CT’s AV Inflates LA Dance Party

04 November, 2015

.party() | los angeles 2015 featured the world’s largest inflatable dome in the world and a plethora of projectors provided by CT.

What happens when you erect the world’s largest inflatable dome in the middle of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, have celebrity producers like Skrillex, DJ Snake, and Team EZY spinning hits for 2,500 guests, and illuminate the experience with dance visuals? You get an out of this world .party().

Hosted in June, .party() | los angeles was one of a series of .party() events created by Minecraft mogul Markus “Notch” Persson and produced in partnership with Production Club, a global event design team that specializes in producing music-based experiences, shows, parties, and tours. The event took place in Los Angeles, California and partygoers included gamers, tech enthusiasts and music fans. The Coliseum was chosen for the event because it’s one of LA’s most iconic structures and it is one of the few venues in downtown Los Angeles that could accommodate the colossus dome.

While the coliseum extravaganza was the sixth event in the .party() series, it was the first in which CT provided projection hardware, software, support services and technicians.

“We were not searching for a solutions provider,” explained Vivek Srinivasan, Production Club’s COO and CFO. “We were searching for a strategic partner who could work with our creative and technical teams to realize the level of quality we hoped to achieve in this ambitious project. We put out an RFP for the projection and media server component of this event, and CT’s team hit a homerun with its responses, pricing, and attention to detail.”

Although CT is one of the world’s leading suppliers of audio-visual technical services and equipment to the sports, corporate, exhibition and entertainment industries, .party() | los angeles offered new challenges and opportunities for CT’s and Production Club’s onsite installation teams and A/V technicians. First, the dome was shipped from India and arrived just days prior to the party. Therefore, the CT team had to design the projected visuals and projector placement based on the presumed dimensions of the canvas dome and its structural components. Second, the A/V team had less than 48 hours to install and test the d3 4x4 array and equipment, including:

  • Projection simulation software
  • Capture of 4k content generated by VJ software for live performance remapped to the canvas dome
  • Additional interface using MIDI OSC commands
  • 20 Barco HDF and 2 Barco RLM large-venue projectors with automatic geometric image correction across curved surfaces
  • A d3 22-output media server system for blending multiple projector outputs employing DVI routing and signal distribution.

“We originally thought we would try to replicate the seams in the 3d model and create the lineup points based on the seams,” said Matt Cochran, CT’s project manager for .party(). “It sounded easy, but we weren’t able to get exact dimensions for the dome or its support structure.”

Matt soon realized he didn’t need to know the exact geometry of the dome, he just needed to be close. Just keep the vertical lines straight, center the top, and then keep north, south, east and west straight and square.

“We came up with the idea of a laser grid shined on the dome’s ceiling to use as the lineup points,” Matt explained. “During the setup of the model in Cinema 4d, we placed virtual lasers projecting a grid on the interior of the tent and rendered the grid into the 4096 x 4096 content template.”

In d3 designer, using virtual projectors and the footprints feature, Matt’s team was able to visualize the projector locations, lineup and blends. Once on site, the A/V team measured out the locations of the projectors and the laser grid as closely as possible to the model and then projected the rendered content from the template.

“Voila; a little manual tweak on each projector, then the d3 media server tools took over with alignment, warping and dynamic blending,” Matt added.

It did not take long for the team to realize the 69-foot tall, 200-foot diameter dome was inflating, constricting and warping significantly due to air pressure and temperature fluctuations. The shape shifting made it challenging to fine tune the alignment and difficult to get the blending and mapping precise.

“We fine-tuned the convergence using the Barco warp tools,” Matt said. “We soon realized, however, that we were confronted with a fluid canvas as the pressure changed and the surface expanded and contracted. Luckily the content was very forgiving and it ended up looking spectacular.”

Overall, the dome and the coliseum preparation took seven consecutive, 18-hour days, including three days and 300 stagehands to erect and inflate the dome.

“During prep, the dome felt just as alive as any of us inside of it,” said Vivek. “Changes in temperature, wind, or pressure made the dome move and shift just enough to noticeably throw off the projector alignments. During the calibration process, CT used every minute available to make sure the content looked the best it could. CT was an amazing strategic partner and the projection truly helped make the event a success.”