Challenge

Blend striking audiovisual and presentation content into a pro-winter message for the Winter Cities Shake-Up 2015 conference.

Solution

Create a audiovisual environment using wraparound, multiwindow, videowall and spherical displays for showing presentations and near-immersive content.

The Team

Held in and hosted by the City of Edmonton, Alberta — where winters are snowy, bright and cold — the Winter Cities Shake-Up 2015, Jan.28-30, was an international conference aimed at promoting winter as a positive social, economic and activity-rich civic experience for international delegates and the cold-weather cities they work for.

To deliver the pro-winter message at downtown Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, WinterCity Coordinator Susan Holdsworth hired BUKSA Strategic Conference Services and its AV solutions partner Freeman Audio Visual Canada to transform a ballroom into a near-immersive winter wonderland, where virtual blizzards engulfed attendees and music mixed with the sounds of crunching snow.

“The whole wraparound experience was breathtaking,” Holdsworth says. “You felt like you were right in the middle of all this joyous winter activity, which dwarfed the room in its size and scope.”

Setting the Stage for Magic
To create Winter Cities’ AV experience, Freeman began by installing a curved 132×21-foot Peroni projection screen, which stretched across the front presentation area and around the table-seated audience. In front of the screen, Freeman converted a 12-foot inflatable PVC sphere into a snow globe and set it atop 36 X-Vision LED videowall tiles to recreate the conference’s logo and banner. The installation team then positioned eight Christie HD20K projectors and three Barco R-12 projectors to throw images onto the sphere, videowall and projection screen.

“Because the space was so tight, we had to install the projectors in front or behind the screen, depending on where we could find the space,” says Doug Hawtin, the Freeman account executive who managed the installation. “We could actually host four picture-in-picture windows that were used simultaneously and variably for presentation content and image magnification.”

Freeman then placed 36 moving spotlights at strategic positions throughout the room, plus 18 additional fixed spotlights. The result was a visually larger, planetarium-like event setting.

“At the start of the opening session, the room was dark except for snow falling on the screen — both in the snow globe and on the LED banner,” says Holdsworth. “It was bolstered by the spotlights playing vertically in front of the stage,”

As music mixed with the sound of boots crunching through snow, the audience saw footprints across the left HD screen, while a crowd pushed a snowbound minivan out of the snow on the right screen.

“This gave way to titles over the snow, explaining how winter is actually a great time of year to play and have fun,” Holdsworth says.

Energizing Content, Equipment and Expertise
The Winter Cities’ audiovisual content was sourced from participants, the City of Edmonton and artists hired by BUKSA and Freeman. It was produced using Maxon Cinema 4D and Adobe Creative Suite, then stored backstage on eight Coolux Pandoras Box Media Servers.

Panasonic HPX-500 HD cameras recorded the presenter video, while AKG, Earthworks, and Shure microphones picked up live audio. Live production was performed using a Panasonic HS400 video switcher and an Analog Way Nextage graphics switcher. Pre-recorded and live audio was mixed using a Roland M 480 digital mixing console and fed to Meyer Sound CQ-1, UPA-1P, UPM-1P, UM-1P and 650R2 loudspeakers located around the ballroom.

The smooth synthesis of content, equipment and Freeman’s expertise brought the conference to life. The enveloping blend of sound effects and music added the finishing touches to the AV experience.

“The overall conference experience was nothing short of exceptional,” says Rebecca Swanson, BUKSA’s Director of Communications. “When the snow was being shown in the ballroom, you felt as if you were really driving through a snowstorm.”

Thanks to the AV system’s dazzling content and close physical integration with the setting, conference presenters had no trouble maintaining the audience’s attention. The imagery meshed tightly with the messages, as if each presenter was part of a multimedia theme-park attraction — and the audience was along for the ride.

By successfully integrating immersive AV with the conference room’s sightlines and space, the AV team created a multimedia context that enhanced and strengthened the conference’s presentations.

“They really listened to what we needed during our planning meetings and then came up with an AV concept that was so powerful and all-encompassing, it shook up the audience’s assumptions of what it is to attend an international conference,” Holdsworth says. “The delegates were awestruck by what they experienced at Winter Cities Shake-Up 2015, thanks to the AV — and so were we.”

Professional Service and Standards
Freeman Audio Visual Canada is a member of InfoComm International and many of its technicians are holders of InfoComm International’s Certified Technology Specialist™ (CTS®) designation. In 2014, Freeman won the InfoComm Sustainable Technology Award for contributions to the AV industry and focus on sustainability.

“As a long-standing InfoComm member, we are proud to meet the association’s high standards as we provide exceptional experiences for our AV clients,” says Hawtin. “The content that we delivered for Winter Cities Shake-Up 2015 is a good example of these standards in action.”

Technology Highlights

The Winter Conference Shake-Up 2015 Conference used audiovisual and IT systems from many different manufacturers, including but not limited to:

Adobe (video editing software)
AKG (microphones)
Analog Way (graphics switcher)
Barco (video projectors)
Christie (video projectors)
Coolux Media Systems (media servers)
Earthworks (microphones)
Elation Professional (moving spotlights)
ETC (spotlights)
Martin (moving spotlights)
Maxon (video editing software)
Meyer Sound (loudspeaker systems)
Panasonic (cameras, video switcher)
Peroni (projection screen)
Roland (audio mixing console)
Shure (microphones)
X-Vision (LED videowall tiles)

By James Careless, Special to InfoComm International®