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Game of Thrones Premiere Pulls Out Projection Mapping Stops

Walt Disney Concert Hall as Architectural Screen

It may have been a hot summer evening in Los Angeles but a winter-is-coming theme marked the gala seventh-season premiere of Game of Thrones at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The after-party, staged on the roof level of Classic Parking across the street, overlooked the hall where projection designer Bart Kresa mapped the upper planes of the building with stunning scenes and imagery from HBO’s hit series. WorldStage provided Kresa with Panasonic laser projectors and video engineering support for the head-turning imagery.

The iconic Frank Gehry-designed concert hall hosted a brief concert featuring music scored for the show before celebrity guests settled in to view the first episode of the penultimate season. Then invitees crossed the street to the rooftop after-party, which was dressed with costumes and show props. Kresa painted the concert hall with three different content loops, including one in which Drogon breathes fire across the façade. The spectacular projection mapping served as a continuous backdrop for the party and a treat for fans on the street.

HBO has been my client for ten years; I’ve done numerous post-Golden Globes parties, post-Emmy parties as well as events for Game of Thrones and Westworld,” says Kresa. “The Disney Hall is one of my favorite buildings in the world, so when this project came along from HBO, I was very excited to do it.”

The event reunited WorldStage and Kresa who have partnered on multiple projects in the last four years, including the annual summer projection mapping of the façade of the San Mateo (California) County History Museum.

“Bart has a very recognizable artistic style. We love providing displays for him because he totally gets the medium,” says Bob Loney, WorldStage Senior Account Executive. “He knows what he needs in terms of brightness, saturation, and full-frame imagery. Couple that with the excitement and beauty of Game of Thrones, and he delivered an evening people won’t forget.”

Kresa did some initial tests on the building, pointing small projectors and even flashlights at the façades to study the surfaces and ensure that the direction of the reflections would be seen by the audience.

He was interested in using the new Panasonic PT-RZ31KU laser phosphor projectors, which WorldStage demoed at an open house last spring. “Bart knew the kind of firepower he needed for the concert hall and was inclined to use the laser phosphor projectors whose light source has a broader color gamut and greater color brightness than conventional lamp source projectors,” explains Loney. “The laser phosphor projectors also offer 20,000 hours of use and have a flatter decreasing light output ramp.”

“We did some side-by-side tests between the Panasonic and other projectors and found the PT-RZ31KU to be far superior for what we wanted,” adds Kresa. “The color saturation was amazing and the images were literally glowing, exactly what we needed for this project.”

WorldStage partnered with Panasonic to provide the Panasonic PTRZ31KU projectors that Kresa required along with additional projection and engineering support. The WorldStage team worked with Kresa to install the equipment the night before and tech through everything.

“The large curved surfaces of the Walt Disney Concert Hall are covered with stainless steel tiles,” Loney notes. “Initially, we were concerned the façade would have too much of a mirror finish for projection. But it turned out that the surface reflectivity gain was exceedingly friendly: The surfaces were not too reflective. The surface gain really added to the brightness.”

In fact, front projection on a façade typically cannot be seen until sunset or shortly thereafter. “But we saw pictures on the concert hall at 6 pm with a blue sky behind the building due to the remarkable amount of light from the double-stacked projectors and some elevated gain that focused the image toward the viewing area,” Loney says.

Kresa did the pre-vis for the projection mapping and managed his content with Dataton WATCHOUT media servers. WorldStage did the projector set up and alignment the day before the event. The company supplied portable instant canopies and plastic sheeting to protect gear overnight and space blankets to keep electronics out of direct sunlight during the day.

“I loved working with WorldStage,” Kresa adds. I’ve known them for many years and was thrilled to be working with them on this project. We had very little time to get this set up and WorldStage was able to get this put together for us very quickly. They had worked out all the details beforehand and came in with everything prepared and tested. They were really on top of their game and it was a pleasure working with them again.”

Kresa notes that, “We also could not have done this without the trust that HBO gave us. We had to really manipulate and reimagine some of the images to make them work with the shape of the hall and HBO was great about it. I think that this was due to our long working relationship together.”

The event design was done by Billy Butchkavitz who worked with Images By Lighting to cover the bottom horizontal planes of the concert hall with lighting effects that complemented the BARTKRESA studio projection design on the building’s upper planes.

“The projection mapping came off even better than we expected,” declares Loney. “The client was over the moon. And there were reports that fans on the street found the imagery just jaw-dropping. They’d never seen anything like it.”

Kresa concludes, “It came out beautifully and I’m really happy with everything about this project!”

At WorldStage, Joe Conway was the primary Account Executive, Jack Dussault was the Project Manager and Terry Nakamura, Loney and freelancer Patrick Dolan were the Projectionists.

D3 For Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

Game of Thrones fans were given another outlet for their favorite show when the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience played a 24- date arena tour across North America. The tour featured the show’s composer, Ramin Djawadi, conducting a 35-piece orchestra and choirs performing highlights from the score. The 360º stage was rich in visuals and dynamic movement; d3 media servers tracked automation and drove the display of video content from six seasons of HBO’s epic fantasy series.

The tour opened in Saint Paul, Minnesota in February and wrapped up in Portland, Oregon in April. To mirror the television show, the stage design was made up of Seven Kingdoms. The main stage (King’s Landing), featured Djawadi, the orchestra and a choir. A runway, also for performers, was then linked to a second stage (Winterfell) on the other side of the arena, which also featured a choir. Four smaller stages were then used, each named after different locations from the Game of Thrones world.

Massive LED screens were suspended above the stages, nesting octagonal screens that looked like inverted wedding cakes with sections that moved up and down.

San Francisco-based Lucid provided technical design consultation for the tour, including d3 programming, management, and system design.

“It was an exciting new venture and quite unique,” says Nick Fletcher, director of Lucid. “The in-the-round stage symbolized the seven kingdoms of the show. There was a lot of automation tracked in d3 on the stage and lots of video content driven by d3. No other media servers could have done the dynamic mapping and automation tracking required for the show.”

Fletcher specified three d3 4x4pros with SDI VFC cards; one pure master and one output machine ran the show whilst the third system served as an understudy. VER supplied all equipment required, including the d3 servers. Ken Delvo from VER was the d3 operator for this project. Lucid also worked closely with SRae Productions, which provided the overall scenic and show design.

Fletcher teamed with Nashville-based Matt Geasey during prepro at VER Los Angeles. “Matt took care of all the lighting previs, the modeling, and fixture profiles,” says Fletcher. “We merged MA 3D and d3 for unified lighting and video previs and programming before the show.”

Fletcher says the tour, “pushed the boundaries when it comes to touring systems – this was the first tour with an IT department! There were managed switches creating a 40-gigabit network linking every department so that everyone had unified access to network protocols across departments, from every location. We had a unified communications system for talent and crew, also riding on the same network.

Fletcher and his team used d3’s r14.2 in beta, working directly with the d3 developers to fine tune new features and assure rock-solid performance. “We used Creative Sequencing on the timeline and a lot of advanced mapping to wrap the scenic design in video, largely consisting of footage from the TV series, as it was not built to be displayed on the scenic surfaces,” he notes. “Drew Findley and Dirk Saunders, the lead creatives, did an amazing job re-cutting the show footage for the tour.”

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