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Encore Event Technologies APAC produced a jaw dropping series of gala dinners as part of an extensive program of events and excursions that rewarded the outstanding performance of Amway Diamond top performers. The delegation of 10,000 Chinese visitors flew to New Zealand in 12 waves over two months from 9 October to 5 December for the 2023 Amway China Leadership Seminar.
The event highlight was a stunning final gala function which was staged 15 times throughout the period and treated guests to a spectacular night full of technological wizardry showcasing the beauty and diversity of New Zealand. We spoke to Dan Carver-Shadbolt, Technical Event Director, who led the pre-production and design in the lead up to the event and on the ground, and Director of Innovation, Technology and Procurement Daniel Lourenco, who oversees product and services discovery in collaboration with the US arm of the company.
Two Venues, Two Cities, Two Islands
Inception began a year out following acceptance of Encore’s proposal and initial design concept, “John Schryver, our Specialist Events Director, simultaneously developed the storyboard as the client selected venues,” recalls Dan. “My team then started to layer in the tech and do the first renders for the client, whilst performers were booked, and we continued to progress the show flow and story.”
Upping the ante, the client opted for two very different venues in two cities a couple of thousand kilometres apart; Auckland’s Viaduct Event Centre and Queenstown Ice Arena. Both venues were new ground for the Encore team, the Viaduct Event Centre only recently having reopened following a major refurbishment and the Queenstown Ice Arena being exactly that; an ice rink. Daniel explains the client’s rationale, “We have a 20 year history with Amway and you may think they have been everywhere and done everything, and yet they are still absolutely committed to creating an exceptional experience for their people that has never been conceived or seen before. Every time they want something different, shying away from traditional spaces and looking for venues that represent the host country and offer cultural meaning or potential interaction with nature that can be harnessed to make a unique and memorable event. They know that whatever they wish to achieve, we have the local knowledge and technological skill set to be able to deliver.”
The first three waves were hosted in Auckland, and the following nine smaller waves in Queenstown, spreading the Encore team across the two unique locations; “I am incredibly proud of how our team managed the logistics of having one event still up and running in Auckland, whilst a marathon of an installation needed to get underway in Queenstown.”
Unveiling the L-Acoustics L2D Loudspeakers
The mammoth events which took over 6,000 work hours included 155sqm LED screens, 15 20K projectors, 80 table projectors, eight curved screen projectors, four floor projectors, and six semi-trailers hauling equipment. A highlight for both Dan and Daniel was the first outing of Encore’s L-Acoustics L2D loudspeakers, the first company in the APAC region to have used the new speakers outside of the global pilot program.
Daniel had been searching for the perfect line array for Encore for a long period, “Every major event company has them, some are larger and perform in different ways. It comes down to technical requirements and preference. Then talk of a new model from L-Acoustic piqued my interest and I organised a private viewing at InfoComm. I knew immediately it was the right product for us.” He expands on his decision, “Sure the bragging rights to be the first to take receipt regionally was part of the appeal, but joking aside, it was the design, the tear drop shape, one cabinet, one cable. They give greater horizontal dispersion at the front of the stage negating the need for front fill in many scenarios and venues. It is a one stop solution. Then you have the sound, not necessarily the SPL but the quality. It is absolutely top end, beautiful, with fantastic tonality from 20Hz through to 20kHz and impressive vertical dispersion.”
Dan picks up the rave review from the perspective of the tech on the ground; “The set up time is much less as you are not attaching four boxes, just the one. At the Viaduct we had to cover a 270 degree stage but only needed four boxes, no left or right out fill, just a little bit of front fill due to the height. Normally we would have needed a minimum of 24 boxes, six per drop, if not more. It took us a couple of hours to fly and was the fastest system I’ve seen deployed even though no one had ever touched the system before.”
New Zealand Culture, Flora and Fauna – On Ice
Hands-on event production hit full swing three months prior and the focus was on creating an experience that embodied New Zealand. Entertainment included JGEEKS who combine Māori culture, dance, and music with pop culture and special effects; Kiwi-born C-Pop singer Laurence Larson; and Auckland based Vospertron, a neon performance group. Delegates in Queenstown were also treated to an incredible display on ice. Dan explains, “The five skater performers wore 3D tracking beacons driven by disguise software and we used real time generated tracking content utilising Notch and automated follow-system Zactrack for video and lighting tracking, leaving a visual trail of butterflies or fish. We also had the tracking system on Laurence which really added to his performance.”
To enable the artists to move around without having to walk or skate on the ice, Wahlberg remote controlled motorised platforms were flown in from Germany, “Traditionally they are used to move stage platforms but we changed the tyres, put studs on them and converted them into bespoke purpose built platforms that we could use to drive the MC and lead singer to the stage and create a bridge to the VIP area. It worked surprisingly well after a lot of fine tuning and rehearsal. We put dedicated cameras in the roof to give the operators a bird’s eye view and attention to detail was paramount as we all understood the safety concerns, particularly around acceleration and deceleration.”
More than 600 hours of custom motion design content was created across the two locations. Encore used a wide range of technologies that showcased panoramic scenes of New Zealand’s natural wonders played across a giant, mountain shaped central LED. The immersive screen content changed throughout the meal service and the entirety of the event, seamlessly tying together the theme through the walk-in reveal experience, performances, corporate presentations and main act, “This was flanked by additional curved projection screens and 3D-mapping on the stage floor. We also used snow machines, special effects and multi- sensory interactive displays of earth, water, fire and air to really enthrall guests.”
Each dining table and even individual plates had an individual animated projected design, which changed throughout the night to including stunning New Zealand themed creative themes and Amway branded designs. During meal service the giant, mountain-shaped LED display capped with imitation snow-caps underwent a dramatic transformation with lava projections oozing over the stage, “This created an impressive backdrop for performers, Strings of Fire, who combined pyrotechnics and acrobatic stunts to music setting the stage literally ‘ablaze’.”
Working on ice, whilst not a first for Amway having previously held an event at a rink in Austria, was a new experience for Dan and his team, “It was a highly complex environment to work in. Within the first few days we quickly learned how long the doors could be open for before the humidity turned our beautiful solid ice into a pool of water! We worked closely with the ice rink staff and the performers to establish when we needed to do scrapes or put water down.”
Rigging also saw heads held in hands at various points; “The Viaduct had incredible rigging capability but nothing flat and we required a reveal LED screen so there was some serious brainstorming around solutions. The ice rink was a blank venue with three I-Beams 14 metres apart so we had to create a temporary rigging structure using approximately four tonnes of equipment. The Viaduct was a sprint and the Ice Arena was definitely a slalom!”
A Career Highlight
Both Dan and Daniel agree that it is one of the highlights of their careers. Daniel reflects; “Dan and the team faced very different challenges in each location but had the expertise and the equipment to nail both.”
Daniel’s pride in what Dan achieved is clear, “Dan took on an event of this scale, met all the challenges head on, and delivered what staff have described as the most creative execution of our integrated service offering to date, and on an ice rink! The team really flexed their technical muscles and pushed the boundaries.”
Dan is keen to share the love, “It was the team behind the scenes that made it happen. They spent two months away from home, really came to the table, learned a lot and gave it everything.”
For Encore, the 2023 Amway China Leadership Seminar set a new benchmark for their event delivery capabilities, showcasing their aptitude for creating experiences that go beyond the ordinary, their global procurement networks, and their local knowledge and expertise.
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