Times Square came to a standstill, and it wasn't even New Year's Eve. Ten of thousands of fans turned out to watch superstar singer-rapper Nicki Minaj perform live and celebrate the launch of the Windows-based Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone in North America at an event featuring audio and lighting support from WorldStage, the new brand for Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications Inc.
Minaj, a native New Yorker, sang a three-song set, then the show segued into an exclusive remix of her current hit "Starships," performed live by DJ/producer Doorly. The remix was accompanied by the transformation of the American Eagle building on the corner adjacent to the stage, into a giant video screen with choreographed bold CG imagery.
"It was a large-scale, top secret project," says senior account executive Michael May of the WorldStage Nashville office. "We got the call to put everything together five weeks prior to the event. We could only work in Times Square for the three nights prior to the show and couldn't reveal the upcoming event to passersby" who were curious about the blue cube of a stage under construction.
IncrediBull, a brand communications company in London and San Francisco, conceived the event, which was shrouded in mystery until they put word out via social media, and Minaj fans quickly packed Times Square for the free concert.
Technical producer Doug Murray of Cue1Go production services in Larkspur, California assembled the players on the production team and selected WorldStage for its technical and logistical expertise. "Working in Times Square is never an easy feat," notes WorldStage project manager Josh Perlman. "There are security issues, space concerns and, for this event, we could only work overnight."
The audio needs for the event were extensive requiring sound coverage for a large area from the stage to 48th street plus Duffy Plaza. "We also needed to cover a very wide area with a digital intercom system - Broadway from 44th to 47th Streets," Perlman points out. We brought in Tommy Nicks as the A1 for the project.
In addition to the PA and intercom package WorldStage supplied three WinVision 8mm LED walls to act as Countdown Clocks on the sides of the blue box stage. On the morning of the show they also furnished a pair of Christie Roadie HD30K projectors to display Nokia's Twitter hash tag. Sean Kelly was the head LED tech and Juan Mateo was projectionist.
WorldStage also supported lighting designer Charles Foster, of Lightswitch, with fixtures for the performance. Lighting effects also made the blue stage glow for three days, building anticipation for the event. WorldStage provided a number of moving lights, including 25 Martin MAC Auras and 10 Clay Paky Sharpys; 75 LED fixtures, including 30 Chroma-Q Color Force LEDs; and a standard array of conventional lights and dimming. The show's lighting was driven off a Martin M1 console.
Project manager John Healy handled the lighting end of the event and played host to the crew that traveled in from California to prep the show. "We had a crew of seasoned production electricians who split shifts around the clock to make the job happen," says Healy. Our staff production electrician Drew Decorletto was one of the heads in the field."
Atomic Design, a frequent WorldStage partner, provided the scenic and incorporated the LED Countdown Clocks into the set. Production Glue's Matt Richman and Jack Hilley handled the technical direction and city permitting. Christine Smith of 22 Twelve was the executive producer.
"We're proud that WorldStage met the challenges of scale, time frame and scheduling to support such a unique event in the heart of New York City," says Michael May.
WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc., continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally. The Owners and Employees of WorldStage believe that all clients deserve the WorldStage Experience