7thSense Design delivered updated video technology for the 2017 production of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase. The full system technology upgrade transformed the world’s largest proscenium theatre and enabled video content to be displayed on all eight of the venue’s iconic proscenium arches. 7thSense has provided video systems for Radio City since 2011.
FULL THEATRE PROSCENIUM ARCH MAPPING AND LED FEATURES
A total of thirty-four 7thSense Infinity Media Servers output two channels each of single mode fibre 12G-SDI at 4096 x 2160 60fps 10-bit 4:2:2 resolution, into an Evertz EQX 12G fibre router and EMX multi-viewer system, offering A-B source redundancy with clean switching and monitoring before heading out to facility fibre distribution.
For the first time ever, digital projections extend from the stage to all eight of Radio City Music Hall’s iconic ceiling arches, to help audiences feel immersed in the show. An expanded 36-channel bank of double-stacked Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors receive the server feeds for projection mapping, and four channels reach a brand new 8K x 4K LED wall with BOE tiles and VER Revolution M8 processors, spanning 94 x 43ft which provides a critical digital backdrop for the production.
A WHOLE LOT OF DATA
“Being a company known for their niche in high resolution, high frame-rate, uncompressed frame-based video playback, 7thSense is accustomed to dealing with larger amounts of data than your average video playback system. However, this being a 90-minute show which includes 14K x 14K uncompressed master deliverables for many scenes, at 500MB per frame and 60 frames per second – it demanded carefully planned, high speed, high capacity storage and transfer methods. We’re delivering 11.2 billion pixels per second to the projection system alone,” explains Ken Showler, Experience Director at 7thSense Design and project lead.
“Each 7thSense server endpoint in the system utilises SSD playback, a feature now synonymous with the 7thSense media server range. Dell EMC supported us with a newly available NAS solution for the centralised data ingest and backup system – a 10-node Isilon H600 cluster with 315TB of SAS 10000rpm storage. Each node has A-B redundant 40Gb fibre QSFP links to 40Gb Cisco Nexus A and B front-end network. Each of the 7thSense servers and two 7thSense control PCs have 40Gb fibre QSFP links to the Nexus switches for access to the NAS.”
Along with the integrated system design, 7thSense developed key new software features to bolster workflow:
7thSense Backpack was a new application that aided the demand for high volume media management across a network. It runs on any control PC on the network, providing a simple crosspoint-style GUI for overviewing and distributing video sequences between a given master storage medium and any number of 7thSense server endpoint targets. It uses multi-threading for transfer speed.
Batch and Cluster Recording was an expansion to the existing Record features built into 7thSense Delta, which are traditionally useful for carving the warped, blended and composited timeline output of a given server channel to a new sequence on disk. At Radio City, the Record feature was used to take the 14K projection deliverable, UV map it onto a 3D model of the space, and then render out individual 4096 x 2160 perspective carves for each projection zone, from the physical measured world position and lens characteristics of that physical projector.
DPM (Distributive Programming Mode) was a new 7thSense workflow application designed to centralise the programming of large shows utilising multiple physical chassis, to a single ‘programming’ show file instead of independently programmed chassis all running in synchronisation to result in a continuous show.
A MILESTONE EFFORT
“We’re proud to have been called upon by The Madison Square Garden Company to support such a prestigious, flagship project,” says Showler. “Working with a challenging timeline in a venue that was concurrently hosting concerts and events throughout the video installation meant that we all had to continuously adapt. So many creative and technically innovative people have been involved in this – it’s a true milestone for our company.”
The 7thSense Design media server and management system is permanent, yet reconfigurable, to allow for touring artists and productions to integrate alternative projection and audio hardware for full flexibility and venue rental opportunities.
Design studio Obscura Digital was behind the new creative elements that envelop the theatre. batwin + robin productions, a New York-based multimedia design studio, re-created and enhanced existing video projection and LED content to utilise Radio City’s new projection system. 7thSense contracted Pro Sound & Video as partner in fit-out and installation of the equipment.
7thSense was awarded Venue Project of the Year Award at the 2018 InstallAwards for this project