Our long-time client, The American Academy of Pediatrics, has come to us over the years with several ideas to give a “WOW” factor to their annual meeting, specifically to their general sessions. They always want to do something “different,” but little did we know that this year, given a theme of “Energize,” we would produce a FLASHMOB at Post Office Square in Boston and bring the spontaneous dance to life for 3500 people attending the opening session.
At Projection Presentation Technology, we began in August 2011 with a choreographer, six professional dancers, 15 area theatre students, and 50 pediatrics residents from area medical schools. We made a tape of the choreographer teaching the dance steps, arranged rehearsals, and produced a four-camera shoot, creating a finished product that appeared to be a flash mob “happening” in downtown Boston. Our video content was designed to use sports‐themed activities, particularly for children, and encourage people to get up and get going.
Our idea had a number of constraints. 1) The customer wanted to use only one screen, large enough to eliminate the need for delay screens. 2) We needed to “max out” the ballroom seating and make sure that at least several thousand other attendees could see and hear this opening session. 3) We needed to create an atmosphere that would encourage the audience to get out of their seats and participate. 4) A spacious green room had to be placed backstage. 5) The budget could not exceed the previous year.
We carefully designed a room that used a screen large enough to accommodate doctors’ presentations and abstracts and fulfilled our SOP of 6x screen height. We used our presentation management system and our presentation capture boxes to feed overflow and other viewing stations throughout the building; we used front projection throughout and created lighting that gave the ballroom an outside, park‐like feeling; we constructed two green rooms on either side of the stage; and we asked the customer to pay several vendors directly in order to control costs.
We began the opening general session with an animation of the “energize” logo and a looping movie of participants in the Boston Marathon across our 20’x60’ screen. The screen and outboard display panels were powered by our Vista Spyder System, six Barco R12+ projectors, and six High End Systems DL.3s run by onboard servers. We then dimmed the lighting and played our flash mob tape.
We “planted” our professional dancers, theatre students, and 200 additional resident doctors in the audience, and gradually, our “plants” rose from their seats and started to “spontaneously” dance along with the taped sequence. We used 12 Philips Vari‐Lite VL3000Qs to pick up various dancers in the audience and added 12 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Performance units to gradually build the excitement to a rousing beginning for this scientific, yet energized, meeting.
Our vendors were the key to this successful production: JCALPRO for rigging and stagehand labor, R and R Productions for shooting and editing our flash mob video, and Blue Pony, Inc. for our opening animations and building graphics.
James Salen, Scenic, Lighting, and Video Designer
R and R Productions, Video Production Company
Tim Durr Spyder, Operator and Programmer
David Whitehouse, Lighting Operator and Programmer
Blue Pony, Inc.,Animation and Video Content
Mike Viljoen, Production Manager
Peggy Dahlquist, Stage Manager
Brooke Kidd, Choreographer
Bob McConnell, Convention Services Manager
6 Barco R12+ Projector
VistaSystems Spyder Switcher
4 Panasonic HDX900 Camera
JBL Vertec Line Array
12 Philips Vari‐Lite VL3000
6 High End System DL.3
12 Martin Mac 2000 Performance
42 ETC Source Four 26°
2 ETC Sensor+ Dimming
2 ETC Eos Console