Guitar-Shaped LED Interactive Video Floor Tracked Using BlackTrax

Wowing crowds of 17,000, Dutch superstar Marco Borsato’s Symphonica in Rosso is one of the most spectacular series of performances in history. Held at Amsterdam Ziggodome Arena during 2016, 12 sold-out concerts broke all boundaries in terms of technical creativity, innovation and wizardry.

Jo Pauly, d3 operator and programmer from Belgium-based Visual Solutions was brought in to consult and design all video during the preplanning process.

Another first for BlackTrax, the motion tracking solution was used to track key performer, Marco Borsato on stage and on a guitar shaped interactive LED video catwalkthroughout the performance. BlackTrax was seamlessly integrated with d3 technologies 4by4pro media servers to manage content for the entire concertincluding main stage LED wall, two IMAG LED walls and two rows of LED videobanners throughout the whole venue.

“We wanted a clean stage look, lots of video with orchestras on each side of a guitar shaped stage,” explained Jo Pauly. “We chose BlackTrax for its flexibility to track and integrate with interactive content. It also needed to follow the artist on stage and trigger time code and connect to the d3 media server used to visualize rapidly some high-resolution stage views. We could make the complete output map in our studio so on arrival at Amsterdam Ziggodome Arena, we just plugged in the fiber cables to the LED wall and we were technically ready to go!”

Five BlackTrax cameras were positioned in the ceiling and were focused on the catwalk as well as on a large part of the stage. “Using the BlackTrax toolset, we integrated a restriction for the software to ignore any reflections of the tracking LED from the shiny floor into account. We calibrated the set and wandered the space using the BlackTrax calibration devices. Once this was done, we registered positions within d3. Ever since that moment, we did nothave to modify any of the settings for the upcoming 10 days – not even once!”

At the start of each performance and when Marco Borsato stepped out onto the guitar-shaped catwalk, the stage was lit with the image of a guitar on the stage. By combining BlackTrax with real-time effects generator, Notch by 10bit (previously known as Demolition), Pauly was able to create the illusion that Marco Borsato’s footsteps caused a ripple effect, or that fire was lit beneath his feet.

The d3 media server received positional data from the three Blacktrax LEDs positioned onMarco Borsato and five ceiling mounted BlackTrax cameras. “These were used to move Marc Borsato in the d3 virtual world,” says Pauly. “This data interacted with video files processed in Notch, to make the video image come alive where the singer was standing and with infinite accuracy. The use of Notch is a real-time process that needed no rendering when BlackTrax position data was received, visuals were generated instantly” added Pauly.

“During the performance, we were able to track the artist on stage and reproduce content at its position. Any realtime or last-minute content changes could be made without having to pre-program our timeline. We could simulate the artist live usingtracking and could see how the content would react or how fluent the effectwould be,” adds Pauly.

One project challenge was the discreet positioning of three tracking LEDs on Marc Borsato and his costume changes. “During a quick wardrobe change, we changed the active remote beacon that manages the 3 LEDs and added it to a new jacket,” says Pauly.

Marco Borsato did six performances in the fall of 2015 and another six shows in February and March 2016, and each of them sold out within days.

Pauly added: “My idea of using BlackTrax instead of a pressure-sensitive LED floor, was enforced by some major international shows that didn’t seem to fully appreciate the accuracy of a pressure sensitive floorings. Another advantage was the fact that even when five musicians were walking on the catwalk, only Borsato’s position generated interactivity. That was key to our visual effects.”

“Since this show was a world premiere in terms of technology, we worked closely with d3, Notch and BlackTrax six months prior to finding the right solution and it was a splendid collaboration,” concluded Pauly.

Project credits:
· Carlo Zaenen, Light Designer

· Leon Driessen, Light operator

· Jo Pauly (Visual Solutions), d3 Mediaserver operator / visualisation

· Michael Stroobants and Jan Lerminiaux (Visual Solutions), d3 Mediaserver engineer / BlackTrax engineer

· Fabrique Fantastique, Content creators

· Marcel de Vré, Show Director

· Piet Winten (Mundomatic), Production Manager

· Jacky Hommers (, Stage Manager

· Set design, Anne-Mari Ahola (Ahola Production Design)

· Faber AV, video equipment and Blacktrax supplier