The latest import from Japan is a unique concert-going experience that celebrates the music of video games, specifically the Final Fantasy series by Square Enix. Most recently performed in Chicago, the event, entitled Dear Friends: The Music from Final Fantasy, was staged by Tempe, AZ-based AV Concepts.

“The biggest challenge was getting everything set up in six hours,” according to Mitch Teitelbaum, account executive, AV Concepts. “All six projectors and three screens needed to fly above the orchestra. There was no way to do front projection because all the seats were sold out.”

The set featured three 10.5' by 14' rear-projection screens with double-stacked Christie S9 projectors for image clarity. A Folsom ScreenPro Plus was used as a screen controller combining video footage from the Final Fantasy games with a three camera IMAG system and PowerPoint graphics. These elements were synchronized with the orchestra's music for ultimate audience enjoyment.

Since the music was derived from video games, the quality of the projections was vital. “Because of what it represented to the audience, video quality was key,” Teitelbaum says. “The Christie S9 projectors were picked because of their outstanding contrast, flexibility, brightness, and price. We had a three-triax camera package with two 75-9.5 Canon lenses and two Omega hard drive players to feed the content.”

Held February 19 at the Rosemont Theater in Chicago and performed by the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra and Festival Chorus, the event kicked off a series of concerts that will each feature performances by local orchestras and choruses. While these types of concerts have become very popular in Japan, the first stateside concert of this kind debuted in May 2004 prior to the E3 Convention in Los Angeles. Based on the overwhelming response, producer Jason Michael Paul and Square Enix decided to take the show on the road.

The Chicago show was a “downsized” version of the Los Angeles concert (featured in the July/August 2004 SRO) using the same team of production designer Thomas Mahler, LD Greg Brunton, and technical director Anthony Valcic. “I've been to many rock concerts in my life and this show rivaled those in audience enthusiasm,” Teitelbaum adds. “There was an actual gasp when the music and video started for each and every piece.”