Students at the University of Connecticut’s (UConn’s) Digital Media & Design program had a big canvas to fill for their final projection mapping project. ATD Audio Visual, a full-service event production and rental company in the Bronx, New York, served as technical partner, selected the Christie Spyder X80 multi-window processor to facilitate mapping the students’ digital content onto the façade of The Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford.
The beautiful neoclassical walls, columns and pediment in the courtyard at The Bushnell lent themselves to the dynamic and colorful graphics and animations created by the UConn students. The Bushnell has been a gathering place for arts, education and community activities in Greater Hartford for almost 90 years.
“The Bushnell’s façade was ideal for projection mapping,” says Or Israel, president, ATD. “It has many 3D elements – columns, brick walls, and lions’ heads supporting the portico – which made an interesting surface to display the 1920 x 1920-resolution content. The façade had been scanned and content specs supplied to the students who built their projects on templates of the projection surface.” Favorite Color, a New York City-based design studio and production company, also created content for the show.
“It was exciting to work with ATD on this pilot for a program we hope to continue,” says Ryan Glista, Project Manager at The Bushnell’s Digital Institute and a recent UConn graduate. “This was the first partnership between The Bushnell and UConn. Seven students were completing an introduction to projection mapping course; they are all juniors and seniors with a strong background in animation. They had done projection mapping on small objects in class, but their final project was on a much bigger scale.”
ATD provided two 20,000 lumen projectors with short-throw lenses, mounted under the glass portico of the courtyard façade; a media server; and a Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor. The project was the first projection mapping assignment for the new Spyder X80, which ATD acquired last November. In addition, Israel shared his expertise with students by teaching a two-hour class on basic projection mapping and 3D mapping at UConn.
“Or told me about the Spyder X80, and I was as excited as he was to see it in action at The Bushnell,” says Glista.
“We knew if we used the X80 it would be a stress-free show,” says Israel, who acted as project manager. “With the Spyder X80 we connect the system and everything works. I feel free to mingle with the client; without it I have to be behind the technicians making sure nothing goes wrong. Even though the X80’s success rate is extremely high, we also had the security of Spyder’s built-in redundancy; we knew the still store would step in if there were any failures.”
Glista notes that, “the show was initially supposed to be a two-day test, but when the CEO of The Bushnell saw it he was so impressed by it and what it could mean for the theater that we installed it for the three-week, sold-out run of ‘Hamilton.’ That meant thousands of people saw the projection mapping every night – how amazing for the students!”
Israel notes that ATD used the X80 on five shows in just two months. “Since we took delivery of the Spyder it’s done a number of live shows for high-end clients, including a corporate event in Manhattan with six 4K outputs and a total of 60 million pixels.”
At ATD, Riley Irving was the Spyder X80 Operator for The Bushnell project and Kevin Gomez the AV Technician. At UConn the Department Head was Heather Elliott-Famularo and the Professor was Kevin Richetelli. The students whose work was shown were Ian D’Arcangelo, Nick Donati, Eric Fritz, Orly Mobilio, Jasmine Rajavadee, Morgan Rossi and Renoj Varghese.