Asia - Dutch lighting designer Jan Kortbeek has selected a powerful Ai Infinity RX server from pioneering British manufacturer Avolites to control complex new media content for an updated version of the live musical theatre show of DreamWorks Animation's cartoon blockbuster Madagascar.
Featuring the same four anthropomorphic heroes as the film franchise - Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe - and a combination of real and video scenery, 'Madagascar Live!' was launched in the US in 2011 by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks. The animation studio's first ever theatre production, the show is a family-friendly extravaganza that celebrates freedom, friendship and fending off the evil 'Foosa'. Stage Entertainment Touring Productions brought the production from the States to the UK, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Columbia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Following this, Istanbul Entertainment Group (IEG) transferred the production to Turkey, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
Live Nation Entertainment has been involved since 2016. Together with IEG the production visited Singapore (April), Indonesia (May) and China (June to August). For these Far Eastern dates the production has been overhauled in terms of its visual aesthetics - with a significant increase in terms of projected video scenery.
Kortbeek has lit countless big production musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Spring Awakening, West End Stars in Concert and Dora the Explorer. At the helm of his Utrecht-based company Lightwise, he was responsible for the new lighting design of Madagascar Live! - as well as supervising the production's video team.
One of his main technical challenges was balancing the lighting with the projected scenery. Kortbeek also had to create a high definition back projection that was 14 metres wide by 7.5 metres high - with an initial maximum projection distance of only 3.5 metres. His projector system designer, Arjan Lamboo, recommended an edge blended four projector set-up - which led Kortbeek and his team to the Ai Infinity RX server, which The Netherlands-based equipment supplier Rent-All supplied, supported by Fairlight.
"With the limited dark time on tour we were looking for a solution that provided a quality blend without requiring too much time," explains Kortbeek. "The Ai Infinity RX is the only server - to our knowledge - that has an auto-blending feature built in. This amazing feature makes it possible to create a high quality blend in the shortest time possible. When you are on a tight schedule and challenging setup situations, it's a really valuable asset."
"With its eight SDI outputs, the server also provided us with enough outputs - meaning we didn't have to use extra servers or additional hardware. Plus, the intuitive user interface also makes it easy to train touring technicians in how to use it."
The Ai Infinity server from Avolites is the perfect choice for even the most demanding video projects. The RX4 and RX8 have programmable, EDID managed, WUXGA (1920 x 1200) outputs. Each is digitally amplified to provide a preview and production output over DVI.
In addition to the four or eight DVI output pairs, the back offers the following outlets: LTC timecode input, two gigabit network ports for connecting to ArtNET networks, MIDI in and out ports, four lines of DMX512, audio in and output, genlock (essential for TV projects) and two sync network connections to guarantee vertical sync across multiple systems.
The new video content and graphics for Madagascar Live's Far Eastern tour were created by Marinus de Graaf, who has been designing artwork, sets and video graphics for theatre productions in the Netherlands for over 20 years. As a graphic designer he has also worked for several large amusement parks in The Netherlands and Belgium, designing visual themes for attractions and public spaces.
The show's media content is 1920 x 1080 pixels and is distributed over SDI to four rear and two stacked front projectors. All the projectors are HDX 20K projectors from brand Belgian brand Barco. Roel Biemold programmed all the lights and video.