Blink Cincinnati

by Mike Wharton
in Video Production
Cincinnati's Memorial Hall, lit as part of Blink Cincinnati 2017
Cincinnati's Memorial Hall, lit as part of Blink Cincinnati 2017

Event Draws Big Crowds to See 20 Blocks Transformed by Large-Format Projections

Blink Cincinnati transformed 20 blocks of downtown Cincinnati with large-format projection mapping artworks from Oct. 12-15.

The free-of-charge light, art and projection mapping extravaganza drew huge crowds, pegged between 500,000 and a million people, in its inaugural year, taking place along Cincinnati’s Bell Connector streetcar line.

Along with murals and urban art, the crowds were drawn by music, interactive art and lighting and large-format video projection mapping installations.

Lookin Good mural

‡‡         Lumenocity to Blink Cincinnati

Blink Cincinnati picks up where Lumenocity left off after a four-year run. For Lumenocity, media production company and creative consultant agency Brave Berlin used large-format projection mapping to transform the façade of the Cincinnati Music Hall as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed.

Staged under the direction of organizing partner Tim Maloney of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation, Lumenocity moved from outdoors to indoors last year, with Lightborne providing projected imagery within Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre.

As with the inaugural Lumenocity event, which was said to draw close to 50,000 people — five times the 10,000 originally anticipated, the first Blink Cincinnati was a crowd-pleaser, with the Haile Foundation once again teaming up with Brave Berlin for a massive visual spectacle.

Brave Berlin owners and partners Dan Reynolds and Steve McGowen would spend close to two years with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce on Blink Cincinnati. Far from simply blasting projected light onto a wide swath of cityscape, the goal was to carefully map projected art onto some of the city’s most distinctive architectural facades.

Covenant First Presbyterian Church

“We have 22 architectural projection mapping locations,” Reynolds says. Along with the unique architectural features incorporated into the large-format projection designs, the projection design team was able to play around with some of the large-format painted murals that are unique to Cincinnati.

“Last October, we experimented with mapping these murals and overlaid animation which brought the mural to life,” Reynolds says. It too was a huge success, so Brave Berlin partnered with Artworks, the company which sponsors the murals to combine these two separate art forms into a new form of projection mapping.

“We decided that since no other city has this mural culture quite like we do, we would combine the two types of projection-mapping to create something that is truly unique to our show and something only Cincinnati can offer,” Reynolds says.

Eleven different motion design firms contributed to the projection mapping, with scores of artists working on them. A company of mural artists named Xylene created a new mural on twin towers downtown specifically for Blink this year.

As producers, Brave Berlin handpicked all these artists. Another layer in the whole Blink movement are 60 sculpture-based light installations around the city. Again, both local and international artists are represented.

Although they formed Brave Berlin relatively recently, Reynolds and his partner McGowen have been working together for 25 years. The two picked the locations for Blink Cincinnati well over a year ago, about the same time Cincinnati’s street car system was being laid out. “Picking the locations we wanted to project onto was as much about location for viewing as well as where to place the technology,” notes Reynolds.

Contemporary Arts Center

‡‡         A Big Assist from PRG

Brave Berlin contracted with PRG for the equipment and crew needed for the 20-block-long project.

“Having done a couple of these events, we knew the tech partner would be key,” says Reynolds. “When we finally engaged with PRG, they flew five guys in from all over the country, who walked the entire route with us, which loosely follows our streetcar system. Five days later, we had a very comprehensive and detailed proposal in hand, and we knew we had found the right partner.”

Working with the assist of a partner in the real estate business, Brave Berlin was able to provide PRG with a production and staging location in Cincinnati just two doors away from their own offices in the city’s downtown.

Scott Renick served as PRG’s account manager for Blink. “PRG thoroughly invested themselves in comprehending the vision Brave Berlin wanted to achieve with Blink,” he says. “We walked the city at least five times to really understand the physical space and logistics coordination. On the back end, we had lighting designers, programmers, operators and project managers building equipment lists from those site surveys.”

PRG provided lighting, projectors, servers and control gear for the event, while also coordinating the technicians, projectionists and server specialists working on Blink Cincinnati. “We took the artists’ final media templates, fine-tuned them, punched up the maps they created and used our media servers for augmentation,” said Renick. In all, 68 projectors were used on the project. Most — 58 — were Barco units.

Hamilton County. Courthouse

‡‡         Production Partners

Together, PRG, Brave Berlin and the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce tackled the myriad logistical and planning details to stage the enormous spectacle, working with Loud and Clear to provide the army of labor it took to put Blink together in a busy, public place. “An arena is a big venue, as are stadiums,” says PRG’s Renick. “But a city? A city is a huge canvas to cover.”

Running two shifts, PRG deployed and staged gear placement during the day, then aligned images and programmed at night. Signal routing was simplified by the fact that each location had its own front control setup. “We dedicated very powerful single servers at each site,” notes Renick.

Brave Berlin, along with producing partners from Agar, Artworks, and the Haile Foundation, did extensive research on projects worldwide that encompassed both lighting and projection mapping in outdoor events. PRG landed the contract not simply because they had the inventory, but people with know-how and the wisdom.

“To get something like this off the ground you’ve got to have the knowledge,” says Renick, “and that’s where PRG’s people are key. We used our lighting designers as translators. The artists work in their medium, but don’t often work in our medium. It was very much a collaborative effort. Together we brought the artists’ vision to life through light.”

Memorial Hall

Blink Cincinnati: Key Projects

  • Site: Contemporary Arts Center
  • Design Firm: Lightborne
  • Site: 23 East 12th Street/Over-the-Rhine neighborhood
  • Art Project: Neon Flux, mapped on the well-known mural, Lookin’ Good.
  • Site: Covenant First Presbyterian Church
  • Description: PRG designed projection mapping showcasing the church's architectural details.
  • Site: Hamilton County Courthouse
  • Art Project: Truth & Perception by Iacono. It includes animated narratives and spoken-word poetry performances that deal with the theme of perception.
  • Site: Memorial Hall
  • Description: Loveland freelance motion designer Sean Van Praag created the animated light projection mapped on the building


Blink Cincinnati Crew

Management:

  • Account Managers: Bobby Klimuszko, Scott Renick
  • Project Managers: Frank Roggio, Scott Inukai
  • Zone Leads: Robert Nealy, Sayyid Baksh, Beau Menetre


Video Crew:

  • Media Server Lead: Bryan Besterfeldt
  • Media Server Programmers: Adam Dunaway, Tyler Roach, Nick Spencer, Alex McPherson, Brian Rothschild, Brett Gardner
  • Projection Lead: Danny Harris
  • Projectionists: Mike Wall, Anthony Wall, Jared Bueng, Richard Sands, Alan Kline

Lighting Crew:

  • Lighting Designer: David Seitz
  • Lighting Programmers: Jon Garbarz, Trice Head, Travis Shupe
  • Master Electricians: Dave Haar, Lindsey Glover, Cletus Karamon, Gary Curtis


Blink Cincinnati Gear (From PRG)

Lighting:

  • 3          grandMA2 Full consoles
  • 2          grandMA2 Light consoles
  • 5          grandMA2 onPC’s w/command wings
  • 63       Vari-Light VL3500 Wash fixtures
  • 22       Vari-Lite VL3500 WashFX fixtures
  • 37       Martin MAC Viper Performances
  • 38       Martin MAC Viper AirFX fixtures
  • 38       Martin RUSH PAR 2 CT Zooms
  • 23       PRG Best Boy HP fixtures
  • 20       PRG Best Boy 4000 fixtures
  • 16       Claypaky Scenius Spots
  • 14       Claypaky Scenius Profiles
  • 73       Chroma-Q Color Force 72 fixtures
  • 28       Chroma-Q Color Force 12 fixtures
  • 10       Chroma-Q Color Force 48 fixtures
  • 36       Elation Colour Chorus 72 fixtures

Video:

  • 15       Barco UDX-4K30 projectors
  • 23       Barco HDF-W30 Flex projectors
  • 18       Barco HDX-W20 Flex projectors
  • 10       Optoma ZH-400ust (4k) projectors
  • 2          Panasonic PT-RZ31K HD (28K) Laser projectors
  • 17       Green Hippo Boreal & Karst media servers
  • 5          d3 Technologies media servers
  • 2          PRG Mbox media servers

 

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