This year, the city of Rome celebrated ITS 2,765th anniversary, with a wide-ranging program of events, including a show titled The Stars of Rome, featuring some of the Eternal City’s famous actors, singers, and musicians, and staged in the world-famous Via dei Fori Imperiali, followed in the adjacent Trajan’s Market by a high-impact hour-long AV show by Unità C1.
The Market is a spectacular complex of ruins, probably built in 100-110 AD, with shops and apartments forming a multilevel structure, and it is still possible to visit several of the levels and view its beautiful marble floors and the remains of a library. Behind, the Tower of the Militia, one of Rome’s main medieval monuments, with a 35'x31' (10.5x9.5m) base and almost 164' (50m) height, is the largest residential tower left in the city.
The anniversary event was commissioned by the Eternal City’s Department of Cultural Heritage and realized through Zetema Progetto Cultura, who called in Unità C1, responsible for the executive production, technical support, visual design, and lighting design, as well as the selection of the film clips used, graphics, mapping, and playback.
The Unità C1 team comprised Lorenzo Lopane (project manager), Andrea Mordenti (lighting designer and production manager), Gianni Stabile (graphic supervisor and media server operator), and Ezio Antonelli (art director), supported by Roberto Santoro (graphic design), Matteo Semprini (sound consultant), and Valeri Matveev (lighting operator). The audio, video, and lighting contractor was Roman rental firm Gianchi Srl.
For the video elements, Mordenti notes that two Christie Digital Roadie HD+30K units were stacked to project content from a coolux Pandoras Box Media Server Pro on the group of four apartments from a distance of approximately 460' (140m) in Via dei Fori Imperiali, on-axis with respect to the center of the projections and producing a projection approximately 164' (50m) wide (with 2.8:1 lenses).
For the Market, four Roadster HD18K projectors covered its semicircular section—the two left-hand units projecting on the right area and vice versa—with the arches below with soft-edge processing to give one continuous image. They projected from two side platforms in Via Alessandrina at a distance of approximately 230' (70m) and formed a total projection width of approximately 263' (80m), employing a pair of coolux Pandoras Box Media Servers.
The lighting rig handled all the other buildings in the Trajan Market area not covered by projections, including the Militia Tower. The rig comprised 24 Studio Due Single 400s, 30 SGM Idea PAR LED RGBs, 12 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Performance units, and 12 MAC 2000 Wash fixtures, controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA console.
Regarding the placement of fixtures, Mordenti says, "The Single 400s, which are very powerful and effective, were positioned close to the areas to be illuminated, on the walkways of the archaeological area. As well as these fixtures’ efficiency and color quality, we also took advantage of their IP66 rating, which enables them to be installed outdoors where necessary, without having to worry about the risk of rain, which arrived punctually during programming and rehearsal nights! A wireless DMX link between all the Single 400 fixtures was possible, thanks to their on-board modules."
The SGM Idea PAR LED RGB fixtures and six MAC 2000 Wash units were positioned in the semicircular arcade. Six more MAC 2000 Wash fixtures and MAC 2000 Performance were out front, installed in gazebos alongside the projectors in Via Alessandrina. These were used to light zones that couldn’t be reached by the Studio Due fixtures and to complete the design.
The client gave Unità C1 ten days to put together a large-scale, 15-minute architectural show, with the theme of the history of Rome on film and Rome in cinema history. The short sequences of famous films from state broadcaster Rai’s archives about Rome, as well as others with popular personalities in Roman culture, were part of the sequence, and, due to the complexity of the architectural structure, the team made in-depth use of the functions of Pandoras Box Warp Tool.
The short timeframe put a considerable demand on Unità C1, as Mordenti notes. "With so little time available, it was impossible to separate the project’s drawing board and realization stages on the preproduction and production process," he says. "Unfortunately, when contents are created simultaneously with the actual definition of the sequences, it can be a case of ‘try and see,’ so sometimes several hours of rendering have to be repeated, and everything seems very chaotic. Fortunately, our tireless staff kept things on course, even when the going got rough, and the project was completed successfully."
The logistics of installing equipment in a location of this type, Mordenti adds, was challenging. "It is easy to imagine all the problems involved in working in an area with such a high archaeological value, including the fact that, if any of the staff strayed from the only permitted routes through the ruins, an alarm rang in the local police station," he says. "On this subject, my thanks go to all the staff of Rome Municipality’s Department for Cultural Heritage and all our friends at Zetema for their willing collaboration."
The sound reinforcement rig, designed by Massimo Altieri, featured a main system with two hangs of nine d&b audiotechnik T10s, installed 164' (50m) apart to avoid obstructing the front projections, but, since the closest spectators were at a distance of 197' (60m), the stereo sound image was maintained. Gianchi’s Walter Pizzi explains the setup in detail. "Alongside each of the two d&b hangs, two [mono] clusters of JBL Vertec VT4887s were flown from truss towers: one with four enclosures covered the area of the Trajan Column, and the other with eight was aimed at the Nerva Forum," he says. All four towers were constructed with Litec Flyintower X30.
On the ground, between the two d&b arrays, eight subwoofers—four d&b audiotechnik Q-SUBs and four JBL SRX728S subs—were installed. Amplification was via a combination of Crown MA and d&b D12 amps, processing via dbx DR4800, and all the audio distributed digitally (AES/EBU) to avoid the risk of the long cable runs causing interference. The audio console was a DiGiCo SD9.