Datacentric: The Visuals Of The CES 2018 Keynote Presentation

CES 2018 Keynote Presentation
(Brian Ach)

The CES 2018 opening night keynote presentation was all about data, from its importance in our lives to its power to transform the world. Held at the Park Theatre at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas on January 8, the keynote immersed attendees in the future of data-driven technology, with help from live event experts, including executive technical producer John Halloran John Halloran and Associates, executive producer and creative director Bill Welter of Clarity Creative, production designer Todd Ivins, and executive art director Gregg Stokes of Clarity Creative.

Read about the presentation's amazing stuntsset design, and staging stats.


“This was a massive effort at what I like to call screen choreography,” Stokes adds. “With kinetic lights, automated scrims, lasers, hex walls, and the amazing massive LED wall and LED floor screens, you were continually being tempted to overuse the canvas.”

The visuals team balanced art with the data-centric message of the keynote. “We wanted the visuals to be bold and striking with a sophisticated infographic feel,” says Stokes. “The style helped us to visually explain technology and to find a balance between being overly scientific and communicating clearly to the audience. As a designer when someone asks you to ‘draw the internet,’ you have to come up with imaginative visual solutions to help the audience understand what cannot be seen.”


Gary Jaeger, creative director of Core Studio, was hired on as technical media advisor for the keynote. “The challenge for us was to find fresh ways of visualizing and abstracting data that hadn’t been seen before,” says Jaeger. “We wanted our ‘data visualizations’ to not only feel technological, but also organic and natural.”

With the floor as an LED surface to accompany the main screen, the media could be designed as one seamless canvas. “Of course, that meant that we were working at massive resolutions,” adds Jaeger. “Add to the fact that, due to slightly different pitch in the LED tiles and projection, we were delivering files with different pixel densities.”

Jaeger relied on SideFX Houdini to manage the billions of bytes of data, rendering visuals in mainly Redshift, as well as Autodesk Maya, V-RayMaxon Cinema 4D, NukeAdobe AfterEffects, and Adobe Premiere. Kathy Chuen of Core Studio managed the hundreds of animation sequences including loops and overlays to play back on the disguise (previously known as d3 technologies) system. 

“We believe that this was the largest disguise media server system ever in terms of pixels pushed,” says TJ Donoghue, integration project manager from WorldStage, which was hired in July 2017 to build a robust, reliable system with redundancies to ensure a clean show for the complex corporate presentation. The system featured 11 total chassis with eight 4x4 pro media servers and six 2x4 pro media servers, including 68 primary and 68 backup channels of HD video plus seven universes of DMX data. A Barco E2 system fed signals to the hero LED wall and banner projection screen, while a Ross 3G 4 ME switcher fed the 17-camera video shoot. “Outside of the 14 media servers, we had no less than seven content creation and management computers and two computers dedicated to interacting with lighting, lasers, and automation.”

The video system included Cisco-managed switches to deliver a 10gb redundant network solution. “This allowed for many VPNs for specific uses and for very high speed content transfer from the content cluster to the media server cluster,” explains Donoghue.

“There was literally never a moment where the screens were inactive, even if it was as subtle as particles drifting around type or background elements,” explains Jaeger. “We wanted the entire show to feel as if it was being activated by the data.”


disguise Media Server Channels

  • 68 primary and 68 back-up channels
  • 16 channels from pre-show visual D3
  • 136 live channels total (most channels ever deployed at one time)

7 - ArtNet Universes for tracking motion between Lighting, Automation, and Video

Total pixels displayed (fed by disguise media servers)

  • LED Floor: 4224 x 2976 pixels or 12,570,624 pixels total
  • Main LED Screen: 4264 x 1580 pixels or 6,737,120 total pixels
  • Rollio Screens: 4 x 1080 x 3636 pixels or 15,707,520 total pixels
  • IMAG Screens: 2 x 1920 x 1080 pixels or 4,147,200 total pixels
  • VR Screen: 9572 x 1080 pixels or 10,337,760 total pixels
  • Hex Wall Screen: 9828 x 2160 pixels or 21,228,480 total pixels
  • Total pixels displayed: 70,990,848 pixels
  • Total pixels switched by E2: 21,222,080 pixels

Display screens square footage

  • Main LED 2511 sq ft
  • LED Floor 3670 sq ft
  • Subtotal LED surfaces 6181 sq ft
  • IMAG Screens 1424 sq ft
  • Rollio Screens 3432 sq ft
  • Hex Wall Screen 2268 sq ft
  • VR Screen 4290 sq ft
  • Subtotal Projection surfaces 11,414 sq ft
  • Total of all displays 17,595 sq ft


  • 24 Christie Boxer 4K-30K projector
  • 16 Christie HD20K J-series projector
  • 34,000 feet (6.4 miles) of Fiber Optic TAC-12 Cable

Projection Lumens

  • IMAG Screens: 68,000 lumens
  • VR Screen: 204,000 lumens across entire surface
  • Hex Wall Screen: 400,000 lumens across entire surface
  • Rollio Screens: 200,000 lumens across entire surface
  • Subtotal Projection Lumens: 838,000 lumens of projection


  • Executive Technical Producer: John Halloran (John Halloran and Associates)
  • Executive Art Director: Gregg Stokes (Clarity Creative)
  • Executive Producer / Creative Director: Bill Welter (Clarity Creative)
  • Production Designer: Todd Ivins (Ivinsart Design, Inc.)
  • Technical Media Advisor: Gary Jaeger (Core Studio Creative Director)
  • Lighting Designer: Jim Tetlow (Nautilus Entertainment Design)
  • Lighting Director / Programmer: Kurt Doemelt (Nautilus Entertainment Design)
  • Audio Designer, FOH Engineer: Rich Halvorson
  • Laser Design and Integration: Kelly Sticksel (Fireplay Executive Director R&D)

Worldstage: Video Equipment and Systems

  • Senior Project Manager: James Sarro
  • Integration Project Manager: TJ Donoghue
  • Project Manager: Dennis Menard
  • Project Manager: John Denion
  • Senior disguise Media Server Programmer: Alex Bright
  • Video Director: Ken Stanford

Kish Rigging: Production Rigging

  • Production Rigger: Mike Cassidy

Mystic Scenic Studios: Scenery

  • Project Manager: Mark Marenghi

TAIT Towers: Staging and Automation

  • Project Managers: Ben Gasper and Brian Levine

4Wall: Lighting Equipment

  • Account Executive: Craig Teague

OSA Integrated Solutions: Audio Equipment

  • Account Executive: Paul Driggs
  • Project Manager: Peter Wiejaczka

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