The major consumer electronics show of the year, CES, is guaranteed to draw crowds and make headlines with its star-studded keynote addresses. For the 2004 CES at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater, Staging Techniques marshaled Vista Systems' Montage video processing and windowing system for three days of keynotes from Microsoft, Panasonic, HP, and Sprint.

Staging Techniques, which has offices in New York, Hollywood, Atlanta and Seattle, crafted four distinct stage and screen configurations for the addresses employing Montage in a 64x64 high-resolution routing system. "Montage was critical to our successful management of the number of inputs and the many different stage and screen configurations," says general manager Bryce Will. "Configurations change often between rehearsals and shows. Changeovers are extremely tight and must be essentially instantaneous so the entire show infrastructure needs to be designed with that in mind."

For the pre-show keynote delivered by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Staging Techniques created a configuration featuring a center 18'x32' rear projection 16:9-format screen fed by quad converged DPI 28sx projectors flanked by a pair of 16' x 12' rear projection screens with custom mirror bounce systems to allow for full resolution and brightness on the side screens. The two vertical-format side screens were fed by Christie Digital S12 projectors.

The CES's opening keynote by Fumio Ohtsubo, president of Panasonic AVC Networks Co. and senior managing director of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., required a different configuration by Staging Techniques. Dual Christie Digital S12 projectors fed two 9' x 16' rear projection screens and 14 Panasonic plasma displays. Two Christie Digital X6 projectors displayed text and supported a waterfall effect on a large fabric swag placed center stage.

Staging Techniques devised a single center screen, fed by quad DPI 28sx projectors, to display multiple windows of Digital Betacam playback, standard video playback and extensive graphics for the day one keynote by HP chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina. The day two keynote, by Sprint Corp. chairman and CEO Gary Forsee, also featured a single big screen displaying HDCAM tape playback and widescreen graphics. Both the HP and Sprint addresses required 12 inputs.

Overall, "the primary benefit that Montage brought to the equation was the ability to change configurations very quickly and bounce back and forth between aspect ratios and different mixes going to various display devices," says Will. "The ability of Montage to map multiple inputs to a single button push and, using the Virtual Input feature, deal with sources that changed resolution as part of the demonstration were critical.

"Montage allows for the management of an ever-changing input 'landscape' quickly and easily," he continues. "In a multi-client keynote event this type of support is essential as the numbers of inputs are high, and they change between client presentations constantly. The system also allowed for programming to be done offsite, on another Montage system, then we could integrate those cue and configuration elements together."

Seattle-based TPN was Staging Techniques' production partner for the CES keynotes; TPN senior designer Greg Elder handled all issues related to scenery and the integration of client-supplied scenery into the show.

Montage is a video processing and windowing system designed by Vista Systems specifically to offer an uncompromising solution for seamless widescreen and multi-display applications. The system uses a new advanced architecture that creates "virtual displays" inside the Montage processor that are much higher resolution than any single display device can handle. Inputs can be windowed anywhere in the virtual display and can even overlap each other. Outputs, which can be projectors, LED walls, video walls, recording devices, operators' monitors, etc., can view any portion of the virtual display.

For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.