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Kabaret's Prophecy Installs Technological Wonder

Creative Technology and UVA use Barco's MiPIX LED for unique venue (July 22, 2004)

Imagine a vast, sculptured, moving image backdrop - constructed from modular intelligent LED pixel blocks - upon which graphics and animations, triggered from a real time generator or MIDI keyboard, are superimposed to create an ever-changing mood tableau.

It's almost impossible ... because it's the first installation of its kind in the world.

A new exclusive Soho members club will open its doors in July 2004 to reveal a unique visual interior based on a new technological breakthrough. The venue's design and brand consultant, David Collins, has created a monochromatic space - with 'maximalism' as a theme - designed to stimulate all senses. With a capacity of just 100, the subterranean

(Click for larger image)

Kabaret's Prophecy LED installation

in Beak Street will play host to a display of avant-garde visual art, which will redefine the concept of environmental design.

Two of the four linear walls at Kabaret's Prophecy are clad in Barco's proprietary MiPIX which can display intelligent lighting effects, 3D logos or graphics - and even full video content. These moving images will even curve around the contours of the walls and wrap themselves into the alcoves.

David Collins enlisted Chris Levine, an acclaimed light artist, to help realize his vision in Piers Adam's former venue. Levine's past projects include design and direction of laser elements on Massive Attack's 2003 100th Window tour.

This revolution in technology brings together the creative team of video system specialists, Creative Technology - early adopters of MiPIX blocks - and pioneering environmental graphics engineers and live performance video specialists, United Visual Artists (UVA).

Introduced to the Kabaret project by Chris Levine, UVA will provide all playback, software, programming and operational personnel, while Creative Technology were responsible for the design and integration of the MiPIX wall.

CT's sales director, Mike Walker, wanted the creative team to push the technology envelope as far as possible, by being able to address LED sculptural walls with visual art - live, in real time, and on a nightly basis. UVA's graphical content will provide the changing moods.

Although Creative Technology have run large-scale MiPIX displays at expos in Geneva, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles this will be the first permanent, and large-scale integration of its kind, and is being seen as the model for a potential rollout.

Each MiPIX measures 4cm x 4cm and CT will deploy almost 3,000 to create two vast canvasses - measuring 17.2m wide by 1.2m high.

The modularity of the MiPIX display allows more pixel blocks to be added at any time, should the resolution of the display need to be increased. However, the lo-res media wall will be ideally-suited for running purpose-created graphics sequences off a PC, thanks to some imaginative thinking by UVA's technical director, Chris Bird.

"Providing an ambient installation on a curved LED wall posed certain problems, which we had to solve in an unconventional way," said Chris. "We knew we had to be able to (a) address the wall pixel perfect; (b) address an exploded screen without losing aspect ratio, and (c) make it operational in real time."

He first set up a demonstration to illustrate how playback and FX might be controlled in real-time, using a laptop plugged into a bespoke MIDI instrument, driven by UVA's proprietary software.

Each successive band tour undertaken by UVA has seen an evolution of their original Mosquito software platform, and at Kabaret's Prophecy they will be using an enhanced version of their Dragonfly 2 software - developed on that Massive Attack tour - tailored to fit this video-wall installation.

Chris Bird explains, "Because of the inherent pixel gaps in LED displays, conventional processors are unable to send component video pictures without losing aspect ratio. We are now able to maintain true aspect ratio - and therefore continuity of the image - by drawing video onto a virtual canvas, which can be saved as an actual canvas." Thus each pixel in a display can be addressed individually.

A video editing station is set up next to the DJ booth where the VJ will be positioned five nights a week. Mounted in a 19in rack will be a Pentium 4 PC fitted with dual head NVIDIA graphics card, allowing control to be implemented either via the computer keyboard or a M-Audio Oxygen 8 two-octave USB MIDI Keyboard Controller, plugged into the computer.

This will enable UVA to store Stop, Loop and Edit attributes onto a specific time frame to correspond with trading patterns.

It all adds up to a system, which by flooding the room with warm or cold colors, will provide an ever-changing architectural canvas.

About Creative Technology
Creative Technology supplies high quality, video-based exhibition, multimedia and event staging services from its operating locations in the UK, the USA and Germany. Its policy of constantly updating its inventory and its unique understanding of the latest presentation and display technology has set the company apart from its competitors. CT's portfolio includes camera systems, LED displays, video projection, graphics, DVD authoring, web-casting, network video and bespoke IT packages.

About United Visual Artists (UVA)
UVA are a visual production team who came together in 2002 with a creative mission to produce innovative graphical installations for touring bands and live events. Members Matt Clark (Creative Director), Chris Bird (Technical Director and Ash Nehru (Software Engineer) each gained previous experience working for a series of bands, while collectively they have lent their creativity to tours by Travis, Basement Jaxx and Massive Attack - the last two in collaboration with Creative Technology

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About Barco
Barco, an international company headquartered in Kortrijk, Belgium, provides visualization and display solutions for professional markets. Barco designs and develops solutions for large screen visualization, display solutions for life-critical applications, and systems for visual inspection. Barco has a network of subsidiaries, distributors and agents in almost 100 countries. Barco is quoted on Euronext Brussels and is a BEL 20 and a Next 150 company.

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Related Keywords:Kabarets Prophecy, Creative Technology, Barco, MiPIX LED, LED pixel blocks, David Collins, Chris Levine, United Visual Artists, UVA, Mike Walker, Chris Bird, Dragonfly 2,


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