The Christmas Spectacular 2011 used architectural scale projection mapped onto Radio City Music Hall’s proscenium arch and art deco interior giving the audience the feeling that it was being immersed in an array of sound, lighting, theatrical, and pyrotechnic effects as each scene transformed to the next.

Visual Acuity advised on the development of a number of technological innovations, which included large-scale projection from Digital Projection and media serving, edge-blending, and warping from 7thSense Design.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2011 graced the stage featuring this new state-of-the-art technology as well as new scenes, new costumes, and new musical compositions. The Christmas Spectacular is part of the fabric of New York during the holiday season and is seen by more than 1 million people each year.

Two racks of Delta Media Servers were able to produce a “pixel map” of the show’s entire laser-scanned 3D display surface for the production’s new digital mapping technology. This enabled batwin+robin’s content creators to place media exactly where they needed it inside the theatre, without having to work in a 3D modeling environment.

It showcased the extensive use of true 3D mesh-based projection mapping on an architectural scale, with multiple, high-power projectors from Digital Projection blending images onto the art deco ceiling and proscenium arch of Radio City Music Hall. Through this display, the surface was be further extended by the 2D and 3D LED walls.

7th Sense Design supplied seven Delta Media Servers in all. The first served content to the three projectors projecting onto the main proscenium arch, and the second fed the eight projectors used for the arches either side of the stage. Two additional servers handled the content for LED walls serving as backdrops on the stage, and two served as backup projectors.

As well as serving 4k uncompressed video content to the proscenium arches through the internal 3D representation of the theatre’s walls and ceiling, the servers were all synchronized with the main audio system in the theatre, which sent locate and play commands to the Delta Media Server. Realtime commands were also received from the house lighting desk using ArtNet data, which altered the color and transparency of the proscenium arch. The projector shutters were also controlled for when the show required a dark stage.

The process of fine-tuning the Christmas Spectacular continued into rehearsals, with 7thSense Design’s Delta Media Server working with batwin+robin and Visual Acuity to enhance the media, such as placing and sizing “Dancing Santa” shadows, and moving media frame-by-frame in time to match the world-famous eye high kicks of the Rockettes.

Linda Batwin O’Donovan, Partner, batwin+robin: “In terms of multimedia design, we had to find creative ways to project imagery onto the art-deco arches of Radio City’s theater. Through 7thSense’s assistance we were able to implement new geometry controls which, in addition to the Mesh Mode, allowed us to feed our 3D models of the arches directly into the Delta Media Server and project the Christmas imagery.”

Creative Team
batwin+robin, a New York-based multimedia design company
Visual Acuity, an independent media and design consultancy
Madison Square Garden Entertainment, producers of the Christmas Spectacular
Radio City Music Hall Productions

Rack 1, 7thSense Delta Media Servers and support equipment from Netgear, Kramer and APC
Rack 2, 7thSense Delta Media Server backup and control with support equipment from EasySync, ATEN, APC and Black Diamond
Projection, Digital Projection Lightning 45 WUXGA and lenses

Signal Distribution
All equipment was Single Link DVI. Chassis and cards, and standalone transmitters and receivers from ThinkLogical.