CMT (Creative Media Techniques) supplied video and image based services and lasers for the recent ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) 2007 Gala Dinner at Marlborough House on Pall Mall, London. The event was produced by Starlight Design and attended by over 1,000 celebrity guests, including Bill Clinton, Madonna, Sir Bob Geldof, David Bailey, Liz Hurley, and many more.

This was the fourth consecutive year CMT supplied the event and the package included several LED and projection surfaces, a camera/PPU package, an 8 channel Watchout video control system, eight lasers, and 14 crew to install, operate and support the visuals systems.

In the main dining area 12 Barco SLM R12+ video projectors and forty-eight 42, 50, and 61 inch plasma screens were rigged on two floors around an enormous temporary structure in the gardens that took four weeks to construct and included a huge open roof area for the reception. The plasmas were divided into four zones and the projection was run as three separate zones to enable three different image streams to be run.

On the main stage was 35 sq m of Barco i-Lite10 configured in a 3:1 ratio, flown over the stage. It showed images and moving footage created and edited specially for the event, and also to provide a backdrop to the main cabaret act, Prince. This was run as another individual visual zone on control.

The overall visuals were controlled by eight channels of Watchout multi-screen control and compositing software, running on a network of nine high spec’d PCs run in linear mode. This allowed each zone to show different sources at different times and was run by Tim Fothergill who worked closely with Starlight Design’s Jon Kellet on developing the show.

Of the 8 Watchout servers, three were used to run the projection, four to run assorted plasma screens, and the last one to run LED screens. Watchout also enabled other pre-programmed or manually cued visual material to appear on—and be cut into—any of the screen surfaces while the main film was showing.

CMT also supplied the multi-channel Triax camera PPU system, consisting of three DC35W cameras and hot head, mixed via For-A vision mixing and engineering system. The live mix was directed by CMT’s Ram Malocca.

Renowned visual designer/video artist Gary Oldknow of Deepvisual was commissioned by CMT to VJ for the evening, He created an exciting organic style collage of interesting abstract images on the LED screen.

For the indoor stage show, CMT also supplied four white light lasers and two 8-watt YAGs, complete with Pangolin control, which were also used for the nightclub and after-cabaret/show party. As the guests departed, the last effect they saw was a ceiling of light created by a stunning 40-watt YAG laser, and finally a 5-watt laser projecting the total amount—a staggering £ 26.6 million—raised by the event from tickets, sponsorship (Bloomberg, UBS, Merril Lynch and BlueCrest), and a charity auction that alone brought in over £4 million.

Tim Fothergill says, “The ARK event is a show that, despite being draining physically, mentally, and emotionally, gives the greatest feeling of being a part of something so important to those less fortunate in the UK and around the world. Our team are proud to be a part of it and put in an incredible amount of work to make it all happen in seemingly impossible timescales.”