"The upfront's stage, design and presentation needed to match the look and feel of The CW on-air brand and its demographic's expectations," says Jim Piccirillo, executive producer/director at VPP. "The idea was to immerse the audience in the brand with lots of supplemental graphics and animation and a main set reflecting a pixilated look using various sizes and shapes of backlit boxes.
"We opened the show with 'Party Rock,' a high-energy musical number by LMFAO, the group with the number-six song on iTunes that week. Twenty-six dancers came onstage from the audience, and a DJ and dancers were revealed by flying out the center screen and surround. We used the same reveal later to introduce The CW talent who came out of the center stair/riser unit."
WorldStage provided a 15x26.7-foot Stewart FP Greyhawk projection screen for the stage and three Barco FLM HD18K projectors with long-throw lenses mounted in the balcony. WorldStage also supplied over 125 Barco NX6 6mm LED tiles that formed five large strip panels that were positioned both horizontally and vertically around the center screen. The LEDs were filled with graphics, cameras and animated content related to the show being presented. The moving imagery on the LED strips often featured fragmented elements showing portions of faces and logos, but could also be utilized as one display providing an artful impression of one large image spanning the entire stage. Content layout and playback was handled by Rodd McLaughlin via Mbox media servers. All the graphics were created by Fontastics out of LA under the guidance of the CW creative unit led by Rick Frey and VPP producer, Erin Phibbs. Production and technical direction was handled by Production Glue.
"The upfront was shot in HD this year and delivered via satellite to audiences in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles," notes Piccirillo. "The seamless integration of the LED panels and the pixel walls provided a very live, visually stunning and colorful set that looked spectacular to the audience in the Rose Theater and to the remote audiences."
Since the 1,000-seat capacity of the Rose Theater was less than The CW's previous upfront venue, the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, the adjacent Allen Room and Atrium were called into service to handle about 750 additional audience members. Those rooms not only received the feed from the Rose Theater but the Allen Room also hosted outgoing network president Dawn Ostroff, who did a portion of her presentation from that space, and The CW talent who made appearances.
WorldStage was tasked with interfacing with video/audio/graphics production trucks parked on the street below and with providing infrastructure to send signals to the Allen Room and Atrium. For the Allen Room they supplied another 15x26.7-foot screen, a pair of Barco HD18K projectors and DVI routing for signal distribution to the Atrium. The Atrium featured a 9x16-foot screen, two Christie Roadster HD10K projectors and a sound system based around Meyer UPJ-1P speakers.
The complexity of this year's upfront showcased the combined capabilities of Video Applications, Inc. and Scharff Weisberg with whom VPP has had long-standing relationships. Scharff Weisberg enjoys exclusive vendor status with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
"I was impressed by the fact that someone from Scharff Weisberg was always on site to deal with any problems or production situations as they arose," says Piccirillo. "The projection and LED solutions provided by WorldStage looked great and performed as promised."
For the upfront Michael May, out of Video Application's Nashville office was the senior account executive, Michael Cruz was the on site senior project manager and lead video engineer, Jonathan Breedlove project managed the Atrium and Allen Rooms, and Josh Weisberg assisted with the technical design.
Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are collaborating partners to clients requiring unique and imaginative solutions for their event, spectacle and large-meeting lighting, sound and video needs whether local, national or worldwide. For more information visit www.scharffweisberg.com or www.videoapps.com.