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Hippotizer dazzles at the 68th Tony Awards

Hippotizer dazzles at the 68th Tony Awards
Hippotizer dazzles at the 68th Tony Awards

USA - New York’s beloved Radio City Music Hall saw the commencement of the 68th annual Tony Awards on Sunday June 8, with a flamboyant Hugh Jackman hosting the show and a live broadcast televised on US network CBS.

The Tony Awards are a place of recognition for achievements in Broadway productions over the past season and this year’s ceremony saw an array of shows from Aladdin, Hedwig and the angry inch, The Glass Menagerie and A Raisin in the Sun to Les Miserable, Of Mice and Men as well as Rocky. With such a wide line-up the 15 Musical Tony Awards went to seven different Musicals while the 11 Play Tony Awards went to six different plays.

This year’s show was programmed and operated by highly experienced Hippotizer expert Peter Vincent Acken who designed a set-up using a total of 192 layers running over more than 48 DMX universes, with all equipment supplied by rental company VER. The entire set-up comprised 12 active Hippotizer HD outputs, all genlocked and controlled by a grandMA2 lighting console. Peter built his own custom Hippotizer DMX personality to enable control of the 192 layers over the 48 universes.

With this custom personality he was able to utilise 65 DMX channels on the Master, instead of the current standard of 62 DMX channels; and he utilised 110 DMX channels on Layer, as opposed to the standard 91 DMX channels.

Peter comments: "On future projects I am planning to expand this into even more DMX channels to control Hippotizers. Also we used essentially every effect Hippotizer has to its full potential including using them while creating content with the HDs."

The effects that saw the greatest use at this year’s awards were the Advanced Colour, Keystone on Layer, Softedge Blending, genlock, as well as random colour chases set-up for the performance of ‘Hedwig and the angry inch’.

In order to get the required parameter counts exactly right, Peter used a 9-NPU (network Processing Unit) with the grandMA2 and the signal for all content went from the Hippotizers via a TV truck outside for processing; and then out from the truck to the screens on stage.

The Hippotizer HDs fed their content to 26 discrete surfaces comprised of 9 and 7 mil LED and HD LED monitors that were placed inside the magnificent set. Peter explains: "What’s tricky about this show is I have to utilize a formula to convert pixels into feet to build templates that indicate height measurements in one foot increments. That way the scene designers and content creators can build ‘Digital Scenery’ to their exact sizes and dimensions. This is what really makes this show stand out from all the others. Our ‘Digital Scenery’ evokes the look and feel of actual scenery and we hear comment all throughout the Tony’s process such as ‘I can't believe it’s not real scenery’ or ‘The digital scenery looks as if it is lit with actual lighting implements.’ This is not a show for programmers who want to utilize Hippotizer as a fancy playback tool."

The Hippotizer units and set-up had their shining moments during the performances of ‘Hedwig and the angry inch’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘Violet’ and ‘After Midnight’, which perfectly show-cased the hard work put into this production.

22nd July 2014

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