The Giant X at TEDxBerkeley 2016

Repertoire Productions had the honor of producing TEDxBerkeley 2016 earlier this year.  While most of the project was routine (multicamera shoot, live streaming, projection, stage engineering, stage management, wireless audio and switching presentations), we decided to tackle a creative endeavor, projection mapping on a gigantic 3D “X.”

We were faced with many challenges due to the constraints of this project.  We had only one day to load in, so the X needed to be transportable and easily built on site.  The X also had to be made out of materials that were lightweight and cost effective. TEDx events rarely have enterprise level budgets.

Our teams started by using Vectorworks to virtually create the stage and populate it with projectors, screens, and our soon to be giant X.  During this process we problem solved locations for the projectors that wouldn’t interrupt the entrances and exits of the presenters as well as keeping the perspective of the audience in mind.

tedx Berkeley Repertoire Productions SF bay area silicon valley av

We also used our 3D CAD tools to design the X itself, incorporating support struts to hold up ten sheets of ½” plywood.  Sean Foulkes, a member of our team, built the two halves of an X that would be connected on stage at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.  He also used specialized grey screen paint suited for projection.  In the end, the X towered at 15 feet tall.

Projecting content onto this X required a lot of light output.  The X was onstage and light for the presenters would spill onto it.  We opted to use two high wattage projectors immediately on top of each other to double our brightness.  This required mastering projection mapping software like MadMapper and Resolume Arena to precisely overlay each image and maintain the visual integrity.

As the team designed and built the wooden X, we simultaneously edited content as assets for the projected image.  We were able to open the show by transporting the audience through a digital warp tunnel, inside this large X on stage with matching sound effects.  The lights came up, and the show began.  It was a big hit.

Over two thousand people enjoyed watching the show live and even more people watched the stream, tweeting their impressions of the X.  It certainly stands out as a great accomplishment for Repertoire and we look forward to helping more producers with creative challenges like this.

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