New LED studio offers state-of-the-art 3D “smart” technology and safe environment for local and national productions in Nashville.

NEP Group the leading worldwide outsourced production partner for premier content producers of live sports and entertainment, in partnership with Skyway Studios has installed the first general-production LED “smart studio” in Nashville to support the local entertainment market as well as national broadcasts and live events. Using the latest in Ultra High-resolution LED, the NEP-Skyway Smart Studio transforms the typical flat-wall stage into a true 3D environment, allowing for unlimited creative possibilities and a more natural exchange between the talent and the virtual space. Presenters and performers can walk on stage and immediately feel comfortable in the space, reducing or even eliminating the need for additional rehearsal time.

Designed to accommodate a full national touring act performing a complete concert in the space, the stage is the largest of its kind for production rental and offers a dynamic, virtual backdrop for a wide range of productions – including concerts, touring acts, news/politics shows and events, film & TV, entertainment and sports award and talk shows, still photography, corporate meetings/events and more. The 38’ wide x 20’ deep x 14’ tall stage is part of a 150,000+ square foot facility with many amenities and features including:

  • 4 full-size sound stages and virtual insert stages
  • Ample space for social distancing between performers and crew
  • Limited labor needed to install and operate the stage
  • Availability for production 24/7
  • Fully secure campus with 24-hour security
  • Full studio amenities including complete Hair, Makeup and Executive Greenrooms

The facility opened its doors last week, featuring video content and 3D graphics developed by Lightborne Communications to give visitors an inside look at the creative possibilities of the technology.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the opening of the Nashville Smart Studio. Our teams have worked very hard to build out the studio quickly with this technology,” said Graham Andrews, Global President of NEP Live Events. “Thanks to our strong partnership with Skyway Studios and the content talents of Lightborne, we can offer a creative, cost-effective option in a virtual, safe environment to our clients. The visual opportunities and types of productions that can use this facility are almost endless.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with two global leaders, NEP and Lightborne, on this revolutionary technology here in Nashville. Skyway has been at the forefront of technical innovation over the years, but this new Smart Studio enables us to provide an experience that is unmatched in the marketplace. Given Nashville’s position as a market leader in the entertainment industry and the changing landscape that we are all facing in the marketplace, having this technical capability will allow artists, production companies, corporations and agencies the opportunity to create unrivalled content in their hometown,” said Julie Stadler, CEO of Skyway Studios.

Scott Durban, President of Lightborne, added: “Working alongside NEP and Skyway Studios has been an incredible opportunity to pair cutting-edge technology and a top-of-the-line studio facility with Lightborne’s renowned content creation abilities. We have a long history creating environmental content for live events and concerts as well as doing traditional VFX and production work. Using Unreal Engine to create content for this space draws on all of our capabilities and combines them into a new kind of alchemy that has seemingly endless conceptual, narrative and visual potential.”

The LED Smart Studio is conveniently located near downtown Nashville and the Nashville International Airport and scheduling now. To learn more, schedule a tour or book the studio, contact your NEP or Skyway account manager or Andy Gerber at agerber@screenworksnep.com.

ETA Magazine talks to CT Middle East about providing virtual event solutions!

The current pandemic has certainly spurred creativity in reaching out to target audiences and keeping businesses afloat. In Singapore, a fishmonger has become a “star” with his daily video via Facebook promoting the catch on display. Recently the popular K-pop group BTS racked in about USD20 million for a paid virtual concert, that also drew a fantastic 756,000 fans. Several exhibitions have taken the virtual route as well. Events too where feasible are heading in that direction. In the last issue, we highlighted CTME’s involvement in the virtual graduation ceremony for a university in Qatar. ETA went back to CTME to get a lowdown on the ins and outs of providing virtual event solutions. We thank James Crump – Middle East Sales Manager, CTME, for answering our queries

Did CTME already have the solutions to create the virtual graduation, or was it a recent investment?

CTME have had the technology and ability to provide clients with streaming and virtual event solutions for a while now. However, demand in the region has always been for physical events with live audiences. Obviously, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a real need for clients to find ways to allow events to reach the public. CTME has been able to take our existing technology coupled with new technology that we are continuously investing in, to ensure we can deliver the creative vision of our clients whether it be in a virtual environment or a real-world physical presence.

What are the basic equipment requirements to create a virtual event?

CTME follows the theory that there are three key pillars to a virtual event. Contribution, Production and Distribution.

Contribution is the first consideration. How are the speakers accessing the virtual event? Will they need to be in a studio environment? Are they able to be pre-recorded, or will they be using one of the various video calling platforms available? Things to consider in the Contribution stage also include how the client would like the event to look – will it require multi-camera angles or a single point of reference. What are the inputs to the event, are there presentations, videos and speakers as well as potentially a live speaker/host?

The second consideration is the Production. Based on the number of inputs will the event require live switching. CTME has access to multiple platforms depending on the client requirement and desired look of the event, so will the virtual event require augmented reality functionality and features available using Notch. Many people assume that a virtual event will require fewer operators than a physical event. However, depending on the number of inputs and schedules the same amount of operators are still needed – media server operators, audio engineers and video engineers all need to control different elements of the Virtual event, just as they would with a live physical event.

The final consideration is the Distribution. Where is the endpoint for the virtual event? Is it going to multiple platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, client’s website? Is the client hosting the webpage, or do we need to create and host a dedicated site? Once the event is finished, does the client want it to be available to watch on-demand?

It is important to note we use encryption technology so your virtual event can be 100% secure.

What is the expertise required to create a virtual event?

People are the key to any event, whether it is virtual or physical. Without the experienced technicians, operators and developers working together with our custom Virtual Event platforms, it would be impossible to realize the client’s creative visions.

CTME uses many of the essential items we use daily in our live events work such as disguise media servers, Barco screen control and Riedel Comms to provide a comprehensive virtual workflow that allows a high level of flexibility with our solutions and ensures a high standard result for the client.

What are all the considerations to be taken into account when providing a virtual event service?

While it’s challenging to list all of the considerations, the key factors to take into account are how do you want the virtual event to be viewed. Not all viewers will be watching on a computer. Many will be on a phone or a tablet, so its key to ensure that the creative vision takes this into account. A screen can only show so much information, so make sure the virtual environment is not so vast that it takes away from the key focus points.

How many speakers/presenters will be involved and will they all be dialling in from different locations. Each input requires management and bandwidth, so its key to understand this in advance to ensure there is sufficient bandwidth and to ensure a reliable broadcast.

What kind of interaction do you want with the audience? Do you want them to be able to ask questions and converse with the speakers or hosts, in which case do you want this to be verbal communication or via a comment section that can be monitored?

In the Middle East, many events have to be viewable in both Arabic and English, so it’s essential to consider the best way to do this. If the interpretation is done remotely, then it can add a delay to the stream as the feed needs to be sent, translated and received back by the video engineer before it is streamed to the desired location.

Virtual environments don’t have the physical parameters and restrictions that come into a live physical event such as gravity or weight loads of structures, so you can be very creative in the design stage, but for many, it’s important to keep it realistic to make the audience feel they are still watching a live event.

Security is a crucial concern for many clients, and it’s essential to be able to offer encrypted feeds with high levels of security protocols to keep the client’s data private and safe. Some of the standard video calling software available at the moment does not have this in place, so it’s important to make clients aware of this and be able to offer a safe and secure solution.

It is felt very strongly that the live experience cannot be replaced virtually. However, do you think it will become more common for virtual events to complement live events?

Live events are a much more sensory experience, interacting with other audience members, seeing the physicality of the environment, the set, stage and audiovisual elements and it’s an experience that is very hard to replicate on a computer screen, phone or tablet. That being said, even before the COVID-19 outbreak CT and the NEP Group as a whole have been actively involved using virtual environments and augmented reality in live event environments. The COVID-19 outbreak has increased demand for these services, and once live events start taking place again, we believe that there will be a substantial overlap between virtual services and physical services.

The use of virtual elements can be used to enhance the physical event. As it’s clear to see, certain parts of the world will return to a sense of normality sooner than others, the virtual solutions and streaming allow clients to get the event to those that may still not be able to attend due to restrictions.

Are there other exciting virtual event projects that CTME has been involved in?

CTME are actively involved in a number of virtual events that will be showcased in due time. In addition, we have also finished setting up a dedicated virtual studio that gives our clients the ability to produce high-level virtual events and use advanced tools such as tracking cameras where the virtual environment will react and change to the camera movement just as it would in a physical environment.

While we are sure the rest of the AV world is looking forward to the return of live events, we are definitely seeing an overlap and will continue to invest and develop our virtual capabilities in conjunction with the products and services we already offer.

Creative Technology were thrilled to take home the award for Best LED Screen Supplier for the impressive LED screens installed at Reading and Leeds Festival 2019 at the Festival Supplier Awards 2020.

Creative Technology (CT) took on the mammoth challenge of almost doubling the size of the main stage IMAGs at world-renowned Reading and Leeds Festival last summer, after 25 dedicated years working on the event. Working closely with client Festival Republic, the Main Stage IMAG Screens were transformed from 145sqm each in 2018 to 270sqm each in 2019.

CT’s been proudly supplying the festival and outdoor music scene for over 30 years, working at Reading for the first time in 1994 and Leeds a few years later in 1999. CT has been a part of some of the world’s most iconic outdoor live music events, supplying screens to the famously remembered benefit concert Live 8 in 2005 and numerous historic festivals such as T in the Park, V Festival, and The Big Chill to name just a few!

Graham Miller, Head of Music/Entertainment at Creative Technology commented, “Really proud to win Best LED Screen Supplier at the 2020 Festival Supplier Awards. The scaling up of these festivals have been a great achievement – especially when you consider we delivered the equivalent of two Coachella festivals in one weekend – twice over the Summer! Special thanks go out to our Project Management team as well as the amazing teams of CT crew and freelancers who dealt with it all in their stride.”

The judges commented, “This award recipient demonstrated an impressive scale of operations and an ability to deliver at a high level which was backed up by strong client testimonials.”

Congratulations to all the winners and those who were shortlisted.

Mediatec Europe and Ion Solutions in Ireland have rebranded to Creative Technology, adopting new CT regional names.

NEP Group, the leading outsourced technical production partner for premier content producers of live sports and entertainment, announced today that two of its live events divisions have become a part of Creative Technology (CT) , also an NEP live events company.

Mediatec and Ion, respectively, have worked with CT for many years in different geographical markets long before the companies were acquired by NEP. Like all of NEP’s Live Events companies, these three organisations share a great deal of respect for each other and have demonstrated a One Team approach in collaborating on a number of projects for corporate clients, international sporting events, entertainment productions and more. Each company’s services complement the other’s and, together under the CT brand, they will provide 360-degree solutions to the Live Events market in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

“I’m excited that our clients will share the same high-quality experience and superior service for all of their CT projects, no matter where they are. Our processes and services will be more seamless, from the initial sale to the delivery of solutions at the client’s event site. And, by continuing to support our clients with local teams and equipment in more places, we reduce our impact on the environment.

This change is in name only, with the same talented teams running the business day-to-day, That said, it’s an important step to bring our teams closer together so we can create innovative technology and amazing solutions for our clients across more geographies.”

– Graham Andrews, Global President, NEP Live Events and CEO of Creative Technology Group.

Pictured: Andy Reardon, Craig Harvey, Damian Rowe

CT is pleased to announce we are officially an authorised L-Acoustics Calibration Certified Provider in the Middle East and one of only three companies to have this privilege.

L-Acoustics recently announced the creation of Authorised Calibration Centres, designed to both strengthen the technical partnership between L-Acoustics and its Certified Providers (CPs), and to deliver a greater level of system configuration and calibration expertise at a local level for small to medium installations.

Companies that become Authorised Calibration Centres are able to offer their customers a service level, from design to commissioning to calibration that is identical to that provided by L-Acoustics. The Authorised Calibration Centres will extend L-Acoustic’s geographical proximity to end-users while guaranteeing the same in-house level of L-Acoustics quality service and responsibility.

“For Creative Technology, being an Authorised Calibration Centre allows us to provide a greater level of service, knowledge and support to our clients, both from within our technical engineering teams and having direct access to L-Acoustics development and support management,” says Andy Reardon, Middle East Managing Director. “We pride ourselves in delivering solutions based on engineering and from the ground up. The Authorised Calibration Centre gives us greater levels of understanding of L-Acoustics systems, processors and procedures. It’s a great pleasure to be appointed as one of the first Authorised Calibration Centres globally, and it represents the next step in our relationship with L‑Acoustics.”

“The partnership with our CPs is extremely important to us,” says Arnaud Delorme, applications engineer at L-Acoustics. “We maintain a very close two-way relationship with them, keeping them up to date on innovations at L-Acoustics while also constantly seeing their field experience and feedback. This new level of partnership will ultimately be rolled out with all our partners where technical relations are already well established and who wish to go even further with their L-Acoustics systems.”

We understand that we have an environmental responsibility as a company to carry out our everyday operations and deliver our extensive range of technical services in a way that has the least impact to the planet as possible and our latest investment in the VOLTstack 5k power station demonstrates another significant step towards further reducing our carbon footprint.

Whether it’s making eco-friendly changes to our offices for our employees or innovations for our clients’ events, our mission as part of the NEP Group is to contribute to the change towards a sustainable society. We are committed to minimising our environmental impact, using our resources wisely and meeting all applicable environmental regulatory requirements.

To add to our green initiatives mission, we have recently invested in VOLTstack 5k Power units by Portable Electric in association with Green Voltage, a portable method of supplying temporary power on-site with the benefits of no noise, no fuel, and no emissions. VOLTstack can work alongside or completely replace diesel generators and delivers silent, emissions-free power that significantly reduces costs, making it an ideal solution for film/sport production, remote site operations and sound recordists to name just a few.

“The VOLTstack 5K Power units are a mobile go anywhere power solution with a green footprint.

Being completely quiet and pollution-free they are a perfect fit for the film work we are involved with and have somewhat revolutionised the approach to accessible onsite clean energy power.

We’re committed to the evolution of our eco credentials here at Creative Technology and we have a firm commitment to maintaining and improving on the ‘Green Ethos’ which the VOLTstack power stations help us achieve.” – Nic Maag, TV and Film Account Manager.

Creative Technology (CT) are well accustomed to working on world-renowned golfing tournaments and are proud to have been a part of the biggest event in women’s golf, the Solheim Cup.

The tournament took place from 9th – 15th September 2019 in Gleneagles, Scotland, a remote area of outstanding beauty, which only added to the unforgettable moment Europe beat the USA 14½-13½ to win!

2019 marked the first year CT has been involved in the Solheim Cup and by further cementing our long-established relationship with ROE Visual, working closely together to significantly contribute to making an even greater success of the event, hugely enhancing the spectator experience.

The LED screens onsite were made up of ROE MC5, a product which provided high-resolution display perfect for displaying detailed scoring information. The 7 on-course electronic leader boards installed were used to display bespoke content to each hole including player statistics, scoring and key game information. As play proceeded, the custom content drilled down even further, visually communicating the state of play in the format of displaying player names, photographs, country of origin flags, and current scores – each unique to the current players on the green.

There were also 5 larger LED golf screens installed throughout the venue displaying a mixture of leader board information and live video feeds. In addition to the on-course screens, CT supplied an LED screen for the Media Centre which was made up of ROE CB3 and displayed a bespoke 18-hole leader board with a live video window in the centre. A final screen was installed within the hospitality area of the event, the ‘Ping Pavilion’, ensuring the spectators who gathered here didn’t miss any of the action!

“Having worked alongside IMG for a number of years on other golfing events it was a great opportunity to work on the pinnacle event of the Women’s Tour, the Solheim Cup. Utilising IMG’s detailed knowledge of the event we were able to create customised graphics for the golf LED screens and leader boards that kept the crowds fully up to date with all the live scoring around the course.” – Richard Smith, Account Manager at Creative Technology

As one of the leading global AV suppliers in live events, Creative Technology is continuously investing in new and emerging technology, enabling us to work closely with our clients across a multitude of markets and provide the very best solution to turn their creative ideas into a technical reality.

Over the last month Creative Technology has heavily invested in disguise servers, upgrading our stock of gx 2  disguise media servers to the latest product on the market, the gx 2c – allowing for higher resolutions and smoother frame-rates than ever before. On top of upgrading our gx 2’s, we have also purchased additional gx 2c and vx 4 servers to add to our existing offering – making us one of the world’s largest stockists of disguise media servers.

Sid Lobb, Head of Vision & Integrated Networks at Creative Technology commented, “Our recent investment in disguise allows us access to some of the best media server workflows available. The flexibility that disguise offers is essential for us in providing collaborative solutions to our customers at the highest levels, and this has been proven time and again across all our markets. We are excited to be able to harness the power of the new servers right from the start of the design process, complementing our new content services division and allowing us to expand our virtual studio and augmented reality services in one seamless workflow.

It is an exciting time for broadcast in live events and there is a wealth of opportunity in virtual studio set ups to incorporate disguise xR workflows to create impressive spaces for a visually engaging and interactive spaces.

Broadcasters and live events companies are demanding more and more complex AR and mixed reality elements in their productions. disguise is at the forefront of this technology and are a valued partner of ours in producing thrilling immersive virtual environments.” – Ben Tompsett, Head of Broadcast at Creative Technology.

Working across a variety of market sectors, Creative Technology is proud to be the chosen supplier to a multitude of high-profile events across the broadcast, corporate, entertainment, and sports industries. Numerous well-known events Creative Technology have worked on over the previous year have utilised disguise technology including: Queen + Adam Lambert US Tour, The Killers headline performance at Glastonbury, Travis Scott’s one night only show at The O2 Arena, The Mumford and Sons Delta Tour, Kylie Minogue’s Golden Tour, the Ford go Further launch, and numerous other corporate events, to name just a few. It’s projects of this calibre that will benefit from the new disguise servers in the future and we have some exciting projects up our sleeve that are set to make use of this new and emerging technology.

Graham Miller, Head of Music/Entertainment at Creative Technology states, “We have been working with disguise in music touring for the past few years and found their servers have allowed us to meet the creative demands of our clients – particularly in real time generated content with Notch. The new purchases and upgrades to the more powerful gx 2c servers will allow the designers to have the extra headroom they need to create even more incredible content.

Nic Maag, Account Manager (TV & Film) at Creative Technology commented, “Our latest investment with the disguise vx 4 and gx 2c servers has let us push the boundaries with our film projects to exciting new levels. These powerful servers deliver when it comes to high bit rate playback and the previsualisation workflow that the client can be part of is second to none.

disguise has a reputation of a providing reliable, robust, high-quality 3D media servers which integrate seamlessly with lighting and audio and we are confident it is and will continue to be an essential part of our media server portfolio.

CT are proud to have been appointed Approved AV Technology Supplier to the Tour in recognition of their long-term engagement.

Creative Technology (CT) first became involved in professional golf over 30 years ago, since then the company has steadily built its relationship with the European Tour providing AV technology at numerous tournaments throughout Europe, the Middle East and into Asia and Australia.

The world-renowned European Tour, headquartered at Wentworth in Surrey, manages all the premier golf
tournaments across Europe and the Middle East. Alongside the numerous iconic events including the BMW PGA Championship and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai the European Tour also manage the Ryder Cup on its 4-yearly visit to Europe.

Dave Crump, CEO of CT in Europe & the Middle East commented, “Creative Technology have a long, proud and successful relationship with golf in Europe providing LED screens to around 40 events per year and having been involved in every European Ryder Cup since 1985.”

LED screens have historically been the focus of CT’s supply and whilst this continues there has been a significant shift in priority in recent years. Golf is one of the most challenging sports to support with large screen displays, typically played in full daylight and ideally bright sunlight means screen brightness and contrast is crucial, coupling this with a requirement to display high density graphical data and TV images which typically include a tiny white ball on a uniform green background means the selection of display technology is crucial.

Recent developments have allowed smaller pitch outdoor screens to achieve satisfactory brightness, contrast and uniformity meaning higher density data can be displayed on smaller and consequently more localized LED boards.

This in turn creates more opportunities and consequently demand for bespoke graphical information in addition to the broadcast images and TV graphics.

CT’s AV technology package at every European Tournament now includes a sophisticated TV production and content solution integrating data from scoring and other sources with a combination of locally produced imagery interjected into the European Tour Productions World Feed.

Alongside a range of LED options customized on a tournament by tournament basis from a standard menu of services, CT also provides multiple LCD displays installed throughout the venues VIP and sponsor village environments all connected via a rugged IPTV network allowing customizable content on individual displays across the golf course.

Two identical technology packages leapfrog around Europe typically from April to October supported by a universal production package which travels to every tournament. During the European winter the focus moves to the Middle East and Asia where the same production package is linked to a more locally customized display solution often supplied and supported by CT’s local operations throughout the Middle East and Asia.

Richard Smith, Account Manager at Creative Technology commented, “As with any live sporting event, there is a massive drive to enhance the experience for spectators, bringing them closer to the action. In particular, the last couple of years have seen an emphasis on integrating more data and statistics into our service. We are now developing animated graphics to display easily digestible facts and figures in an engaging way to fans. Working alongside the Tour over the past 11 years I have seen an incredible change in how we utilize technology in our service.”

“CT’s technology is critical to the visualization experience for our spectators at tournaments to create a more immersive environment, and I’m delighted they are on the journey with us to deliver our vision for a world-class connected and intelligent course” – Michael Cole, European Tour Chief Technology Officer

disguise is pleased to welcome Creative Technology Middle East to the disguise Certified Solution Provider (CSP) worldwide network.

The disguise Certified Solution Provider Program is designed for systems integration partners to resell disguise products and services to end customers as part of their differentiated solution. Under this program, CSPs manage, service and support end customers directly.

With inventoried offices in Europe, the US, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific regions, CT is one of the world’s leading suppliers of specialist AV equipment to the sports, corporate, exhibition and entertainment industries. In the Middle East CT has an active presence in the live events and permanent install markets. Globally, CT is a long-time disguise user, and CT Middle East (CTME) has been using disguise for more than three years.

“CT is always looking at new ways to raise the bar within the industry, and this CSP accreditation is the perfect addition as it enables us to continue to be a vital driving force within the region,” says Andy Reardon, Managing Director of CTME.

“We are pleased to be a part of the disguise CSP program, allowing us to expand our offering within the industry and move CTME closer to the disguise business and user community,” he notes. “It provides us with a better understanding of the business and product pipeline and gives us a direct line to the development and engineering teams,” Andy says. “CSP accreditation allows us to be a preferred solutions provider within the region which will inevitably connect us with a larger share of the integrations market.”

CTME uses disguise for its unique approach to workflow, its solid and proven system design and architecture, and instant and proactive levels of support regionally and globally. CTME also makes use of the disguise software in their projects, particularly finding how they can “get involved in the system design and previsualization much earlier in the project timeline very useful,” explains Andy.

CTME utilised disguise for the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony 2019, held in Abu Dhabi where two 4x4pro’s were used as the main machines and a further two were used as understudies. Two 2x2plus’ were also utilised for the main production with one machine serving as the main and one as understudy. disguise also helped to support CTME’s work on projection mapping the oldest building in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn, which utilised a network of 4x4pro main and understudy systems in three different locations, with the central location also using this set up to drive video mapping content.