VivaVision is a quarter-mile-long LED canopy over Fremont Street, Las Vegas. Every hour, 365 nights a year, the screen plays a gigantic music video. The original computers running VivaVision were strange nonstandard boxes. The task was to replace them with Pandora's Box Media Players. I created a timeline scheduling system and brought in existing content. We also connected the new players to sound, lighting, and other control systems that had been manually operated for many years.
At Coolux we built and ran a booth every year at InfoComm, LDI, and NAB, to showcase the newest features of Pandoras Box, find new customers, and keep up a network of video geeks. It is a lot of fun to meet strangers and talk tech when you have interactive video gadgets.
In 2014 the new gadgets included IR tracking tags that let projection effects follow someone such as a performer across stage. Also the new Drawing Canvas feature, which makes for projected graffiti.
This particular booth required some stage carpentry I was thrilled to take it on. It had been too long without sawdust in my nose or a professional reason to buy pulleys.
As an Assistant Technical Director at the Washington National Opera, I maintained CAD drawings and prepared mainstage shows while managing daily tech operations on stage.
Lead ATD on:
Madama Butterfly(2006), L'elisir d'amore(2006), Sophie's Choice(2007), Democracy(2004), WNO 50-Year Gala(2006)
Supporting ATD on:
Die Zauberflote, The Maid of Orleans, I vespri siciliani, Porgy and Bess, Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Macbeth
Prior to the Opera, where all labor was union, I was a more hands-on Technical Director for a number of shows and theaters around DC: Metro Stage in Alexandria, Capital Hill Arts Workshop, GALA Hispanic Theater. As a TD I hired help and built the scenery, and I coordinated with lighting and other departments.
NCTA an association that educates congress about the benefits of cable and internet access. Their office on Capitol Hill got a big touch screen driven by Pandora's Box Media Servers. I developed the interactive programming for this screen with Coolux Widget Designer.
I like this design for its navigation belt to organize everything, and simple gestures to go in and out of content.
Every Thanksgiving the Dallas Cowboys put on a big game and a big halftime show. I was called upon to use Pandora's Box to run the outer and inner LED screens on this custom beauty. The flown sections are rigged to the stadium's jumbotron. Fiber optic networking let the media servers control the screens from very long distances. The whole set builds and strikes in under ten minutes, thanks to 200 volunteer(!) wagon pushers. It was an impressive show, if you're into Luke Bryan.
Part of a $125 million new build, the First Baptist Dallas sanctuary called for seven 22k rear projectors on a compound-curved 150' wide screen. Pandora's Box warping and blending had us covered for the screen. The more interesting engineering was in the control room, where everything on the sanctuary screen is shown in duplicate on a working quarter-scale projection system with identical contours. I built controls to operate both systems in parallel so the video operators have an accurate heads up on what is on screen.
In 1978 the Metropolitan Museum of Art received an Egyptian temple built by Augustus in the year 15. For a number of years the Temple of Dendur has been the backdrop for the Met's Costume Gala, New York's ultimate dress-up party. In 2011 the Gala was honoring the tragic loss of designer Alexander McQueen. The design called for seamless projection on the 200' wide back wall. I used Hippotizer media servers to warp and blend. The real innovation was in rigging: Frost Productions fabricated custom platforms to hang 16k projectors elegantly from the glass wall of the museum.
Projecting on random objects in the corner of a ballroom? Welcome to class. Training other programmers how to use media servers has been my most rewarding work. Sometimes programmers are preparing for a specific installation that is already specced. Other programmers are freelancers chasing the big video dollars. Some students were simply owners or producers who would never operate a show but wanted to learn how these mysterious computers work.
Skechers' corporate headquarters wanted an interactive video wall to showcase their HD commercials as well as ultra-high-res 7k custom content. Pandora's Box Media Players drive the 21 LCD screens while an Airscan infrared laser scanner tracks users gestures. I programmed all the interactivity with Widget Designer.
The headquarters is where sales staff bring international retail clients in to make deals. As Skechers' head of multimedia once told me, "believe me, this video wall sells shoes."
Parametric media servers are utilized most fully in live theatre, which combines ambitious expression with last-minute direction as well as live control. While a theatre production uses video equipment by the week or month, a burgeoning number of churches are permanently installing systems. With a media server, a church can constantly stay creative and engaging with new content and effects every week. I did a number of permanent installs in churches and "mega churches." Typically a church has a lighting designer and a video producer who both take the training and learn to operate the system. Then the sky is the limit.
Honda's 2012 Dealership Meeting called for projection mapping on moving scenery. When scenery stands still, you can usually projection-map 3D contours with 2D tricks in a variety of softwares. However, scenery that moves needs true 3D mapping and realtime rendering.
Honda's 40' moving wall passed between the beams of a dozen different projectors, and the content followed seamlessly. The motor/automation system sent position data to Widget Designer. WD controlled the X position of a Pandora's Box layer, and the layer was loaded with a 3D mesh of the wall.