MANCHESTER, NH – The Fortune 1000 company Connection, Inc. rose to the highest levels of corporate success in the US by helping businesses find innovative solutions to high-tech challenges. Early this February, the multi-billion-dollar company was itself the recipient of some astute outside-the-box assistance, when Events United helped it create a memorable setting for its annual kick-off meeting, despite the limited space and unusual room dimensions at the site where the event was held.
The meeting, which was live streamed to Connection offices throughout the US, took place in the Armory, a venue in the Radisson Hotel near the corporation’s headquarters. Although the room presents some striking images with its steel beams and sloping ceilings, it also poses serious design obstacles for anyone hoping to create a professional lighting, video and audio presentation within its confines. Events United met these challenges to create a stunning panorama at the kick-off event with a clever design plan, and help from over 100 CHAUVET Professional fixtures.
“Our client gave us a few initial concept ideas that included projection and possibly video walls, but left us with complete freedom to come up with the creative concept,” said Tim Messina of Events United. “The production design was challenging because of the limited space. At the highest point in the room we only have 17’ of usable height before we hit the building steel. The roof slopes from 15’ on the sides up to 40’ in the center, but the steel trusses are placed every 14′, which essentially creates a ceiling at 17’. We knew we wanted a big design but we didn’t know how we could do it in there with the ceiling so low.”
Messina got around this impediment by coming up with a plan to place the set design, projection screens, and rigging elements up inside of the 14’ cavities between the steel to maximize height. However, to do this, he needed an accurate measurement of the room. Since there were no blueprints of the Armory, he and his head video engineer Jon Martell spent one week taking detailed measurements of the room and creating an accurate model in Vectorworks.
Armed with this information, the Events United team went ahead with their design, which in addition to conforming to the dimensions of the room, accommodated a seating arrangement that called for positioning chairs in a chevron pattern. The end result was a multi-tiered stage positioned at a 45° angle to the room. To add depth to this stage, the Events United design team created custom acrylic panels that glowed when lit.
Events United illuminated the stage and the entire room with 110 CHAUVET Professional fixtures. “Our goal was to have enough lights to paint the entire room floor to ceiling,” said Messina. “The room was interesting in its own right, so we wanted to incorporate its architectural features into our design to get that wow factor.”
To turn the room’s roof into a vibrant design element, Events United positioned 10 Maverick MK2 Spot and 20 Rogue R1 Wash fixtures on 6’ truss uprights placed along the walls. These fixtures illuminated the highest sections of the roof, the spots providing texture and the washes adding extra color. The trussing itself was woven into the design with uplighting from COLORdash Par-Hex 4 fixtures.
Lighting of the walls, floor and downstage area was provided by 12 Maverick MK1 Hybrid, 14 Maverick MK2 Spot and four Maverick MK2 Wash fixtures. These fixtures were flown on two 80’ trusses that flew over the audience. Like the truss structures along the walls, the two massive ceiling truss pieces were warmed by COLORdash Par-Hex 12 units.
Events United illuminated the stage backdrop with eight COLORado 2 Solos and an equal number of COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 fixtures. Behind the backdrop, the team placed drape and mesh screens that were lit by six Rogue R1 Wash fixtures. An additional six Rogue units were used for hair light on the stage.
“Having the right amount of lights for the room and a talented LD enabled us to completely transform the room and accent its unusual features, turning them into visual attributes,” said Messina. “The impact of the lighting rig was massive. Ryan Lane, our lead lighting designer/operator, worked with Rob Livie from Connection to complement Rob’s custom video content.”
Livie’s design concept called for prominently featured video elements throughout the event with two 9’x16’ projection screens and two 8’x13’ portrait video walls (made of PVP X6IP LED panels) arranged across the stage. Jon Martell, Event United’s video designer, used Resolume Arena 6 on an iMac to map the content across the projection screens and video walls.
“In my design I had two 9×16’ projection screens flanking the stage and two 8×13’ portrait video walls on the deck itself,” recalled Messina. “My thought was to use the video walls to block the back stage and create an entrance area for presenters to enter from behind. However, Rob told me that he wanted all four displays to receive separate content so he could send video content across all of them. Jennifer St. Marie of Connection helped create some stunning images for the displays to go along with Rob’s video content, and the end result of displaying this content across the stage was nothing short of breathtaking.”
Along with its immersive lighting and video displays, Events United also moved the crowd at the kick-off event with its audio design. “We designed the system with d&b audiotechnik speakers. Due to the low steel in the Armory, Chase Clark, FOH Audio Engineer, had to hang a main L/R array and a delay array about 75’ back,” said Donald Van Slyke, Events United’s head audio engineer. “We used Q1/Q7s for the main arrays, B2s for subs, T10s for front fills, as well as low profile E6s for stage monitors during the Q&A session. Chase used Smaart 8 to time align and tune the entire system in d&b R1 control software.
“Connection needed 16 channels of wireless for the various speakers and Q&A elements, so we deployed Shure ULXD and Wireless Workbench to coordinate and program all the transmitters,” continued Van Slyke. “For the Q&A they wanted to involve the audience more, so they purchased Catch Boxes that have a built-in microphone and interface with the ULXD1 body pack. They even automatically mute when thrown in the air from question to question!”
Another very important part of the audio was the broadcast mix, since Connection was live streaming the event to their remote offices for live viewing, as well as archival recording for internal use. The company wanted people at the remote offices to feel as if they were in the room with the live audience. To create this feeling, Van Slyke deployed the Waves eMotion LV1 mixing system with DiGiGrid IOS and IOX interfaces.
“We created a complete immersive experience with lighting, video, audio and set design,” said Messina. “The room posed some special challenges given the kind of presentation our client wanted, but by rising to address these issues, we created an overall design that was even better.”