A landmark venue, strikingly contemporary graphics, a massive set, and an exciting fall primetime line-up combined to generate serious buzz at the CBS 2011 Upfront Presentation at New York City's Carnegie Hall where Video Applications (VAI), a WorldStage company, provided video projection, switching, engineering and signal distribution.
VAI, which began its collaboration with CBS Executive Producer Jane Gottlieb in 1994, built on the projection design established last year to go even larger and taller with an expanded display beyond the hero screen that incorporated the architectural elements of Carnegie Hall's famed proscenium stage.
"We used projection on the proscenium last year, but this time we used the space to its full advantage with larger-scale projection canvas that encompassed more of the proscenium arch and the physical space of the stage," explains Shawn Oatey, VAI's head of project development.
As with the 2010 upfront, this year's event utilized the expertise of Bruce Rodgers from Tribe Inc., who was enlisted as the scenic designer. Rogers again helped to reframe the presentation space within Carnegie Hall, enabling an entirely new visual territory.
Jane Gottlieb comments, "The superb combination of engineering expertise, innovation and client service are the reasons why CBS continues to rely on Video Applications for its most prestigious and high profile events. Video is what CBS showcases at this event; it must be perfect and we get no second chances. Our success speaks to the quality and integrity of this incredible group of dedicated professionals."
For the 2011-2012 Upfront the 17x60-foot hero screen spanning the stage was fed by three stacked pairs of Christie Roadster HD18K 3-chip 1080 HD DLP projectors. Four more stacked pairs of the same projectors were configured in a quadrant to fill the entire 50x80-foot proscenium, including the physical columns and arch. All of the projectors were mounted in the first-tier box seating; video and projection equipment was confined to six boxes to make as much seating as possible available to the overflow crowd.
VAI was tasked with both physically and electronically masking the quadrant of projectors so they wouldn't display onto the hero screen, which needed to remain bright and vibrant.
"The technology for taking the content across the big palette of the Carnegie Hall stage was amazing," says Oatey. "Everything had to be well choreographed so all the physical pieces were in place and content made it to the right spots across the space. Almost all of the graphics for the show spilled beyond the hero screen up into the proscenium and down to the stage floor."
CBS's animation design team had developed the presentation's color palette of blue, purple, red, gold and green hues and created a graphic framework featuring the network's iconic eye logo set inside animated concentric circles. Red Thread Productions crafted the graphics and built the overall look showcasing the slate of new and returning programming. Beirne Lowry of Mr. Wonderful collaborated with the Red Thread team, led by Agnes Punsalang, on the overall art direction.
Keith Tromer worked with Red Thread to manage the Dataton WATCHOUT system, which played content out to all the projectors. VAI furnished cx`1Encore switching and interfaced with the CBS mobile broadcast studio.
The complexities of the event required VAI Engineer In Charge Shane Zinke and Screen Switcher Jason Spencer to spend five days prior to the load in at Studio 19 in CBS's "Black Rock" headquarters. There they set up a mini mock up of the hero screen and switching system to ensure a smooth production. The load in for the show began on May 15. The 90-minute presentation took place on May 18 and was judged by the industry trades as the most effective, most polished of all the cable and network upfront events.
Other members of the VAI team included Projectionist Terry Nakamura, Engineer Bryan Dominick and freelance Projectionist Scott Goegebuer.
Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are collaborating partners to clients requiring unique and imaginative solutions for their event, spectacle and large-meeting lighting, sound and video needs whether local, national or worldwide. For more information visit www.scharffweisberg.com or www.videoapps.com.