Despite the sub zero temperatures and windy conditions, Gearhouse South Africa, under contract to VWV/Till Dawn, contrived to produce a spectacular closing ceremony for the FIFA Confederations Cup competition, which will long live in the memory of both live and television audiences.
The event was staged before the Cup Final at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, which was won by Brazil. Among those in the crowd was newly elected, South African President Jacob Zuma.
Three Christie Roadster S+16K SXGA+, 16,000 ANSI lumens projectors and three Christie Roadster HD18K 1080 HD 18000 ANSI lumens devices, fitted with 6.9-10.4:1 HD zoom lenses, were deployed in pairs to project onto an 8m sphere, ‘floating’ at a height of 16m above the playing area. This provided the pageant with a real ‘wow’ factor.
The sphere was constructed from a tensile tarpaulin, and all the Christie devices, were retro-fitted with the Twist modules. “This allowed us to wrap the entire sphere in one seamless, continuous 360 degree image,” said Gearhouse Audio Visual Operations Manager, Bhans Sheomangal.
Chris Grandin, of Gearhouse Media, who designed the ingenious projection, control and network systems, added, “The ball was divided up into three segments and Christie Twist software was used to wrap and blend the edges of the projected images to achieve the desired effect.
“To achieve the 360 degree projection, I projected a pre-mapped grid onto the ball before matching the points from each projector onto the corresponding points on the grid. The Christie Twist software allows you to see the points that you are moving before you twist the image, which facilitated working in this way.
“The pre-mapped grid approach is what enabled me to achieve such a smooth and seamless result, within a very short amount of time.”
Grandin devised a wireless network system to control the projectors and Twist modules, comprised of three wireless access points with wireless bridges between the access points, and a high gain, omni-directional antenna situated at the central cluster of projectors. The network allowed him to walk freely around the ball, into the stands and onto the field, to precisely line up points and match the images to the curve of the ball from every possible angle.
The content was created by VWV Management and fired from a Dataton Watchout system. “There was no live camera work — it was all simply VT playback for the highlights package, maps and flags,” said Bhans.
But given the unusual weather conditions, the biggest concern for the Gearhouse South Africa project team was to stabilise both the image and the ball in fairly high winds. They created bespoke brackets and platforms for the projectors, which were positioned side by side, and clamped to sections of truss, fixed to the stadium balconies.
The inflatable sphere was launched using three winches, (one on the ground and two from the roof of the adjacent parkade), as well as five tethers. As the Ceremony drew to a close, the tethers and bottom winch were unhitched, allowing the sphere to float up to an 82m height and track sideways over the stadium for quick pre-match clearance.
Under the inflatable, a bevy of South African singers, dancers and musicians brought the curtain down on an event which has huge significance. For this was seen as a trial run for next year's FIFA World Cup.
Summing up the event, Gearhouse’s Marketing Manager, Robyn D’Alessandro confirmed, “The equipment performed admirably under bitterly cold conditions. Although our crew has taken a bit of a beating in terms of enduring the freezing weather, the equipment performed absolutely perfectly throughout.”
Held every four years in the World Cup host nation a year before the big event, the tournament also went off smoothly, with the only major upsets occurring on the field.