While I usually work in theatre, which is where the majority of my experience comes from, every once in a while a different challenge comes up, which is something that I love about the live entertainment industry. Recently I designed content for a couple of fun LED based projects at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
For those who don't know, Bonnaroo is an annual four-day music festival created and produced by Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment and held in Manchester, TN. Like any music festival, the main draw of Bonnaroo is, of course, the many high-profile bands that perform at the various venues, but Bonnaroo also features a robust art and design initiative. In addition to providing several sites for artists to create projects around the campgrounds, Bonnaroo also does a lot to step its own projects every year.
This year, the producers wanted to update two landmarks: an 80'-tall cuckoo clock tower and the iconic Bonnaroo entryway arch. They wanted to do something a little different and memorable, and so they chose to consult with design firm David Korins Design (DKD) to come up with some ways to do so. Fortunately for me and lovers of LED video everywhere, DKD and Bonnaroo had decided to wrap the outside of the clock tower and the underside of the archway with LED product.
I, for one, am stoked to wrap anything in a bunch of LEDs and run video content on it! The biggest challenge is often figuring out what kind of product you are going to use, and many factors go into it, especially the shape and size of the structure to be used. Given the sheer size of the architecture, traditional LED panels could not be used, and so we looked at a few of the LED-on-a-string products out there, and finally decided on FlexiFlex by RGB Lights. The FlexiFlex line can do full-motion video in a large format for both indoor and outdoor applications, and it also allows wind to pass through it, which is crucial for the safety of festival-goers, in case of turbulent winds.
Using a grid of around 10,000 pixels per side, the clock tower was rigged by PRG and mapped by RGB Lights, and I was up and running and programming video content in no time. The entire system, which included lighting, video, audio, and automation that fires every hour on the hour, was controlled by a Pharos Architectural Controls Audio Video Controller that can listen to and send a host of show control protocols, allowing us to stay in sync throughout the festival.