London, UK (April 8, 2015) – Production Technology LLC (Protec), the largest live events production company in the Middle East, put d3 Technologies’ 4x4pro media servers to work on the Hamdan bin Mohammed Programme for Smart Government awards (HbMPSG) at the World Trade Centre Arena in Dubai. Protec chose d3 media servers with CAST BlackTrax realtime motion tracking to deliver the complex projection mapping element of the event.
The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Award for Smart Government is the first and most prestigious award to recognise and reward public services in Dubai. The award was launched as part of an integrated programme that seeks to lay the foundation of the Smart Government in Dubai, through improving the work of the government machinery and applying the Smart Government initiative. The awards were presented by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
At the event, the audience enjoyed 300-degree views around a 22-metre circular stage featuring a 5-metre cube and 2 large jigsaw puzzle-shaped set pieces. The cube rotated, lifted and pivoted during the show while the two jigsaw pieces moved on hidden tracks around the edge of the stage. The cube and puzzle pieces served as display surfaces for the projection mapped content – a mix of live camera feeds of the award winners, videos, and motion graphics.
Protec hired consulting company BAJT to help plan and execute the integration of d3 technology into the project. They used d3 media servers with BlackTrax and 32 Christie Digital HD20K J Series projectors. The team worked with d3 Technologies’ technical director Ash Nehru; Nehru has been working on d3 and BlackTrax integration as part of the upcoming release of r11.4, d3’s latest software.
David Bajt of BAJT consultants explained that d3 media servers were chosen because “d3 is the only system that provides realtime simulation of video content, screen movements and audio playback and also has extremely powerful tools for mapping up the physical scenery quickly and accurately. The pixel-perfect 3D simulation, which was key during the preproduction phase of the project, essentially enabled a perfect physical mapping onsite. For a project like this, where sculptural video surfaces had to move to random positions while still being perfectly mapped, the only answer was working in a 3D realtime environment.”
The effectiveness of the d3 system for projection mapping was demonstrated early on. As soon as an initial 3D model was completed, virtual projectors were placed in the realtime 3D simulator to plan and test where to position projectors, how many to use, and what lenses were needed. Bajt noted that, “d3’s Footprint feature allowed us to truly simulate the quality of the projection and avoid mistakes, such as having too little coverage or using too extreme projection angles.” Combined with other technical components provided by Protec, the model helped the client envision how the whole show would look prior to being on site and approve content.
Projector accuracy was an essential component to the success of the show. A new d3 feature developed with BlackTrax facilitated projector calibration for the awards ceremony. “Usually we calibrate projectors by mapping them onto the actual surface – a building facade, a car, a theater set,” Bajt explained. “We calibrated the projectors to the volume of the planned screen movements – imagine a ‘bounding box’ around the intended screen positions. Set pieces were not required for calibration, which helped us work within the tight build schedule. We simply walked around with a BlackTrax marker on stage and calibrated the projectors to the different marker positions instead of directly onto the set. We used approximately eight marker positions for every projector.”
For the live projection mapping, BlackTrax streamed realtime positional information via high-speed protocol (RTTrPM) to the d3 media servers. Bajt explained: “BlackTrax markers, tiny IR LED points, were mounted on the physical screens sending positional data to d3. So, for every screen that moved in reality, the corresponding virtual screen in d3 moved as well. As the screens moved d3’s mapping features automatically re-mapped the output, enabling constantly pixel perfect mapped screens.”
Bajt reported that, “the d3 system performed great and the support we got from d3 Technologies was fantastic.”
At Protec, the project was managed by James Lakin and Peter Jones operated d3 servers. Freelancer Rowan Pitts assisted as a d3 technician. The event design and content was developed by HQCreative.