QED provides 420 sq. metre screen for Bootcamp event

QED was able to set several technical milestones when the 2009 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp came to London's O2 Arena. The brief from event producers, Smyle Creative, was to provide the biggest projection display ever seen at the 15,000-capacity venue, and QED duly obliged, filling the massive 35m wide by 12m high projection canvas by deploying six Christie Roadster HD18K projectors flown off a 25-metre high truss high above the audience.

This tour de force enabled a host of motivational speakers (including Bootcamp founder Andrew Reynolds) to address aspiring entrepreneurs in an event held annually by the millionaire. This was the first time it has taken place in the iconic Docklands venue, the largest indoor arena in the UK. Once the venue had been chosen the idea was to make the production as large and as impressive as possible. Although QED has projected onto wider surfaces in the past it had never attempted anything of this size indoors. The 410 square metre screen is over 100 square metres larger than previous largest indoor projection screen in the UK. The size of the screen was so large that it could not be assembled at ground level and flown into position, so it had to be built vertically in-situ in individual sections. The screen occupied so much space that it severely restricted the size of the cherry pickers that were able to enter and exit the arena. There was simply no more space left in the 02 to accommodate any larger screen. The amount of clear air space that the projectors required in order to fill the screen also presented Smyle with a massive technical challenge in terms of designing and deploying both lighting and sound, and with only one day to set up the whole event the technical rig required military precision planning and execution.

Projecting a 2.8:1 aspect ratio image, QED used six HD18K 1080 HD High Definition DLP projectors, arranged in two triple stacked blended pairs. 105,000 ANSI lumens of projected light output was required in order for the screen to really stand out amongst all the LED, stage, camera and audience lighting. The main rig comprised a 15-way matrix, set around two Vista Spyder 344 video processors, and included everything from computers showing PowerPoint and Keynote content, HD cameras and even a visualiser OHP. Spyder's picture-in-picture windowing facilities were used to introduce individual speaker content within the context of the overall display. Three Analog Way DiVentix units provided the on-stage source matrix, the flown screens with a two way matrix, and a single mix for the OB truck - all controlled by the Spyder system.

Ten flown 16ft x 9ft repeater screens, filled by ten 15,000 ANSI lumens Sanyo XF47s, ensured that everyone had a ring-wide view especially those on the upper levels of Arena. System designer, programmer and show operator, QED's head engineer Adam Bending remarked “The idea of this production was to use as few boxes and cables as possible: We had to make the technical implementation as simple as we could, as it was one of the most complex technical rigs we have ever done and there was only one day to rig the whole thing.” All the equipment was pre-racked and the whole system was tested prior to going on-site - there was simply no margin for error with such a massive flown rig of sixteen high brightness projectors.

Dan Hall, QED's head of AV, was given the immense challenge of tripling both projector stacks and then blending them into the one seamless image. Using wireless projector network control and Twist Pro software combined with a great deal of skill and application the whole line-up was complete within a few hours. MacPro and MacBook Pro multi-head high performance computer systems fitted with advanced graphics cards were used for full-screen display of the bespoke content designed by Smyle, along with a full monitoring set-up.

A multitude of fibre-optic links ran both DVI and HD-SDI signals between FOH and the stage. In addition to the O2 Arena's internal fibre system a total of 22 separate fibre channels with over 2km of fibre cable were deployed. QED needed to set-up the entire system so that each element of the show would have independent and unrestricted control. The requirements of the video recordings and the big screen were all different and all the on-stage and FOH content needed to be fed to the 16-camera OB truck. Only fibre-optic distribution was able to send so many signals between stage, FOH and the OB truck over such long distances without any loss of quality.

The screen-base was constructed from walls of Element Labs Versa Tube and Martin LC, and this was also fed from QED's Hippotizer HD media rack via DVI fibre-optics. The projection and LED systems were totally integrated so that content could be played back across all the display elements. The key to the technical success of the event not only hinged upon the planning and pre-programming but also the vast fibre-optic system holding it all together. QED’s bespoke fibre-optic system enables lossless transmission of DVI and HDSDI HD signals (without frame dropping or delay) as well as full network control over the projectors.

The Bootcamp screen is likely to remain the UK’s biggest ever indoor projection screen for many years to come, and sets a benchmark standard for both size and quality for indoor events. QED would love to be able to beat it in the future, but for the moment we’ll just have to wait until a bigger venue is built.

Key technical equipment

  • 6 x Christie HD18K 3-chip DLP projectors
  • 10 x Sanyo XF-47 LCD projectors
  • 10 x AV Stumpfl Vario 64 16ft x 9ft front projection screens
  • 2 x Vista Spyder 344 video processors
  • 3 x Analog Way DiVentix seamless switchers
  • 22 x QED/Think Logical DVI/HDSDI/Ethernet fibre channels
  • 4 x Apple Mac Pro computers
  • 2 x Hippotizer HD media servers
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