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Behind the Scenes of a PixMob Show :
Exclusive Interview with Nicolas Dupont, Operator by Day, Magician by Night

As PixMob technology develops further and further, we are constantly forced to adapt not only in the workshop, but also on the field.

 

A PixMob show requires a large amount of preparation, and our production team is constantly on its toes making sure that everything comes together smoothly. We sat down with Nicolas Dupont, one of our operators, to get the inside scoop about this demanding, but also super exciting part of the work that we do here at PixMob.

Nicolas DUpont

What brought you to PixMob and why?

During my undergrad, a couple of my classmates were a part of the production team at PixMob and they introduced me to the company. Travelling has always been super important for me and I’ve always been interested in working with a production team in the entertainment industry, so PixMob seemed like the perfect fit. The members of the production team are the ones that really bring the show together for the audience. There is so much effort put in by the team so that the audience can live one short, but super intense and mesmerizing, moment. When the lights go on the crowd cheers, screams, and waves their arms up in the air. This instant feedback is super fulfilling. The energy that the crowd creates gives you goose bumps; it’s such a spectacular feeling.

Tell us about one of your favorite shows.

My favorite show was the opening ceremony of one of the largest sports assemblies in Southeast Asia. The games were in an open-air stadium in Singapore. Spectators were looking out at the buildings that lit up the city surrounded by tropical trees. It made for an incredible backdrop for the opening show.

This show was the first time I could be so invested creatively. I was able to use my artistic abilities to incorporate the PixMob effects into the rest of the show. We used PixMob VIDEO technology, which has much greater possibilities than our other technologies. Each object changes colour according to the colour information received at their particular location and the information they received adjusts to their changing location when in motion to create a global video image. Using this technology, we were able to create a comprehensive image that established a direct link between the PixMob experience and the rest of the show, as well as the public. The content that we integrated fit perfectly with the show and turned the crowd into a giant screen.

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How did you prepare for this show?

This gig really used the full potential of PixMob products at the time, both creatively and technologically, so it demanded a lot of preparation. We prepared for about a month before leaving Montreal. We had to perform conditioning tests to make sure our video projectors would function in Singapore’s 40-degree weather with humidity reaching 90%. This was the first time we sent signals so far (200 meters), so we also performed distance tests by standing on buildings and walking around the neighborhood to see how far the signal reached. Preparing the material that would be sent to Singapore was very lengthy since we had 22 projectors that were specially modified for this particular event and over 15 road cases filled materials for the show. Finally, we prepared the content for the show beforehand by creating a pre-visualization tool with Adobe After Effect. This allowed us to show the client a preview of the desired effects and work together to make them coherent with the rest of the show in order to create an effectively immersive experience.

How did you, then, prepare for the show on site?

The team was on site for 40 days before the show date. The technical team installed all of our material in the stadium. The pixel managers worked with a team of locals to install thousands of pixels in the stands so that we could do the mapping necessary and perform rehearsals. The operators, which included myself, were responsible for the mapping in the stadium and for the integration of the shows content. This is really tedious work because we have to ensure that all of the 22 projectors send signals to specific zones and that each zone is defined in the control software with precision reaching a seat close. All of this work is extremely demanding and time consuming, which is why our creative director played a really important role in tying these different aspects of the preparation together and making sure we delivered an experience that was harmonious with the rest of the show.

Why is it exciting to experience a city through its entertainment industry?

It’s really interesting to see the different work ethics of people with different cultural backgrounds. You have to adapt to different standards and ways of doing things, which is really cool. You learn to work in conditions that are never the same in a situation where you have no choice but to make it work. It’s a great challenge that really teaches you to be tolerant and to adapt.

It’s also really cool to connect with a different culture through the energy and reactions of their crowds. The feedback you get from of a crowd will be drastically different from one country to another. It’s always linked to the local culture; an artist can put on the exact same set in two different countries and get wildly different responses. This direct and candid response is so cool to experience. It’s also really amazing to see people connect through the experience we provide for them. No matter the diversity of people in the crowd, they all react instinctively when their wearable lights up and this is really a wonderful scene to witness.

2015 Tim Durant

Battlecruiser : The live event design and production company

In our series of showcasing our network of international partners, meet today Battlecruiser that took part with PixMob in the Winter Games Opening & Closing Ceremonies (Sochi), King Abdullah Sports City opening ceremony (Jeddah) and the University of Michigan Halftime show (Ann Arbor).

Identity
Name of the Company
Battlecruiser, Inc.
Location
Hollywood, USA
Number of employees
1 plus freelancers

2015 Tim Durant

Tim Durant

Battlecruiser design and produce for live events such as tours, concerts, TV awards and halftime shows.

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Aoki

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About PixMob

I’m passionate about connecting artists, events and audiences; and PixMob’s concepts and products really help to make that happen. I love working with them because they’re relentlessly innovative, taking on ambitious projects with a collaborative, can-do ethic.Tim Durant

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PixMob drives Sensation Into the Wild

After illuminating the Heineken Moments for the famous beer brand on the Sensation tour in Asia last year, PixMob worked directly with the organization of the world’s biggest EDM event for their “Into the Wild” tour, to light up the whole night and amplify the crowd experience.

Welcome to the jungle

Sensation is a unique indoor electronic dance music event organized by ID&T that started in Amsterdam in 2000. The show stayed in the Netherlands for 5 years before touring around the world. At these unique events, every attendee dresses in white and parties with some of world’s biggest DJs. Pyrotechnics, fountains, dancers, lasers and LED wristbands create an immersive, interactive and unforgettable experience.

Their new show “Into the Wild” is based on the primal instincts of the animal kingdom. The jungle is a metaphor for a night of clubbing, where men search, hunt and catch their prey. After hunting comes the feast of victory, the climax of the Sensation show. Sexy dancers writhe and move to the music. Vertical lasers create visual effects, and CO2 shoots out from the catwalk.

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Behind the scenes

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This show was designed over the course of one year. Sensation’s installation crew consists of 300 workers that have only 10 days to install the set before a show. A 350m long inflatable snake is rigged above the audience, lit up, and brought to life.
LED wristbands create a wow effect

Every attendee of Sensation is given a white wristband upon entering the show. Each wristband contains wireless LEDs that light up in sync with the music and special effects. The bracelets connect people through light: everyone holds a digital flame, reinventing fire rituals to bring us all into the wild.

Similar to a TV remote, the wristbands are controlled by infrared light. People literally become the show, as each PixMob device becomes a pixel, transforming the crowd into a human canvas of light.

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Post event movie

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Tiësto, the first Dj to use PixMob VIDEO to redefine Clubbing

The technology that connected 80,000 People into the First Human Video Screen at Super Bowl Halftime Show was used by Tiësto as part of his residency at Hakkasan Las Vegas, on February 28.

That night, 2,500 Tiësto fans wore PixMob LED wristbands generating wireless video effects in sync with his music. Pulsating with light as one organism, the crowd became a canvas for Tiësto’s visuals, creating an immersive experience.

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PixMob VIDEO allows show producers to create live video effects using the audience as a display screen. This patented and groundbreaking technique allows for real-time transmission of colour information onto any number of mobile pixels at hundreds of thousands of individual locations up to 300 meters away, without the need for geo-location.

 

About Tiësto

Tiësto is a performer who has transcended musical genres to create a global “Tiësto” brand. His achievements include: a Grammy nomination, numerous MTV awards, performing at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games to an audience of billions, and even a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. With over 16 million fans on Facebook, 2 million followers on Twitter, over 400 million views (and one million subscribers) on YouTube, his globally syndicated Club Life radio show as well as his Club Life iTunes artist podcast (#1 music podcast globally), Tiësto has truly become a universal phenomenon. Voted ‘The Greatest DJ Of All Time’ by Mixmag in 2011, the #1 DJ by Rolling Stone and recipient of DJ Mag’s first ever “Top 100 DJs Legend Award,” Tiësto has worked with superstars such as Kanye West, Bono, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Goldfrapp and many more. Tiësto is currently focusing much of his time in the studio on the production of his much anticipated studio album (to be released in Spring 2014). The first single from the album, “Red Lights,” is a global smash and one of the winter’s biggest club hits.

– Justin Kleinfeld

Tiësto Interview

Tiësto usually implements PixMob PRO technology for his residency in Hakkasan, using global effects to light up the dance floor. We interviewed him right before the first night with PixMob VIDEO, the technology that allows individual control of pixels using the crowd as a video canvas.

[PixMob] makes the crowd euphoric and also connect with each other. It’s really like a feeling, we’re in this together. It makes the party a little uplifting.Tiësto

Tests in a Church to simulate the Hakkasan configuration

To set up the effects shown at the Hakkasan, we had to perform tests in an unusual setting. We found a church close to PixMob studios in Montreal that perfectly simulated the nightclub configuration.

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During these tests, we set up 200 wristbands as well as pixel panels to see how they would react to the video feed sent by the video transmitters. The goal was to study the reflection angles and decide how to properly place the video transmitters above the crowd in the venue.

After a few hours of simulation, we were ready to implement the system at Hakkasan, sure that it would work perfectly.

A night immortalized by Nova Film cameras

 As we wanted to keep record of this new experience, we asked our partner Nova Film to edit a video of the night. With two ultra sensitive camcorders, the team took a wide range of images of the PixMob effects on the crowd, capturing the attendee’s emotions and the performance of the artist. They finished editing their piece during the night, for us to broadcast the video almost instantly. The result: an aesthetic and energetic video.

 

 

The Creators Project

“The idea of PixMob was to think of people as pixel-wearers, they are going to create a light canvas,” says Vincent Leclerc, the CTO of PixMob, a design studio that focuses on turning live events into immersive spectacles by inserting LEDs in ordinary objects, subsequently making them magical. Whether it’s embedding LEDs in hats given out to Super Bowl XLVIII attendees in February, or creating colourful, blinking bracelets for concert-goers to wear at Tiësto’s Hakkasan residency in Las Vegas, PixMob is evolving cultural milestones into illuminated extravaganzas.

The Creators Project was fascinated in how PixMob create wearable LED devices that enable wireless, living artwork, and so they made a doc on the company that’s turning crowds into light paintings in real time.

Read the full article

just before the game

Behind the Scenes at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

Minutes before Bruno Mars took the stage to rock MetLife stadium and the 115 million fans watching from home, Halftime directors were understandably nervous. After months of planning and preparation, the penultimate moment was upon them – but there was a problem. PixMob directors were also experiencing a fair amount pre-game anxiety. The Montreal-based firm that lit up crowds at music festivals like Coachella and Osheaga with state-of-the-art crowd activation technology had a new challenge worthy of the grand stage that is the Super Bowl.

Rewind several months: In March 2013, David Parent, CEO of PixMob, decided to pick up the phone and pitch the NFL on a brand new technology being developed by his company, PixMob. Formerly known as Eski Studio, PixMob is the brain child of Parent and his business partner, Vincent Leclerc. The creative minds at the Montreal-based company develop innovative ways to connect crowds and reinvent the fan experience. PixMob VIDEO, the most recent invention, was what Parent was bringing to the NFL.

Intrigued by the concept, the NFL booked Metlife stadium in New York for a demonstration.  The PixMob crew arrived with test equipment, test pixels and a team of technicians – but, as with many new technologies, there was some nervousness as to whether the technology would work as planned. The team armed themselves with four hours of video content to show the production team. In the end, it took just ten minutes to convince NFL producers that they were looking at the technology for the next Halftime show.

PixMob VIDEO : the preparation

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Over the next six months, the PixMob crew worked feverishly in its Montreal studio to build and perfect infrared transmitters destined for Rutherford, New Jersey. The result was PixMob VIDEO, a technology that allows show producers to create live video effects using the audience as a canvas. This patented and ground-breaking technology allows for real-time transmission of colour information onto any number of mobile pixels, in the form of wearable LED objects, at hundreds of thousands of individual locations. The entire system works off a run-of-the-mill Mac computer connected to a video server, which sends a video signal to pixels in the crowd, telling them what combination of colour they have to be at any given time. The effects and content displayed on this human video screen is limited only to the imagination of the designer sitting at the controls of this complex remote control system.

The VIDEO Ski Hat

Spectator view with Pepsi hat

Still, the transmission of invisible data is only one piece of the puzzle. The next issue to tackle was the design of a wearable object that could house each pixel, or LED circuit. PixMob designers eventually settled on a ski hat (or “tuque” in Canadian parlance), which would serve the dual purpose of protecting both heads and batteries from sub-zero temperature conditions.

The hat turned out to be a good choice. When PixMob technicians and programmers descended upon their new home away from home two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, so too did 2014’s longest snow storm.

the day after

For two weeks – nearly right up to game day – the NFL and PixMob were concerned that the driving precipitation would force the game to be postponed or moved. For PixMob, the snow and cold weather wreaked havoc on the relatively delicate process of dialing in powerful rays of invisible light. Still, the team stayed in good spirits, appreciating the moment and enjoying the experience. “No fun allowed” was the cheeky slogan of PixMobians during their two week adventure, playing up the otherwise stressful environment they were working in.  

When PixMob began this adventure, they weren’t sure of the fan reaction to the mysterious ski hats placed at each seat in the stands, enclosed in a package labelled with instructions to put the hat on for Halftime. As the key moment approached and the first effects were sent out to the pixels, the show directors and PixMob officials became concerned by the lack of, well, anything.  People were not wearing their LED hats! Without them, the effects and content preprogrammed to go along with the onstage performance of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would look less than ideal.

 

D-Day : PixMob VIDEO at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

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The PixMob team sprang into action, using the video server to create sweeping colour effects across the crowd. As the effects began to move around the stadium, catching the attention of fans, those not yet wearing hats rushed to put them on to become part of the largest video screen of all time. The show itself was a smashing success. Social media buzzed as fans took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post pictures and comments about their LED hats..

As the rest of the PixMob crew proudly watched from a local pub in Montreal, a collective sentiment of joy and relief was felt amongst all the members of the staff. The relatively small company had grown exponentially as a result of this game-changing Super Bowl Halftime Show, opening a new chapter in its history. The whole team was excited to get back to work, looking for more ways to innovate and reinvent rituals – but first, it was time to celebrate.


Special thanks to :

Executive Producer  RICKY KIRSHNER

Supervising Producer  ROB PAINE

Director  HAMISH HAMILTON

Hippo Operator JASON RUDOLPH

Cast Field Director KRISTEN TERRY

Lighting Director DAVE GRILL

Multimedia Developers JAMES PATTEN

& JEAN-SÉBASTIEN ROUSSEAU

Industrial Designer SÉBASTIEN DALLAIRE

Lighting Designer BOB BARNHART

Rigging Coordinator STEVE THOMAS

Production Designer BRUCE RODGERS