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Lofty Presentation

One of the most anticipated events of the year for the 4,000 employees at the AFLAC headquarters in Columbus, Ga., is the company's annual holiday party.

Project: AFLAC Annual Holiday Party
Application: Corporate/Live Staging Event
Location: Columbus, Ga.
Distributor: Innovative Markets, Batesville, Ind.

One of the most anticipated events of the year for the 4,000 employees at the AFLAC headquarters in Columbus, Ga., is the company's annual holiday party. Every year there is live entertainment, but this year, event planners wanted to create an even more memorable experience. AV technology was definitely in the plan, but they wanted something more than the typical screen.

Here's a look at the pre-inflated sphere's interconnection panel, three cooling fans, and access door to the inside of the unit.

Here's a look at the pre-inflated sphere's interconnection panel, three cooling fans, and access door to the inside of the unit.

According to Oz Roberts, second vice president producer/event productions and audio visual services at AFLAC, the company chose to use Skyview spherical screens for this event because of their uniqueness and shape. The inflatable Skyview spheres “float” in the air, range in size from 6 to 15 feet in diameter, provide multiple screen options, and are customizable. Their displays are reliant on an interior high-end projector system that can be run in HD and controlled wirelessly with RF technology.

For design and installation of this new technology, Roberts turned to Innovative Markets, the distributor of Skyview based of Batesville, Ind. The AFLAC event used three models: a three-screen, 8-foot unit that incorporated three projectors and 75-inch screens for 360 degree viewing hung approximately 15 feet over the center of the room; a 16-foot, single-screen unit, one of Innovative Market's largest, with a 160-inch screen was set parallel to the stage; and an 11-foot, 100-inch screen model, floated to the right of the stage, says Jason Kuisel of Innovative Markets.

The prospect of projecting on a spherical surface sounds complicated; however, according to Kuisel, the screens only have a slight curve, so just a little keystone adjustment from the projector does the trick. No special processing is required. Although the company doing the camera work and providing the live feed had to make a couple of long cable runs of 2 feet to 300 feet to get signals to the units, the video distribution amplifier was placed high above in the rafters and the signal ran down from there to each of the Skyview units, Kuisel explains.

Demonstrating how new media formats can drastically change the presentation of messages, the inflatable Skyview spheres make a big splash at AFLAC's holiday party held last month.

Demonstrating how new media formats can drastically change the presentation of messages, the inflatable Skyview spheres make a big splash at AFLAC's holiday party held last month.

The projectors inside the spheres are cooled by a series of intake and outtake fans that draw cool air in and exhaust heated air to the outside. The spheres themselves are made from a combination of lightweight polyurethane and polymer materials, which keep weight to a minimum, and can be inflated with air using a common leaf blower.

“Even though this was one of our largest units, the product is still really light, weighing around 100 pounds,” he says. “With a team of three to four men, we were able to move the entire unit while inflated and reposition it over the stands in about 45 minutes. The product takes down even faster. After the show, we had all three units down and packed into the truck in under an hour.”

The product, which can be rigged to float, hang, or stand on the ground, provides a lot of flexibility for various applications and venues. “The flexibility to dead hang the product or float it with helium allows for total control of placement of the product in any space,” Roberts says.

Attracting attention lately from other corporations, event planners, and promoters, Kuisel says demand for the product is increasing because of its “wow” factor, drawing crowds and captivating audiences wherever it's used. “This is especially important to advertisers and event sponsors,” he says. “We get a lot of people who come up and marvel at the technology — and many go as far as to stand in front of it and get their picture taken. What a great way to associate a sponsor with an event.”

Kuisel expects this technology to take off. “Because Skyview acts like what most pro AV guys refer to as a ‘shadow box,' or rear projection booth, it blocks out nearly all your ambient light issues and allows you to do projection media, even in outdoor daylight and direct sunlight,” he says. “It's truly unbelievable for most people in the industry, especially using projectors that range from 2,500 to 4,500 lumens. In fact, one of our most popular daylight models uses a 2,500-lumen Hitachi CPX5.”



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