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Archive for March, 2014

Avolites Media Sapphire Media Controller Wins Prolight + Sound ‘PIPA’ Award

24th March, 2014

Avolites Media’s intuitive, live, hands-on Sapphire Media Controller show control surface has won the first ever Prolight + Sound International Press Award (PIPA) for Best Video/Projection Control.

The award highlights Avolites Media’s achievements in design and innovation of the Sapphire Media Controller, which connects to and controls the powerful Ai Media range of servers enabling seamless integration of all visual elements.

More than 100 magazines from all over the world voted to determine the best audio, lighting, and musical equipment, attended by more than 300 industry movers and shakers. 2014 marked the debut PIPA awards, which ran alongside the well-established Musikmesse International Press Award, which is now in its 15th year.

The Avolites Media team was present to accept the award at Frankfurt’s Messe exhibition centre on Thursday 13 March.

“We’re over the moon at being awarded a PIPA at the first ever Prolight + Sound International Press Awards,” says Avolites Media MD Steve Warren. “It’s been a fantastic couple of years for Avolites Media, and our Ai media servers and control surfaces have enjoyed worldwide success powering some of the biggest events. It’s always been an integral part of the Avolites philosophy to give designers an intuitive hands on user interface. This award is the icing on the cake as it is voted for by the global trade press, who have been following the success of Avolites Media since we launched in 2011. We’d like to thank Prolight + Sound and everyone who voted for the Sapphire Media Controller for their support – here’s to the next year of Avolites Media success!”

Designed and manufactured in the UK, Avolites Media’s Sapphire Media is an integral element of Avolites Media’s Ai media server package, featuring two generous, wide screen, touch surfaces for easy access to the User Interface and Salvation Engine control. Additionally, 4 switchable and assignable, touch preview monitors are available to the system operator. These preview monitors may be mapped to any inputs, outputs or video layers. The Sapphire Media offers 15 motorised faders for live control, mappable to content triggers, effects or parameters. Also provided is a smooth T-Bar for traditional vision mixing, and direct access buttons, pre-assigned to popular features and functions. All controls may be user configured to produce fully customised functionality.

This is the latest in a long line of awards for Avolites Media and the Sapphire Media Controller – after it was launched at PLASA 2012 in London it immediately won the coveted PLASA Innovation Award, with the judges commenting: “It’s the first integrated video control surface dedicated to video. It’s well thought through and well designed.”

Philips Entertainment Celebrates Prolight + Sound Multiple Product Launch Successes

20th March, 2014

Following the incredibly positive reactions to new product launches from all four of its premier brands – Selecon, Showline, Strand Lighting, and Vari-Lite – Philips Entertainment is celebrating its most successful Prolight + Sound to date.

German TV presenter Markus Philipp hosted hourly product presentations on Philips Entertainment’s huge stand, attracting worldwide attention from the press, dealers, and end users.

Philips Vari-Lite’s eagerly anticipated feature rich VL4000 Spot luminaire made its global debut, showing off its high lumen output, precision optics, and full feature set. Attendees of the show were impressed with all the abilities packed into the cost effective luminaire.

“The VL4000 Spot represents the first in a new generation of Vari-Lite luminaires designed to provide designers, rental companies, venues and productions with luminaires offering unlimited possibilities without compromises,” said Brad Schiller, Vari-Lite Product Segment Manager. “The launch at Prolight + Sound with multiple light shows and continuous amazing looks showed the industry many of the capabilities that make the VL4000 Spot the new choice luminaire for productions and rental companies around the world.”

Philips Showline premiered the SL NITRO 510C, demoing the unit’s full RGBW capabilities within the same compact fixture as the SL NITRO 510 while maintaining similar massive output, multiple zone control and continuous-on abilities. Showline also debuted the SL WASH 350, which delivers an extremely bright homogenous beam with a large zoom range. The luminaire’s 19 RGBW 15-watt LEDs deliver over 5,800 lumens of output and an extremely wide color palette. In addition, the company unveiled the SL eSTROBE 130 and SL ePAR 180 luminaires.

Strand Lighting launched ‘a new chapter in the evolution of control’ in its 100th year in the form of the brand new NEO expandable control system. The sleek and modern NEO is designed to make a strong statement of Strand Lighting’s commitment to creating forward-thinking, powerful consoles catering for the needs of the most demanding lighting design projects.

“Interest in the Strand Lighting NEO control was immediate and constant throughout Prolight + Sound, demoing the NEO’s ability to seize the light, to grab, move, change, position, colour and motivate your lighting design simply and effectively,” says Pete Borchetta, Philips Entertainment Product Marketing Manager. “NEO is the closest that a designer can get to actually touching the light, and heralds a new era for Strand Lighting as the company celebrates its 100th anniversary of lighting control. At Frankfurt, we witnessed is the future of Philips Strand Lighting – 2014 is going to be a great year for the brand as we roll out NEO worldwide.”

Richard Schmit, GM PLS Entertainment Group at Philips, concludes: “We are incredibly proud of our new range of luminaires and control systems from all four of our premier brands. There is definitely a real sense of excitement in the industry following their unveiling at Frankfurt. The stature and size of our presence at Prolight + Sound, and the fact that we had two important global premiere product launches there, demonstrates our commitment to the European market and our ambition to thrive as a leading player in the European Entertainment market. We will continue to serve our markets with the fast delivery of meaningful technological innovations in every new product that we launch.”

Avolites Expert Pro and Avolites Media Ai Drive ‘R&B Superstars’ Wild at London’s Wembley Arena

19th March, 2014

This February saw Avolites technology at the heart of The Show: R&B Superstars Valentine’s Special: a night of performances by a nostalgic line-up of 90s R&B legends at Wembley Arena in London.

Headlined by En Vogue with Blackstreet2, the evening was an exciting celebration of the best American artists for the third-year running and was managed by Project Manager SJ Grevett of Birmingham-based production company DMX Productions.

Lighting Designer Tom Grant from design house and rental company Siyan Ltd worked alongside Programmer Jack Sayer to construct a powerful show design, specifying Sayer Lighting Productions’ high performance Avolites Expert Pro with Titan Mobile Wing to control the entirety of the lighting and media, which was run from his Avolites Media Ai T4 Media Server.

Tom Grant explains the concept behind the design: “I was tasked with designing a rig with a lot of depth and flexibility to it. I wanted to create a design that Jack could implement a large number of different looks with.”

Jack states: “On this particular show the input from the artists was very minimal, with acts only requesting a specific look to an intro, leaving all creative aspects of operating their sets down to me. When I sit down to programme a show of this scale and length of show, I have to anticipate of how the show is going to build. Having the power of the Ai was incredible, being able to apply different effects and overlays with keeping the frame rate up, meant that the media was always looking different and progressing through the show.”

The Ai Media Server is a powerful tool, providing reliable, smooth playback and a wealth of features, including two HD/SDI capture inputs – these were utilised with camera feeds, which Sayer implemented to project endless visually stunning content onto a 8 metre x 8 metre video wall.

“I also used The Ai Media server as a visualisation machine running Capture,” Sayer explains. “This versatility and power meant I could still continue programming whilst the headliner’s LD had control of the rig.”

The Expert Pro took full control of an entire rig of more than 100 fixtures, yet seamlessly handled the different lighting designs for each artist and allowed Sayer maximum programming power. This meant he was able to keep on top of the action, and provide a unique and fresh concept for not only each act but each of their songs, and maintain the high-impact illumination needed to make each performance a visual spectacular.

“When I’m operating it all comes down to being able to add in different looks on the fly, having 100 faders across the Expert Pro and Titan Mobile Wing allows me to take full advantage of this without having to take my eyes away from the stage. For me there is no other console that I can achieve this on.”

Charcoalblue helps transform Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre

17th March, 2014

Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre, whose acting alumni includes Pete Postlethwaite and Julie Walters, has undergone a complete structural and artistic renovation thanks to the Everyman creative team, architects Haworth Tompkins and theatre consultants Charcoalblue.

In 2005 the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust enlisted Haworth Tompkins and Charcoalblue to consult on the complex and ambitious project.

Having just celebrated their 10th Birthday, Charcoalblue’s Managing Partner, Andy Hayles, observed that for nine of those years the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Team has been their most determined client.

“When a project takes this long to get through funding hoops and complex site negotiations, the sense of achievement experienced when opening such a sensational building is particularly poignant,” says Hayles. “The client and design team have become close; indeed I’ve known most of them longer than two of my own children! There is no doubt that Gemma Bodinetz, Deborah Aydon, Robert Longthorne, Jeff Salmon and Sylvia Hebden have earned every one of the plaudits that the building has and will receive.”

Deborah Aydon, executive director of the Everyman and client on the project from inception says: “Charcoalblue and Haworth Tompkins have achieved what should have been impossible: creating a new theatre that feels instantly familiar and welcoming both to long-term aficionados and to first-time visitors.”

Ian Stickland, senior consultant at Charcoalblue, continues: “The key brief was to build a new space that captured the soul of the old theatre without the existing constraints. The new theatre had to be technically state-of-the-art, inherently flexible, fully accessible yet instantly recognisable as ‘The Ev’.”

“At the opening we were amazed how many people describe the auditorium as a renewal of the old space,” adds Hayles. “In fact it’s entirely brand new!”

Gemma Bodinez, artistic director for the venue concurs and is delighted: “Just one day into technical rehearsals for the opening production and the new Everyman already seems like an old friend.”

However, this is no surprise given that the first stages of the project required a detailed interrogation of the existing theatre’s geometry. This was followed by meticulous model-building, physical mock ups and 3D computer visualisations. The result is a space that has a similar thrust stage size to the old theatre, but features an added balcony that brings audience members much closer to the stage.

Featuring removable seating and with the majority of the flooring comprising modular decking, the new auditorium boasts an all-new flexibility. This arrangement allows for unrestricted creativity on the part of directors and designers.

Charcoalblue has also given the seats some careful attention. Working alongside the Everyman creative team, Haworth Tompkins and seating manufacturers Kirwin & Simpson, Charcoalblue designed a seat that was comfortable, sturdy, lightweight and instantly familiar with the shape and fabric based around old cinema-style seats.

Technically the theatre benefits from practical technical bridges (including a pair of rolling bridges) situated above the thrust stage and a shallow flytower. This enables automated 3D flying over the whole stage area along with full stage lighting and audiovisual systems.

“Demolishing a much-loved building is always risky,” states Stickland. “The biggest challenge with Liverpool was to capture the spirit of the original building, squeeze it into a very tight city-centre location and make the budgets work during a recession. We dealt with these challenges by testing every design decision thoroughly and working closely with our colleagues and client. We spent time endeavoring to understand and capture what people loved about the old theatre, while ensuring that we installed technology which will offer the very best value for money.”

The total construction cost of the new Everyman is £13 million. Funding came from the Arts Council England and a host of foundations and charitable trusts, as well as donations made through the £1m Everyone for the Everyman public fundraising campaign.

On 1st March the theatre celebrated its new incarnation with a parade and event on Hope Street followed the next day by a ‘Housewarming’. Gemma Bodinetz’s production of Twelfth Night will then christen the new auditorium and stage on Saturday 8th March 2014.

“There is no denying that the new Ev is one of my favourite theatres,” says a delighted Hayles. “It combines the sumptuousness and surprises of the Royal Court, with the soulfulness and economy of the Young Vic. I urge you to visit – 4,000 visitors attending this weekend’s Housewarming Event can’t be wrong!”

Avolites Sapphire Touch Controls Bold Lighting for Frank Turner’s Arena Tour

6th March, 2014

Popular folk-punk singer Frank Turner has taken Europe by storm with an energetic arena tour featuring bold, atmospheric lighting controlled by Avolites’ Sapphire Touch console.

Lighting Designer Shaun Moore utilised the Sapphire Touch’s dual wide screens and intuitive layout functionality to provide him with easy access to and integration of all the fixtures in the extensive rig.

“With the console giving the user full freedom to define the layout, I am able to create windows of fixture type, and then fixtures per song,” says Moore. “This makes finding fixtures within the interface a breeze. Also, each song is programmed as a cue stack and there are no more than four faders per song, which is amazing as it makes running the show stress-free, allowing me to enjoy my work.

“I just love everything about the console. With each software update it makes my every-day use easier and easier. I have used other consoles and they just seem to make it harder to achieve what I need to in the time given. I don’t think I’ll ever move away from Avolites – it’s the only console I ever specify. A Tiger Touch II, Pearl Expert Pro or Sapphire Touch and I’m happy.”

A long-time fan of Avolites technology, Moore has been using the products since 2002, due to their reliability, ease of use and dedicated technical support.

“The technical support from Avolites is second to none,” enthuses Moore. “Any issues are resolved instantly and any ideas I have for improvements they will look into and add. It is like dealing with my good friends. They also even drop you a courtesy email or text now and then just to see how you are and what you’re up to.”

Frank Turner’s O2 arena gig in February was Moore’s biggest ever arena headline show on an arena tour that has taken in Cardiff, Nottingham and Manchester Arenas. The Sapphire Touch enabled him to cope with this increase in size of venue and rig, and gain a new fan in Turner, with the singer praising Moore’s Sapphire Touch-driven lighting design.

“Personally, I’m not that involved in the nuts and bolts of lighting design – it’s not something I know masses about,” says Frank Turner. “However, I have strong ideas about the overall mood of the show and the presentation – I like designs that are striking but not overbearing, that maintain the connection between me and the crowd. The best designs highlight the music and bring people into the show. Shaun is the best LD I’ve worked with by far – he listens closely to the ideas I have, throws in a tonne of his own, then busies himself making them into reality. He’s always the first to ask for the setlist and is always tinkering – truly dedicated to his craft, and an essential member of my crew.”

Frank Turner’s tour continues this year throughout Europe, with several festival performances this summer.

Avolites & Avolites Media unveil new media servers and console wings at Prolight + Sound

3rd March, 2014

Avolites and Avolites Media are powering up the latest stable of products to be unveiled at this year’s Prolight + Sound.

The show promises to be Avolites’ biggest presence yet.  Avolites and Avolites Media will take their own dedicated stand at Frankfurt – Hall 11.0 Stand D40 – but will also be exhibiting with longstanding friend and partner, Trendco, also in Hall 11.0 B41A.

Avolites Media will showcase the new S-Series Media Servers, along with the latest generation in the Infinity line, the Ai Infinity EX series.

The Ai S2, S4 and S6 media server are the latest server systems from Avolites Media and offer two, four and six Display Port / DVI outputs respectively. They feature 3rd generation PCI Express motherboards, graphics cards and RAID SSD drives for unrivalled performance along with 4K Ultra HD capability in the S4, S6 and S8 servers. The Dual Processor, highest specification S6 server also performs up to Apple Pro Res 4444 playback.

All systems are supplied with a fully featured Ai Miami licence, which allows for eight discrete fixture groups with four layers each, producing a formidable 32 media layers. In addition, the Salvation Engine can be easily configured to provide up to 64 layers of PIPs with a single server.

The Ai Infinity server, a record-breaker in the industry offering eight unique full HD DVI outputs, has also been upgraded to the Infinity EX. Like the S-Series, the Infinity EX now boasts third generation PCI Express motherboards and graphics cards providing unparalleled performance.

Alongside these features, the Infinity EX range has a wealth of further capabilities such as a front panel touch screen displaying the Ai Visualiser, internal EDIT management and Dual Preview and Projection outputs.

Avolites will preview the Titan V8 software, with brand new System Networking features to be unveiled on stand on day one!

The team will also unveil wings for the Sapphire, Titan Mobile and an exciting preview of the Tiger Touch Wing. The Sapphire Touch Wing gives an additional 30 Motorised Faders and third hi res touch screen. The Sapphire Media Wing enables local video control of the Ai media servers. The Titan Mobile Wing enables expansion of every Avolites Titan console, giving direct access to items that are always needed.

In addition, the entire Titan range will be available for demo and hands-on experience, including two Titan Network Processor systems.

The Avolites and Avolites Media teams will also be offering hands-on demos of sophisticated projection-mapping in the dedicated ‘workshop corner’ of the stand, so visitors to the Frankfurt event won’t miss the chance to see the brand new Ai servers in action.

Avolites and Avolites Media are delighted to announce that they will be joined by the formidable and respected team from Einstein and Sons, Michael Kühbandner, Roland Greil and Thomas Döhring, who will demonstrate the capabilities of the powerful Ai software by showing off a variety of their own cutting edge projects using the Ai system.

Immersive creates EPIC 2.0 experience for Eric Prydz dates in the US

3rd March, 2014

Following the success of his 2011 EPIC 1.0 tour, Eric Prydz knew his EPIC (Eric Prydz In Concert) 2.0 shows had to raise the stakes of EDM visuals, and therefore collaborated again with show designers, technical specialists & content creators Immersive to realise a world-class audio/visual sensation.

Hailed by the world’s press as an example of boundary-pushing design, London and New York-based show designer Immersive created an enormous set incorporating LED screens rather than projection surfaces, lasers, holograms, smoke machines and other visual effects.

Reviewing the show, the LA Times praised EPIC 2.0 for ‘raising the stakes for how artists present dance music live, in ways unique to their own aesthetic’; LA Music Blog commented, ‘The seamless marriage of deft live mixing and visual spectacle was magical to behold; I can only hope this sets some precedents for other electronic musicians to come’.

As visual design masterminds behind both EPIC 1.0 and the more recent EPIC 2.0 shows, Immersive enjoys an ongoing creative partnership with Prydz. The 2011 set was influenced by Immersive’s creative director and co-founder John Munro’s passion for brutalist and minimalist architecture.

Munro carried on this theme for EPIC 2.0, which called for a new version of the set that could tour venues in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Munro employs the brutalist architecture themed set to create a feeling of perspective towards the artist. He situated Prydz in a giant structure that overlapped the audience, made from LED screens onto which visual content, also created by Munro’s animation team, was displayed. As well as the architectural theme, Munro drew from a visual concept, The Manmade In Nature in parallel with How Nature Influences the Manmade, to create the sublimely striking, dark images that accompanied the show.

Working to such a strong theme was particularly important to Immersive’s animation design team. To this end, Munro created a 68-page design document to inspire and focus the designers and animators; underlining the level of design detail that Immersive prides itself on.

“More often than not, installation visuals are simply designed to look good with no real meaning behind them,” explains Munro. “At Immersive, everything is designed to have a conceptual narrative under the surface, with a reason for everything being designed the way it is. While we have a healthy respect for current trends, we weren’t looking to mimic past or current styles in design. The intention was to form an aesthetic to create a specific mood or awaken memories within people while still creating something new and fresh.”

Munro’s creative team accomplished this through a design process that encompassed camera moves, a combination of 3D and film, rotoscoped footage and hand drawn textures applied to 3D elements. Additionally, a hologram foil was suspended in the centre of the set above the DJ position, displaying some new holograms for EPIC 2.0 created under the direction of show producer Mark Calvert & Liam Tomaszewski, who also VJed on the live shows.

Mark Calvert, Immersive Managing Director produced the groundbreaking EPIC 1.0 and 2.0 shows, drawing on Immersive experience and its desire to work with the very best people suited to each department. “To that end we employed Chris Karr as Production Director and PRG as our Production Partners, Calvert explains. “This left me to concentrate and conduct the Front Of House live operations, and make sure the whole team felt a unity, to be part of a show which was ambitious, it was hard work but most of all it was original.

“The resulting EPIC 2.0 was a truly one-off experience,” continues Calvert. “Prydz will undoubtedly change the format of his live shows before he next heads out with his EPIC 3.0 next year and Immersive will definitely be at the helm, insisting that everything we create is unapologetically fresh and original. Eric Prydz has changed the face of live EDM shows in the US this autumn, and we’re extremely proud to say that the Immersive team has designed the show all the way from concept to delivery.”

In conclusion, the Examiner wrote: ‘The EPIC show truly captured the imagination of the dance community, leaving those who attended feeling they had seen something special, unique and fleeting’.

Immersive Forest of Light for Closing Ceremony of Sochi Winter Games

3rd March, 2014

The closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics wrapped up the most expensive games yet with an exquisite cocktail of Russian music, ballet, art, design and literature – plus a witty and inspired sprinkling of self-deprecation. Much of the action took place amongst a dynamic forest of light, which was created and built by set and stage designer, TAIT Technologies, and programmed by creative UK collective, Immersive.

Throughout, the ‘Forest of Light’ provided the stage architecture that gave scale and perspective for much of the action that unfolded on the huge Fisht Stadium floor. It also provided the perfect TV-picture framing vehicle for the stunning aerial and stadium TV pictures, broadcast worldwide on 23rd February 2014.

The impressive Olympics Closing Ceremony design was by Danielle Finzi Pasca. The Forest of Light comprised a custom LED product, designed and built by TAIT Technologies, which was flown from a complex flying system rigged above the field of play.

“Our part in this spectacular event comprised programming and pixel mapping the 240 individual LED rods, each of which is 12m high and 25cm in diameter,” explains Immersive project manager Mark Calvert. “Known as the ‘LED Forest’, each rod boasts an impressive 360 degree-viewing angle, which enabled all 46,000 of the audience members and the global broadcast audience to see the same effect.”

Hans Cromheecke of TAIT Technologies led the LED product development team; Immersive has a long history working with Hans and his team, having first collaborated on the Pan Arab Games in Doha followed by the award winning London Olympics Ceremonies.

“Immersive’s role on the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony embraced software programming, dynamic tracking, sampling of content over a range of 36 vertical meters, using the position of column data to interpolate models sets, managing the creative workflow and pre-visualisation,” continues Immersive’s Ai Server architect, Dave Green. “We also provided the Ai Media Server technicians, operators and project management, including Ai developer and site operator, Ciaran Abrams, and Ai technicians Martin Harvey and Joe Dunkley.”

Calvert continues: “Another project challenge Immersive faced was the Artnet Control from 3 different sources… Lighting Desk for Camera Balance, Lighting Desk for Operations and Motion Data also having access to 1836 models in the system in real time and pixel mapping based on interpolated UV data. One of the main advantages to the Ai Media Server is the Operation Flexibility, allowing the operator to timecode tracks, busk, or control from a remote source – this design flexibility proves why Ai has quickly become the Media Server platform for shows of this scale, and imagination.”

Immersive also supplied TAIT Technologies with x2 Avolites Media S6 Servers for the installation mapping and playback of the effect. One system took care of the ‘live’ show, while the second provided a seamless backup.

“The installation was visualised using the Ai 3D stage interface, which enabled the show designers, content houses, programmers and technicians to work remotely on the project and still see the installation within the same 3D model of the stadium,” continues Calvert. “This helps in a number of ways with workflow and ongoing problem solving.

“In fact for many of Immersive’s large-scale projects the 3D Visualiser has been a mission critical part of the design process. It enables ideas to evolve in a real-time 3D space and in a number of cases has helped visualise and deliver some world-first achievements. The visualiser makes realising a design a tactile, easy to navigate, real-time experience.”

Immersive’s association with TAIT and its portfolio of groundbreaking projects (including the BMW/Mini Countryman UK Launch; Bon Jovi’s ‘Because We Can’ USA Tour; the X-Factor Finals with Rhianna; and the 2012 London Olympics) has enabled the company to develop an offering that ensures it is globally recognised as the number one turn key firm for the delivery of ambitious technical projects.

“At Immersive we strive to work at the forefront of project design alongside clients that not only have the vision to see the idea but also the technical know-how to deliver them,” concludes Calvert. “TAIT Technologies has consistently proven why they lead the market. I believe they chose to work with us because we share the same passion: To make creative dreams a reality and because we all thrive as part of a team committed to making all creative visions work.”

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