d3 and Clay Paky Score at 2016 MTV Video Music Awards

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Rihanna accepts the Video Vanguard award onstage during the 2016 MTV Music Video Awards at Madison Square Gareden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) rolled out the red carpet at New York City’s Madison Square Garden where a d3 Technologies 4 x 4pro fed an array of scenic video screens in iconic sports and entertainment venue Madison Square Garden.

The ceremony was shown live on multiple Viacom cable networks and through smart TV and mobile devices, MTV’s website and Facebook Live.

Screens producer Laura Frank of Luminous FX chose d3 to provide the signal for multiple screens: the LED wall at the back of the main stage comprised of Win9 panels, manufactured by WinVision Galaxia Electronics, with an automated opening at the centre; two flanking wings and a floor made of Revolution Display’s BLADE LED strips; and the suspended ‘Hive’ – trapezoidal panels of Huasun Technology’s Flex MESH-50 in six independently-automated sections.

d3 also provided the video signal for RGB Lights’ FlexiFlex LED String on the interior of the tunnel and handled video-to-DMX conversion for LED tape on the tunnel exterior and the Hive.

“d3 is my server of choice since the 3D feature set is a natural workflow from my content specification,” said Frank. “Our system was run off a d3 4 x 4pro Mixed Master with a full tracking understudy. They were provided by VER and supplied with a fully engineered rack of gear for signal conversion, distribution over fibre, multi-view and genlock.”

Off-site, Frank used d3 as a previs tool to aid content production. During the show d3 tracked scenic position data to help mask content as it moved behind other scenic pieces.

Kirk Miller, server programmer with Earlybird Visual, ran the show using d3’s SockPuppet DMX control. Nick Fletcher represented Beyonce’s screen team as their timeline and Notch programmer.

“We pushed d3 hard and tested new features in d3’s r14 prior to the Gold release,” Frank reported. “Things went very well due to the fantastic support of d3’s Andy Briggs, who was on show site along with d3’s Ash Nehru. Both kept us in great shape during a challenging production.”

Rounding out the team was screens associate Trevor Burke of Visual Noise Creative and d3 engineer Zak Haywood of The Hive. Atomic Scenic provided RGB Light’s Flexi-Flex and LED Tape combo on the Tunnel. The server and rack system was provided by VER’s Marty Wickman with help from Mitch Lathrop. The VER screens were supported by Chris Peterson and his team.

Clay Paky Mythos and Sharpys also played a major role at Madison Square Garden. Lighting Designer Bob Barnhart used a large complement of the fixtures for the live telecast, which was shown on multiple Viacom cable networks and through smart TV and mobile devices, MTV’s website and Facebook Live.  A.C.T Lighting, is the exclusive distributor of Clay Paky products in North America.

Barnhart, with LA-based 22 Degrees, marked his second anniversary with the VMAs. “The biggest challenge is coming up with a light plot for a show that continues to evolve right up to the last minute,” he explained. “You need a rig with enough versatility for the main stage and all the acts, which have not been worked out yet.  Madison Square Garden has an additional challenge too – there are not a lot of scenic elements to embrace the audience on cross-camera shots. So that’s where lighting plays a part.”

Barnhart chose 178 Clay Paky Mythos for the VMAs. “The fixtures have found their way into my rigs since I used them at the Super Bowl XLIX Half-time Show, before they were introduced to the market,” he said. “For the VMAs Mythos gave me good dynamic beams and acted as versatile utility fixtures. Their hot beams helped to hyper-focus and draw attention to certain areas, but they also flooded out enough to serve as another kind of tool. It’s a great light.”

The Lighting Designer hung Mythos throughout the Garden in an array of truss octagons that mimicked the shape of the set. Mythos also filled alternate rows in the two scenic wing walls flanking the main LED screen behind the stage.

Barnhart dedicated 36 Sharpys to the rear of the Garden to act as background for the VIP seating and to give depth and shape to the arena itself. “The Sharpys are good when you need to break up dark areas, areas that lack information for the cameras,” he pointed out. “They’re an amazing tool.”

The Garden’s own array of Mythos and Sharpys, permanently mounted over the outer ring of the ceiling, delivered extra punch as needed.

PRG supplied Barnhart’s Clay Paky fixtures for the awards ceremony.