ArKaos PRO MediaMaster for Stage Production of “Green Day’s American Idiot”

Photography by Jeff Brown.

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) chose ArKaos MediaMaster PRO to drive the visual content for its production of Green Day’s American Idiot. MediaMaster PRO was chosen for the ease with which it handled the demanding artistic concept, its speed of mapping and its easy-to-understand processes for editing content and operation.

The ArKaos software was supplied by IED, whose Principal Partner, Jeffrey Brown, is also adjunct instructor for Theatre / Event Media and Video at CCM. Brown built three media servers specifically to take advantage of the MediaMaster software. “I have had a relationship with the people at ArKaos for years, and I have been a huge fan of their software since before I knew them personally,” said Brown. “Aubrey Berg, the director for Green Day’s American Idiot, had certain desires for this production, most notably using a large number of outputs. I know MediaMaster well and I knew that we could accomplish his desires using MediaMaster 4.2.”

The three custom-built media servers were placed inside on-stage scenic pieces and at front-of-house to send visuals to twenty televisions on stage and to projectors rigged over the audience. The servers had a total of 14 outputs, and the media management was handled by networking a laptop into the servers using the same Ethernet system that carried ArtNet control signals. The whole media setup was programmed and operated on a Chamsys MQ60 control console.

The visual elements were programmed and operated by Pauline Humbert who found MediaMaster made the whole technical process very efficient, and used the Video Mapper application as a software matrix switch. “We were able to put the media on the correct surfaces quickly using the Video Mapper,” said Humbert. “Aubrey had a very specific idea of how he wanted to use media in this production, and MediaMaster and Video Mapper made the director’s vision possible. We were able to send a single image to all of the televisions for one cue and for the next cue, we could send different images to each individual television.”

Humbert chose to use MediaMaster’s extended profile Fixture mode having decided that Fixture mode was the best way to deal with sending video and images to numerous different destinations in rapid succession. She was able to set in and out points, change speeds, and zoom and pan to get the images to where they were wanted. This extended mode also allowed her to colour-correct and manipulate the video in a quick way that made the technical process extremely efficient. “The whole process was straight forward and the team understood it immediately,” says Humbert. “That ease of use allowed me to focus on learning a new control console.”

The media was a collection of stock imagery and bespoke content, which was edited by a team that included CCM Stage Design students. MediaMaster proved exceedingly useful for the editing team by providing them with a very fast tool for editing the content and presenting it to the director within the tight timescale. MediaMaster’s ability to send out audio signal also proved a time saver. Cues that needed audio to run in sync with the visuals on stage did not need numerous rehearsals to ensure timing. The audio played from the media servers and was mixed as another source by the audio engineer.

“ArKaos MediaMaster gave us the control we needed, the speed of programming we needed, and the options we needed to create a well received, successful show.” concluded Aaron Bridgman.