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Archive by David Steinberg

WorldStage Helps New Yorkers Engage in “Talking Transition” as New Mayor Prepares to Take Office

As the New York mayoralty transitions from the Bloomberg era to the de Blasio era, New Yorkers were asked to share their views about the city’s future in an innovative citywide effort, “Talking Transition.” WorldStage provided extensive lighting support for the tent-like complex at Hudson Square at Canal and Varick Streets in Manhattan, which served as the initiative’s home base.

The nonpartisan project, Produced by Jennifer Kurland of production glue, was brought to NYC by the Atlantic Philanthropies, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Ford Foundation, NYCT, New York Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, North Star Fund, Open Society Foundations and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It was designed to initiate conversation amongst New Yorkers about what was important to them in the next administration.

The Duarte Square headquarters consisted of a 500-person meeting space that hosted programs and conversations on a wide range of public policy issues from taxes and infrastructure to lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy. UVLD supplied the lighting design for the “Talking Transition” HQ; production glue produced the event.

“We did the environmental lighting, the general illumination and lit the signage,” says UVLD lighting designer Greg Cohen. “In addition to the main stage, where headliners like Matt & Kim did a special DJ set, there were two large environmental tents that called for both accent and mood lighting. WorldStage and its vice president/director of lighting Terry Jackson gave us great support.

Cohen was challenged by the fact that the “Talking Transition” headquarters was a temporary structure – in a season where winter set in well before its arrival on the calendar. “The weather and wind determined how much gear could be hung,” he notes. “Tom Bussey at production glue encouraged the team to ground support – rather than hang – most of the fixtures. While there was never a question of safety, no one wanted the audience to wonder at the lighting rig swaying in the wind..”

Cohen points out that the scenic design evolved as the priorities of the initiative changed. “We thought there would be a lot of LED and video, so initially we were concerned about controlling daylight. But as the client honed their interests and made the space more about community dialogue and a well-illuminated public space than about technology, we opted for a clear tent roof so the daylight would just stream in. We made no attempt to control the lighting during the day. We prioritized lighting around the available light and gave it an environmental feel at night.”

The central scenic element was milk crates,. “We made milk crate chandeliers using WorldStage’s Color Kinetics iColor Cove fixtures,” says Cohen. “Outside there were big milk crate arrows with iColor Coves for chasing light. We also were able to add bare bulbs to milk crates on site to give the accent illumination a found object feel.”

Cohen also deployed a number of Martin MAC Aura washes, which he calls “very camera-friendly LED fixtures, which are extremely lightweight. We were thrilled that WorldStage was able to provide them in quantity.”

WorldStage also supplied VARI*LITE 2500 spots, Elation EPAR QA LED PARs, Litepanels1x1s and Source 4 ellipsoidals and PARs. The company provided a full grandMA console and a grandMA2 Light for lighting control.

At production glue, Jack Hilley was technical director.

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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Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour Rolls Cross Country With Clay Paky, MDG and grandMA2 Gear

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mannheim Steamroller. The distinctive ensemble is marking the 29th anniversary of its Christmas concert tours with a multimedia display featuring a light show and big-screen images and videos synchronized with their music. Lighting designer Richard Jackson has included Clay Paky Sharpy Washes in his rig for the first time along with an MDG Atmosphere hazer and grandMA2 Light console. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of all of those brands in North America.

Mannheim Steamroller debuted their first Christmas album in 1984 combining the group’s signature mix of baroque instruments and rock ‘n roll beats to give a fresh twist to holiday classics. This year two tours of six-member ensembles are playing 80 dates on a Christmas tour running from mid-November to late December.

“Mannheim Steamroller is the longest-running, best-selling Christmas show of all time,” declares Jackson, who has been the tour’s lighting designer for the last five years. “I design the show with the production manager and lighting director for the other tour. I go out with one of the tours and do all the programming as well.”

This year Jackson opted for 16 Sharpy Washes, from long-time Omaha-based equipment supplier TMS, as his primary wash units. “Thanks to the versatility of the light, they have become workhorses,” he says. “We have ten in the air and six on the ground. They do a lot of graphical stuff, high-beam stuff. I can go from a wide wash with great smooth coverage from ten of them then tighten them up and get nice beamy graphical stuff.

“What I really like about them is that they work great in the range of venues we play – from a small place with low trim to a big college auditorium or arena,” says Jackson. “I also like their speed – not just movement speed but the ability to change from a color wheel effect to a color mix wash almost instantly. They have also lowered my power consumption, which is I great. I think they’re fantastic!”

Controlling the lights is a grandMA2 light, Jackson’s “console of choice.” A veteran grandMA user, he made the switch to grandMA2 Light on last year’s tour. “The power of the desk is great, and the software is extremely intuitive and very easy to use,” he says. “We can create a lot of things a lot faster; I can program complicated things and it’s always rock solid.”

Jackson, who is president of Last Minute Lighting, LLC, took advantage of running grandMA 3D on his own command wing to do previs for the tour. “grandMA 3D is a major tool, an absolutely wonderful tool that I use for all my jobs,” he says. “I did previs at home on my command wing to start programming, cloning fixtures and solving problems. It was great to get a feel for the desk. Then I spent a week at TMS while the crews were prepping the system to wrap up previs on the console we took on the road.”

Also on the tour is an MDG Atmosphere hazer, which Jackson calls “TMS’s go-to hazer – and my favorite hazer as well. I love that we can get it every year. It’s quiet, which is very important. And there’s no mess with it. I don’t get any complaints about using oily equipment. It’s really nice how it creates haze that hangs in the air, too. It lasts a lot longer than haze manufactured by other hazers. I can fill the room up, turn off the machine and still have haze in the air for an hour or more.”

Jackson seems to have struck just the right note for the Christmas tour with his trio of Clay Paky, MDG and grandMA equipment. “All the gear has performed flawlessly even in the extreme temperature changes we experience,” he reports.

The LDs for the two tours are Richard Jackson and Patrick Haines and the lighting techs are Justin Borgelt, Tony Gibson and Andrew Shaw.

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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WorldStage Offers Viz:140, Merging Live Tweeting and Professional Presentations

Viz:140, the professional software tool that captures, curates, visualizes and presents social media on any number of displays, is available for rental exclusively through WorldStage Inc. Viz:140 (formerly called CommuniType) was developed by Pretty Extreme Inc. to give presenters, party planners and content producers ultimate control over social media content. Much more than a media server, Viz:140 allows users to program a show with any combination of data sources, filter that data into meaningful content, then visualize it onscreen in customizable and unique ways.

With the ubiquity of Twitter, the need to bring Tweets into the presentation environment and provide immediate, engaging media sharing to large audiences and visitor groups is greater than ever.

“Making Twitter beautiful is our goal,” says Shelly Sabel, director of design at WorldStage. “Other visualizers are very basic: they simply display the font that’s native to Twitter but Viz:140 makes the content exciting. It encourages engagement with event participants and is a great tool for experiential marketing, big conferences and trade shows.”

Viz:140 developer Josh Silverman has made the visually regimented Twitter “scalable and designable,” notes Sabel. Content can be branded and customized or users can select graphical themes – font styles, colors, backgrounds, images – created by WorldStage. “We have created templates for plug-and-play usage, which can be tailored for a variety of presentation modes” she explains. “We can also embed video content as a background behind incoming Twitter and Instagram feeds. In addition, this software can archive hashtags and output them as a word cloud. Viz:140 is a very flexible tool.”

Viz:140′s node-based display system can drive any number of displays and offers an integrated content production and control interface. In addition to Twitter feeds, data input modules receive inputs from SMS, email, RSS, files, network folders, Instagram and PollEverywhere.com.

“The direct link with Instagram is cool,” says Sabel. “If an image captured at an event has a hashtag it can be discovered or geotagged. And, we now have the ability to connect with PollEverywhere and create real-time audience interaction and response.” VIZ:140′s real-time functionality immediately transforms poll data into compelling bar charts, pie charts and backgrounds that engage event participants.

Viz:140 has been used for corporate events large and small; the system’s flexibility makes it an excellent choice for integration with an A/V system of any size or complexity.

Recently, WorldStage supplied Viz:140 to George P. Johnson for a dealer meeting in Chicago, to InVision Communications for Oracle Open World in San Francisco, and a number of recent HBO premiere events across the country. The system is available exclusively for rental through WorldStage Inc.

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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Carnegie Science Center Selects Alcorn McBride’s V16 Pro Controller for The Works Theater Automated Programming and Live Events

When The Works Theater at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh needed an equipment upgrade for its aging, proprietary automation system it discovered that Alcorn McBride’s V16 Pro top-of-the-line controller filled the bill.

Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to educating, entertaining and inspiring through programs in science, sports and technology. The Works Theater showcases dazzling demonstrations in a one-of-a-kind industrial setting.

“The theater has been a multimedia space for cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years, but when its automation equipment started dying and was no longer supported by the manufacturer we began to look for a replacement,” says Doug DeHaven, AV specialist/robotics at Carnegie Science Center. “There didn’t seem to be much on the market that allowed us to automate a theater like we did. Many of the systems out there were expensive and custom-built. But we happened to have an exhibit that featured Alcorn products; it had been working for four years with no issues. So we researched the company, talked to a few Alcorn engineers who were fantastic and ordered the V16 Pro for the theater.”

According to DeHaven, Alcorn McBride’s V16 Pro was “unheard of in this market,” where “a lot of show controllers are very fixed in terms of what they do: It’s difficult to make live, last-minute decisions with them” for live events in the theater.

DeHaven decided to pair the “robust hardware” of the V16 Pro with “easy programming” of QLab software as the multimedia cueing platform. “Our theater has a lot of hardware,” he explains. “We have a 100-year old 10-foot tall, 1.2 million volt Tesla Coil that we need to control. We also have a liquid nitrogen fog machine that takes a lot of control to make it work right. Plus two pan-tilt-zoom cameras and eight video projectors for the screens that ring the theater. We need to run their content and turn the projectors on and off.”

DeHaven designed the system so the V16 Pro acts as the back end for QLab and allows it to work dynamically with commercial gear as well as the AV equipment. “Alcorn and QLab make a perfect combination,” he says. “We use the V16 Pro to interface with our original controls, which are based on MIDI commands. For example, if the fire alarm goes off, it tells the V16, which will shut everything down. We did a touch interface – Alcorn McBride software is amazing. The display output is very helpful as it keeps track of all commands. The system is also set up so we can just use the V16 on its own as a live room console.”

He reports that he had “all the V16 stuff working before anything else. It’s very easy to use, and Alcorn manuals are amazing. I never had a company work so well with us.”

DeHaven believes that The Works Theater “may be using the V16 Pro in a way very few other Alcorn customers do. We not only wanted the reliability and interfacing capability of Alcorn equipment but also the ability to make realtime show control changes for live events – we have multiple different shows in one space throughout the day. So I found a way to marry Alcorn and QLab products to accomplish this.”

He notes that, “of all the vendors I have worked with, Alcorn McBride stands out as one of the best companies ever from the design of the equipment to the friendly and knowledgeable staff and the great little details in the manuals. Overall, it has been a fantastic experience. In the future, I’ll choose only Alcorn McBride products. I’m now a life-long customer!”

DeHaven specified, designed and installed the show control system and infrastructure and programmed the V16 Pro and touch interface. He also designed the communication protocol between the devices and systems. Dave Hart, in lighting and sound, handled the QLab show creation. Electrician Rick Kwiatkowski helped get the wiring infrastructure in place that permitted control of the Tesla Coil and liquid nitrogen fog machine.

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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Clay Paky Sharpys, Sharpy Washes and grandMA Spend Thanksgiving with Lady Gaga and The Muppets for ABC Holiday Special

What’s Thanksgiving without The Muppets? Or Lady Gaga? Or all of them appearing together in ABC’s “Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular” with guests Sir Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ru Paul. It was definitely an occasion to roll out Clay Paky Sharpys and Sharpy Washes controlled by a grandMA2 console. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of both product lines in North America.

Lighting designer Tom Beck got a call for the show the Monday before the Friday load in as Lady Gaga was finishing her latest album and time was running short.

“I really wanted to use Sharpys and Sharpy Washes,” says Beck who grabbed 20 of the former and 23 of the latter from the inventory of ELS. “It was the first time I had the chance to use the Washes, which I really love. I wouldn’t mind trying a whole rig of just Sharpy units.”

The set designed by Tom Lenz featured “a lot of curves and arches – it was beautiful,” Beck reports. “I put up an arched truss with half a 60-foot radius and lined it with alternating Sharpy Washes and beams, mostly for effects and as a backdrop to the whole set. It looked really spectacular. We also had some more Sharpy fixtures on the floor. I was quite happy with all of them. I love the beams and the Washes were terrific – a great little unit.”

Programmer Mark Butts had used the Sharpy Washes on several projects but this was his first for television. “I was curious about how they were going to work, and they turned out to be really awesome. The Washes get almost as narrow as the Sharpy beams but have color mixing and zoom so you can use them as a wash light. They’re really fast and do all the stuff that Sharpy is known for. We also had a fairly low trim in the TV studio, so the lights worked well in that situation – they were compact and bright, a real winner!”

According to Beck, the grandMA2 is the only console he uses anymore. He likes the system for big shows, like the holiday spectacular, and when two programmers work in tandem because grandMA2 networking “works delightfully.”

Butts found the grandMA2 especially handy for the Muppets and Lady Gaga show whose tight turnaround meant he had little time to prepare. “The shooting schedule was really compressed. The last two hours we were there they were performing off the cuff, and I got about 30 seconds notice. I just started diving in to create effects and cues completely on the fly. grandMA2 does that really well. It has great effects and great movement and quickly came up with stuff I was really happy with.”

Butts notes that there’s nothing like spending holidays with The Muppets. “I grew up with them, so it’s the coolest thing in the world to do something with them. I spent the morning doing pick ups with Animal! It was such a fun show to work on – a real special experience.”

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’s Audio and Video Systems Energize New Permanent Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

When the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago was planning its newest permanent exhibit, Future Energy Chicago, it turned to Electrosonic to provide the audio and video systems for the exhibit’s film and simulation game, which challenges guests to compete on teams to make wise energy choices for a more sustainable city.

Exhibit-goers begin by rediscovering the nature of energy in the dynamic Energy Garden area, where they can transform energy from one form to another via a series of electro-mechanical devices and immerse themselves in a short film that dramatically presents the story of energy in our world. Guests then convert their knowledge into action via a multi-player simulation game in which they design an energy-saving car, house, neighborhood, transportation system and city power grid.

Electrosonic teamed with exhibit designers Evidence Design, interactive designers Potion Design and Steve Haas Acoustics (SH Acoustics) to meet the goals of the museum with the given budget and allotted exhibit space. Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team was involved from the outset to ensure the smooth performance of all the interactives and to supply the custom programming required to deliver an informative and fun guest experience.

The first challenge was retrofitting the existing Energy Garden space with a 20-foot wide curved oval screen to display a 6-minute film from Donna Lawrence Productions. “To satisfy the size of the imagery, we had to pay extremely close attention to the lights and speakers and accurately position everything, including the Barco 3-chip DLP projectors, on the existing grid in a low-ceiling room,” says Electrosonic design consultant Yiannis Cabolis.

Electrosonic also provided the video processing and masking to accommodate the oval screen; the film is fed to the projectors by a 7thSense server. Tannoy speakers are housed above and behind the screen along with Bag End subwoofers.

Guests to the Energy Garden get to play with various electro-mechanical devices to create “energy” -for example, riding a stationary bike will turn on a light. A pathway leads to the simulation area where the guests form teams and set off to play games at five different interactive stations. Panasonic LCD monitors are configured to form the Future House station with sides and a roof, which offers a range of multi-touch interactives with localized audio. The Future Neighborhood game extends the residence concept with more multi-touch interactives.

Future Power illustrates the need for a smart mix of energy on a round table with three overhead Panasonic projectors, while the Future Transportation game is laid out on a polygonal table with two overhead projectors above. Future Car invites guests to design a new vehicle by video mapping images from Panasonic overhead projectors onto a trio of small three-dimensional car models. All of the overhead projectors feature gesture recognition. A 24 by 8-foot scoreboard keeps track of the teams’ interactive gameplay; a pair of edge-blended Barco 3-chip DLP projectors and Tannoy speakers display the scores and announce the winners.

“Electrosonic, Evidence Design and Potion Design did a huge mock up with multiple projectors and media at the museum to determine the pixel sizes and equipment brands to use so the average guest would have a very good experience,” Cabolis explains. Samsung displays and PQ Labs overlays were chosen for the touch interactives with James loudspeakers for audio.

Custom programming was required “because each interactive had to talk to the gaming computers in the equipment racks,” he notes. Medialon show control keeps track of the Energy Garden film and the gaming computers to ensure a good pace and flow of visitors moving through the exhibit. Staff facilitating the experience are equipped with Apple iPads as interfaces to control certain operational aspects of the exhibit, such as pause, stop and reset.

Wireless mics allow facilitators to address students and general public guests, and also allow other staff presenters to lead special events in the space. Q-Sys handles multi-channel DSP. SH Acoustic’s expertise guaranteed that audio would be directed to players and support the content of the interactive simulation without intruding on adjacent games. “We didn’t want the space to sound like an arena,” Cabolis says.

During the project, “infrastructure planning was a major challenge,” he notes, with a lot of technology squeezed into a very tight area. “Ninety percent of the connections utilize fiber,” says Cabolis. “For the simulation game, we had to hide technology in the tables to deliver a clean final look. All the wires and network connections had to come up from the slab floor through a box on the bottom of the tables and through the legs to the exhibit level. And the power supplies and extenders all had to be vented, serviceable and accessible from the equipment room.”

The equipment room is configured with four racks of source computers, amps and control systems. All computers are accessible to the content producers so they can update software for the simulation game as necessary.

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

For more information about Future Energy Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, visit http://www.msichicago.org

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Clay Paky Sharpys 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 and Sharpy Washes were out in force.

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 was the lighting supplier for the tour.

“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 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.”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, was glad to see the Sharpys on Justin Timberlake again. “Our lights have been on Justin Timberlake before and we have worked with Mr. Whitehouse numerous times. We’re proud to be in the company of such artists once again.”

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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

****

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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