It was utilised for daily live coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games and for two different Trafalgar Square Festival performance shows which ran the Thursday to Saturday evenings of each of the 3 weeks.
XL Video was asked onboard by Greenwich & Docklands Festival's technical manager Richard Williamson, following their recent supply of video equipment for two shows at the 2008 Greenwich & Docklands International Festival.
The Greenwich & Docklands Festival team organised and ran the Trafalgar Square Festival elements of the event. The client for the Olympic coverage was the Greater London Authority and LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games).
The screen was constructed from 12 panels wide and 9 high of Lighthouse R7, formatted in 16:9 aspect ratio and weighed approximately 6 tonnes. It was rigged onto a support structure supplied by Star Events by six 2-tonne motors, and was located just in front of Nelson's Column facing the National Gallery. XL Video's project manager Paul Wood worked alongside Star Events' Roger Barrett to ensure this was a seamless operation.
XL supplied 2 playback systems – a Catalyst v 4.10 digital media server that ran all the Festival show/performance content and 2 Doremi hard drives, which were programmed up with assorted promo packages and stings for the 2012 London Olympics, plus the main sponsors logos (BT, VISA and Lloyds-TSB). The Beijing Olympics TV coverage was supplied by the BBC via 2 Freesat dishes and their Red Button service.
XL's project manager Paul Wood and Paul Barry (Screen Tech, Catalyst and Doremi operator) worked with Kevin McGuire of k13.biz, the Trafalgar Square Festival's screens content manager who co-ordinated the various playback materials for the screen, and the live IMAG camera feeds from Advision. McGuire comments, “Working with a company like XL Video on an event like this guarantees the quality of the products, the experience and professionalism of the personnel involved and a level of service, support and backup which I believe is second to none.”
Early on in the planning process, the decision was taken to ditch any traditional branding for the event apart from some Trafalgar Square Festival banners, and instead to maximise the full potential of the screen in presenting any corporate, LOCOG and GLA idents involved. Roger Barratt at Star was tasked with dressing the screen support structure to suitably and subtly blend into the stonework and surrounding environment of Trafalgar Square.
The performance screen playback material was specially commissioned and produced by Lindsay Walsh of Mediakinetic. This included an overall generic TSF logo which was animated to create the TSF channel ident and then colour coded with musical stabs to denote the three separate weeks of the Festival titled – China Inspires, Olympic Aspirations and Images of London respectively.
The Week 2 shows were “Aqua” and “Toolie Ooolie Doolie” by Hip Hop dance troupe ZooNation. They both utilised several areas of the square for their 25-minute works, each with its finale being played out – to great effect – in front of the screen. Other shows integrating the screen into their presentations were Yellow Earth Theatre with "Pangu and Nuwa and Creators of the World" in week one, and in the final week, Miss High Leg Kick, with "Fashion Bus on the Square" and Factoria Mascaro's "The Garden of Wonders".
The screen remained in place until the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony on 24th August, when Trafalgar Square filled with thousands of people to watch the event live, followed by live coverage of the VISA 2012 Party in the Mall.
Patrick Loy, who manages events at the Greater London Authority, including the Trafalgar Square Festival, said:
'We have been extremely pleased with the screen provided by XL. It is the first time that we have asked performers to think of the screen as a stage set, integral to the show and the screen's clarity really enhanced the overall experience of the live performances. This, added to the exceptional quality as it carried live Olympics coverage, has been a massive hit with the public.'
Lighting, sound and site power was supplied by Stage Electrics.