Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Case For The Cube: MCubed Report, Nov 15, 2013

I was part of the production team for the MCubed event on Friday November 15th.

"The Case For the Cube", as it was called, was akin to a mid-term book report on all the projects that had been "cubed" with this funding.

Overall it went very well, and all of us on the MCubed team were well pleased at the end of the day.

For the final presentation ("Jeweled Net...") of the afternoon sessions in the League, I brought in 2 extra projectors to expand the map generated of the dark matter in the universe.  It looked very cool on the ceiling in Mendelssohn theater.  You can see the onstage screen at the bottom of this video:

I enlisted some of the TedxUofM kids to help crew the presenter stations and provided some of the hardware used to streamline the presentations, laptops & timers, but mostly my role was to make sure that AV Squared, the production company providing the bulk of the AV gear, brought the right tools and was guided in how to work the event.  I also worked at varying levels with two of the presenting groups: "Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible" (singled out by Provost Martha Pollack as her very favorite title!) and "Opening the Music Archive: Community, Memory and Ethical Access".

"Jeweled Net" is a project to sonify and visualize the Dark Matter in the Universe, hence the "Vast Invisible" part.  The team was Greg Tarle, an astrophysicist, Jim Cogswell, visual artist and Stephen Rush, musician.

"Opening the Music Archive" was Kelly Askew of the African Studies Center, Paul Conway of the School of Information, and David Wallace of SI.  It's about getting audio assets out and available to people on line.

The MCubed team was planning to have the whole event in Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League, but when they suddenly had 1100 people register they decided to move the morning sessions to Rackham Auditorium - Mendelssohn only seats 640.

As it turned out they could have stayed in the League for the entire event because there were so many no-shows.  The event organizers were stunned at the over 50% of those registered that did not show up for Tony Fadell's keynote address.  Tony Fadell led the iPod development team, most of the iPhone development, and then went on to design the Nest series of home technology devices (currently a thermostat and smoke detector).

Here is a schematic drawing of the gear I provided for the presenters setup at both sites.
The top shows the location and content displayed for the three monitors at the front edge of the stage. This is 2 identical "confidence" monitors that mirror what is being projected, and one smaller monitor that displays the timer application being run on the iPad.  Both the iPad and the 21 presenter laptops are on a table offstage, along with all the VGA switching and distribution gear.  There is one cable bundle that ran across the front of the stage in this setup.

Why do we use VGA?  Mostly because we have the gear to do it, but also because VGA still avoids issues like maximum distances in digital distribution.

Photos, first from Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League (check out the video clip later):

View of the stage from "Presentation Control".  Note the monitors on the downstage lip of the stage.

View of the Command Center offstage right.

And from Rackham:

The TedX crew on site, along with Pat Murphy from Michigan Productions.
More TedX'ers, here to help escort presenters around the space and watch their stuff.
Tricia from AV2 at the wireless mic station at the back of the house in Rackham.
All the presenters were wired/unwired back here, away from the audience.
Me with CoE Dean Dave Munson (left) and Tony Fadell at Rackham.

It was gratifying to work with some old friends on their presentations, and apparently they also enjoyed it.  Quoting Jim Cogswell:

It is always a pleasure to work with you.  You know what you're doing, I can trust you to operate at the highest standards of craft and creativity, and I learn so much each time.  Thanks for shaping that presentation.  Looking forward to my next chance to do something again.  

Jim Cogswell
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Professor of Art & Design
Penny W Stamps School of Art & Design
University of Michigan

I'll post links to other shots as they come available.


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