Case Study

Synchronising a special effects spectacle in Japan

Here at Timecode Systems we revel in a good challenge. So, when artistic projects company Rhizomatiks approached us for a solution to synchronise and control a series of lighting and projector effects for an animated show in Japan, we couldn’t refuse.

Paul Scurrell, CEO of Timecode Systems, said: “We were introduced to Rhizomatiks’ innovative work through our Japanese distributor ASK Corporation. Synchronising the projection of digital images is something we’ve never done before but were very keen to get involved with. We recommended they used the :pulse base station for access to the BLINK Hub monitoring and control features, and UltraSync ONE units to receive the master timecode from different locations around the venue.”

The UltraSync ONE timecode generator and receiver has a long-lasting battery life of more than 25 hours with a range of 200m, making it a popular choice for syncing live shows and events. Before the units went out in the field, they required bespoke firmware from the engineering team at TCS HQ. The UltraSync ONE was modified to display additional control and sync commands via USB-C connection and the master/slave count increased to an impressive 64 units on the :pulse; both of which have now become standard firmware features.

The show set across the sea

Hundreds of onlookers armed with glowsticks gathered in front of the Nippon Maru Memorial Park lawn to witness the special effects extravaganza. Multiple lighting techniques were used to project animated characters on to screens and glass podiums, while costumed versions paraded on stage and in boats along the picturesque Minato Mirai port. The show was also supported by an extraordinary range of pyrotechnics, both on ground and mounted to the bodies of professional artists.

To achieve accurate synchronisation between each sequence, individual UltraSync ONE units were positioned on each of the podiums, while the :pulse located on the control tower received timecode from a master generator within Rhizomatiks’ system.

Special effects and pyrotechnics at Nippon Maru Memorial Park, Yokohama

Rhizomatik's special effects display at Nippon Maru Memorial Park
Pyrotechnics mounted to body of artist at special effects display in Japan
Animated character in glass podium with special effects at show in Japan

Incorporating the :pulse enabled the team to send additional commands from BLINK Hub wirelessly over long-range RF to the UltraSync ONE slaves, which controlled the projected movement of digital characters across the podiums and screens. Using the remote control features of the app also allowed the crew to react to any sudden adversities- for example, the change in weather, within the touch of a button.

Rhizomatiks wanted a timecode solution which would allow them to control the special effects wirelessly and from a distance, eliminating the need to manually adjust the settings throughout the performance. The successful implementation of the bespoke firmware for the :pulse and UltraSync ONE demonstrates that our solutions can adapt to provide the highest level of sync across a wide range of workflows, including projector effects and lighting.

Paul Scurrell, CEO, Timecode Systems

From start to finish Timecode Systems' wireless solutions proved reliable and efficient - to the extent that Rhizomatiks will now be implementing the set-up across a range of new shows and other creative ideas.