A candid conversation with exhibit designer, David G. Breen, about goals and execution.
David is Founder and Principal Designer at VDA Productions
QUESTION: What were the goals established by your client? What were they trying to accomplish?
DAVID: Yes. It was very important to them that people were guided to the booth at the end of the main hallway so it was the ending point of their first pass down the aisle.
The theme this year was Modernize Your Data Center, and so the intent was to show all of their current equipment in a single location and to present it in a very high-level, clean environment. We designed a very modern interpretation of an actual working data center and placed it in the middle of the booth. That was the core focus, and there was somewhere in the vicinity of thirty thousand pounds of equipment up on this raised lit floor.
Then, of course, to enhance that booth we needed to tell the story with high-level messaging, which is where your team came into play. We had to create a framework that supported this data center and all of the heavy equipment, but we needed to lighten that up visually.
QUESTION: How did you lighten things up with all of the heavy equipment in the data center?
DAVID: The way we did that was to put six very large projection surfaces overhead, which acted as a draw so that as people entered the hall from one end of the room, they looked down the length and this was a focal point at the other end of the hall. It was an attraction to draw people into the booth.
Rather than doing straight up projection on just a flat surface, we created what I call “wings” and instead of facing them all in one direction, we flared them out so that the center two screens were facing the front of the booth, but then the next two screens were angled at about another fifteen degrees out, and then the next set of wings was angled an additional fifteen degrees from there. When you were on the sides of the booth the high-level video projection screens were seen just as easily as from the front.
The booth was one hundred and forty wide and a hundred feet deep, but we were able to have people in the booth still be able to see the video and the messaging and the movement above them. I designed the booth to draw people in and then bring people down to the equipment and into the conversation on a human scale.
QUESTION: Sounds like moving people’s attention from above down to the server room was pretty successful.
DAVID: It really was because you had all of these black monoliths (servers) in the data center, but the booth felt light and airy and modern.
QUESTION: Weren’t the projection screens translucent?
DAVID: Yes, that lightness and airiness lead to the actual screen material we chose. They were translucent with light coming in from behind. You get virtually the same light from the front as you do transferring from the backside. The concept of being able to see that intensity both ways was really something that was important to us and very much drove the choices of that material.
You guys did a great job aligning those projectors with the show-through, and still keeping a great visual with all of the ambient light.
You worked with my lighting designers to make sure that there was a shared understanding because the projection material frame also carried a lot of décor elements. There were little crystals applied to the surfaces of the Plexiglas below the projection and lit in order to get the reflected, crystallized reflection quality.
QUESTION: So that took some collaboration.
DAVID: Yes. Making sure the lighting on all those dots didn’t interfere with the projection and making sure there wasn’t over projection required a lot of give and take—sharing the space, which I think was tremendous. That was part of the complication that went into it to make sure that there was there was the lightness and cleanliness essential to the modern concept of the booth.
I just think that it was a very good shared effort, and I got that comment from a couple of the guys who were supervising the booth. Your team was just an absolute pleasure to work with. Thanks for your team’s support.
TECH TALK: AVFX Boston worked closely with VDA over two days to set up six non-traditional screens lit by twelve 20,000 lumen Barco projectors—double-stacked for brightness and redundancy.