Boasting 700,000 active and retired members, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and Aerospace Workers is the third largest industrial union in the US. At the union’s recent 37th Grand Lodge Convention in Florida, the 2,600 strong audience of delegates and visitors listened to key speakers such as Democratic senator Hillary Clinton and President-Elect Barack Obama, backed by a 120 ft widescreen set created with Dataton Watchout™ multi-display software.

For show producer Shane Williams, at Prestige AV & Creative Services, the IAM brief was short and sweet: “Come up with something involving gears and the Machinists logo. Make it unforgettable. Make it different from anything anyone has seen before. And keep it simple.” Williams’ reaction was to think big.

“The first thing I did was think of using a larger screen as the backdrop on the stage instead of a normal set,” he explains. “I then sat down with my set builder and we went out into our parking lot and started drawing on the concrete to scale. That’s when it popped up for me to try to configure the actual stage as three gears; one main and two smaller interlocked in each other.”

Hours of chalk drawings and calculations later, the backdrop evolved into a specially commissioned lace and grommet screen from Da-Lite to span the entire 120-foot width of the stage. A Dataton Watchout system would be used to create and run the multi-display presentation.

With the physical backdrop all set, it was time to focus on creating a Watchout show that would do it justice. Shane Williams notes, “I elected to go with a 29 percent blend and eight 15K Eiki XT5 projectors. Hardware was not an issue as we own thirteen custom-built Watchout display machines as well as nine Watchout keys.”

Roosevelt’s classic four freedoms speech provided the basic theme for the event. Each day opened with animations (flags waving, alpha channel of characters walking up in the freedom logos), five-minute music modules with dramatic pictures for each day’s “freedom.” After a video roll, the backdrop went over to live image magnification for the day with the gear rolling in titles of speakers.

The show production met with rave reviews from delegates and organizers alike. But perhaps the greatest accolade was right on stage, recalls Williams. “The piece we made to intro Hillary Clinton coming out on stage actually made here tear up. Pretty impressive.”