The heroic cast of Marvel Universe LIVE! assembles to take on the most sinister villains in an epic battle to save the world
World - Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and 20 other action heroes are all coming to an arena near you - and as a part of Feld Entertainment's Marvel Universe LIVE! CAST BlackTrax motion-tracking solution is bringing these favourite Marvel comic characters to life as never before.

Marvel Universe LIVE! is out on tour this month after debuting in Tampa, FL, premiering at New York City's Barclays Centre on Wednesday, 13 August and visiting 85 North American cities in its first two years before coming to the United Kingdom, with other global destinations to be announced. Produced by Feld Entertainment, this visually stunning multimedia production sees the Avengers, Spider-Man and members of the X-Men in a live production for the first time - doing battle with some of their most notorious foes, in a show designed to wow audiences of all ages.

Spectacular stunts, high-tempo action sequences, pyrotechnics and jaw-dropping special effects are all part and parcel of the show's design. But Marvel Universe LIVE! and its extraordinary visual impact is amplified by BlackTrax.

MODE Studios' Bob Bonniol was hired by Feld Entertainment to handle video content and system design for the show, and whose previous live-event credits include Blue Man Group in Las Vegas and Electric Zoo NYC.

"We knew from the beginning that we needed to track scenic elements and characters to create the convincing scenic locations and combat effects that would amaze the audience... I felt confident from the start that BlackTrax would be the answer," comments Bonniol.

By attaching BlackTrax Beacons to cast members, Bonniol and his team use the dynamic positional data of each Tracking Point (there can be nearly 200 unique Tracking Points onstage at any one time; each has an unique tag number used to establish a relationship with downstream technology). Tracking Points provide accurate target data for the d3 media servers used to drive the production's projection-mapped backdrop.

The BlackTrax and d3 development teams worked together for this ambitious show, taking d3's existing advanced projection simulation toolkit and integrating BlackTrax as to track data across enormous resolutions with extraordinary accuracy and limited latency, while still be manageable by the user. d3 servers were also used for parallel series of scene changes in show lighting. Indeed, BlackTrax, working through Martin Professional consoles, made it possible to use automated lights that pull zoom and iris (rather like spotlights) to track performers automatically from places where it was imprudent or unsafe to put follow spot operators.

"Marvel Universe LIVE! has characters flying through the air, speeding on motorcycles, flipping across the space, performing car stunts and engaging in martial-arts fights. We needed a solution that could keep up with super-hero speeds. Only BlackTrax was up to the job."

Bruce Freeman, chairman, CAST Group, believes industry gurus are only beginning to imagine what the BlackTrax Solution can do: "Early adopters like Feld Entertainment realize they can leverage new technology for competitive advantage and profit -- change the way they deliver their business to set themselves apart, which is exactly what we see first with Marvel Universe LIVE!."

(Jim Evans)

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