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Friday 3 May 2019

We were off site again today at another fantastic festival of technology hosted by Creative Technology. This is the second year that CT has run their open day and it was filled with an extravaganza of entertainment tech. The event is primarily aimed for industry professionals to network and showcase advancements in their services, but CT opened its doors to students for the final day with additional talks on the opportunities and pathways within their rapidly expanding industry.

The day was kicked off by CEO Dave Crump who explained how he’d worked his way up from being a warehouse manager and then a live projectionist having said ‘yes’ to covering a six week tour at an hour’s notice. He now runs one of the world’s leading events technology companies! Former IT engineer, now Head of Technology, Tom Burford described himself as being hooked on the dynamic and challenging environment provided by the industry, a sentiment echoed by Senior Project Manager Staf Rowley and Head of Corporate Events Matthew Eve. There was a common theme of ‘getting stuck in’ as LED Project Support Engineering Andy Cox described his journey, which started by covering staff sickness and led to over a decade supporting major events across the world. Andy says he relishes the teamwork and positivity and describes his position as a lifestyle choice rather than a job. A key takeaway was that you can buy equipment but need the people.

An 8K camera (left) is split into HD segments and processed as separate camera feeds (right)

Several of CTs trading partners were also there including Potion Pictures, ShowTex, Take 4D, TSL Lighting, Unusual Rigging, NEP Connect, Panasonic and VYV. These are the companies that bring major events to life and they had their latest toys – some unreleased – on show. From robotics and automation to control surfaces and production tools – there was an incredible amount to take in and engineers at the top of their game to talk to. We also saw advancements in virtual studios and how IR tracking can be used to produce augmented reality within the studio as well as how virtual reality can be used to help design events.

The centrepiece for the day was a truly awesome demonstration of what contemporary audio-visual equipment can create. CTs warehouse had been transformed into a stage complete with LED walls, projection mapped meshes, robotic panels, flown gauzes, intelligent lights, LASERs and a sound system to match. We were treated to a specially prepare graphics sequence that immersed the audience with perfectly timed and aligned cues thanks to a complex network of IR sensors and control protocols. This certainly wasn't cinema - it was epic theatre just without the performers!

Left: LED walls and projection mapping. Right: Robots move sections into place

First year BSc (Hons) Audio Engineering student Liam tried his hand at mixing on a selection of Yamaha, Digico and Avid desks. Senior Lecturer Paul Bourne was particularly taken by an unreleased 8K camera a processor by Panasonic that allows the user to take multiple HD segments from a wide angle 8K feed, add parallax correction to generate different camera angles and independently colour grade the virtual feeds all in real time.

Many thanks to CT for inviting and hosting us and to Global Infusion Group for their catering. We hope very much to return next year.

Left: Liam gets some hands-on training. Right: Section of a virtual studio are projected as the camera moves