HQ Creative Celebrates Abu Dhabi Police Golden Jubilee
(Source: digitalcontentproducer. com, the briefing room; December 17th, 2007)
Innovative Dubai based production company HQ Creative devised and produced a multi-media spectacle to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Abu Dhabi Police Force.
The event – attended by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces - was staged in the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
The show was a collaboration between HQ’s artistic director Katie Veira and creative producer Daz Jamieson, the Police and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who played a very hands-on role in the event.
The Sheikh and the Police had several specific ideas which were taken by HQ Creative, added to with their own input and integrated into the show’s storyboard.
Lasting an action-packed 90 minutes, the brief opening speeches were followed by poetry reading, a special choreographed candle ‘shaping’ parade with hundreds of candle bearing police cadets forming words and symbols with their candles; a large format multi-screen HD video presentation charting the history of the Police; performances by several police bands including the Desert Rifleman – accompanied at one point by two rifle-toting robots; a dramatic James Bond style Special Forces section, including helicopters, abseiliers, speeding vehicles etc. ….. and a parade of all the various Abu Dhabi Police departments and modes of transport – from camels to armoured vehicles. The show concluded with a high energy laser and firework finale.
The Police commissioned the special video footage for the history section that was made by Next Vision in Abu Dhabi. Veira and Jamieson evolved the Special Forces sequence – set to the theme music from Mission Impossible - and helped produce a music track that would work alongside performances by several live Police bands.
In addition to developing the show’s narrative, HQ Creative energised a team of technical experts to source and install all the infrastructure needed to stage the show. Their regular suppliers included Delta Sound Dubai for audio, Neumann & Mueller from Munich for video and lighting, and German-based LunatX and TARM for pyro and lasers/robots respectively.
The on site production team was led by Ian Greenway (project manager), Chris Hey (Production manager), Zak Fox (Production Coordinator) and Mylan Lester (site co-ordinator), all from the UK, working closely with HQ Creative’s Director Of Production Jo Marshall and show producer Jo MacKay.
Several modifications had to be made to the stadium to stage the show. A major one was ripping up the running track to facilitate the high speed vehicle chases and stunts for the Special Forces section – which would have been impossible had this not been the last event in the stadium before it is demolished and re-built from the ground up!
The pitch and the running track were painted with thousands of gallons of black paint. Two specially engineered cantilevered sections of trussing were installed on the stadium roof, utilized for abseiling platforms, plus another three 90 metre water-ballasted abseiling ‘zip’ lines around the stadium. The site works were undertaken by the Abu Dhabi police engineering department supervised by the HQ site team.
In the middle of the pitch were three projection screens - a rectangular one in the centre measuring 26 metres wide by 11.8 metres deep, flanked by two 12 meter diameter circular screens either side, all constructed from white Polystretch fabric tightened between trussing frames.
Scaffolding for screen supports was in short supply for this show due to the amount of current ongoing construction work in the UAE and the close proximity of other scaff-hungry events liked DIFC 2007 … so a bit of lateral thinking brought the solution of using shipping containers to counterweight and balance the structures. These had additional advantages like providing robust and convenient back-lighting and pyro positions immediately behind the screens.
Neumann & Muller – a regular HQ contractor - supplied lighting and video equipment – a large amount of which was available after the DIFC event in Dubai. Martin Singer was their Head of Video, and Bill Pugh the project manager. The Police Jubilee projections were achieved using 8 double stacked DP 30SX projectors controlled by Watchout (which also stored all the playback footage), combined with IMAG from 5 cameras, integrated into the visual mix via a 4 engine Barco Encore system.
The Encore was operated by Rudi Stock and the IMAG directed by Andreas Einbeck. The production video team also received a feed from Abu Dhabi TV, who were televising the event with their own cameras - so they could output His Highness’s entrance to the large screens screen. The stadium’s 3 LED scoreboards were also integrated via the Watchout system programmed by Klaus Ostermayer, and used as additional video surfaces. The video show elements were run to timecode.
Lighting was designed by Manuel Da Costa who programmed and ran the show on a GrandMA console. With a large surface area and hundreds of performers and participants to light, the rig was based around several large lightsources including 25 A&O Falcon Beam 3KW searchlights, 20 Sky Falcon Arc Colors for the washes and 6 4Kw Space Cannon Ireos, along with a selection of Martin Professional MAC 2K profiles, fresnels, 8-lite Moles for audience blinders and LED PARs backlighting the arena, just below the screens.
This event unearthed some interesting lighting conundrums. Special follow spotting techniques were used to pick up and follow the horse that started the show, who had to have exactly the right circumference of light around him to feel comfortable and continue moving forward (horses will stop if they feel they’re about to step into darkness and uncertainty!). Conversely lighting had to ensure that there was enough illuminations during the cops/robbers scene for the dog handlers to let their dogs go – as they’re trained not to release in a blackout!
Delta Sound Dubai work on all HQ Creative’s major shows, and for this one they installed two left & right stacks of d&b Q1 line array either side of the screens, complete with four B2 subs under the centre screen. The VIP area was serviced with a compact dV-DOSC system, and to distribute sound around the remainder of the stadium, they plugged into the house EAW system via a Media Matrix. This approach worked very effectively. d&b amplifiers powered the Q1s, with Labgruppens driving the dV-DOSC.
Eighteen radio mics were used for a variety of subjects from a solo flute player to the Lieutenant’s opening speech – running on a combination of Sennheiser 3000 and Shure UHFRs systems.
The field was mic’d up with a series of discreet float mics to create an ambience, primarily for the TV recording by Abu Dhabi TV, and all of this was controlled via a Yamaha PM5D console at FOH, run by Geoff Eaton.
Lasers & Robots
TARM supplied 4 green lasers at the back, under the screen and 4 full-colour units at the front of the arena. Two of the full colours fed the 2 robots at the front of the performance area and the other two were between them and the edge of the pitch. The Robots were a novel idea and were also supplied via TARM. Their starring role saw them mimic rifle-spinning exercises with one of the Desert guardsmen. Later on, they were turned around and fired their lasers onto the screens for graphic effects.
All the lasers were controlled via a DSP network and run by Kai Kasprzyk from 3 computers synched into the show via timecode from video and for the finale, from the pyro.
Another regular HQ supplier is German-based pyro specialists LunatX, well known for their imaginative and different shows. In addition to shooting pyro from 29 positions across the field and another 17 in the roof, they worked closely with TARM on the finale, a minute of which was pure pyro, and the other 2 minutes and 10 seconds were a combined multimedia show amalgamating lasers, lighting and sound.
LunaTX also supplied their C3 flame system, utilized extensively during the Special Forces sequence – which involved 40 flames spread out across the field of play including four moving yokes in the middle with flames on top - and in the finale.
After the show, Major Dr. Fawaz Al Karaeen, The Ministers Office For The GHQ Affairs and Creative HQ’s initial contact with the Police stated, “Everyone was really delighted with the results of the show which far exceeded expectations. It was great working with the Creative HQ team, whose experience, vision and enthusiasm made the occasion really memorable”.
written by: Louise Stickland
Digital Content Producer