For a video about PRG at the Pan American Games Guadalajara 2011 click HERE.
When early discussions began with the creative producer and design firm Five Currents, about their ambitious plans for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Games, PRG realized that seamless coordination among the disciplines would be essential to ensuring a successful event. Five Currents agreed that a turnkey solution provider who could engineer and supply a complete production solution would be the right direction and gave PRG the complete production package, including the audio, lighting, scenic, automation and projection for the event held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
For the opening ceremonies, PRG drew upon resources from throughout its global facilities and achieved an integrated production package through constant communication and coordination. This, along with in-house product development, helped to solve problems and to mitigate on-site surprises during the tight load-in and rehearsal schedules.
PRG’s R&D team was also tasked with developing new features required by the technically challenging design. Among the PRG technologies used on the 2011 Pan Am Games were the Commander™ Motion Control Console, Mbox Extreme® v3 Media Server; the V476® Lighting Control Console; Bad Boy® Spot Luminaire and Series 400® Power and Data Distribution System. PRG also provided on-site supervision of the installation, operation, and dismantle of the various systems.
Five Currents’ Scott Givens, Creative Director of the Opening and Closing ceremonies, envisioned a cylindrical central element that floated high above a circular center stage from which aerialists would descend. In addition, a 98-feet (30m) tall, 360° projection screen would also raise and lower from this central element. Known as “the Halo”, this enormous scenic piece, which was 98-feet (30m) in diameter and 12-feet (4m) high, housed a catwalk, aerialist winches and automation mechanics, lighting, pyrotechnical and special effects, and the automated projection screen.
The Halo structure, which weighed 165,350 lbs (75,000kg) with all the technical and creative elements inside, had to be suspended in the center of the roofless, open air Omnilife Stadium. Jim Lehner, PRG’s Senior Vice President, Sales & Integration, needed to consider building codes, weather fluctuations, wind forces as well as the technical production criteria in order to engineer a viable, safe solution to rig the Halo in midair. Lehner worked with PRG Structural Engineer Shawn Nolan to design a wire rope cable suspension system of 12 catenary cables, similar to a suspension bridge, to support the Halo from the roof overhang above the seats around the perimeter of the stadium. The cable system itself was not only based on bridge design but employed actual bridge technology using all bridge wire and rope not typically used in entertainment technology.
PRG installed wind sensors in the Halo to address weather concerns. The Halo was designed to withstand winds of up to 72 miles per hour, but in case of emergencies, the bull nose fabric, which skinned he Halo, could be released, or the entire structure could be lowered in extreme situations. Because the Halo was hanging from the facility’s roof, Nolan also took into consideration other impacting forces including the movement of people on the catwalk, the screen automation and the aerialists, as all of these forces would resolve at the building itself.
The half-round exterior of the Halo, known as the bull nose, was covered with a 12-feet (4m) high by 6-feet (2m) white rip-stop nylon fabric. It has vertical ribbing that reflects the design of the stadium roof as well as the ribs in the projection screen. It was designed to blend in and look like it belonged as a part of the stadium. The bull nose was also a projection surface used by the creative team throughout the ceremonies.
The primary projection surface was the retractable projection screen which unfolded from the Halo and descended to a 98-feet (30m) tall hollow cylinder that provided a 360° projection surface. Controlled as an Austrian drape with pickup points the screen was hung from the Halo catwalk. When deployed the screen could be moved at a top speed of 6m (20-feet)/sec and at low speed of 3m (10-feet)/sec. The PRG Commander Motion Control Console controlled the screen.
Projection was an essential feature of the Opening Ceremonies celebration and the creative team conceived spectacular visuals that pushed the technology envelope. There were three projection areas and each surface presented its own challenge, the Halo retractable 360° screen, the circular stage floor and the projection on the aerialists. Spinifex Group designed the content and they worked closely with PRG, re-rendering new content on-site during rehearsals.
For the Halo projection PRG supplied a system that could handle image distortion and blending on the rounded surface and track the image with the moving screen. Eighteen Barco FLM HD 20 projectors were positioned around the concourse level of the stadium. PRG Mbox EXtreme Media Servers were used to drive content for the projectors. The PRG V476® Lighting Control Console was used to control the Mbox system.
Mbox received screen-positioning data – distance, height, inclination – through Art-Net protocol from the Commander motion control console. In Mbox, the flat format video content was distorted project a visually perfect image. Each of the three projectors in each stack could accurately line up and resolve even the slightest position change in the Halo screen, down to the millimeter. Accuracy was critical since a difference of just a few millimeters would, across the distance from the projector to the screen, translate into the image being improperly aligned. A utility in the Mbox system allowed all 15 media servers to shift the image to match the screen speed as it raised and lowered. The production used the 3D capabilities in the Mbox to achieve a perfectly lit cylinder-shaped screen.
Another projection mapping challenge was the projection directly onto the aerialists. PRG’s R&D team enhanced the existing features in Mbox to allow the media server to track the 12 flying performers with specific images “cut” from the stage projection. By using the same positioning data feature used for the Halo screen tracking, the PRG team was able to receive both position and velocity information from the flying winch system, provided by Stage Technologies Group Ltd., sent to the Commander console, which translated the data into Art-Net and passed it on to the Mbox media servers.
For the projector mapping onto the performers, PRG used the Discrete Mapping mode, meaning the video projection tracked with the performers as they moved, with the image appearing to be “stuck” to the individual performer, rather than looking as if the performer were passing through the projected image. Essentially, a single pixel of video output from the Mbox was mapped to a single pixel on the projector output and tracked with the performer.
Since the performers were not only moving left and right but also up and down, the Mbox needed to know where the performers would be in those X, Y, and Z coordinates. The images projected onto the flying performers were part of a single video clip on a single layer divided into 12 pixel areas. To each of those 12 squares, a control signal containing an individual performer’s X, Y, Z positional data was assigned, allowing Mbox to shift that piece of video to match the performer’s trajectory. This processing was all done in real time with no lag between incoming data and the final visual result.
For the projection onto the arena floor, angles and shape were the challenge. The floor performance area was a flat circular surface 200-feet (60m) in diameter with a circular stage 75-feet (25m) in diameter and 8-feet (2.4m) high. To achieve the projection on this surface without any distortion, PRG supplied 24 Barco FLM 22R+ projectors configured into six quad-stacked arrangements to assure a brightness of 180 lux over the entire surface. The projectors were mounted on custom cradles for proper tilting. Each stack of projectors received a single feed from a UVA d3 server.
Lighting & Audio
Lighting Designer David Grill’s design consisted of three lighting systems—the Halo rig, the roof truss layer, and the field level. Grill used 36 PRG Bad Boy Spot luminaires and 36 Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash units in the Halo for lighting the performers on the field and the stage. The 98-foot (30m) trim of the Halo made the output of the Bad Boys ideal for the long throw. They could also be used for texture and as a functional spotlight.
The design also had wash lights mounted on the roof truss on the four sides of the roof structure with throws averaging 350-feet (107m). At the field level, Grill used six additional Bad Boys and 46 VL3500 Spots to light the performers on the field. Since the 75-foot (25m) diameter floor on the field was also a projection surface, Grill had to light the performers without washing out the projections.
PRG supplied a large Series 400 Power and Data Distribution system to move the power and data around the massive stadium. There were eight S400 rack positions with fiber optic cabling used for he longer runs required for the massive stadium. The S400 system also supported the data networking for both lighting and video control.
Signal distribution was also an issue for Sound Designer Pat Baltzell. Among his concerns were the wire run lengths; copper would have been problematic as the input runs were up to 800-feet (245m) to the splitter and patch. In addition, time code had to be run along the video runs of 1,000-1,500-feet (300-460m). Cable paths were common with the lighting, power and video systems, which could cause audio signal interference. PRG suggested using a digital snake and signal distribution system to ensure the best signal quality and Baltzell agreed. A Riedel RockNet system that wrapped around the stadium and handled all the inputs, outputs and runs from the amp rack, the house PA system and the wedge monitors was installed.
PRG handled the distribution of timecode for the ceremonies. After the timecode was created in the main control booth, it was distributed around the stadium to 28 major drop points for video, lighting, automation, special effects, the Halo, pyro and fireworks. PRG also supplied timecode readers for the producers and the show callers. In the end, fifty percent of the timecode data was run in the RockNet system with the balance using traditional cabling where it was more expedient.
PRG provided L’Acoustics dV-Dosc small format speakers for the field system and L’Acoustics V-Dosc speakers for the lower bowl seating area. There were 16 locations of V-Dosc and eight subwoofers around the field plus 12 towers of dV-Dosc speakers under the stage. Control of the audio system was via Yamaha PM5D consoles, one in the monitor area and one at the front-of-house mix position. There were also smaller Yamaha LS9-16 and DM1000 consoles for supplemental monitor control and for the audio feed for broadcast.
In-ear monitors were needed for each of the 600 cast members. PRG split the signals into three groups for different performers with several channels for stage management. Additionally, there were 40 monitors for the aerialists with critical safety feeds and 40 more monitors for the primary talent, musicians and singers. In the end, over 700 in-ear and wedge monitors were provided. An additional 2,000 FM radio feeds were used for the rest of the extended cast members.
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