A New Paradigm For Corporate Events At Cisco Live

Cisco raised the benchmark for corporate events with a visually exciting, 360° experience with Cisco Live, held June 25 to 29 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The in-the-round, arena-style venue, hosted an educational and training event for IT, networking, and communications professionals produced by Go! Experience Design, with lighting and visual design by John Featherstone of Lightswitch and scenic design by Johniene Papandreas of Valdreas DesignRead more about the lighting design and sound design.

“Valdreas Design was brought in by GO! Experience Design at the very initial stages to scenically conceptualize, design, and develop a 360° arena experience engaging an audience of thousands seated in-the-round in an immersive and interactive experience, while equally incorporating all the required presentation needs of a major corporate event,” explains Papandreas. “We had the added good fortune of collaborating again with John Featherstone of Lightswitch. Working with him always ups any game.”

Joe Kenemore

One of the scenic challenges was, as Papandreas points out, the 360° setting. “Finding a way for a presenter working in the round to connect with an audience of thousands is a balance of focus and scale,” she says. “Being alone in the center of such a large venue, a human-scaled presenter has to be given the focus and then scale employed to embrace and include the attendees.” The basic design concept was a circular stage with an LED floor centered beneath concentric rings of lights, created by a total 176 Glow Motion LED orbs raising and lowering on high-speed Stage Kinetik Winches.

As Cisco is a technology company, Papandreas and her team hit on the idea of visualizing “the ripple effect” of technology, kind of like a stone tossed into the water. “Our presenter on the circular stage became the entry point, and a ‘splash’ of concentric lighting effects supported by a series of circular truss over the stage was used to transition attention upward,” she notes. “Lateral, concentric ‘ripple rings’ of the glowing orbs continued the visual progression out over the audience, and four wide-format LED screens were incorporated into the array.”

The four LED screens hung from truss measuring approximately 50'x18' and comprised eight sections, or four units, back-to-back of Unilumin UPAD III 2.6 LED panels with 5,760x1,728 pixel resolution, provided by Chris Kimball at Trend Group directly to Full Motion Technical Group. Joe Russo at Full Motion Technical Group worked with John Westermann at VER, who, in turn, supplied the video package, broadcast truck, and round LED stage floor for this event.

“Joe wanted to have a broadcast truck for the Cisco team to keep it separate from the in-house video team. VER used the latest Riedel Media Networks’ video systems to make this work,” says Westermann, who adds, “Featherstone did an amazing job with creative and lighting to make this a very immersive show.” The 28'-diameter LED floor provided by VER comprised 256 Uniview BO-6 LED panels for a resolution of 1,440x1,440 pixels.

Joe Kenemore

 To help create the immersive experience, “each of the concentric ‘ripple rings’ was rigged with internally lit orbs, each on its own winch, capable of independent animation,” says Papandreas. “They could rise up and down in various sequences and were brilliantly choreographed by John at Lightswitch to realize the fully immersive experience desired.”

What made this project so successful? “When you have an adventurous and skilled creative and production team, and a client interested in pushing the bounds, the result can be a concept fully and memorably realized beyond even the original expectations. We certainly had that,” Papandreas adds, crediting the cutting-edge nature of the Glow Motion rings of light with Stage Kinetik winches that, as she says, “really brought the concept home and transformed the arena into an immersive gyroscopic experience that no one who attended will soon forget.”

Creative Inspiration

Joe Kenemore

The scope of work for creative director Julie Schneider, she says, “was to own the main stage keynotes throughout the four-day event, from scenic design, lighting, entertainment, walk-in experience, video, and opening. The only things it didn’t include were scripting and graphics for the main presentations.”

Knowing they were going to approach this as an in-the-round production gave the creative team inspiration for bringing the audience into the show, expanding scenic and creative storytelling devices, not just in front of them, but surrounding them. “From the LED floor to the kinetic lighting above and the lasers that reached outward, every audience member had a real immersive experience,” Schneider says. “Soon after winning the project, we learned of a new technology that Cisco was gearing up to reveal, a new offering that was going to change the network as we all knew it. What better inspiration to design an opening experience around using all the great technology we had at our disposal, creating a reset for the industry starting at Cisco Live?”

Cutting-edge it was, for sure, using a gaggle of entertainment technology for a corporate event. “While the individual items, on their own, might not be the newest tech, how we used them in combination with each other magnified their effect,” confirms Schneider. “The kinetic lighting was such a fun tool to use. It has the ability to completely change the set/mood on a dime, and the seemingly limitless ways the orbs can be choreographed and lit made them a favorite of mine for sure.”

Joe Kenemore

Stay tuned for more on the lighting and sound design!

Selected Video Gear

Provided by VER

  • Flex Solutions Broadcast Truck
  • 1 d3 Technologies Media Server
  • 256 Uniview BO-6 LED Panel
  • 2160 Unilumin UPAD III 2.6 LED panel (Provided by Chris Kimball at Trend Group)
  • 3 Barco Encore E2
  • 1 Barco EC-200
  • 1 Extron XTP II 6400 64x64 Router
  • 1 Extron XTP II 6400 16x16 Router
  • 1 Riedel MediorNet MetronN 64 Port Routing System
  • 4 Riedel MediorNet Compact Pro
  • 4 Riedel MediorNet MicroN

Selected Credits

  • Julia Mitchell, Executive Producer
  • Julie Schnieder, Creative Director
  • Joe Russo, Technical Director 
  • Johniene Papandreas, Set Designer
  • John Westermann, VER Video Project Manager
  • Donny Lodico, VER Lighting Project Manager
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