WATCHOUT Behind LED Set at Awards Gala

The Bidvest Awards Gala Dinner is one of the major events in the South African corporate calendar. This year’s spectacular enthralled the 3500 strong audience with a Broadway-inspired theme and a magnificent set featuring 1001 LED panels. The visuals were managed by the new version of Dataton’s WATCHOUT multi-display production and playback system.

In keeping with the event in recent years, the production team for 2015 was once again headed by Executive Producers & Creative Directors Debbie Rakusin and David Bloch, who are always given the same mandate by charismatic Chief Executive of Bidvest, Brian Joffe: to come up with an innovative, captivating, boundary-pushing show.

That mandate was answered by one of the most spectacular and technically advanced shows ever mounted for the Bidvest event. The amazing stage set comprised of 1001 LED panels providing all the backdrops, scenery and virtual environments necessary on a set which never physically moved.

Technically, the entire set was controlled and visual content managed by Dataton WATCHOUT 6. Marcel Wijnberger, AV engineer at Gearhouse Splitbeam, explains why: “We chose WATCHOUT 6 for a few reasons, the main one being the time-line based production control. The new Virtual Displays in WATCHOUT 6 was an indispensable feature given the number of LED screens that needed to be controlled. Time-code tracking – a previous feature of WATCHOUT – enabled the entire technical team to lock together as one production. For this set we used two display machines and a production machine all with a fully independent, switched backup display network.”

For the LED installation, the set used three different panel resolution configurations which needed to be color-balanced and managed – taking into account their different pixel pitches. The 1001 panels on the stage made for a larger-than-life set experience and resulted in an overall display pixel count of 9800×1200. The show utilised a new feature in WATCHOUT 6: the ability to use the HAP codec on media content. “This codec results in large file sizes,” explains Wijnberger, “but the GPU decoding in the system ensured that the show ran effortlessly.”

Marcel Wijnberger concludes: “This being my first show using WATCHOUT 6, and during the the time I have spent on this show, it has become clear why WATCHOUT is so respected around the world. I found it to be intuitive and a pleasure to use, and can’t wait for the next show.”

Bidvest is an international services, trading and distribution company. The company is listed on the South Africa stock exchange and employs 145 808 people worldwide.

About Dataton
: Founded in 1973, Swedish show control developer and manufacturer, Dataton serves core markets in multi-media entertainment, visitor attractions, digital signage, scenography, event production and corporate AV. The company’s flagship product is the award-winning Dataton WATCHOUT multi-display production and presentation system. Fully scalable, software-based and requiring no proprietary hardware, WATCHOUT orchestrates still images, animations, graphics, video, sound and live feeds into a single impressive show across multiple display areas, either soft-edge blended or scattered. Research and development facilities are located in Linköping, Sweden, and Dataton has worldwide representation through an established partner network.​ The Dataton premium partner in South Africa is Penmac AV, based in Johannesburg.