CAMBRIDGE, MA – Harvard Yard has hosted visits from presidents, kings and Nobel laureates too numerous to mention over the course of the past 300 years. On Sunday April 24, however, the fabled 22-acre site was the scene of an altogether different kind of event, when electro house capo Steve Aoki thrilled a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Harvard Yardfest. An annual party held to celebrate the arrival of spring and the impending end of another school year, Yardfest has become a rite of passage for students. Aoki didn’t disappoint the throng, bringing his distinctive dubstep beats to a diverse set, throwing his famous cakes into the crowd and tickling their eyeballs with a scintillating lightshow that featured an impressive video wall made of CHAUVET Professional PVP S7 tiles installed by Tristan Rudat, working for Emergency Production of Cranston, RI.
Rudat created two video walls on the mobile elevated stage for the Yardfest performance. The top wall, which was located behind the DJ booth, measured 8 tiles wide by 5 tiles high, while the bottom wall, positioned on the DJ booth façade, measured 6 tiles wide by 4 tiles high. Each PVP S7 tile measures 500 x 500 x 63 mm.
The two-tiered wall design created a sense of depth on the mobile stage, making it seem larger. With its very tight 7.8 mm pixel pitch, the PVP S7 offered good viewing angles on both walls, according to Rudat.
High-output spot and beam fixtures flanked the dual video walls, and were used for audience lighting and aerial effects. The intensely bright (1,500 NITS) PVP S7 tiles had no trouble matching the output of these fixtures. At times, the video walls were even used as blinders and to silhouette performers on stage.
Steve Aoki’s VJ, Jay NightRide, created the show displayed on the video walls during the EDM star’s performance. The design featured an array of vibrant breakout patterns, often replicating the beam effects of the lightshow, as well as block letter text spelling out Aoki’s name, or messages extolling the crowd to “Move It.”
Rudat programmed the video wall content for the opening bands and DJ, displaying a mix of animated logos and original content. “I generally have an assortment of content onsite for visuals to incorporate into anything given to me by production usually on a flash drive,” he said. “My show content comes from Resolume, but I create original material in After Effects, Premiere, Final Cut Pro and various 3D programs. I also have hundreds of VHS Tapes and loads of DSLR footage. Most touring acts seem to use After Effects, Red Giant Plugins [one of my favs] and Cinema 4D. Some acts keep it simple or funny just using Photoshop or YouTube clips.”
As far as the PVP S7 tiles themselves are concerned, Rudat gave them an enthusiastic thumbs up. “The tiles were great to work with,” he said. “Brightness was perfect 16 out of 16. The two video walls and the lights worked extremely well together outside on a beautiful night in Harvard Yard. The color, sharpness and brightness of the panels made them seem like a natural part of the lightshow. It was an awesome show. We got great feedback.
“Everyone involved was happy with the show and everyone contributed to its success,” continued Rudat. “Chris Hubbard from Emergency Production, who always sends me out for these shows, deserves a lot of credit, as do Ross Davison, Kevin Legacy and Jimmy Pope, also from Emergency Production, and the people at Rainbow Production Services and Pretty Polly Productions.”
At the end of the memorable Yardfest party, the PVP S7 tiles demonstrated another little known attribute: they are cake resistant! “I will never forget removing small bits of cake from the façade panels and wires,” said Rudat. “You got to expect that at a Steve Aoki performance. The good news is that the cake came off easily and the tiles are just fine.”