When San Diego-based Nautilus Entertainment Design (NED) was hired by John Halloran Associates to light the RSA keynote speakers and ancillary events at the annual RSA Conference, the company's lighting designers used Prelite Studios to previsualize content for 85 Martin LC Panels onstage.
RSA, the Security Division of EMC, is the premier provider of security solutions for business acceleration. Its annual conference is the most prestigious information security event of the year bringing together IT professionals, developers, policy makers, industry leaders and academics to share information and exchange ideas. Martin LC Series panels are a semi-transparent modular system of LED panels for displaying video and images.
Working on an extremely tight schedule, Prelite, which helps lighting designers and programmers use emerging technologies to previsualize lighting and video elements for productions, moved onsite to San Francisco's Moscone Center where the keynotes were slated to be presented from March 1-5. "Using Prelite for two days during the load-in we were able to write a week's worth of video and panel looks for the whole event," says NED's staff lighting designer Kurt Doemelt who worked with Principal lighting designer Jim Tetlow on the conference.
The set for the keynotes consisted of a trio of 16x9 projection screens. Two 18x32-foot horizontal screens flanked a central 20x15-foot screen in portrait mode that often served as the main camera background. Eighty-five Martin LC Panels flanked the stage for 40' on each side, in a combination of meter-square and 1x2-meter panels, suspended on truss at random heights in three different planes. The effect allowed conference attendees to see the upstage layer through the downstage layer and gave the background added visual depth. They displayed colors and low-resolution textures and graphic elements that tied into the main screen.
Denise Miller, of Reno-based Miller Creative Solutions, designed all the slide backgrounds for the main projection screens as well as the still graphic elements for the LC Panels. "We used a Hippo HD server to animate and do effects on top of her still content, bringing otherwise still content to life" Doemelt explains. "The first day of the conference is always the biggest, and there were about 100 images in keynotes that kicked off the event. On each of the other days there were 20-40 images for the keynotes."
"Working with Prelite allowed us to make sure all of Denise's screen content aligned with the low-resolution content on the LC Panels," says Doemelt. "It also provided us with a cue structure for the entire week of shows. Then we could move to the main hall and fill in the show around that structure. We roughed in a week's worth of shows and cues in just a day-and-a-half."
Prelite's Tom Thompson set up in a small trailer within Moscone Center's Hall D during the load in. He tapped Vision software and Autodesk 3ds Max to create two versions of the LC Panels' look: a "solid" version of the LED displays and a pixel version which permitted Tetlow, Doemelt and show programmer Erik Docktor to view the effects of the semi-transparent layered panels.
"With a layout of the set and Denise's content we were able to present a proof of concept to see if everything on the screens was going to work," says Thompson. "Once NED had the looks they needed, they could program the elements and plug in the results for the shows."
By using Prelite NED not only wrote the video and panel looks for the entire event in just two days, they significantly reduced the time the programmers were required onsite. "Without Prelite we would have needed two programmers during the load in and for the entire five-day event," Doemelt reports. "Instead, it came down to one-and-a-half days."
Producer John Halloran reports that Prelite "allowed us to start rehearsals with all the LED looks in the proper cue stacks. That made rehearsals and programming go very smoothly."
"Prelite was huge for letting everyone see what the LC Panels' content was actually going to look like," adds Docktor. "It was pretty close to dead on."
"The prelite sessions gave us a chance to work out how best to program complicated effects and transitions without taking up valuable rehearsal time with executives," concludes Doemelt. "A weekend of Prelite is worth a week of tech"
Epic Production Technologies of Oxnard, California provided the LC Panels, a pair of Hippo HD servers, and onsite support hardware and an amazing support staff. Donny LoDico was the account representative with Kenny Gritton and Ryan Middlemiss providing onsite support. ELS in Los Angeles furnished approximately 2,300 feet of linear RGB LEDs, 40 VARI*LITE automated fixtures and more than 60 conventional lighting instruments as well as three full-size grandMAs for all lighting and media control. Craig Teague was the account executive.
IATSE Local 16 members Mike Starobin and Maria Mendoza were the offline programmer and production electrician, respectively.
Prelite was founded in San Francisco February 2000 by Tom Thompson and Norm Schwab as a place for lighting designers and programmers to use technologies to previsualize lighting projects. The company provides a studio where previsualization and creativity take center stage away from the distractions and interruptions of a chaotic work environment and where clients save time and money and minimize stress. Prelite also offers on-site previsualization services for those who prefer the convenience of working at the venue. For more information, visit www.prelite.com or contact Thomas Thompson at 415-883-7727.