Archive for April 24th, 2013
COLUMBUS, OH, – Looking to shed light on the disastrous effects plastics are having on the world’s oceans, the international environmental advocacy non-profit group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) turned to leftchannel – the motion design studio led by Executive Creative Director and President Alberto Scirocco. Leftchannel was challenged to craft an entertaining yet informative public service announcement that would be a call to action for viewers to “reduce, reuse and recycle” plastic packaging.
“The skills leftchannel brought to this project are valuable for translating a complex issue like this, to visually show this system and how we can make positive changes,” Leila Monroe, a Staff Attorney with the NDRC Oceans Program, says.
Click here to watch “The Great Plastic Purge” PSA
After the organization approached leftchannel to translate the complex issue of plastic pollution to a visual platform with a positive message, Scirocco and leftchannel’s creative team (which included designer/animators Taehee Lee and Nick Schoener) set to creating a concept and script that avoided the usually negative tone found in most environmental PSAs. Rather, they harnessed the studio’s abilities to marry 2D and 3D character animation with motion design to inform viewers in a positive way.
“Our goal was to remind people how important this issue is, without giving the impression that they were being criticized or that we were trying to scare them,” Scirocco says. “Americans have been recycling plastics for a long time, but the current recycling programs aren’t working anymore and NDRC wanted a new approach – one that informs and entertains in a constructive manner.”
That new approach can be seen in the PSA entitled “The Great Plastic Purge” — a two-minute animated piece that was inspired by after school specials from the 1950s. The character animation style keeps the tone light, which helps engage the audience, while expressing important facts in a way that is never boring.
The PSA opens with a shot of a young boy happily ripping open a birthday present that’s wrapped in numerous layers of plastic, all of which he cheerfully throws away. From there the piece follows the packaging from the boy’s home to the ocean floor, while a chipper voiceover informs about how Americans waste $8 billion a year due to plastics making it into the nation’s waterways.
This project presented several challenges. According to Schoener, from a story telling perspective, effectively illustrating why the system was broken was challenging. “We had to first understand it ourselves,” he says, “then communicate it in a way viewers could easily connect with and understand.”
For Lee, the most challenging scene to animate was the underwater scene. “It was complex because it contained a lot of different 2D animated trash objects that all needed to be integrated carefully into the scene. Because the scene connects to a 3D scene afterwards, the integration of the two was tricky — both 2D and 3D had to look consistent,” Lee says.
Scirocco says, “It was a challenge to take a bleak story and turn it into an optimistic one. Overall, the animation needed to address three main points in a memorable, engaging manner: bring awareness to the issue; suggest that manufacturers be held responsible for coming up with innovative packaging solutions; and get consumers to take action to reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Established in 2003 and headed by Alberto Scirocco, leftchannel is a motion design studio comprised of multidisciplinary graphic design artists specializing in motion graphics, TV spots, music videos, broadcast identities, program titles and opens, animation and graphic design, advertising and broadcast graphics. Scirocco began his career in design and art in Italy before moving to the U.S., where he helped establish leftchannel in Columbus. An adjunct professor and head of the CCAD Motion Design program, Scirocco’s passion for computer animation and motion graphics is a driving force behind the firm’s decisively individualistic and pioneering capabilities adaptable in a multitude of fields including film, advertising, broadcast graphics, architecture, retail planning, digital installation, projection mapping and environmental design.
Click here to watch the “The Great Plastic Purge” PSA:
Click here for more info on leftchannel:
Click here for more info on the NRDC:
Client: Natural Resources Defense Council
Project: “The Great Plastic Purge” (2 minute PSA)
Agency: Natural Resources Defense Council, New York (client direct)
Animation/Design/Post: leftchannel, Columbus, OH
Executive Creative Director/President: Alberto Scirocco
Designers/Animators: Taehee Lee, Nick Schoener
The digital experts at BKWLD recently teamed with creative agency Hoffman Lewis to deliver a multi-layered, hands-on, and experimental new integrated campaign for McDonald’s. Tasked with increasing brand favorability and, more specifically, breakfast sales in the St. Louis market, BKWLD executed the production of six :30 broadcast spots, one mobile application, and a website to serve as a digital hub aggregating user chatter and special offers.
BKWLD worked with Hoffman Lewis to create six unique and unexpected moments for the general public of St. Louis. Working entirely with non-actors, the BKWLD team designed real situations where McDonald’s breakfast could help make the ‘ordinary a bit more extraordinary’. These moments were shot with hidden camera crews and then transformed into the TV spots, with BKWLD storyboarding, directing, producing, and handling post for each.
“The spots needed to feel fun and honest, but not become a cliché flash-mob-thing,” noted BKWLD AD Ethan Martin. “We collaborated with HL to choose the best combination of locations and relating scenarios that were both strategic to the messaging, while maintaining an efficient production budget and timeline.”
To create a digital hub for the GoodMorningSTL campaign, BKWLD developers created a site that aggregated users’ social media content from Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #goodmorningstl. Special offers and contest winners were announced daily. The BKWLD team realized early on that user-generated content from mobile devices would be a key component of the site, so they created a site that would that would be easily viewable on small screens and function well with the slower speeds of cellular networks.
“The essence of the site is user-generated content, so our goal with the UX was to create a clean, straightforward experience,” added BKWLD Video Director Chad Turner. “This led us to a content-first approach, with a responsive architecture that let users quickly find pertinent info such as deals and contest winners, while also allowing them to casually browse through tweets and photos.”
McDonald’s and Hoffman Lewis needed a website that could populate itself with user-generated content and successfully drive interest in the downloadable mobile app that BKWLD was developing. For the site, BKWLD developers paired their proprietary ‘Decoy’ CMS platform with a custom implementation of ‘tag subscriptions’ within Instagram’s API, as well as the equivalent functionality with Twitter. To keep development costs manageable, the team built efficiencies with the Alarm Clock App by developing it in Appcelerator’s Titanium, which afforded broader support to Android devices as well as iOS.
Date: April 2013
Agency: Hoffman Lewis
Director: Chad Turner
Broadcast Producer: Chris Edmonds
Digital Production: BKWLD
Digital Producer: Donald Fierros
Tech Director: Justin Jewitt
Developer: Matthew Aebersold
Art Director: Matt Carvalho
Art Director: Ethan Martin
We are an independent digital agency founded in 2001. We begin with the user first – before ourselves, before our own creative ambitions, our lust for awards, or industry accolades. Our charge is to find what users value, then the best use of concept and medium to deliver it. Whether it is creative digital strategy and execution, branded content, or live-action production and post, our team is dedicated to doing great work for great clients, and we have a hell of a time doing it.
New Sponsorship Program Bringing Businesses Into The Convention in New Ways
Berklee College of Music & RCF Take Gold Sponsorships
ROME: “The AES has always been the place for the audio industry to promote innovation, education, and best practices,” states Executive Director Bob Moses. “In the past, the exhibition provided a platform for companies to showcase the latest and most advanced technologies for recording, live sound, broadcast and related audio fields. But during the past decade, e-commerce, social networking, mobile platforms, economic struggles, and the increasingly rapid pace in which we work, have coalesced into a total game changer. We’re exploring a number of new ways AES can serve businesses at the convention and beyond. These initiatives are part of our new convention sponsorship program.”
Moses underscores the growing need for companies to cut through the ubiquitous online chatter to reach key customers and decision makers. “Many companies want to deliver the message that their brands stand for quality and innovation. And they realize that our industry is driven by advancing technology — innovation fuels growth. AES is the ideal place to promote a healthy audio ecosystem. Sponsored on-site training sessions and focused demos are two examples of this AES/business partnership.” Our evolving role is to nurture a vigorous community for audio professionals who demand high quality audio equipment and keep the bar high for the audio profession across the board.
“A look at the list of sponsors for the 134th Convention in Rome, will reveal astute companies partnering with AES to deliver important audio training, support standards activities, promote their brands, and supporting us because they love what AES does” Moses said.
The sponsors of the 134th Convention in Rome are:
Audio Precision, Audiomatica Srl, bd Sound, B&C Speakers, Berklee College Of Music (Gold), CharterOak, Crane Song Ltd., EKO Music Group spa, Fairlight Europe, Klippel GmbH, LAMBDA srl, Link, Microtech Gefell GmbH, Pro Audio Consulting srl, RCF (Gold), Thrax Audio Ltd., Trinnov Audio and ZP Engineering srl
“Italian company, RCF, and the Berklee College of Music came in especially strong as our Gold Sponsors, and we are delighted to welcome them as our Convention partners,” said Convention Chairman Umberto Zanghieri. “RCF has been a leader in the development of world-class speakers, studio monitors and live sound technology for concerts, tours and theatrical performances for more than 60 years. Over the past 50 years, Berklee College of Music has evolved to a position as the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today and tomorrow. These two industry leaders top a list of eighteen outstanding sponsors committed to making the 134th AES Convention – May 4 -7, 2013 at Rome’s Fontana di Trevi Conference Centre an unforgettable event.”
In acknowledging their Gold Sponsorship, RCF Head of Marketing, Gioia Molinari remarked, “The AES is essential for engaging with our peers, developing new associations, revitalizing long-standing friendships, and participating in extraordinary Live Sound events, Workshops, Tutorials, and high level social networking activities. We are pleased to lend our support to this irreplaceable organization.”
Berklee College of Music’s Valencia Campus Director for Technology Innovation Stephen Webber adds, “In supporting our mandate for providing students with the highest standards in music education, we find AES Conventions invaluable for developing high level mentoring opportunities, for acquiring insights into technology, standards and best practices, and for providing a unique environment for students to engage with a diverse range of industry professionals.”
“We salute our sponsors and we will make every effort to ‘over-deliver’ in our efforts to serve them at the Convention,” Moses concluded. “We hope other companies jump on-board the sponsorship bandwagon at future events so we can collaborate on keeping our industry smart and strong.”
For details visit the Preliminary Events Calendar at: http://www.aes.org/events/134/calendar/calendar.cfm
Photos: RCF and Berklee College of Music Logos
The Audio Engineering Society was formed in 1948 by a group of concerned audio engineers. The AES counts over 14,000 members throughout the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Japan and the Far East. The organization serves as the pivotal force in the exchange and dissemination of technical information for the industry. For additional information visit http://www.aes.org
Superior Technical Support and Intelligent System Controls Help Norway’s Qvisten Animation AS Increase Efficiency While Working on Film and Commercial Projects
Los Angeles, CA (April 24, 2013) – With two animated features in production, and a commercial due every month, Qvisten Animation AS is the epitome of a hardworking animation studio. But like most creative organizations, they can only be as good as the tools they have around them. For years their render farm was more burden than boon; more likely to crash than provide them with the customization tools they required. During their search for something more stable, the team came across PipelineFX’s Qube!™ – a production-proven render farm manager that satisfied their need for consistency. It has never let them down.
Qvisten’s hurdles were apparent to PipelineFX support staff the minute they showed them that first demo: workers were disabling themselves, the system was crashing several times a week, prioritization tasking was laborious and there was no easy way to customize the render manager. Qube!’s advanced feature set was designed to target these problems, often times without any direct customization, making it a prime out-of-the-box solution for studios of all sizes.
“When you produce around 3,000 shots a year with a 50-node render farm, having to manually supervise your files is too much to bear,” said Fredrik Fottland, producer at Qvisten Animation AS. “By customizing the submitter to differentiate job priority based on file content, file location and pipeline step, Qube! can filter our content out to the available workers without additional input or downtime. Once the job is submitted to the farm, our artists can step away and start working on the next shot, knowing Qube! will get the job done.”
Qube! also had to seamlessly work with several versions of the Arnold renderer. Qvisten had several custom versions that they used for different productions, all with different licensing agreements, posing possible challenges in terms of legal use and job submissions. Since Qube! can distribute jobs based on available licenses, Qvisten was able to always stay in compliance with their negotiated agreement with Solid Angle (Arnold’s creator). And through their collaboration with PipelineFX’s technical support team, Qvisten wrote a submission-based GUI with Python scripts in Maya that could efficiently communicate with the render engine. This eliminated the possibility of detection errors and allowed Qvisten to focus on the qualitative aspects of the 1,000 frames they usually have to output through Arnold each day.
The decision to redesign their pipeline around Qube! has made reliable support service a key foundational element. From the start, Qvisten pipeline leads, Raymond Kreppene (render supervisor) and Jo Jurgens (technical supervisor) have seen PipelineFX’s team care as much about creating an efficient pipeline as they have, whether that is helping them manage simple jobs like playblasts from Maya or Nuke renders, or facilitating a smooth process for the more complex Arnold tasks that require a string of 3-5 dependent jobs.
“Qube! gives you more control than competing products,” added Jurgens. “We got that, plus something that remains stable through the days, nights and weekends. It’s by far the most reliable render manager we’ve ever worked with.”
Qvisten has just finished production on “Ploddy The Police Car on the Case;” a 3D animated feature about a police car; and is in the final stages of production on their 10th feature film “Solan and Ludvig’s Christmas;” a stop-motion story about two friends that are determined to stop a snow storm from ruining Christmas.
About Qube!™ and Smart Farming™
Qube! is an intelligent, mature and highly scalable render management solution that can be quickly integrated into any production workflow, and is backed by world-class technical support. Smart Farming delivers intelligence to production pipelines by providing business-critical insight into render pipelines, maximizing investment in rendering infrastructure and automating manual processes. Qube! works out of the box with all leading content creation applications and is truly cross-platform with all software components available on Windows®, Linux®, and Mac OS®X operating systems.
As the leading provider of intelligent render farm management solutions for digital content creation, PipelineFX provides software, support, consulting and training services worldwide. Over 25,000 render nodes at more than 600 customers across film and visual effects, post production, broadcast, design, games and education include Arc Productions, BaseFX, BBC, Cinesite, Deluxe, Digital Domain, Dyson, Efilm, Electronic Arts, Google, HBO, Hasbro, L.M.U., Laika Studios, Lockheed Martin, Method Studios, NBC Sports, Nvidia, NHK, Original Force, Prana Studios, Pratt University, Procter & Gamble, ReelFX, South Park Studios, Target, Technicolor, and Telemundo. PipelineFX is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, and has offices in London, Honolulu, Portland, Las Vegas, and Vancouver.
About Qvisten Animation AS
Oslo’s Qvisten Animation AS is Scandinavia’s biggest animation studio. Specializing in commercials, feature films and TV series, the studio is adept at all kinds of animated processes from design and concept art to final execution. Their full capabilities include: 2D classical cartoon animation, 2D cut-out/flash animation, classical stop motion, 3D CGI, VFX and motion graphics. Qvisten was founded in 1994, and in that time has produced over 400 commercials, usually at a rate of at least one per month.
Copyright 2013 PipelineFX, Inc. PipelineFX is a copyright of PipelineFX Inc. Qube! and Smart Farming are Trademarks of PipelineFX Inc. All other brand names, product names, service marks or trademarks belong to their respective holders.
For more information, press only:
Liaison Inc. for PipelineFX
Colin McLaughlin, colin(at)liaisonpr(dot)com, 503.796.9822
Richard Lewis, Richard(at)pipelinefx(dot)com
1000 Bishop Street, Suite 509
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813
Hitachi Introduces Three New Collegiate Series 3LCD Projectors With Unique Features, Optimal Picture Performance and Outstanding Value
CHULA VISTA, California, April 24, 2013 — Hitachi America, Ltd., Digital Media Division, Business Solutions Group today introduced three new additions to its Collegiate Series 3LCD projectors: the CP-WX4022WN, CP-X4022WN and CP-X5022WN. These new models offer high brightness, energy efficiency and advanced connectivity, making them ideal for large classrooms, lecture halls and auditoriums.
The CP-WX4022WN provides a brightness of 4,000 lumens with WXGA resolution. The CP-X4022WN features a brightness of 4,000 lumens and XGA resolution, while the CP-X5022WN offers 5,000 lumens brightness and XGA resolution. All three projectors offer network compatibility via wired or wireless connection (wireless connection is available with the optional USBWL11N wireless adapter) and can be remotely controlled via a local area network (LAN).
The CP-WX4022WN, CP-X4022WN and CP-X5022WN are equipped with Hitachi’s exclusive Eco Mode and ImageCare energy-saving technology that combines optimal picture performance with maximum energy savings by decreasing energy usage, improving contrast ratio and lengthening lamp life. They provide up to a 3000:1 contrast ratio for vivid colors, bold graphics and crisp text.
The new Collegiate Series projectors offer the unique DICOM® (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) Simulation Mode, which reproduces images with an advanced grayscale level. This mode is ideal for viewing grayscale medical images, X-rays, and for training and educational purposes.
The projectors’ Perfect Fit 2 feature enables the user to adjust the image’s individual corners and sides independent of one another. Perfect Fit 2 also provides vertical and horizontal digital correction of either barrel or pin cushion distortions. This feature helps correct geometric and complicated distortions. Perfect Fit 2 projects images to correctly fit the screen quickly and easily. Also available is horizontal and vertical lens shift, which eases installation.
The new Collegiate Series models provide a full array of A/V connectivity options including HDMI, component, composite and S-video inputs, with RGB inputs and outputs, audio connections, and an RS-232C port for integrated A/V system control. Hitachi’s wired and wireless switcher solutions provide an expanded source selection and switching options for connected devices. The switcher is sold as an optional accessory that provides 1080p 30fps wireless via WHDI for both video and audio.
Also available is Hitachi’s Projector Quick Connection iPad App offers full projection control and the capability to display photos, document files and web site contents with iOS systems—Apple’s iPad and iPhone.
The projectors’ unique Cloning Function allows configuration settings to be copied from one projector to others of the same model via USB memory. Cloning saves almost all projector settings such as gamma and keystoning via USB memory. The projectors also feature Hitachi’s PC-Less Presentation feature that enables users to project images directly from a USB drive or other USB storage device, eliminating the need to connect a laptop or desktop computer.
For more information on Hitachi visit www.hitachi-america.us/digitalmedia
Follow Hitachi on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hitachi-Projectors/131067323636829
Follow Hitachi on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/HALProjectors
About Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi America, Ltd., headquartered in Tarrytown, New York, a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., and its subsidiary companies offer a broad range of electronics, power and industrial equipment and services, automotive products and consumer electronics with operations throughout the Americas. For more information, visit www.hitachi-america.us. For information on other Hitachi Group companies in the United States, please visit www.hitachi.us.
Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global electronics company with approximately 320,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2011 (ended March 31, 2012) consolidated revenues totaled 9,665 billion yen ($117.8 billion). Hitachi will focus more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes information and telecommunication systems, power systems, environmental, industrial and transportation systems, and social and urban systems, as well as the sophisticated materials and key devices that support them. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company’s website at http://www.hitachi.com.
TURIN, Italy — In order to allow lessons to be streamed via the Internet at the University of Torino in Italy, integrator Leading Technologies srl (LTech) recently designed a technical AV infrastructure for more than 30 classrooms (and main assembly hall) in the Law & Political Science faculty. At the heart of the network is a complete HARMAN BSS Audio Soundweb London system, which allows for seamless management of the classroom’s audio and video control. The facilities include six lecture rooms, each containing approximately 150 seats, 28 classrooms — and a grand assembly hall with 300 seats, which is also occasionally used to stage small concerts.
LTech chose to place the system on a BSS Audio Soundweb London network, with its proprietary BLU link digital audio bus, to provide a powerful and rock solid backbone. “Our real achievement was the integration of the Soundweb London audio signals with video and our support for the design and programming of these systems. It was vitally important to have audio, video and web control all from a single brand of product,” explained Mauro Lavazza, Project Manager for LTech.
Playback is all through JBL loudspeakers. In the main hall eight JBL Control 29AV-1’s, chosen for their extremely flat, high-fidelity performance, extended bandwidth and well-controlled defined coverage, are driven by Crown XLS 1000 amplifiers, while two compact JBL Control 1 Pro loudspeakers, powered by Crown MA135 mixer amps, act as monitors for the speaker’s table.
In each of the six classrooms are four JBL Control 28 driven by a Crown XLS 1000 and two JBL Control 1 Pro operating with a Crown 135MA amplifier, as monitor speakers. Finally, in each of the 28 small classrooms either two or four JBL Control 25’s can be found — in all cases powered by a Crown XLS 1000 amplifier — with a pair of JBL Control 1 Pro, powered by a Crown 135MA, serving as monitors. Equalization of the large lecture hall and six classrooms has been carried out digitally in the Soundweb London processors, which also handle the automatic mixing of all signals and delay lines.
The six 150-seat classrooms share video and audio signals with the main hall through a central node with a video matrix, and by a Soundweb London BLU link ring consisting of six BSS Audio BLU-100 and six BLU-800 processors, with two BSS Audio BLU-BIB (8-input expander) and BLU-BOB (8-channel output expander) increasing the I/O capability.
The Soundweb London BLU-800 in the main hall shares audio with a Soundcraft Compact 16 via a CobraNet card so that all mic inputs normally handled automatically by the Soundweb London processor can be mixed in manual mode (plus analogue inputs during live concert performance).
In the smaller rooms, mic EQ is handled from a series of Soundcraft EPM-6 mixers. These have been specified throughout the 28 classrooms to handle mic mixing and computer signals.
In conclusion Mauro Lavazza stated, “This has been a successful integration which fully meets the client’s requirements. They were particularly enthusiastic about the performance of the Soundweb London processors that make up the heart of the system, for their flexibility and ease of programming. Without having any previous experience of this platform they have immediately created complete autonomy in the management and maintenance of their audio systems.”
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets – supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 20 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 13,400 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported sales of $4.4 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012.
Three new Quantel Pablo Rios boost color correction and finishing at Michigan-based studio
Michigan-based integrated mediastudio, RingSide Creative, has purchased three Quantel Pablo Rio systems to speed throughput and enhance creativity of its online color correction and finishing. RingSide Creative is predominantly a commercials post house, offering a comprehensive collection of services and talent, combining youth, inspiration and extensive experience to local and international clients including Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet.
Senior Colorist at RingSide Creative, Rick Unger, said, “Intuitive is an overused word in the post world, but with Pablo Rio it is the truth. Consider that Pablo Rio has all its tools on one page; color, titling, effects and a full blown editor that can even handle floating clips on the GUI, as well as the timeline. Speed is Pablo Rio’s strong point, playing out a 4K sequence with layers of color grading in real time. Working in a wide variety of resolutions on the timeline is easy with Pablo Rio. Color grading to a project that was conformed in Quantel is a huge plus.”
Jeff Fleck, Senior Editor at RingSide, added, “We have two Pablo Rios that focus on color correction of spots, web videos and independent films; and a third Pablo Rio, which is dedicated to our finish group. All three systems, along with our Quantel iQ, collect data and work together seamlessly to share responsibilities on a wide range of projects. Quantel has always built high quality solutions which have adjusted appropriately to meet changing technical demands. We feel that their transition to a Windows based system has provided great flexibility to deal with what has become a very open ‘free-for-all’ software driven post environment.”
Quantel Marketing Director, Steve Owen, said, “Quantel and RingSide Creative have a very special relationship. RingSide’s fantastic team has worked closely with the Quantel engineers to provide valuable feedback on Pablo Rio – they help make Pablo Rio the success it is today.”
Quantel is a world-leading developer of innovative, high performance content creation and delivery systems across post, broadcast and Stereo3D. We are driven by a passion to create the most open and efficient tools for the digital age. Quantel’s product range unites the very best IT technology with brilliant software. Products include: Pablo Rio software color correction and finishing systems; Enterprise sQ fast-turnaround production systems; Mission media asset management; QTube global media workflow products; and a full range of professional services. All Quantel systems deliver the creative, productive and profitable workflows that give post houses and broadcasters the edge they need to thrive and grow in today’s highly competitive global media market.
More about Quantel at http://www.quantel.com
It’s Motown meets Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre where “Motown: The Musical” charts the amazing journey of Berry Gordy from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul responsible for launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and more. Accompanying the iconic musical numbers in the show are bold video and graphic effects, which required a unique automation-tracking solution by WorldStage.
The new brand for Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications Inc., WorldStage provided “Motown: The Musical” with two Christie Roadster HD18K projectors, two Dataton WATCHOUT quad-output Display computers, two Dataton Watchout Production computers, and two control computers each running an instance of Coolux Widget Designer PRO. The hybrid system enables extremely accurate positioning of the video imagery on a variety of moving stage elements and set pieces.
“We were tasked with supplying a cost-effective technology that could accurately track up to 26 axes of automation system movement. That’s a considerable number, which included simultaneous x, y, and z axis tracking on multiple surfaces on multiple planes,” notes WorldStage account executive Lars Pedersen. “We’ve successfully done similar jobs using other systems in the past, but nothing to the extent of what we had to manage for this job.”
Since the designer, Daniel Brodie is very familiar with the Watchout graphics platform, WorldStage decided to move forward with a Watchout-based system, even though it hasn’t been used for automation tracking on a Broadway production. “Although we’re quite versed in the inherent capabilities and feature set of Watchout, this would be the first time we’ve used it to facilitate automation tracking,” Pedersen explains. “Regardless, we knew we had the expertise and we were confident we could make it work.”
Working closely with the team from Hudson Scenic, the decision was made to implement a “software” solution to facilitate direct communications between the automation and the video systems. The star component in the system was the Coolux Widget Designer PRO software, which enabled the Watchout computers to interpolate and manage the position information being output from the automation computers.
Dual-converged Christie Roadster HD18K projectors were selected for brightness and redundancy purposes. In fact, Projection Designer Daniel Brodie of brodiegraphics explains that the projectors are primarily used as a lighting source, which track the movement of the set pieces. “We can track more accurately with the projectors than we can with lighting instruments. We worked with lighting designer Natasha Katz to project color to match the lighting design, whether naturalistic or abstract.”
Brodie also maps animation and video to the set pieces. “Some content is purely evocative: flashing colors and video – psychedelic or kaleidoscopic – to support a musical number. Sometimes we play back a scene from ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ that we reshot with our actors; we also display documentary footage of 1968 events to accompany the song ‘Ball of Confusion.’ And sometimes we use just standard projection design for dates, names and titles.”
The show scored another first in taking advantage of WATCHOUT’s built-in stereoscopic 3D capabilities to align the projectors on multiple planes. “We discovered that we could do 3D effects during shop prep at WorldStage, and they’ve worked perfectly,” Brodie reports.
Daniel Brodie concludes, “I continue to be amazed, but not surprised at the level of ingenuity that WorldStage brings to the table.”
The WATCHOUT programmer for the show is Patrick Southern and the animators are Gabriel Aronson and Allison Pottasch. At WorldStage TJ Donoghue is the Project Manager, while Michael Kohler, Technology Specialist at WorldStage, was the Widget Designer PRO programmer. Sean Kelly was the projectionist.
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.