UK- The incredible Arcadia Spectacular stage pumped out some serious visuals at Glastonbury this year created and controlled by blinkinLAB's Tom Wall using an Avolites Sapphire Media and Ai server.The Spider stage is Arcadia's most monumental environment. Built from recycled military hardware, it is a 360-degree, interactive environment with a fully programmable DJ booth and integrated video mapping, amongst many other pyrotechnics!
2015 is the third year running that Tom Wall has masterminded the Arcadia visuals. This year's performance was called the 'Metamorphosis' show, and the returning spider was accompanied by some amazing new Ai powered costumes and zorbing balls, created by Light Initiative.
"We created mapped animations for the projection on each face of the three legs, the LED screens installed inside and around the DJ booth, and this year for Light Initiative's alien eggs and alien jellyfish costumes!" explains Wall.
Dave Whiteoak from Video Illusions originally conceived adding projection mapping and LED screens to The Spider, and approached Wall to create the content for the project.
"We debated using different media servers but went with Ai as it has some features out of the box that we would need, such as 7 outputs to cover all the different surfaces, as well as timecode control," says Wall. "Having the media server built into an ergonomically designed lighting desk is actually really useful, especially during the live DJ sections where nothing is rehearsed. Using the touch screen to select media and having sturdy faders and buttons available in one system to be able to control different layers of video is really useful. I worked with Ciaran Abrams from Avolites to create some customised elements such as routing buttons to be able to switch between different fixtures, or apply different effects.
"A lot of my work creating content revolves around 3D modelling and animation. Ai uses the same system of applying a 2D texture to a 3D surface as is found in all major 3D software. So when creating the 3D assets needed for mapping in Ai, I was happy to use this industry standard."
The stunning media content was projected onto the body of the spider. Avolites' Selvin Cooper mapped and supported the video projection for Arcadia, using six projectors he used provided by CPL.
"The projection mapping is a combination of 3D animation of metallic reptilian scales and machines that ripple and pulse along the legs, mixed with more graphical content inspired by retro-futuristic sci-fi computers and circuit diagrams," Wall continues. "The material has to work with the constraints of the structure which has quite a narrow space on which to actually project.
"The LED screen content is also quite constrained to the thin design of the screens. One of the screens represents the mouth, so on this we have a visualisation of the Spider speaking. We have also created a lot of graphical VJ content that fits with the overall aesthetic.
"For the jellyfish costume and alien eggs built by Light Initiative, we created pixel mapped animations that flash and pulse, highlighting different parts of the musical score."
Tim Smith of Smash Productions once again oversaw the visual proceedings, evolving the lighting for the spider in conjunction with Colour Sound Experiment. Rachel Moule took control as lighting designer for the spectacular stage with support from Dave Cohen of MIRRAD, both operating from Avolites flagship Sapphire Touch consoles.
Photos by Ben Daure, Charlie Raven and Chris Cooper
Europe - British electronica trio Years and Years are touring summer festivals and venues with an ingenious bespoke LED strip screen mapped by an Avolites Ai Infinity EX8 server.
The concept for the LED screen was the idea of Years and Years lighting designer Chris 'Squib' Swain. It reflects the cover artwork for the band's debut album 'Communion', with coloured branches of LED strips intersecting at different angles from a central 'Y' shape.
Years and Years have played some of the summer's biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, BST in Hyde Park, and T in the Park.
London-based controllable LED specialists Light Initiative created the screen. It is freestanding at almost 5m high and constructed in sections of LED which makes it easy to install, dismantle, and travelwith short festival turnarounds in mind.
"Avolites' Ai Infinity EX8 can take an LTC timecode input, and we distributed the video output through our processors," explains Light Initiative's Operations Manager, Paul Bellman."Due to the branching arrangement of the LED strip, it was a complex task to map the linear video strips, and the Ai server facilitated this in a very straightforward way, allowing all the angles and branches to be mapped logically for ease of content creation."
In addition to the LTC timecode input, the multi-award winning Ai Infinity EX8 server's back panel is packed with I/O connectors, including 2 x 1Gb Network ports for connecting to Artnet networks, MIDI in & out ports, 4 lines of DMX512, Audio I/O, Genlock - essential for TV projects, and 2 x sync network connections to guarantee vertical sync across multiple systems.
The EX8 has programmable, EDID managed, WUXGA (1920x1200) outputs. Each is digitally amplified to give you a preview and production output over DVI.
The colourful content and video design for the LED structure was devised by Adam Young, who also worked in collaboration with LD Squib Swain on the set design for the tour.
"The combination of Light Initiative's amazingly skilled team and the Ai server means that they can simply provide me with a perfect visual representation of the structure and its parts to work on top of," says Young. "As a designer, this means that you don't have to work out how you're driving the LED strips and your focus can be on bringing the structure to life. The Ai server meant that I had to barely think about how the design would be transferred from After Effects to the LEDs - I could render out a visually representational video file, load it into the server and it just worked."
Years and Years are on a busy touring schedule, having played dates across the UK and Europe in the spring and summer. The band travels to the US, Australia, Canada and central Europe until the autumn.
USA - A team of Avolites' powerful Ai EX8 media servers is driving spectacular visuals in Las Vegas's new superclub, Omnia.
Billed as 'a new nightlife experience' and created by international lifestyle brand Hakkasan Group, Omnia is situated on The Strip in the world famous Caesar's Palace. Designed by the internationally renowned Rockwell Group, the club spans 75,000 total square-feet and prides itself on offering state-of-the-art technology. The club launched with a star-studded party featuring Calvin Harris on DJ duty in March 2015.
Frank Murray from Audiotek supplied and oversaw the AV aspects of the project, working alongside Avolites' Ai Developer Ciaran Abrams, who provided support for Ai as it was installed and programmed.
Three Avolites Ai EX8 servers are powering visuals in the opulent main room of the club, which features a huge chandelier as the centrepiece of the venue. The chandelier morphs into different shapes, angles and levels. The entire project is said to feature more than ten tonnes of LED wall.
"This was a project on a huge scale, which presented many challenges as the system had to be incredibly flexible to handle many different demands," says Abrams. "For example, mapping was a big task. Different elements required different mapping solutions - the chandelier was a particular creative challenge, fully utilising the feature set of Ai. The cascades and mezzanine areas of the room were also very complex. Using Ai, we were able to create a 3D representation of the pixels and import that information."
The team divided the visual load into three groups, one for each server: The main room cascade and mezzanine, the chandelier and projection. "There is a lot of custom patching and functionality that needed no special programming, but was available with the module system inside of Ai," continues Abrams. "A good example of this is being able to fade out different parts of the club, regardless of content. So, through the lighting console, chases could easily be created to make new effects without needing any content. We were also able to create custom content, effects and colour modes, which offered much more freedom when it came to creative thought."
In the second room, a fourth Ai EX8 server is installed, with Lighting Director Jorge Tellez controlling yet more spectacular visuals via his Sapphire Touch and the Ai, and an Avolites Quartz offering control for the lighting for The Terrace, featuring a mixture of LED strip lighting and moving heads.
"There's a really large screen behind the DJ booth and then several other screens that pretty much go around the entire room," says Tellez. "I like the fact that I can run the lighting and I can run the video off the one console; that really makes it easy for me. It lets me get really creative with the room.
"I'd never worked on an Avolites until I got to Omnia, but Group One's Brad White trained me and I really, really enjoyed it. I saw how easy it is to operate the Avolites - for the pixel mapping, and for setting up your palettes, for example, it's such a convenient board. I'm totally on-board working with the Sapphire Touch." Omnia's resident VJ and video director for Hakkasan, Ed Shaw, takes the Ai reins at the club in the main room, with visual content that's driving reviewers to focus on the spectacle. Las Vegas Weekly says: "It might be the most 'Las Vegas' nightclub in Las Vegas. Whether that's good or bad depends on your tolerance for hyperstimulation and disco spectacle." Social media was abuzz with videos and images of the chandelier in full swing from opening night.
Speaking after the clubs completion and opening, Avolites MD Steve Warren commented: "Omnia is truly one of the most spectacular installations I have seen in my many years in the industry. I am also convinced that this particularly demanding project could only have been accomplished using Ai media servers.
"Having worked before on superclubs in London with Frank, the Audiotek team have significantly raised the bar for Vegas and we at Avolites are proud to have supplied the significant part of the lighting and video solution to Omnia," Warren continues.
Moving forward, Abrams is confident: "We've installed a system with extra headroom which will allow for the design to be expanded in the future. A simple example would be that they might get more LED and require extra outputs. They would easily be able to integrate this in the current setup without needing to get more systems."