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Techrig and Electrosonic SA collaborate on Video Mapping at National Arts Festival

Techrig and Electrosonic SA collaborate on Video Mapping at National Arts Festival
Techrig and Electrosonic SA collaborate on Video Mapping at National Arts Festival

South Africa - The National Arts Festival (NAF) is Africa’s biggest annual celebration of the arts. It’s hosted in Grahamstown, a small university city in the Eastern Cape, and takes place over eleven days every winter.

This year, from 3 to 13 July, 225 000 people attended some 2800 performances in 50 venues scattered across Grahamstown and its surrounds. Once again Electrosonic SA was a proud sponsor of this world class arts festival. In the past we’ve supplied lighting equipment and technical training, but this year, to celebrate the festival’s 40th birthday, we decided to do something special. Recently Electrosonic SA became the sole distributors of Green Hippo’s media servers, and the festival presented the ideal opportunity to show what these servers can do.

The plan to use the Hippotizer to project images onto a large area was the brainchild of NAF technical director Nicci Spalding and me. As Nicci tells the story: "This project came about as all great ones do, over a beer in the small hours. I said to Robbi: "Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could project onto The Monument?" He said: "Why don’t we?" I replied: "Well, I know that TechRig have the projectors." He said: "We could use Hippotizer." And from then on two of my favourite companies (Electrosonic SA and TechRig) got together and pulled out all the stops to make it happen."

The Monument (full name: The 1820 Settlers National Monument) is the headquarters of the Festival and is located on a hilltop overlooking Grahamstown. It was built to commemorate the contributions made by English-speaking settlers to South Africa, drawing particular attention to two areas of British Settler heritage: the English language, and the democratic tradition. The Monument is not only a superbly equipped facility, but also a hub for creative activity, especially during the festival. Since its opening in July 1974 it has inspired artists to stretch the imagination and embrace a future of hope, which is exactly what it did for the intrepid crews of TechRig and Electrosonic SA.

For our part we were very proud to work with TechRig on this exciting project. TechRig are a technical solutions agency and providers of audio-visual (AV), lighting, sound and structures. They have a reputation for delivering the highest level of expertise in a global arena. They are also the proud owners of the only Barco HDQ-2K40 projectors on the African continent. This 3-chip DLP projector boasts 40,000 lumens light output, and 2K resolution. Not for nothing is the Barco HDQ-2K40 billed as ‘the world’s brightest projector for rental and staging’. It was a perfect fit for the Hippotizer HD, which offers two full HD outputs in pan mode. Only the best equipment would do for the task of throwing an image from 100m away onto the town-facing wall of The Monument, which is 80m across and 20m high.

Not only did TechRig supply the projectors, but they also supplied the highly competent crew to set it up and man it. Goodwell Julias Banda was the mastermind behind the projection calculations and configurations; and Tsepho Khasebee, head rigger of TechRig, was responsible for mounting the two 250kg projectors 14m up on scaffold towers (supplied by the NAF). CM Lodestar Motors were used for the rigging, and TechRig set-up the power distribution which included a 100m run of 63 Amp 3-Phase leads, breaking out to the two projectors, and the FOH Control.

The content of the light show, which ran from 6pm to 11pm every night, was programmed onto the Green Hippo HD server using their Timeline product feature. The projection was visible throughout the whole of Grahamstown, showcasing the immense power of the projectors, and the fidelity of the Green Hippo server. The show fast became a talking point, and contributed to the general festivities, adding to the excitement of the festival.

Special thanks goes to Michael Collyer, CEO of TechRig and CLA Eventing, for making this dream project a reality. Michael summed up the attitude of his team by stating: "TechRig is about people, passion and professionalism, and therefore we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Nicci and Robbi on this ground-breaking project. We love what we do, and we love turning the unthinkable into reality."

TechRig, who have brought Barco's HDF-W26 and HDQ-2K40 projectors to SA, believe the projectors will soon become a preferred AV solution for those in the branding, event and technical industries. These products are designed for the rental and staging industries, have several applications, and are widely used in all types of settings. They allow for a broad spectrum of applications, including 3D mapping and large-scale conference or product visualisation.

"This is a focused, targeted medium," says Michael. "It offers the capability of projecting multimedia at an unprecedented size and quality. The HDF-W26 is the smaller of the two giants and is a perfect fit for any large venue, or event held in a luminous environment and that requires extra brightness and clarity. As for the HDQ-2K40 - the world's brightest projector – it guarantees an unequalled event experience."

Michael believes projection is a unique communication tool: "It is non-traditional and will immediately capture the attention of the market. The beauty of this technology is that it's in line with the current pop-up marketing trends."

On behalf of Electrosonic SA I would like to thank Goodwell, Tshepo as well as Lungi Zinyanga for their professionalism and know-how in completing this project. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and their assistance in implementing and completing the project is greatly appreciated.

Appreciation also goes to Jesse Dullabh, technical and controller support at Electrosonic SA, for his support and participation in making this project a great success! I’d also like to thank Nicci Spalding for helping to spark the idea, and for being so supportive in bringing it to fruition.

"The NAF is incredibly grateful to TechRig and Electrosonic SA for making this project happen. It’s a great privilege to work with such talented professionals on this quite extraordinary Festival." These are Nicci’s words, and I’m sure I speak for TechRig, and indeed all those who worked on this project, when I say the feeling is mutual.

Contributed by Robbi Nassi (Electrosonic SA’s Project manager and programmer)

29th July 2014

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