CPL Supplies Projection and Lighting for new ARC Festival in Bristol


Central Presentations Ltd (CPL) supplied projection and lighting equipment plus design and programming services for the brand new ARC Festival, an innovative one day event celebrating electronic music and digital arts, staged in three domed and two tented structures in Eastville Park, Bristol, UK.

CPL’s client was festival organisers ARC AP. The Festival’s directors are Ben Thompson from the ARC Festival and Will Young from interactive experimentalists Luma, who asked CPL’s Nick Diacre to specify and supply a video system for the main stage and co-ordinate the supply of AV and lighting equipment to various VJs and visual collectives working in other areas of the site.

The idea for the Main Stage tent was to make the projections as immersive as possible given the staging set up. Each artist performing onstage was accompanied by a VJ and / or active visuals.

Will Young designed a 20 metre wide, 3 metre high curved screen – custom made for the event – and Diacre spec’d a video system that would work in the space and environment and could be utilised by all the various artists.

“The key was to keep it simple, flexible, and most importantly, quick and easy to set up,” explains Diacre, who brought his vast experience of live visual playback to the party.

This proved a wise move, as in some cases they received visuals only a few minutes before the ten artists over the course of 12 hours took to the stage - which needed to be formatted and integrated into the system!

Diacre used a Coolux Pandora’s Box media server as the hub of the operation into which all the VJs playing live and any playback content were fed. From here it was mapped to the screen and the multiple live feeds were processed using a combination of a PLS200 and a Barco DVI matrix as well as EDID management hardware.

Says Diacre, “Coolux’s Pandora’s Box was the obvious choice. Through careful management of sources and capture interfaces,CPL’s quad head media server processed over 16 different sources in various formats with little effort. In addition to sources and layouts, Pandora’s Boxmanaged moving backgrounds during artist changeovers at 4k resolution, as well as warping and soft-edge blending.

The screen was fed by four Panasonic PT-DZ21K 20K HD projectors, fitted with the shortest throw lenses and rigged on the front truss at extreme angles. They were keystone corrected using the Pandora’s Box warping engine.

Lighting in the main tent was designed by Will Howie, using a combination of CPL’s Martin MAC Aura LED washes, MAC 700 Spots, Atomic strobes and Molefeys, controlled via an Avolites Pearl desk.  The lighting was operated on-the-fly to complement and contrast with the assorted visuals appearing onscreen and the general vibe of the live sets as they developed.

The L’Acoustics Kara sound system was supplied by Bristol based AF Live  Audio Funktion and the stage was built by Flat Earth.

CPL also supplied assorted AV and lighting kit to various other areas including the Polygon Stage, which was designed and curated by Skulpt. This included Panasonic 10K projectors, PixelLine LED battens and a Slick trussing ground support system.

A Barco FLM HD 20K projector was utilised for exterior projections on to the Tangent Dome, which took on a new life after dark, complete with live content generated by visual artists Lumen.

Just metres away, the Axis dome was illuminated by 12x MAC 350 moving lights all synchronised by a motiontracking system...

“Being a new festival it was very exciting to work on this project,” enthuses Diacre. “The challenge was that there were obviously a few ‘unknowns’ that were not apparent until we were actually there on site,” – all of which he took in his stride.


Being a one day event, the timeframe was also limited and involved a couple of long nights programming … however, the turnout and the level of interest and the quality and nature of the art and performances all contributed to making the first ARC festival a real success.