GILFORD, NH – The 13,000 people who came to Gunstock Mountain Resort every day for three days to participate in the SoulFest Christian music festival could count on seeing a lot of good things, like inspiring speeches and great performances by bands such as Third Day, Tenth Avenue North and For King and Country. Another thing that those who attended this popular event were certain to see was a differently configured video wall on stage every day.
At the end of each day’s performance the festival’s video wall, which was made of PVP X6IP LED panels from CHAUVET Professional, was taken down, reassembled and repositioned to give the stage a fresh new look that fit the needs of the next day’s headliner band. “It’s a good thing the panels are so easy to rig, because we had to take them down and put them back up on a daily basis,” said Tim Messina, owner of Events United, which supplied the video walls for the festival.
“In the past we’ve done audio and lighting for multiple stages at SoulFest,” he said. “This was our first year doing video for them. Traditionally, the video wall at the festival had been off stage, but I suggested we try building the wall onstage. The SoulFest staff loved the idea. There was one catch however; we would need to fit the video wall to each headliner’s specs for each night of the festival.”
With the video wall being on stage, each evening’s headline band had its own unique vision of how to use it to enhance the show. This led to the decision to create a new wall configuration every night. “Changing the wall configuration on a daily basis led to some great visuals,” said Messina. “Fortunately, the PVP X6IP panels are so easy to rig that this idea was very doable. There are a lot of fantastic user-friendly features to these panels. For example, the T handle lets one person hang the panels quickly, easily, and safely.”
Working with the headlining bands’ teams, Messina and his crew developed an impressive variety of video wall configurations, some of which tested the performance capabilities of the PVP X6IP panels – tests the panels invariably passed with flying colors. This was evident on the first day of the festival, when the Grammy-nominated group Newsboys called for a very wide 80-panel wall.
“The Newsboys’ wall was close to an anamorphic ratio,” said Messina. “It measured 26’ wide by 8’ high. We were concerned by this ratio because we were putting IMAG up on this wall for the opening acts.”
In the end, everything turned out fine. “The video wall on day one turned out to be awesome,” said Messina. “It gave our IMAG shots a new look and feel. We had a lot of compliments on how amazing it looked. On day two we had to move the wall side stage for Casting Crowns, and on day three we made another wide ratio for Third Day with slightly different dimensions.”
The Chauvet panels were not only versatile, they were also very bright. During the festival’s daylight performances, Messina ran the panels at full brightness. The images they displayed showed up clearly even in the summer sunlight. At night the panels were brought down to between 30% and 50% brightness depending on the content.
“A really nice thing about these panels is that when we’ve used them at other events that are indoors, such as corporate functions, we can get them dim enough to make a nice presentation,” said Messina. “Some LED walls don’t have enough variance in brightness; they can get bright but can’t get dim enough or vice-versa. We had enough flexibility to get to our desired level of brightness indoors in a 500-person room, and still have room to go darker if we needed to, and then at the other end of the spectrum we can use them at an outdoor festival like this in the daytime.”
Not surprisingly given the creativity that characterized the stage design at SoulFest, a wide range of images was displayed on the festival’s video wall, including IMAG, playback, ads, motion backgrounds, and custom content. Messina used a Blackmagic Design Atem 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher with an aux going to an ImagePro scaler via SDI to feed content to the wall.
“We ran DVI-D out of the scaler and into the VIP driver, then out of the driver into the VIP signal distributor,” he elaborated. “From there we would send the necessary amount of outputs to control the video wall. We ran the whole system redundantly with a second CHAUVET Professional VIP driver. During our tests with the redundant driver we found the transition to be very smooth, so if one system failed, it would immediately switch over to the redundant system with no flicker or any noticeable change.”
Indeed, the multiple video wall design during the three-day festival came off without a hitch. Like most things that seem effortless, however, it was the result of a lot of hard work along with skill and reliable tools.