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Intel / PixMob: A Step Closer to the Fundamentals of Human Experience

PixMob had the chance to be at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the beginning of the month, where we participated in the launch of a very exciting product we have been working on with the technological innovation gurus at Intel.  The conference, which took place in Las Vegas January 6th-9th, brought together some of the greatest minds in the thriving field of consumer technologies.

PixMob worked with Intel to integrate the Intel Curie module into a wristband that unlocks a whole new range of opportunities. While this new wristband appears identical to the PixMob PRO 2 bracelet, it can do much more: it can recognize complex gestures in real time and allows these movements to control the colour and intensity of the bracelet. Through their gestures, the audience can now trigger and control what is happening on stage while the artist is also in direct control of the crowd experience with their own wearable. The bracelet can also link to other interfaces, such as Garage Band, to become an instrument that responds precisely to user movements.

An entirely new type of immersive experience is made possible. Individuals’ spontaneous emotional reactions, as expressed through their gestures, can be illustrated immediately through changes in light. This was brilliantly demonstrated in A. R. Rahman’s performance at CES 2016. For example, as the artist asked the crowd to wave,  individuals wristbands turned red, eventually turning the crowd into a sea of red light. Rahman then waved all the color away with a simple gesture.

This innovation adds a new dimension to PixMob’s product portfolio and to the type of experience we are able to offer. We can now take immersive shows to a new level, with audiences and artists interacting through their gestures. The PixMob experience has come one step closer to capturing those interactions and emotions that are so fundamental to the human experience.

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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.

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Ready, Set, Shine: How PixMob Creates Magical Pre-Game Jitters

PixMob has lit sporting events on several continents. No matter the different country and culture, there is always something very distinct and spectacular about a sports game. There is a universal language that all athletes and sports fans speak. It makes the energy at the game something truly special. This energy is amplified and becomes magical when PixMob is involved.

 

As a sports fan, you step into the stands with a predisposition for excitement. You are anxious to see your favourite team play, and are prepared to cheer at the top of your lungs. You see all of the other fans wearing the color and gear of your team and the excitement mounts. You feel an instant solidarity with everyone in the stands who is also cheering for your team. You see the opposing team’s fans and instantly feel competitive but also grateful they are there to antagonize you. You are ready to engage with them and build that ever so unique atmosphere that you only come across at sports gatherings with die-hard fans filling the bleachers.

 

As the sound of the whistle approaches and the pre-game entertainment is underway your pre-game jitters are at their peak. This is when the mysterious bracelet you were handed upon entering the stadium lights up. Just as you are amazed that the bracelet lights up, you realize the entire stadium is sparkling with flashing lights. You are in awe. You begin to scream, cheering louder than ever before, smile stuck across your face. The wristbands change color and the stadium shines in your team’s colours. Their logo even floats across the stadium; the bracelets have turned the attendees into a human screen.

 

This feeling is irreplaceable to any sports fan. The culture of feverously watching sports matches is not something new. We want to cheer our team on because we love to make them feel supported. These gatherings are an opportunity for people to come together in a simple, transparent fashion. We forget all motives except our love for our team. The energy that connects us to everyone else in the stand is a pure and sincere one.

 

PixMob is pivotal in creating this energy. The effects that our products create magnify this energy and connect crowds in a way that is otherwise not possible, especially in such large venues. Fans are united, stronger in their encouragement. The vastness of the stands is no longer impersonalizing. Rather it is a bright, unifying net that contains and propels the energy from the players and fans.

 

Best of all, PixMob leaves you with a souvenir that you can bring home. You can hold onto that energy that made you so giddy, and relive the magic at home.

Videos

 

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The Pulse of EDM

Making Magic with Medalla

With big name headliners including Skrillex, Tiesto and Zedd, Electric Holiday is one the biggest annual events in Puerto Rico. For two days over the Christmas and Three Kings holidays, the Puerto Rico Convention Centre in San Juan turned into a giant rave.

On Jan 5, 2015, PixMob worked with promoter Buena Vibra and local beer Medalla to create a magical moment. 22,000 EDM fans received PixMob wristbands as they entered the festival. In keeping with Medalla’s branding we used our single-colour LITE wristbands with yellow LEDs.

After American low-end crew Nadastrom finished their set, and as anticipation built for French DJ Tchami, the crowd was brought to the next level. As Tiesto’s hit track Wasted reached the chorus, all 22,000 wristbands lit up in bright yellow, bringing the crowd from loud to LOUD.

The energy in the room stayed high, with the crowd pulsing with the music for the rest of the night.

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Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants

While traditional Puerto Rican and music such as Bomba and Salsa is based on clave rhythms, Four-on-the-Floor beats are captivating the eardrums of a generation. From disco to house to trance, EDM is enjoying huge popularity on the isla del encanto.

Giorgio Moroder describes the connection we feel to these rhythms on his Collaborator’s interview for Daft Punk’s 2014 album Random Access Memories. The pulse of EDM, especially around 120 BPM, resonates with the rhythm of our heartbeat. Musically, this lays a foundation to layer other rhythms using synths, bass, vocals and other musical elements.

Videos

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PixMob experience : a unique moment for all at festivals

In 2010, PixMob had their festival debut with Arcade Fire at Coachella and an unforgettable drop of hundreds glowing balls. Since then, PixMob has travelled the world from one festival to another, providing immersive and unforgettable experiences using their interactive LED technology. Coachella (USA), Osheaga (Canada), Lollapalooza (Brazil), Festival d’Été de Québec (Canada), South by South West (USA), and Rock in Rio (Brazil) were unique moments for the festivalgoers, and successful marketing stunts for the sponsors. PixMob LED technology is so successful at festivals because it creates unique and magical moments. The attendees connect with each other, but also with the artist and the festival, and engage more actively with the sponsoring brand.

Various PixMob objects to mesmerize the crowd

PixMob LED technology primarily uses glowing balls, LED wristbands or sparkling helicos to create these immersive experiences, but any object can be customized with PixMob interactive technology to meet brand expectations. PixMob created ski hats for the Super Bowl Halftime Show 2014 and medallions for the Winter Games in Russia the same year. We can create any object that the sponsor can call their own.

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A memorable and unique immersive experience

PixMob is about creating unique experiences for the public. Inspired by ancient fire rituals, it’s in our DNA to immerse people in a surreal atmosphere, to unite them in a shared moment. During the Black Keys performance of their hit “Everlasting Light” at the 2012 Osheaga festival, the attendees experienced 2000 blinking helicos descending toward them like a star shower. You could see sparkles in their eyes, and the atmosphere was dreamlike. For Doritos Boldstage at SXSW 2013, the digital balls bouncing in the crowd made the attendees so excited that they started to bounce other beach inflatables. The atmosphere was wild.

A totem to keep as a souvenir

One great way to make the user experience positive and lasting is to give out a souvenir, such as a branded LED object. When the hundreds of balls fell from the ceiling of the stage during the Arcade Fire’s encore performance of “Wake up” at Coachella, the effect on the crowd was magical. Some lucky attendees brought the giant beach balls home, and logged on to the Creators Project’s website to find new ways to use them. Wristbands are also great “totems” to bring home, especially when you can keep using it after the festival.

For Lollapalooza, sponsored by Heineken, every festivalgoer could keep their branded LED bracelet. The bracelets were turned into motion-sensitive mode at the end of the concert, allowing the user to control it afterwards.

The viral aspect

Festivalgoers are well known to share their moments with their friends, fans and family. The PixMob experience makes them share more pictures, comments and tweets of themselves wearing their branded LED object. Thanks to that, sponsors gain visibility, as well as popularity as their fans generate positive comments. At Coachella, millions of fans bragged that they were there living a great experience. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were used to broadcast positive comments about the festival, the artists, the crowd experience, and of course the sponsoring brand.

Effective brand activation
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Brand activation focuses on building a long term emotional connection between the brand and the customer. Thanks to PixMob technology and its LED objects, customers will remember their incredible experience for a long time. Keeping their branded object as a souvenir will increase their engagement with the sponsor. Subway’s marketing strategy is about keeping their customers engaged. The experience is important to them – which is why they prepare their sandwiches in front of their customers. The idea of Osheaga festival sponsorship was in the same vein. Subway wanted to make the festivalgoers live an experience and engage with their brand. More than entertainment, they provided astonishment and a gift to take away to remember the brand.

The future with RFID

PixMob LED wristbands can include an RFID chip that helps turn attendees into fans, promoters and future customers. RFID technology can be used for access control at events, collecting consumer information, developing a community and communicating about the event and its sponsor – well beyond the day itself. A new way to leverage sponsorship.

Videos

Special thanks to :

Chris Milk, Radical Media, Moment Factory, Tangible Interaction, Heineken, Subway, Nova Film, Festival d’Été de Québec, Osheaga, SXSW, Lollapalooza.

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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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Paraddax Lab : The sensational specialist

In our series of showcasing our network of partners, meet today one of our main distributors, Paraddax Lab.

Paraddax Lab took part in many PixMob projects in Europe :

  • Launch of Ooredoo, Barcelona, February 2012
  • Eurovision, Malmo, May 2013
  • Avicii Closing Party Ushuaia, Ibiza, September 2013
  • Huawei Mobile Party, Barcelona, February 2014

Identity

Name of the Company
Paraddax Lab
Location
Madrid, Spain
Number of employees
9 permanents and 40 freelancers
Activities
  • aerial shows,
  • artists performances,
  • holograms,
  • decoration,
  • visual lab,
  • animation

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Julien Marionnet

Director Creativo

Paraddax  is a show and spectacular effect company, that offers a large range of products and quality service to event professionals, under the label of spectacular and innovation. Paraddax is also a factory of ideas and creative concepts. Their inspiration comes from the creative alchemy of the four natural elements: Water, Ground, Air and Fire. The infinite possibilities of combination between them, applied to each specific case, produce surprising, personalized and unique creative results.

Gallery

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About PixMob

Paraddax found in PixMob an alter ego that opened new horizons and reinforced our creative and technological ambitions, with a high level of professionalism and innovation spirit.Julien Marionnet

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Website: www.paraddax.com

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

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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