Anna Valley’s “Reality Hack” 2020 Inspiration Showcase

Anna Valley kicked off the new year by staging a reality hack at their 2020 Inspiration Showcase from 13-21 January.  Designed for event professionals, the showcase blurred the lines between reality and a digital fiction created using the company’s extensive range of audio-visual technology.

Right from the outset, nothing was as it seemed.  On arrival, guests were given branded RFID cards and left to explore the “reality hack zone” which appeared to be an empty foyer – except for a podium in the centre of the room where a screen directed guests towards a number of reality checkpoints.

AV mugs

Reality check

The first RFID tap at the podium triggered a flash flood and turned the courtyard into a fish tank and another tap turned the outside world into an eerie alternate dimension.

These visual effects were achieved by building a false bank of window frames in front of the actual windows in the foyer, and replacing the glass with high-resolution, 2.5mm LED screens.  On the other side of the room, 4mm outdoor LED displays were placed against the windows in the courtyard, facing in.  When guests entered the foyer, all the screens showed stitched-together shots of the external scenery which would normally be visible, so guests didn’t notice that they weren’t actual windows.  But when visitors tapped their RFID cards at the central podium, the tap sent a command to a central QLAB machine which triggered a co-ordinated approach from the video, audio and lighting systems to deliver the reality hacks.

The custom-created flash flood, fish tank and upside-down content was delivered via a Hippotizer Boreal+ and the visuals were supported with surround-sound designed to make guests feel like they were part of the scene.  The audio components were delivered via a Yamaha QL5 console and d&B Soundscape using 18 physical speaker points that allowed thunderclaps, moving vans and other sound effects to physically move through the space in tandem with the visuals.  To complete the effect, a Grand MA Command Wing lighting console and RGBW ceiling fixtures ensured that the lighting cues matched the mood, colour schemes and scenery in the video content.

Flooded windows

Broken down window

This wasn’t the only window to another dimension in the reality hack zone.  A series of magic mirrors were designed to generate a reaction from guests who tapped their RFID cards at these reality points – and turning their reflections into the stuff of nightmares certainly achieved that purpose!  An 86-inch, 4K display fitted flush against the back of mirror glass maintained the reflective nature of the glass as long as the screen was black, but when an RFID was tapped on the checkpoint it prompted content playback which transformed the mirror into a screen and a benign reflection into a terrifying vision.

Guests were then invited into Anna Valley’s 41 000 square foot warehouse, where they were greeted by the spectacular sight of a 26m long x 6m high concave and convex curved LED wall.  The wall was built using only one third of Anna Valley’s new single-batch stock of 3.9mm Unilumin LED which is extremely thin and lightweight, allowing curves of up to 15 degrees each way to be created using the variable brackets built into each panel.

Concave convex screen

By following the curves of the supersized video wall, visitors were led to the “Know your reality” area where they were taken on a journey through virtual, mixed, augmented and extended realities with a galactic flavour.

The journey started with a taste of virtual reality where individual guests were invited to play “First Contact” using an Oculus Rift headset and controllers while their colleagues watched a live feed from the goggles.  This VR experience was the only setup that showed content from an individual’s viewpoint – while the other realities were also based on rendered 3D environments, they were viewed through camera’s perspective.

Man with 3D Glasses

Group pf girls

A mixed-reality TV studio was then created using markers on the ceiling and a Red Spy infrared camera which tracked the camera positions across X,Y and Z axes and recorded camera pan, tilt and roll information.  This data was fed into a disguise GX2 server and parented with a camera in Notch to manipulate and render the graphics and then feed them back to the server and onto LED screens on the set.

The mixed reality spaceship was then taken to the next level by adding a 3D augmented alien in the foreground.  This relied on a similar technology solution as the mixed-reality studio but, instead of rendering the content onto an LED screen, it was rendered onto a camera feed so that the 3D element shared the same perspective as the camera.  This made it possible for the camera to move around and maintain the alien’s position on the floor in relation to the graphic background.

The final frontier was extended reality – or XR – which was achieved with a combination of mixed and augmented realities.  An augmented reality roof was put on top of the space station studio to create a 360 degree, fully immersive environment.

Close up mobile phone

Next, guests were invited inside Anna Valley’s own Glass Elevator – a 5m x 5m x 3m LED cube that took them on a journey into space and back down to earth.  The Anna Valley designers built the elevator by leveraging the strengths of three different LED products – using the black marble LED floor underfoot, a standard 3mm LED for the walls and the new, lightweight 3.9mm panels for the roof – and then mapped content across all these surfaces using linked Barco E2 and S3 servers.  Visitors activated the launch via a specially created, native ipad app that sent OSC commands to a central QLAB machine which, in turn, prompted playback of content simulating the launch into space.  The experience was completed with sound delivered by d&b subs on each of the four faces of the cube and three levels of d&B T10 array positioned to deliver audio from the bottom, middle and top of the cube as the elevator moved up into space and back down to earth.

Group shot 1

Group shot 2

Finally, the Anna Valley team revealed the technology that was used to deliver these experiences, giving visitors a tour of the control and delivery spaces for the Inspiration Showcase and Anna Valley’s warehouse facilities.

Multiple screens

Screen op

Sign up for Anna Valley’s Inspiration Showcase in January 2021 or get in touch now to chat about your next event.