the new terminal – not just the content for the media features but the media for the gates as well – Smart Monkeys, Inc. rose to the challenge of making control as easy as possible for the operator.

“We figured out a way to have a unified interface access point for most operations,” says Dennis Cole, Smart Monkeys, Inc. Network Architect. “We designed a web-based GUI that allows everything to take place through the browser. We manage the credentials for users of different levels of the system, then they get into their mode of operation – scheduling, media ingest, monitoring – and access the control panels embedded inside part of the web page.”

Playing It Forward

The control system designed by Smart Monkeys, Inc. is scalable and can be expanded to accept more database information. “We have allowed the corporate sponsors and operator to push things further,” says Anderson. “For example, a sponsor could decide to bring in mobile app interactivity to respond to their communications needs.”

“Our understanding of software programming and our expertise in control architecture drives us to redefine the way AV systems are designed,” adds Mitch Schuh, Smart Monkeys, Inc. Software Architect. “We selected equipment that thrives when controlled via software, instead of more conventional operation.”

Anderson gives kudos to MRA International working with LAX for “setting the bar really high for sponsors. There’s a certain ‘wow’ factor built into the foundation content, but there’s room for that content to grow and soar.”

The new Tom Bradley International Terminal certainly gave Smart Monkeys, Inc. a chance to spread its wings.

“It’s one of the biggest jobs we’ve ever done and shows our ability to manage jobs this size and bigger,” says Villet. “This project also demonstrates that we work best as an integral part of the process active from the beginning when the needs were defined, then designing systems based on those needs and programming and implementing the systems.”

MRA International’s Rubin reports that Smart Monkeys, Inc. “performed remarkably well. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the system we have. Because this is a public project, they had to design a system that could receive different manufacturers’ products even when they didn’t know what those products would be. And the system had to be very robust and have a lot of redundancy. It had to be designed as turnkey system so that a third party could run it.”

The result is “a stunning success,” Rubin says. “Smart Monkeys, Inc. was the braintrust of the system. Everyone on this team has great respect for them.”

Client: Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) – Project Director: MRA International – Design Director / Creative Producer: Sardi Design – New TBIT Architect: Fentress Architects – System Designer and Technical Consultant: Smart Monkeys, Inc – Executive Content Producer: Moment Factory – Content Producer: Digital Kitchen – Systems Engineering & Integration: Electrosonic – Display Technology: Daktronics

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About Smart Monkeys

Smart Monkeys, Inc. specializes in providing advice, project management and programming for show control offering a reliable, high-quality alternative to inhouse resources for project-based consulting, control systems development and project specific system programming. For more information, contact ADD.

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Full Circle Lighting & Productions Acquires Two Dozen Clay Paky Sharpy Wash Fixtures

Atlanta’s Full Circle Lighting & Productions has invested in 24 Clay Paky Sharpy Wash lights for its inventory. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Clay Paky fixtures in North America.

Full Circle is a full-service theatrical lighting and production company serving corporate and association meetings, trade shows, product launches, press conferences and TV and video shoots with a staff of experienced professionals from the theater and film industries.

“We knew after we got our Sharpy beams that the Sharpy Wash would be equally amazing,” says Noah Hammer, president and senior designer at Full Circle. “We love their color saturation, size and incredible brightness. We also love the zoom and fantastic color correction capabilities.”

Hammer says the company has used Sharpy Wash fixtures on “a lot” of corporate events and on the new comedy TV series, “Stand Up for Family.” “Our clients love them,” he reports, “especially their low profile and color correction.”

He gives kudos to A.C.T Lighting’s “amazing” customer service, which Full Circle has experienced with every purchase. “We buy a lot of products from them,” Hammer says. “Their customer service has been awesome – any time we have an issue, they jump. And their equipment is never in the shop. A.C.T Lighting rocks!”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commente. “Full Circle has been a great partner for years. I’m glad to see that they are giving our Sharpy Wash units a good workout.”

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“The House at Haunted Hill” Delivers Hollywood-Style Halloween Illusions with Alcorn McBride Equipment

Halloween has gone high tech in Woodland Hills, California where Emmy-winning lighting designer Matt Ford of Magic Lantern Creations, Inc. and his wife, actress Lori Merkle Ford, have evolved their home’s Halloween display to attract visitors far beyond neighborhood trick-or-treaters. The Fords’ “House at Haunted Hill” has grown from homemade tombstones and black lights to a Disney-inspired haunted mansion to its current incarnation as an illusion-filled holiday show driven by an Alcorn McBride V16+ show controller and A/V Binloop HD.

The 12-minute free show, mounted by an all-volunteer cast and crew at the Fords’ residence, featured holograms, projections, animatronics and lighting effects, which told the Hollywood story of a 1920s starlet who marries a shady screenwriter whose wife and daughter have mysteriously disappeared. Neil Patrick Harris – who offered to be part of the show – had a cameo as a reporter, a role written especially for him. The production ran every 15 minutes from October 3 to November 3 from 7 pm to 10 pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday).

“We got between 6,000-7,000 people to see the show,” Ford says. “On October 30 a big double-decker bus with flashing lights came by. It turned out to be large group of Disney imagineers and a few executives. And they all recognized the Alcorn McBride equipment.”

Just as “The House at Haunted Hill” has evolved in style and complexity, it has grown in its use of Alcorn McBride equipment. “By 2006 we had quite a few effects – there was still no show, juts a bunch of random stuff but we had four or five Alcorn McBride Digital Video Machines running off an Interactivator. We’d get a couple of thousand people to see the house over a two-week period. Some people in the business thought it was great but said we needed to tell our own story.”

The Fords didn’t want a typical spooky house scenario. “My wife came up with a story set in Old Hollywood, and Emmy-winning TV writer Ed Valentine wrote the script,” says Ford. “We wanted to use projection effects, no live actors, to tell a classy story like a high-end ride, which had strong production values.”

With the story established Ford had to find equipment to handle the lighting, sound and video cues. “We needed something that could take SMPTE off the soundtrack and fire all these elements during the show,” he explains. “So we upgraded to a V16+ show controller and went straight to the A/V Binloops to support all the projections and Pepper’s ghost illusions – Neil Patrick Harris appears in one of those.

“The V16+ was really critical to pulling off the show. Everything is completely automated: Push one button on the V16+ and the whole show runs. It also sends MIDI show control to the lighting console and serial commands to automation equipment. The V16+’s flexibility and ability to interface with many different devices is key. There’s no other way we could have done it and kept the show fresh.”

Ford emphasizes that “The House at Haunted Hill” “is not about the technology but about the story. But it’s the technology that allows us to tell the story the way we do.”

The A/V Binloops have 14 channels of projection and three channels of HD output, while the Pepper’s ghost illusions feature some video warping. “What’s nice is being able to pop out the CompactFlash card, put it in the computer, adjust the video then put it back,” he says.

“Alcorn McBride’s support has been great,” Ford adds. “As a TV lighting designer I’m used to having really good support, and theirs is second to none. I have high expectations, and Alcorn McBride is one of the most responsive vendors I’ve used. I totally get why they are considered an industry leader.”

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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Electrosonic Provides AV Support for New Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight Studios

Electrosonic has provided the primary audio and video systems at the Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight Studios in Los Angeles, a new 5,000-square-foot multimedia studio and retail gallery located across the park from the Annenberg Space for Photography.

The Annenberg Space for Photography exhibits digital and print photography by some of the world’s most renowned photographers and emerging talents. The new Skylight Studios provides an enhanced lecture viewing atmosphere and experience through state-of-the-art AV equipment, a concert-quality audio system and HD broadcast capabilities. The venue also accommodates photography workshops and special events. It’s the new home for the long-running, free Iris Nights lecture series and the Meet & Greet program where visitors interact with photographers, photo editors and other guests.

Electrosonic delivered a comprehensive roster of services to Skylight Studios, including audio and video system engineering design, on-site rack fabrication, systems integration, installation, commissioning and programming. The company met the challenge of a fast-paced installation schedule, which was part of the overall facility renovation.

To meet the video needs of the new space, Electrosonic mounted Christie projectors in Tempest housings to minimize the noise of their operation. Samsung flatscreen monitors were installed for viewing in back of house and in the guests’ green room.

On the audio side, Electrosonic was charged with distributing background music to the retail area and restrooms, and background music plus the performance audio feed from the main sound system to the green room. The company provided Renkus-Heinz and JBL speakers, Extron extenders, a Peavey DSP, Crown amps and Shure mics.

Electrosonic also created Skylight Studios’ back of house studio control room for presentation and broadcast operations. That space is compartmentalized with two equipment racks behind frosted glass doors and the primary space featuring the operations desk with mixing console, lighting console, confidence monitors, control touch panels and edit bay for on-the-fly production of broadcast, webcast and social media events.

“The biggest challenge was the fast paced installation schedule, which was part of the overall facility renovation schedule and coordination with other service providers,” commented Electrosonic’s Steve Calver.

Michael Morrison, Technology Officer for The Annenberg Foundation concluded, “As one of our key partners, Electrosonic delivered. From design collaboration to installation, they were instrumental to bringing our multimedia studio to life.”

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic 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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NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center Adds Vista System Spyder for Studio 3

NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., is increasing its use of Spyder X20 systems, both companies announced today. Having previously used Vista Systems Spyder image processors, the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) has acquired a third Spyder for Studio 3 in Stamford, which is dedicated to Premier League soccer on weekends and the daily Pro Football Talk show.

NBC Sports Group is a long-time Spyder user, beginning with 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s Studio 8G for Football Night in America in 2006. “We were the first broadcast entity to use Spyder for multiple layers and display,” says Randy Raddatz, vice president of sourcing and production services. Since ’06, NBC Sports has embraced the Spyder while relocating most of its production to the new facility in Stamford.

Studio 3 in Stamford boasts “the largest indoor broadcast wall in the world,” according to Raddatz, which forms the main backdrop in the space. Two Spyder X20 systems are required to drive the approximately 36 x 12-foot LCD projection wall comprised of 28 70-inch Barco OL Series projection modules in a 7 x 4 configuration. The Spyders also drive a 3D rear-projection wall designed by Jack Morton and located upstage center.

“The projection wall shows many of the feeds from various soccer matches or a highlights package from a specific game with graphics,” says Raddatz. “The layering aspect of the Spyder allows us to use this very large template space and maximize production flow, graphics, the visual presentation and data feeds of the games themselves. We can have limitless configurations of pictures, video and graphics.”

Raddatz points out that Spyder “helps us tell the story, display the story and enhance the story. It’s all in support of the content – it never takes over. Spyder’s flexibility, layering capabilities, usage of total template and ability to show things in a different configuration with very high quality and resolution make Spyder an awesome tool.”

Raddatz reports that Vista Systems has been “a great partner” in supporting Spyder. “Once you have the box, the important part of the partnership is support,” he says. “Vista has been working with us to understand and define the capabilities of the system and work with the production design team to explain what Spyder can do. It’s a very collaborative process from design implementation through subsequent support. Spyder is great technology enhanced by a great team.”

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.

ABOUT NBCSN
NBCSN, part of the NBC Sports Group, is dedicated to serving passionate sports fans. Now in more than 80 million homes, the Emmy Award-winning network is the cable television home of the Summer and Winter Olympics, National Hockey League (NHL), Premier League, Formula One, Major League Soccer (MLS), IZOD IndyCar Series, Tour de France, the 34th America’s Cup, and beginning in 2015, NASCAR. In addition, NBCSN features college football, college basketball, college hockey, cycling, outdoor programming, horse racing surrounding the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup, Fight Night boxing, Ironman, the Dew Action Sports Tour and USA Sevens Rugby. The network is also home to original programs such as Costas Tonight, NFL Turning Point, Pro Football Talk and The Dan Patrick Show. NBCSN is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

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Clay Paky Sharpys and grandMA2 Get the Justin Timberlake Experience on His New World Tour

Justin Timberlake kicked off his “20/20 Experience World Tour” in Montreal and Clay Paky Sharpys, Sharpy Washes and the grandMA2 console were out in force. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor of Clay Paky fixtures and MA Lighting products.

True to its name, the tour is “an experience rather than a show,” says lighting director Nick Whitehouse. “It’s very visual with lots of projection and lighting and a lot of new technology. We got pretty creative with everything and had fun putting it all together.”

The tour is in support of Timberlake’s third studio album, which has a sophisticated vibe. The singer will play dates in North America, Europe, Australia and South America. Solotech is the lighting company for the tour.

Whitehouse programmed the tour on a grandMA2 console with Jason Gangi, who is also the tour lighting director. “I like using grandMA2 best,” Whitehouse says. “They have developed a 3D tracking system for us; our video server feeds 3D info to the MA, which interprets it to the lighting rig. Lots of companies have tried to pull this off before, but MA has succeeded. Every light on the rig can follow Justin around the stage.”

“We did seven weeks of rehearsals,” Whitehouse reports. “The gear really got a work out – 20 hours a day.” On the tour “the whole rig is hidden behind a scenic back wall and ceiling. We have 80 Sharpys and 130 Sharpy Washes mounted on trusses, and all of them come through a grill and look amazing. When they’re not on you don’t see them at all. And when they’re on you can’t see the grill.”

Whitehouse selected Sharpys because he “needed something that was powerful, lightweight and low power. And they tick all those boxes.”

Although the tour is still in its early days the lighting designer says “everything is working great – all the Sharpys and the grandMA2 are holding up really well. The guys at A.C.T were awesome, too. A.C.T’s support has always been incredible. Day or night, we could make one call to A.C.T and get anything sorted out.”

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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Electrosonic Supports Integrated Environmental Media System in New Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX

Photo: Moment Factory

The new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) offers passengers a unique travel experience with its Integrated Environmental Media System (IEMS), a series of seven digital media features integrated into the interior architecture that provides entertainment and information to passengers. Electrosonic was tasked by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) with the detailed engineering and system integration of the IEMS components, and the build out of the IEMS control room that keeps everything humming around the clock.

Electrosonic was also responsible for the integration and installation of the complex digital playback system that supports the multi-channel synchronization necessary for display on the media features. Electrosonic was involved with the mammoth project for close to two years, providing the client with specialized management expertise throughout.

“This is one of the largest international terminals in the U.S., and its first priority is as an airport, a hub to the rest of the world,” says Electrosonic account executive Bryan Hinckley. “Our experience coordinating with different trades and vendors, and our expertise in integrating complex systems and new playback technology, helped make the IEMS system a success.”

Electrosonic project manager Janne Hammel notes, “Because of the type and scale of work Electrosonic does for multiple industries around the world, we were uniquely qualified to act as conduit between LAWA and the design and content producers, serving as a translator and helping to facilitate communications and manage expectations on all sides. It was extremely challenging and incredibly rewarding.”

The IEMS media features are located in the 150,000-square-foot Antonio Villaraigosa Pavilion (Great Hall) beyond TSA screening and consist of the Welcome Wall, the Bon Voyage Wall, the four-sided Time Tower, the Destination Board and Story Board and two portals that usher travelers to their departure gates. Integrated into the terminal’s architecture, they are more than digital signage or multimedia eye candy. Each media feature serves a specific purpose for the passengers, offers sponsorship opportunities for marketers, and dazzles with its ability to merge the latest technology with soaring architectural elements.

“All of the media features were custom designed to support individual creative visions,” says Hammel. “The ability to roll out large-scale custom projects is all about attention to detail and time management. It takes a certain amount of imagination to go from design to fabrication to hardware integration, where the smallest thing can have a big impact as the project evolves. That’s our business.”

What set the job apart from other large projects was that it was essentially “a series of big multimedia features included in a large public works venue,” she explains. “We had to balance how to integrate the systems into airport operations and security. We spent a lot of time working with the airport IT representative to deliver a system that maintains absolute security.”

The Welcome Wall, which displays joyful scenes of greeting for arriving international passengers, is a high-resolution 6mm LED Daktronics wall measuring approximately 26 by 84 feet, divided into two screens and surrounded by a decorative glass frame. The adjacent Bon Voyage Wall, with content inspired by photographer Philippe Halsman’s Jumpology photographs, is a similar configuration with dimensions of 13 by 23 feet.

The Destination Board is a different take on flight departure information. The 80-foot wide screen displays flight details from LAX’s Flight Information Display System database. The high-resolution 6mm LED screen is partitioned into a central flight info display flanked by informational side panels and framed by a low-resolution crown of LEDs. Content on the side panels is linked in real time to destination flights displayed on the board to provide travelers with fun facts, weather briefs and images of destination cities, while a graceful arched crest features international flag graphics or subtle arrays of colors.

The four-sided Time Tower is built around the Villaraigosa Pavilion’s elevator tower and is designed to not only tell time, but also explore time as part of the travel experience. It is 72 feet high with a base of diffused glass panels and an interior layer of 10mm LEDs. Sensors sensitive to passenger gestures create constantly changing patterns in the content generated through customized programming and the capabilities of the system. The upper surface features high-resolution 6mm LEDs and integrates a functional clock face with entertaining content incorporating a time theme.

“The display is very large and has a number of video content sources which have to synchronize seamlessly on the four sides of the tower,” Hinckley says. “Electrosonic and Smart Monkeys spent a lot of time with the content creators and Daktronics on pixel-for-pixel consistency from media creation through playback, processing and display. There’s no video scaling involved.”

Electrosonic also coordinated with the LAX audio system, which uses very complex zoning, and delivers safety and emergency messages to ensure proper audio playback for the Time Tower clock strike at the top of every hour.

Along the west side of the Villaraigosa Pavilion, poised above retail shops, is the 120-foot-long Story Board feature. Its high-resolution 6mm LED tiles form five display walls of varying size and shape across a structural frame. Once again, Electrosonic worked closely with all the vendors to achieve pixel-for-pixel consistency in a huge palette of pixels comprising custom content that tells ambient narratives about travel.

As passengers move from the Villaraigosa Pavilion toward either the north or south concourse, a series of ten 28-foot-tall columns form a visual portal to their destination. Each column, consisting of six vertically stacked 55-inch Planar LCD monitors, displays content themed around the art traditions of various destination cities. Speakers and motion sensors are embedded in the base units of each portal to enhance the experience.

“It was an integration challenge to make sure the sensor and playback gear could co-exist in the limited space within the portals,” Hinckley points out.

Electrosonic also designed the layout and installed the Main Equipment Room (MER), which is comprised of a control and rack room. Miles of optical fiber from all over the terminal feed into the MER, where over a 1,000 individual connections provide the capability to display and control the content displayed on each feature. Cameras in the terminal that show the content-display status of each feature allows a single operator to monitor all features simultaneously. Additionally, a 65-inch display was installed in the control room where new media content from prospective partners can be reviewed prior to public display.

“We have people on site for 24/7 operation and maintenance of the system,” Hinckley notes. “Since this is a working international airport, the only time we have access to the field equipment is between 2 and 6 am, so we not only need a quick response team on site to remedy any potential problems, but we also need to staff the graveyard shift to make any necessary repairs.”

Janne Hammel believes that once travelers experience the new terminal and its standout media features, they’ll have a greater appreciation for the work of all the vendors involved. “You can talk about physical dimensions and number of pixels, but until you’re standing in that space experiencing the media and how it integrates with the terminal’s passenger activity and flow, you don’t realize how it exceeds your expectations.

“L.A. is a world destination and that’s reflected in the content of the media features and their integration into the physical structure of the new international terminal,” she says.

Electrosonic is proud to be a part of the LAX Integrated Environmental Media Systems (IEMS) Team, which includes: MRA International, IEMS Project Director; Marcela Sardi of Sardi Design, designer of the media features and Creative Director; Smart Monkeys Inc., System Designer and technical consultant for the content delivery system; Daktronics, display supplier; Moment Factory, Executive Content Producer; and Digital Kitchen, Supportive Content Producer.

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic 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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Clay Paky Sharpys and grandMA2 Consoles are Winners at “Miss America 2014” Pageant

The Miss America pageant returned to its Atlantic City origins this year and lighting designer Allen Branton was charged with lighting the cavernous Boardwalk Hall and making sure 53 beautiful women looked their best whenever the TV camera turned their way. He was aided by Clay Paky Sharpy and Sharpy Wash fixtures and grandMA2 lighting consoles from Atomic Lighting in Lititz, Pennsylvania. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for both Clay Paky and MA Lighting.

Branton marked his sixth consecutive year lighting the pageant, which was televised on ABC-TV. After spending a number of years in Las Vegas the show moved back to Atlantic City where “the venue, audience and scenery doubled in size,” he reports. “Given the size of the hall and way the show was set in the room, every single element of production had to be rigged from overhead – and there’s no permanent rigging infrastructure. So there were 240 individual rigging points for lighting, sound, video, scenery, cable management, cameras. Atomic provided and managed all that, which we hadn’t needed in Vegas; their attention to detail is second to none.”

Branton mounted 24 Sharpys on truss for “Miss America 2014.” “Sharpys are a dramatic little effects light for music and variety programming, particularly for their size and cost,” he says. “They’re a wonderfully fun and dynamic tool. In beam arrays they add spice and energy to the Sharpy Washes.”

He also employed two dozen Sharpy Washes as utility and backlights positioned on truss in the gaps formed by the finger-like arches that created a ceiling over the stage. “Having a light with that much output in that small a physical package came in handy,” he says. “The Sharpy washes provided a nice delicate array of light for 53 women who needed a hairlight from the overhead zone. I’m glad we had them.”

Programmers Felix Peralta, Kevin Lawson and Laura Frank utilized a full-size grandMA2 and a pair of grandMA2 Lights with fader wings. Peralta was responsible for programming the scenic and effects lighting for the show, Lawson the key contestant and audience lighting, and Frank the media. “We carved up the show into three different aspects of lighting design, but all the consoles were networked so the programmers could work independently or collaboratively,” Branton explains.

Kevin Lawson praises grandMA2′s “fantastic multi-user capacity,” something he and Peralta took advantage of, and the system’s expandability. “We can keep adding universes and not hit a ceiling,” he says. “And grandMA2 doesn’t slow down based on the number of fixtures and parameters you use.”

Branton says his projects “never use anything but grandMA2 consoles anymore. Its architecture is user friendly, and there’s so much data to be managed these days.”

Branton notes that while “the faces of the 53 women competing change” over time, the Miss America pageant is remarkably consistent in its format and goal. “People tune in expecting to see these women in (quite literally) their best light; we never know which ones will be in close up. So we have to make their close-up photography really consistent woman to woman, act to act, show to show, year to year,” he says.

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