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Case Study: Full Sail University, FL

The flagship venue at Full Sail University was 10 years old, which is very old in AV years. For a school that uniquely specializes in equipping students for careers is audio and video technology, it was time to walk the latest walk, both within the venue and for the inevitable streaming audience.

One of the world’s leading universities for media and entertainment professionals, Full Sail University offers accredited degrees in the fields of music and recording, film and television, art and design, games, communications, sports broadcasting, emerging technologies, and business. Full Sail’s sprawling campus includes a variety of classrooms, labs, studios and performance venues equipped with state-of-the-art technology, offering students the opportunity to learn on the same equipment and software they’ll encounter in their careers.

One of the first acts of transformation at the Full Sail Live venue was a full lighting makeover with Martin Professional LED lighting fixtures and creative video elements powered by Martin’s P3 control system.

The university team members were longtime users of Martin lighting solutions and so were familiar with the catalog; the university’s Event Operations department selected Martin MAC Ultra Performance, MAC Aura PXL, and VDO Fatron 20 fixtures powered by a P3-300 system controller and P3 PowerPort 1500 power and data units.

“It’s a ten-year-old facility, so we started to look at how we could offer our students and clients the latest technology,” said Vincent Lepore, Director of Event Technical Operations, Full Sail University. “The bottom line was to make sure that we’re offering our students the best possible education on the most current equipment available, and that’s what this system provides. First and foremost, we’re a university, so education is our number one goal. We also do a lot of outside client events, so we want to make sure that not only are we offering the students the best technology, but also the outside clients.”

Another factor in the university’s choice of lighting equipment was the increased amount of live streamed events. Since lighting appears differently on camera than it does in person, Full Sail Live’s new rig had to look just as good to remote viewers as it did to live audiences.

“We’ve started to do a lot more live streams over the course of the past two years, and almost every event that we do now involves some sort of streaming aspect,” added Noah Rohrbaugh, Lighting Director, Full Sail University. “The lights needed to work for the in-person audience as well as what’s being streamed, and that’s a huge challenge because it has to look good to the human eye as well on video.”

For primary spot and profile lighting, as well as a variety of gobo effects, Full Sail acquired 13 Martin MAC Ultra Performance fixtures. For wash lighting and unique pixel effects, the university ordered 34 Martin MAC Aura PXL fixtures, a multi-source wash light that combines a 19-segment main beam with a separate Aura backlight made up of 141 pixels. Individual pixel control for both sources makes it possible to combine traditional wash lighting with video content, presenting unique opportunities for creative lighting and visual design.

“The Ultra Performance is definitely the workhorse of this rig,” explained Rohrbaugh. “Its brightness and gobo features are able to create looks across the room that people can recognize. The Aura PXL is more of a wash fixture, but its integration with P3 and the ability to play video across it opens it up to something that we haven’t seen in the past in any of our lighting fixtures—the ability to control it either from the lighting console or a media server. That was a huge plus for us when we were looking at fixtures.”

To extend video content off the venue’s main LED screen (made up of Martin VDO Face 5 HC panels) and minimize shadows in the room for better video presentation, Lepore and Rohrbaugh supplemented the main fixtures with Martin VDO Fatron 20 LED video battens. Consisting of four rows of precisely calibrated LEDs with 16-bit per-color image processing, the VDO Fatron 20 allows for infinite creative video mapping possibilities.

Nine field-exchangeable diffuser and lens options expand the unit’s capabilities, and a single integrated power and data connection streamlines setup. Lepore and Rohrbaugh deployed 80 Fatron fixtures on the walls and ceiling of the venue, keeping an additional 40 in reserve to expand the rig as needed.

Behind the scenes, staff and students leverage Martin’s innovative P3 control platform to map video content across the LED screen and lighting fixtures. Two P3-300 system controllers power the main screen, while a third powers the entire lighting rig. Additionally, Full Sail keeps a fourth P3-300 unit in reserve for expanding the rig. Combining the intuitive P3 workflow with a high-performance video processing engine, each P3-300 unit can control up to 2,080,000 pixels and integrate with DMX, Art-Net, and sACN protocols. P3 PowerPort 1500 units provide stable power delivery and high-speed, high-capacity video processing

“When you look at the rig now, the way that video content and lighting are integrated with one another is very noticeable, even to the untrained eye of someone who doesn’t know about media servers or lighting,” remarked Lepore. “The way that stuff is integrated is the killer feature to me.”

On March 10th, Full Sail University held its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Full Sail Live, debuting the new lighting rig for students and alumni. “That was the first time that we debuted the completed system with hundreds of guests in attendance, so there was a lot of ‘wow factor’ when they came into the room and saw it transformed from the way it had been in the past,” said Lepore. “It was a great system before, too, so to get such positive feedback out of people when the room already looked beautiful to begin with was really validating.”

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