Broadcast-Quality Graphics at AirFest 2016

The Big Picture: Technology Reshaping Air Shows

OSA International, Inc., in partnership with Reality Check Systems and TrellisWare Technologies, helped to pilot an air show video wall system with broadcast-quality graphics featuring real-time footage, team biographies, aircraft information, social media, sponsor commercials, PSAs and more for the Tampa Bay AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base this past March. Focusing on the rewards and challenges of offering a big screen at an air show, Ric Peterson’s “The Big Picture: Technology Reshaping Air Shows” in Air Shows Magazine is an excellent read on the rewards and challenges of offering a big screen to audiences like that of the Tampa Bay AirFest, as well as reaching fans through smaller screens including mobile devices.

Peterson explains:

“Today’s air show has evolved well beyond pitching a lawn chair and ogling aircraft. Technology is reshaping our industry and, while large screens may be too expensive for most, there is a rapidly growing expectation that we offer them. Most other outdoor events already use at least one big screen along with the creative use of small screens such as smart phones, tablets and wearable devices. Some within our industry have designed apps while other performers and shows are taking advantage of Twitter and YouTube’s live-streaming options. They all have their rewards and challenges.

“I’ll start big.

“Nothing beats the impact of a big screen to create maximum impact, entertain your fans, increase advertising effectiveness, give promotions the extra punch and connect with your crowd..”

Media Solutions [powered by OSA] supplied two large 7.8mm LED walls at 40′ wide x 20′ tall, a 4K broadcast engineering system, LED distribution system, high-def cameras and more for the Tampa Bay AirFest. With RCS providing the graphics, OSA and RCS were able to create a mobile broadcast studio and the largest-scale live production in air show history. This level of scope typically requires a large outside broadcast truck.

Peterson quoted Angel Banchs, Director of Engineering for Media Solutions [powered by OSA] and technical coordinator for the video system at the Tampa Bay AirFest, several times throughout.

Banchs starts with the fan perspective:

“We had a bit of inclement weather on Saturday. The beauty of the system is that we were able to immediately put up a live weather map of the upcoming thunderstorm. We were able to show the audience that they should head to the first aid hangars for their safety. Nothing got the audience’s attention like seeing the coming band of thunderstorms in real time. This was one of the features that the security forces thought brought a tremendous level of safety to the AirFest.

“The system also allowed us to do a two-window style split on the screens. Because we had so many angles on the action, we were able to not only highlight the acts currently performing, but also the performers who were up next, keeping the audience engaged at all times.

“We provided three long lens cameras to get closer to the action. With our longest lens, we could clearly see right down to the edge of runway 22 at MacDill. We were able to keep an eye on the aircraft much further away than audience members. This kept the audiences engaged even when they could not see the aircraft on their own. With multiple angles on the action, we were able to get reactions from the crowd as well as performers when they returned from their performances. We were also able to grab shots of performers signing autographs and engaging with the crowd. Audiences loved the NASCAR style victory laps we were able to film in front of the air boss stand. We were also able to turn the camera on the audience and invite them into the show. We did several audience shots to let them know that they were an important part of the AirFest. Kids and parents loved seeing themselves up on the jumbo screens. Everyone loves to see kids engaged and in awe of the amazing performances happening right in front of them.”

OSA used TrellisWare Technologies, a San-Diego based military radio communications contractor, to assist in attaching the cameras to the flying aircraft and aerial performers. Multiple video feeds from as high as 13,000 feet were sent out over IP to a decoder in the broadcast control room, giving the attendees an intimate view of the action.

Banchs continues:

“TrellisWare Technologies were able to put cameras everywhere we wanted and more. The TrellisWare guys are usually down range helping Navy SEALs and Special Forces guys with their live field communications. They provide communications in critical situations. This is why we thought they would be a perfect fit for the AirFest. Jumbo LED screens were provided by OSA Media Solutions who set up two 40 x 20 foot LED screens to project all of the aforementioned action to our audience members. The screens are all weather and high definition. This allowed us to present our show in the highest quality possible. The screens are modular so they can be built in any size desired. The two screens were set up at either end of the show line to reach as many audience members as possible.”

Peterson continues to discuss both the rewards and challenges of offering both big screens like OSA provided at the Tampa Bay AirFest and little screens like smaller display monitors and apps. Air Shows Magazine is an award-winning publication for ICAS members. For more information, visit www.airshows.aero.

About OSA

OSA International, Inc. consistently produces unforgettable live events of every type and scale. With over 30 years of experience, OSA utilizes the finest in project management, LED, video equipment and audio systems through our offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Nashville. Our engineering expertise and industry leading technologies combine with client visions to deliver spectacular results every time. From concept to completion, OSA is with you every step of the way. Learn more about us at www.OSAcorp.com.

About RCS

Reality Check Systems (RCS) ignites on-air viewing experiences for some of the most-watched events events on television. With offices in Los Angeles and London, RCS partners with the world’s leading sports leagues, federations, networks and social media giants to fuel audience engagement through a customized fusion of dynamic graphics, real-time data and social media. To give shape to each client’s unique vision, RCS develops sophisticated graphics and production systems that can be seamlessly deployed in a wide array of professional environments. www.realitychecksystems.com

About TrellisWare Technologies

TrellisWare Technologies is a global leader in highly advanced communication algorithms, waveforms, and communication systems that work when nothing else does. TrellisWare provides solutions to communication problems with products that are used in military and commercial settings worldwide. Learn more at www.TrellisWare.com/