U2 Vertigo Tour a feast for the eyes with revolutionary Barco technology

Barco.com News Release (2005-03-29)

Kuurne, Belgium – March 29, 2005 – U2’s much anticipated “Vertigo” tour kicked off in San Diego, USA yesterday, wowing its thousands of fans with spectacular never-before-seen stage, video and lighting designs.

With their origins in Belgium, Barco, Innovative Designs and XL Video – three key providers to the professional entertainment industry – banded together to help bring to life the spectacular design (show design by Willie Williams) of the latest U2 tour. All visualization aspects of the show, from the various projection set-ups (using Barco RLM G5s & ELM G10s) to the video-driven LED projection units, the image processing (Barco Folsom Encore) or the new revolutionary MiSPHERE curtains above the center stage, were designed, integrated & produced by Barco or Innovative Designs and delivered by Barco Rental Partner, XL Video.

The most awe-inspiring visual element of the show can be found in a tiny, plastic-encased LED spherical module called “MiSPHERE”. Designed and developed by Barco at its R&D headquarters in Belgium especially for the Vertigo tour, the MiSPHERE takes the use of LED technology in the concert & staging market to a new level.

With 360-degree viewing angles, opaque, light-diffusing casing and ability to play both full video & data, the MiSPHERE bridges the gap between existing video and lighting products, enabling it to be used for both application purposes. Individual MiSPHERES are daisy-chained into a string, with several strings in turn forming a 3-D visualization curtain. Each MiSPHERE acts as a pixel within the curtain, making it possible to display images and simulate lighting effects across the entire curtain, while also achieving a “Look-Trough” effect and “Multiple Angle” viewing-effect for the audience all around the scene.

High above the center stage hang the MiSPHERE strings, each containing 64 spheres and totalling 9 meters long. A total of 189 strings (containing over 12000 spheres) together form seven 3-D curtains which allows fans on all sides of the stage to have a perfect view of the images & content displayed on the curtain above the band. The digital curtain will be retracted and lowered throughout the show as needed.

At the heart of the show lies Barco’s Folsom Encore; a show control system which allows advanced video processing and presentation control at the touch of a button. Bringing together the various aspects of the show, the Barco Folsom Encore provides source selection, advanced windowing features, seamless switching, video effects and integrated control. The Encore’s modular, scaleable architecture allows the system to support a wide variety of show configurations. The system can efficiently support from 1 to 32 screens with any combination of independent display or seamless wide-screen display elements.

To realise its elaborate stage, video and lighting design, the U2 Vertigo tour brings together some of the AV industry’s foremost players. The flawless integration of all the elements of the show is the product of months of preparation and collaboration by all parties involved.

“We are enormously proud to be a part of this ground-breaking project”, says Stephan Paridaen, President of Barco’s Media & Entertainment division. “Designing, producing and delivering a revolutionary product such as the MiSPHERE in less than 6 months confirms Barco’s commitment to driving technological advances within the rental & staging industries. Together with our rental partner XL Video and creative partner Innovative Designs, we helped realize the creative aspects of a show that will wow millions of fans at concerts across the world over the coming year.”

Adds Rene De Keyzer, Managing Director of XL Video: “XL Video has always been an early adopter of ground-breaking technologies, simply because we believe that by doing so, we provide an extra service to our clients, who demand nothing but the best. Our close collaboration with Barco and Innovative Designs has lead to a strong alliance, which enabled us to help realize the Vertigo tour.”

Frederic Opsomer of Innovative Designs, which specializes in the design and production of custom-made video displays for special projects, captures the essence of this project: “You need a band like U2 to push creativity and technology forward.”

Key show info:
Show designer: Willie Williams 
Lighting Design Director: Bruce Rahmus 
Video Designer: Stefaan Desmet 
Barco Rental Partner: XL Video (www.xlvideo.tv) 
Equipment designed & produced by Barco (www.events.barco.com) and Innovative Designs (www.id-be.com)
Equipment list:
189 MiSPHERE strings
4 x Barco G10 projectors
5 x Barco G5 projectors
5 x Folsom Encore image processors
Barco Media & Entertainment, a division of Barco, provides specialized visualization solutions targeted at the needs of the Media & Entertainment industries. It counts names such as U2, Louis Vuitton, Madonna and Daimler Chrysler as well as installations for Merrill Lynch, Kinepolis, China Film Group, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Reliant Park Stadium (USA) and the Hala Sazka Arena in Prague amongst some of its key references.

For more information on our latest products, please visit http://www.events.barco.com/

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