21.10.09

Massive projection for Bootcamp backdrop

AUTHOR: Inavate

AV company QED Productions recently implemented a massive projection display for the 2009 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp at London’s O2 Arena. It constitutes the UK's largest ever indoor screen.

The brief from event producers, Smyle Creative, was to provide the biggest projection display ever seen at the 15,000-capacity venue. AV specialists QED filled a massive 34.5m wide by 11.9m high Harkness Screens projection canvas using six Christie Roadster HD18K projectors. The machines were flown off a 25m high truss, high above the audience, via QED’s own fast-fit custom-designed rigging system.

This display provided a backdrop for a host of motivational speakers, including Bootcamp founder Andrew Reynolds, to address aspiring entrepreneurs in the event held annually by the millionaire. Wembley Conference Centre, The Bournemouth International Centre and The Brighton Centre have previously hosted Bootcamp but this is the first time it has taken place in the iconic Docklands venue, the largest indoor arena in the UK.

Reynolds said: “The O2 offered great seating and wonderful audio visual opportunities so that all delegates could see the speaker presentations in comfort. It is almost as if this venue was purpose-built to the requirements of the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp format.”

QED Productions director, Paul Wigfield, commented: “It is events such as this that enables us to push the technical envelope — it’s what keeps us challenged and excited. Once this venue had been earmarked the idea was to make the production as large and as impressive as possible. Although we have projected onto wider surfaces in the past we have never attempted anything of this size indoors. The 410 square metre screen is over 100 square metres larger than previous largest indoor projection screen in the UK.”

Smyle’s production manager, Tom Cordory, gave some insight into the scale of the technical challenge. “The size of the screen was so large that it could not be assembled at ground level and flown into position, so it had to be built vertically in-situ in individual sections. The screen occupied so much space that it severely restricted the size of the cherry pickers that were able to enter and exit the arena. There was simply no more space left in the 02 to accommodate any larger screen. The amount of clear air space that the projectors required in order to fill the screen presented us with a whole new level of technical challenge in terms of designing and deploying both lighting and sound. To cap it all we only had one day to set up the whole event.”

Projecting in 2.8:1 aspect ratio, QED used six HD18K 1080 HD High Definition DLP projectors, arranged in two triple stacked blended pairs. For the screen to stand out amongst all the LED, stage, camera and audience lighting, 105,000 ANSI lumens of projected light output was required.

QED created a 15-way matrix, set around two Vista Spyder 344s, which fed the projectors, and included everything from computers showing PowerPoint and Keynote content, HD cameras and even a visualiser OHP. Spyder’s PIP facilities were used to introduce individual speaker content within the context of the overall display.

Three Analog Way DiVentix units provided the on-stage source matrix, the flown screens with a two way matrix, and a single mix for the OB truck - all controlled by the Spyder system. Ten flown 16ft x 9ft repeater screens, filled by ten 15,000 ANSI lumens Sanyo XF47s, ensured that everyone had a ring-wide view especially those on the upper levels of Arena.

System designer, programmer and show operator, QED’s head engineer Adam Bending remarked: “The idea of this production was to use as few boxes and cabling as possible. We had to make the technical implementation as simple as we could, as it was one of the most complex technical rigs we have ever done and there was only one day to rig the whole thing. All equipment was pre-racked and the whole system was tested prior to going on-site - there was simply no margin for error with such a massive flown rig of sixteen super-high brightness projectors”.

QED’s head of AV Dan Hall was given the immense challenge of tripling both projector stacks and then blending them into the one seamless image. Using wireless projector network control and Twist Pro software combined with a great deal of skill and application the whole line-up was complete within a few hours.

Smyle and QED also fielded MacPro and MacBook Pro multi-head high performance computer systems fitted with advanced graphics cards for full-screen display of the bespoke content designed by Smyle, along with a full monitoring set-up, with a multitude of fibre links running DVI and HD-SDI signals between the FOH position and the stage. Twenty-two fibre channels with over 2km of fibre cable in addition to the O2 Arena’s fibre patch-bays were deployed.

Wigfield explained: “We needed to set-up the entire system so that each element of the show would have independent and unrestricted control. The requirements of the video recordings and the big screen were very different indeed and all the on-stage and FOH content needed to be fed to the16-camera OB truck. Only fibre-optic distribution was able to send so many signals between stage, FOH and the OB truck over such long distances without any loss of quality.”

Supplied by XL Video, the screen-base was constructed from walls of Element Labs Versa Tube and Martin LC, this was also fed from QED’s Hippotizer HD media rack via DVI fibre-optic.