production designer: Anton Goss
lighting designer: Simon Miles
executive producer: Audrey Morrissey (Camouflage Films)
lighting programmer: Harry Sangmeister
video programmer: Adrian Dickey
director of engineering for I-Mag Video: Tony Macre
video gear supplied by I-Mag Video
media servers supplied by Vx Inc.
lighting gear supplied by Vx Inc. via PRG Nashville and MTV Networks Nashville
rigging equipment supplied by Atlanta Rigging Systems
The production design for the 2007 Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards at Nashville’s Curb Event Center on the campus of Belmont University included tucking away at least a third of the venue’s 5,000 seats to provide room for the set’s layered proscenium and thrust. With only a 44’ ceiling, the design challenge was to create the illusion of height and width and essentially transform a college basketball arena into a dynamic and visually rich palette for the high-definition lens.
To meet the challenge, Nashville-based I-Mag Video worked with CMT, executive producer Audrey Morrissey of Camouflage Films, and designers Anton Goss and Simon Miles. Based on the success of last year’s CMT Awards show, Goss expanded his design into a creative array of projection, movable “slivers” of abstract video, a large-format video wall, decorative LED trim, and wooden “slats” of background scenery. To maintain the highest degree of visual interest, the set had multiple focal points for performers, announcers, and presenters, along with sweeping jib moves.
Goss had to create a big stage presence to keep the energy going during the broadcast, a goal that inspired the video stairs with the Barco MiTrix and the MiTrix railing that encapsulates the presenters. He also wanted to keep the much of the video low res and pixilated, which he notes tends to humanize the video and leave room for other high-res elements, and it also provided a contrast to the background slats.
With regard to the thrust and the set’s focal points, a raised solo area on the walkway created an inviting destination for performers and provided the ability for the performers to go into the audience. Camera angles were also a prime consideration for the solo stage, and the design allowed for low hand-held shots, taking in the I-Mag screen positioned right behind the performers.
To deliver the simulcast in SD and HD, CMT (a subsidiary of MTV Networks), pulled in MTV’s new “Pegasus” mobile HD truck. Doing the show in HD allowed the lighting team to render color more accurately than if it had been shot in standard def. LD Simon Miles, who started out doing theatrical productions, now works mostly on television productions. Miles created his design to work in conjunction with the video elements, using Goss’ design as a basis for lights and color to create an integrated picture. He also wanted to make the show look more like a live concert, with his main challenge, echoing Goss’ concerns, being the lack of ceiling height and the fact that they had such a large stage and thrust area to cover. His solution was to try to maintain the illusion of the vertical element as much as possible, without making it look short and to provide color and dimension to an otherwise small (and monochrome) arena.
Around 250 crew members for the production included camera crew, CMT crew, production, set and video crew, stagehands, riggers, tech crew, event staff, and logistics.
Barco D7 tiles
Barco OLite 510 wall and towers
Barco FLM R20+ projectors
Barco MiTrix modules
Green Hippo Hippotizer media servers
Vari-Lite VL5s, VL6s, VL1000s, VL2416s, and VL3000 spots
Martin MAC 2000 Wash units
Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12s
Vari-Lite Virtuoso DX2 console