Munich-based Neumann & Mueller (N&M) worked closely with Dubai show producers HQ Creative to deliver a stunning high-def AV/projection show for DIFC 2, a large event celebrating the achievements of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) over the last year.
The nearly 8,770-sq.-ft. surface area of DIFC's magnificent 242’ high marbled arch building (a popular Dubai landmark)—including an additional central diamond -shaped screen measuring 643-sq.-ft.—was covered in the HD images. This gave an impressive total resolution of 4628 x 3990 pixels: moving, still and animated, creating an incredible high-impact 3D effect.
DIFC 2 built on the a concept initiated last year that utilized the building and surrounding space to produce the show. This time HQ and N&M wanted to take it a stage further in terms of AV and use the full DIFC building surface for projections. "The innovation and success of last year meant we could explore the space with a lot more confidence," explains HQ creative director Katie Viera.
N&M's project manager and technical director Bill Pugh and HQ's director of production Jo Marshall worked closely on the logistics and practicalities of staging the event. Katie Viera and HQ’s creative producer, Daz Jamieson, collaborated with Klaus Ostermayer, head of N&M´s studio in Munich, on creation of the show content. The images and artwork were based around a scientific-themed narrative, resulting in an artistic and intelligent piece of live communication detailing the achievements and future ambitions of DIFC.
Onsite, the production used a key feature from last year, the DIFC “logo” truss—mirroring the diamond shaped DIFC logo—flown 118’ above the stage and tucked into the arch of the building. Below that a 66’ diamond-shaped projection screen was added.
When it came to the AV programming, N&M's Klaus Ostermayer specified a Dataton Watchout system for control and design of the show. The high-resolution animations were produced as uncompressed Quicktime movies in 4620 x 3990 format by a combination of HQ Creative and Atomic Arts in London. They were then split into 15 Windows Media files. Rendering the full resolution files took approximately 20 minutes per frame.
The show content comprised of pictures, video, and animation was composited in the Watchout system made up of 15 high-performance show computers and one control computer. The 15 separate feeds were vertically and horizontally soft-edged together to create one seamless image. Watchout was also used to mask images to the shape of the diamond screen in the center.
Thirty Digital Projection Highlight 1200 DSX projectors with black chip DLP technology (11,000 ANSI lumens each) were rigged onto three 98’ high FOH towers to beam the images onto the arch. Ten covered each of the sides, six projected onto the center section, and four Barco FLM-R20s were used to cover the diamond screen. With 59’ of differential between the projector positions and the top of the building some projectors required serious perspective correction that was achieved using a Folsom VMS 100 Screen Shaper, running 3D metric software.
N&M also supplied four Thomson LDK200 cameras and a Sony MFS 2000 vision mixer with SDI for IMAG of the performers and speakers. The cameras utilized a variety of lenses; one was positioned halfway down the seating stand and the other three near the stage. N&M's video crew of 12 was headed by Michael Wûrschinger.
XL Video’s Chris Saunders was commissioned by HQ Creative to produce a DVD recording of the whole event, independent of the show IMAG mix.
UK-based lighting designer Nick Jevons was again onboard to weave his magic in that department. His “logo” truss was retained as a key architectural feature of the lighting design, and was again tucked neatly inside DIFC’s arch, flown from seven giant i-Beams laid on top of the roof of the 242’ high building.
“It was very much a video-driven show,” says Jevons, “And as such, lighting had an important but very specific role to play.” He started work with Bill Pugh on creative lighting ideas two months before the show. This year, with the logo truss trimmed so high, Jevons needed fixtures with the punch to cut through to the stage below, so chose 10 AlphaOne Falcon Beam 3Kw moving lights to cover that challenging distance.
Other lighting instruments included Martin Professional MAC 2K profiles, High End Studio Beam PCs, some PAR 64s, LED PARs, Martin Atomic strobes, 5K fresnels, and four AlphaOne Falcon Beam 7Ks—making their world premier—that were positioned two per side on the floor illuminating the building and providing searchlight beams during the show.
Lighting was operated by Michael Baganz using a grandMA console. Jevons also had followspots at his disposal for Careras’ and Al Kawas’ performances.
HQ Creative’s Jo Marshall sums up, “The technical complexity and content of the projection was something that’s never been done on this scale before, and everyone worked really hard to make sure it happened and looked spectacular. N&M were extremely helpful—they get right behind the creative aspects as well as the technical and really added value to the production.”