AV Solutions across EXPO 2020

EXPO 2020 was hosted in the Middle East from the beginning of October 2021 to the end of March 2022. The journey with EXPO started over three years ago when CTME was first partnered with some of the best contractors in the world to deliver AV System Integrations solutions across multiple pavilions including DP World, USA, and Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) to name a few.

Pavilions such as DP World, Lebanon, UK, and Emirates hosted numerous live events throughout EXPO. CTME had a dedicated team of event engineers and project managers who provided AV support for these events.

Alongside this, CTME provided full video control, media servers and playback solutions across two of the main stages at EXPO – Dubai Millennium Arena and Jubilee Stage which hosted some of the largest concerts with renowned local and international performers.

Andy Reardon, Managing Director of Creative Technology Middle East expresses, “Our journey started back in 2019 when we won the contract, direct from Expo 2020, to supply and integrate the immersive projection and audio installation at Al Wasl dome situated at the heart of Expo 2020. We then won more pavilion contracts involving well know activation consultants’ – Jack Morton (ENOC), The OpenLab (DP World) and Thinkwell (USA).”

Here’s how the journey started…

Our Creative Journey with DP World

Andrew Nu, CTME’s Business Development System Integration Manager says, “The contract for DP World Pavilion was awarded to our System Integration team in 2019 by DP World and we worked alongside The OpenLab who were the creative agency for designing the Pavilion. CTME award was due to our bids technical understanding, delivery of service and competitive pricing. To have been awarded this design and build contract by a government body is a proud achievement for CTME especially as this is a legacy District2020 project.”

CT provided systems integration of the audio, video, lighting, and control systems for DP World Pavilion.

DP World Pavilion is based around the concept of ‘Making Trade Flow’, and its rich content gives people a unique insight into the world of global trade. The Pavilion is made up of five floors, the lower four floors are public visitor experience, while the 5th floor is for the DP World Senior management to host VIPs and government officials.

Three of the levels are inspired by Mobility, Opportunity and Sustainability; the recurring themes of Expo 2020. All floors deliver interactive experiences and galleries that are designed to educate, enthuse, and inspire guests on how trade impacts their everyday life.

The central Atrium is 4 stories high with a spectacular waterfall centrepiece. CTME installed the 18m x 10m Unilumin 2.9mm LED screen, L’Acoustics SYVA audio system, and a range of Varilite moving lighting fixtures around the space.

Danny Lord, Project Manager expressed, “One of the challenges was the coordination of the 18m X 10m LED screen in an open Atrium given a short-time frame. This took precision; it was rewarding to see the final result. The next challenge was ensuring the content ran smoothly across the 8K display. Days of off-site testing were conducted in parallel to the site installation, at the CTME offices, to allow the content creators and CT’s technology specialist time to test the integration and content performance.”

Visitors enter the building via a four-story external escalator taking them directly to the 4th floor. Here, CT installed a 44.5 sqm Unilumin 2.5mm LED screen underneath a glass table which had on top acrylic models of shipping and transport deployed across the globe; including a scale model of DP World’s Box Bay, a new and intelligent storage system.

This glass landscape table is backed by a 50.4 sqm Unilumin 2.5mm LED screen, 15” Litemax displays for a content ribbon on the able showing a history of transport and flow of goods by DP World. This area is driven by disguise pro4x4 media servers.

Danny Lord comments, “Another challenge was the design of the glass screen on the table. Elements such as heat had to be considered from the LED table, the LED backing wall, and the printed acrylic models. The challenge was to ensure the LED didn’t melt the models. Weeks of planning & coordination with the fit-out contractor and model makers ensured we met safety standards and kept the display intact.”

As visitors follow the exhibit round on this level there is an area with a10.8 sqm curved Unilumin LED screen displays the plans for the Virgin Hyperloop system.

Other technologies delivered by CT includes Lightware video over IP transmitters and receivers, Litemax LCD display, Iiyama HD 10-point touchscreen, Apple iPads with stand and interface. Audio is utilising QSC ceiling speakers inc. subs powered by QSC 8 channel amplifiers.

In the Mobility Gallery situated on the 3rd floor, CT installed a bespoke 14m wide Unilumin curved LED wall and a 6×2 array of LG narrow bezel LCD displays with a touch screen overlay. The interactive table is a large ‘’touch screen’’ where up to 6 people can play games at any one time. Acouspade ultrasonic speakers were mounted above each game participant, giving them directed individual audio in the position they are playing along the table.

On the 2nd floor guests encounter various LG interactive screens with game-like content using Orbbec depth cameras capturing user interactions as part of this experience. Neumann speakers provided individual audio content to each user’s location.

In the Flowlab Gallery on the 1st floor is an education al space for schools and universities to use. It is a large space laid out as a game-show. CT installed 2 x Epson 15K projectors to display the game-show content onto the front wall; this is triggered through disguise and QSC Q-Sys. Substantial show control integration programming was needed in this space connecting the custom game content, video playback and external input triggers.

Peter Herring, Engineering manager adds, “This was a design and build contract with the creatives giving us a vision; it was our responsibility to make it work. We designed cost effective technology bringing the ideas to life. At each step we collaborated with the client, stake holders and creatives.”

“Working on this project has been a pleasure’’ comments Project Manager Danny Lord. ‘’We have a great team and a fantastic relationship with our client. Going back to DP worlds tag line ‘Making Trade Flow’, the entire Pavilion flows seamlessly right from the moment you enter, flowing through the floors and ending at the beautiful Atrium. The AV throughout flows flawlessly.”

Lee Forde, General Manager comments, “Our Journey with DP World did not end at the installation. CT was awarded the contract to operate the pavilion daily as well as enhancements delivered by our live event team. We have a dedicated team delivering live events and offering AV support throughout EXPO2020.”

The journey didn’t end here for CT. Simultaneously our teams were working on other pavilions; the journey continues with the USA pavilion.

USA Journey

Peter Herring, Head of Engineering comments, “Think well Group, a design and production agency, were looking for an AV integration partner for the USA Pavilion. They were searching for an AV company who offered professional services cost effectively and with whom that could establish a lasting partnership.”

“From the off-set Thinkwell were clear about what they wanted. They provided CT with visuals and plans of their dream pavilion and engaged with us to see how we would deliver to their expectations.”

“After meeting with Pete Ford, the Creative Director for the pavilion CT were appointed by Thinkwell to provide systems integration of audio, video, lighting, and show control systems”.

Herring went on to say, “Having robust designs from Think well allowed our engineers to develop the technology from Thinkwell’s concepts. They knew what they wanted, and we
know how to deliver.”

When entering the pavilion, you are taken on a moving walkway bringing you to the first exhibition. Here you can see the Statue of Liberty Torch in the centre of the room surrounded by an immersive projection experience showcasing the history of the “Land of Opportunity”. For the projection, CT installed 16 Epson projectors running off 7th sense media servers. 8 projectors were mapped onto the torch while the other 8 were used to project onto the polar array that surrounded the space. As you move out of this first exhibit, you make your way along the ‘transition area’ before reaching the second exhibition.

The transition area holds artifacts that are important to the USA such as the first ever English translation of the Quran that was given to Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd president). This Quran is over 280 years old and has never left the USA before now. CT had many meetings with The National Archives about UV protection as this is a priceless artifact. Herring expressed, “One of the challenges we had was to ensure the right type of lighting was used as the National Archives have a particular set of requirements. We used ETC lighting fixtures which were designed to specifically light the precious artifacts in this area.” In the second exhibition area, you are shown the impact of American innovation and how it has shaped the world. This is achieved through projection mapped content along a 30m long curved 3D embossed wall. CT deployed Epson projectors running off a 7th sense media server to create the spectacular projection along with architectural lighting to highlight the experience. For the lighting CT used Vexica dynamic pixel lights and ETC LED profiles.

The third Exhibit space conveys how American innovation has created opportunity all over the world from the impact of the internet to smartphone technology and much more. The immersive technology here comprises of 12 Unilumin cubes, Leyard EcoDot4 P80 and custom steel fabrication to make up 4 sets of LED cubes stacked on top of each other that rotate 360 degrees. Low resolution LED mesh can also be found along the back wall displaying content while the floor and ceiling are covered in mirrors. This area is fed from disguise media servers. QSC speakers provide consistent ambient audio as you travel through the space. Vexica flexible LED strip, Chauvet Professional cyclamps, and ETC fixtures create the atmospheric architectural lighting.

As you enter the fourth exhibition, the moving walkway ends; you make your way into this vast hall. The previous three exhibition themes echo through this space culminating in ‘The sky is no longer the limit’. The space has 15 Epson projectors with playback from disguise media servers, 72 channels of audio and the roof is made up of 96 sqm LED panels. A full mechanical automation system transports the planets, moon, earth and other astronomical features around the roof void.

The fifth exhibit is the USA’s national parks, and trillion trees initiative is highlighted to illustrate the proactive response to climate change that is being driven at the highest level. CT installed 51 Traxon Technologies, 16 ETC source four LED, 8 ETC track head and 5 ETC Track to light up the large canvases on the walls. QSC pendant speakers are used for the audio narrative as the guests travel through the space.

In the sixth exhibition space, NASA gave permission to have live feeds from NASA’s control centre; images from Mars are displayed on an LG ultra-stretched screen. Peter Herring, Head of Engineering for System Integrations remembers, “I woke up one morning and saw a meeting invite on my phone from NASA. The whole experience was surreal. I had the meeting with NASA and Thinkwell’s Creative Director. They gave plans around what they visually wanted the display to look like. This was enough for me to go back to my engineers and create their vision.”

Another focal point is the life size replica of the Mars Rover which is surrounded by content screens displaying live data from NASA. Outside of the pavilion is the life size replica of the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket which has content projected on it telling the story of the USA’s space race. CT installed Epson projectors and used Chauvet Professional lighting fixtures to lluminate this area.

Herring expresses, “In the planning stages discussions took place where small lights would feature in the rocket garden but there was nothing to illuminate the actual rocket. Our engineers came back with a plan to install IP rated moving heads that would scan up and down the rocket to create an iconic look.”

Danny Lord, Project Manager explains, “In the peak of summer, with temperatures souring above 45-degrees, our engineering team installed 300-pixel dots on the façade of the building behind the façade stars. To mitigate the risks, we implemented our summer working plan to ensure that our staff worked safely and healthily. Working with a professional
creative team was an absolute delight and seeing the end result after two years is one of the biggest highlights for me.”

“CTME brought our vision for the US Pavilion to life said Pete Ford, Creative Director for USA Pavilion. They delivered it on budget but there’s more to it than that, they brought fresh ideas, insights and enthusiasm that become more than the sum of the project’s parts, it created something better. From the minute that we met with Peter Herring and the CTME team we knew that they were the right fit for this project. They helped us create something that punched above its weight and delivered real results not just for Thinkwell, but for the US Department of State.

“The US Pavilion at World Expo 2020, Dubai represented the best of the USA – and we created that together.”

ENOC Pavilion

Another Pavilion that CT worked on was the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) pavilion. This pavilion’s theme of ‘Reimagine Energy,’ draws on the design of oil storage tanks with five distinct structures (‘’houses’’); each of these ‘houses’ taking visitors on a multi-sensory journey through four narratives: Discovery – what energy is; Harness – what energy enables; Collaborate – what energy needs; and Reimagine – what energy promises.

The ENOC Pavilion occupies a plot of approximately 2,000 sqm and was built using 700 tonnes of steel. Creative Technology Middle East was commissioned by our clients ENOC and
their creative consultants Jack Morton to provide systems integration of the audio, video, lighting, and control systems.

CT installed over 46sqm of exterior curved LED screen on the façade of the building used to attract visitors to the pavilion. Due to the façade already having been designed and built, our engineers only had 254mm of space to fit the LED screen within the gaps on façade.

CT took on the challenge and suggested a product that would fit the already designed and fabricated façade with ease, enabling our client to achieve their design.

Upon entering the pavilion, you travel through a mirrored tunnel with an immersive audio and lighting experience.

CT installed L-Acoustic audio system and Chauvet accent lighting throughout the pavilion.

House 1 is a dark cinematic space where visitors learn about the history of ENOC through a video presentation shown on a 14m x 5m curved LED screen. Following on from there, House 2 is a projection-based space with Epson L1755 15k projectors.

A large button in the centre of the house activates the experience triggering CT’s show control platform delivered through disguise servers. The projection allows visitors to interact with touch painted areas on the perimeter wall.

House 3 comprises interactive Unilumin Uslim2 LED central totem tower situated in the middle of room surrounded by a circular 8m interactive Roe BM5 LED floor. The LED floor content will change as the visitors move around and 3D depth cameras map users onto the LED totem tower. Around the LED floor are 8 podiums that contain a holographic display that visitors can interact with using hand gestures.

The final house has Chauvet lighting fixtures and two Epson L1755 15k Lumens laser projector blended on to a domed circular projection surface, ambient audio is delivered from L-Acoustics speakers.

ENOC has another space dedicated to government and industry stakeholders to host VIP events. The ground floor versatile multipurpose space that can accommodate around 60 people. This space can be used without an operator and when required for more complex events, there is a lighting desk, audio desk, and video a switcher to operate the technical equipment: Epson L1755 15k Lumens laser projector, L-Acoustics Syva speakers, as well as moving light fixtures. This flexibility allows the area to be used for more ambitions shows to s a simple presentation.

Andy Reardon, Managing Director of CTME says, “The world EXPO 2020 has been an exhilarating journey right from the offset. Our dedicated teams worked around the clock to deliver state-of-the art technical systems across all of our pavilions. The work at EXPO reflects our ethos of pushing the boundaries with new technology and this was achieved through the pavilions, delivering technical solutions across Jubilee and DMA stages as well as installing 252 laser projectors and 432 speakers for the immersive experience at Al Wasl Dome. As the journey comes to a close, we are absolutely delighted to see the results and be part of this impressive project.”

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