Award-winning virtual production and LED hire specialist, iMAG, was approached about Sky Glass’s launch event via industry leading, freelance production director and multi award winning creative agency INCA’s technical director for the project, Mark Connolly.
With the key challenge of deploying a solution that would match Sky Glass’s advanced technology and Sky’s aspirations for the product, this global press launch was short, sharp and sexy.The event was held at Magazine, a purpose-built event space in London’s Greenwich Peninsula, and included a technologically advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) LED solution from iMAG.
“One of the key requirements for the LED screens was that they had to be HDR,” says iMAG client director, Charli Harding.
“The fact that our team have delivered fully proven HDR-ready workflows and LED volumes for Lionsgate, Netflix and Amazon, along with our entire indoor high-resolution inventory of LED panels being HDR-ready, pushed us ahead of the game for supplying this innovative and game-changing launch.”
iMAG supplied a full video solution including ROE Black Onyx 2mm LED panels, along and Brompton Tessera LED processors, plus operators and programmers, with iMAG working closely with sister company Graymatter’s control team, who supplied multiple disguise media servers. Kate Dawkins Studio provided the visual content wizardry, with lighting design by Renegade Asylum.
In a week-long build, the launch space at Magazine was transformed by 12 large hi-res LED screens, each of which was able to move horizontally, either in combination or as four separate video screen elements, using Kinesys motion control with rigging by Unusual Rigging, and forming one perfectly seamless screen when they came together.
Working in close collaboration with Doughty Engineering to achieve the screens’ uniform appearance, iMAG deployed a custom designed system to ensure perfect joins, with Strachan designing an electromagnetic system to ensure the screens engaged correctly to produce a single video surface.
“This was a fast pace, automated project and not something you would normally do with a delicate 2mm screen and the tolerances were minute,” iMAG technical director, Alex Strachan recalls. “We had provided a smaller scale version for Intel at Mobile World Congress, but the unique challenge here was the sheer scale of these screens, which meant there was more room for error as when the screens move the weight also shifts, so Unusual were restricted by the weight that could be put in the ceiling. That’s where the electromagnets came in – we used hundreds of them!”
With the project involving a lot of testing, both on and off site as well as pre-programming, Strachan notes that iMAG’s proven HDR workflow was another key to success. “This was also a challenge because there were a lot of different agencies producing HDR content, all looking to us as the experts on how to deliver it,” he says.
“We had a lot of support from disguise, who helped us advise the content providers on what was needed. Because HDR is still relatively new and the visual detail it produces means it’s unforgiving; if you make a slight mistake in the way the content is made, it affects the end result.”
The following day saw Sky hold a conference called Sky Tomorrow, with iMAG performing a rapid reconfiguration on the evening of the launch to turn the moving screens into a single, static screen, with Graymatter providing live cameras for a full 4k, five camera shoot.
“One of the key points about Sky Glass is that it features Dolby Atmos audio so, to ensure accurate reproduction of both its visual and audio attributes, a special sonic room was built with a television at one end and included a two-minute-long projection mapped sequence created on a disguise server,” says Strachan.
“It was certainly a challenge to deliver two different solutions in quick succession, whilst also working on a number of other events,including another INCA project for Google at Soho Farmhouse. The fact that we have an extensive stock of LED panels, which is all Brompton HDR-ready, means we are ideally placed to deliver multiple projects simultaneously.”
“iMAG understands the challenges of projects like this. Its customer service, accountability and the dedication of its staff are second to none,” concludes Connolly. “The project delivery had to be first class. It goes without saying iMAG’s attention to detail and extensive R&D ensured a seamless delivery – literally! That’s what enables them to deliver bespoke solutions and stunning results, all the while being some of the nicest folks in the industry.”