The broadcast and cable networks’ “Upfront season” heralds their new fall programming line-ups with presentations designed to dazzle advertisers and their agencies. WorldStage companies, Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications (VAI), were selected by a number of the top networks to provide technical design and production support for a busy slate of Upfronts at multiple venues in New York City. Collectively, The World Stage Companies supported seven of the Networks’ 2010 presentations including: CBS, Turner, Univision, Oxygen, Cartoon, CNN and Discovery.
CBS continued its 17-year history of partnering with VAI to stage its’ annual Primetime Premiere at the venerable Carnegie Hall. Drawing from their expanded depth, the World Stage companies provided extensive technical design and support for the breakthrough 2010 presentation.
The dynamic design of the CBS Upfront featured 14 projectors, creating a sweeping 40′ x 74′ projection canvas that framed a 15′ x 60′ panoramic centerpiece by filling the entire proscenium, and extending onto the surrounding walls. This stunning effect enabled a completely unique backdrop for the graphics, video playback and live camera images.
Creating this effect required a projection design that could work as a 50′ x 80′ contiguous image, while supporting an independent 15′ x 60′ widescreen banner that bisected the larger image and delivered the principal content. This involved the physical masking of the 8 scrim projectors, which were configured in a large quadrant design.
“It was an extraordinarily complex design and technical process, as we had two distinct projected displays sharing the same plane. We enabled this ability for the massive, square projection field to share the same projected space as the 4:1 wide-screen image, without diminishing the image quality. The content for both elements had to extend across all surfaces.” notes VAI EVP & COO Darrell Hennegen. “The solution for this design required six projection blends on three surfaces, necessitating a physical mask in front of each of the eight projectors.” VAI collaborated with WATCHOUT Designer Keith Tromer on the content development and playback platform to which brought this unique design to life.”
Hennegen adds: “What makes the CBS presentation so unique is the quest of the creative team – led by CBS Exec Producer Jane Gottlieb – to keep raising the bar on design, production value and overall showmanship.”
The 2010 event featured a new addition to the creative team as Bruce Rodgers from Tribe Inc. was enlisted as the scenic designer. Bruce helped to reframe the presentation space within Carnegie Hall, enabling an entirely new visual territory.
Gottlieb adds: “I am deeply indebted to the ouststanding creative team that’s supported CBS year after year and has helped us set a performance standard which we feel is unmatched. The preproduction process for this year’s event had a six months gestation period – endless amounts of R&D, calculations, testing, demos and literally hundreds of calls to work out this ‘science project’ amongst the creative, production and technical teams.”
For the fourth year in a row, Scharff Weisberg supported the upfront for Turner Networks’ TNT and TBS at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The main screen, which was part of an elaborate and elegant set, was addressed with a pair of Barco FLM HD18 HD projectors fed by Doremi uncompressed HD machines through a Barco Encore rig. In addition, Scharff Weisberg provided the two Green Hippo V3 HD Hippotizers and grandMA lighting console, which were used to coordinate the imagery displayed on two enormous Barco MiStrip LED towers provided by XL Video.
The New York City upfront for Cartoon Network featured set design by U2’s Willie Williams with a 40mm LED backdrop and moving walls that created different aspect ratios for the content. Scharff Weisberg delivered the two-screen edge blend with converged Barco B/U projectors and an Encore system. Video was sourced from a D3 server that also served as a pre-visualization system enabling the designer and client to get visually accurate information about how the LED and HD video content would look before they arrived on site. Scharff Weisberg furnished a similar equipment package for Cartoon Network’s Los Angeles upfront which featured a single-screen presentation.
CNN’s upfront was a graphics-intensive three-screen show with independent feeds. Scharff Weisberg provided six Christie HD18K HD projectors with switching performed by three Barco Screen Pro II systems with a DVI router and external controller.
For Oxygen’s morning upfront at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room where ambient light was an issue, Scharff Weisberg supplied its Barco NX-4 4mm LED wall to create the 12′ x 16′ main center screen since projection was not feasible. An additional 12×8 foot Barco i10 LED wall displayed footage from the show “Dance Your Ass Off,” fed by Playback Pro.
Univision’s upfront at Jazz at Lincoln Center featured a number of components from Scharff Weisberg. Two 25K HD projectors displayed content on a rear-projection 22.5×40-foot screen; four 61-inch plasma screens were flown in the Allen Room for overflow attendance. On each side of the main screen three Barco i6 LED walls, measuring 2×8 feet, were suspended from line sets, as well as hundreds of Versa Tubes that were integrated in the set design. Scharff Weisberg also furnished a GVG Kayak 2 ME HD switcher, four HD cameras for the affiliate feed transmitted live to the Univision networks.
Finally, Scharff Weisberg was on hand for the festivities following the Discovery Channel’s upfront. In the Atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center the company provided two 10K projectors for 9×16-foot screens, four 5K projectors for display on the wall surface plus a complement of ground-supported plasma screens. In the Allen Room, another eight 61-inch ground-supported plasmas were installed. Both venues were fed the same HD content from Playback Pro.
Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are collaborating partners to clients requiring unique and imaginative solutions for their event, spectacle and large-meeting lighting, sound and video needs whether local, national or worldwide. For more information visit