Hawthorn puts BBC programmes centre-stage
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
bbcstudiosshowcase2020a-perfect-planet-2BBC Studios’ A Perfect Planet was among the featured programmes
UK - Hundreds of television buyers from across the globe headed to ACC Liverpool on 9-11 February for BBC Studios Showcase 2020 international television market. For the 14th year running, creative technical event production company Hawthorn supported the distributor to showcase its premium programmes, delivering two evening events.
The events previewed some of the BBC’s top programmes including Doctor Who, A Perfect Planet and The Watch. Led by the BBC Studios team, Hawthorn’s head of creative technical Peter Harding helped to produce and deliver a production design for the two evenings.
This year’s format saw a considerable shake-up with the construction of a curve-fronted 1000sqm 5m-high platform over a section of the arena’s tiered seating and floor. Hawthorn worked with specialists Acorn Event Structures and Steeldeck to create the structure which took 36 hours to complete. Created in two pieces, Acorn Event Structures built the semi-circular platform on the arena floor whilst Steeldeck created the structure that connected this to the higher concourse level. Providing a completely level walk through for guests, the infill section met seamlessly with the platform and as no seats had to be removed, it caused minimal disruption to the venue or overall build.
Night One kicked off with a drinks reception celebrating Doctor Who. Guests entered the event via the platform, located at concourse level, and were transported to the interior of the latest reincarnation of the TARDIS, with Oods, Judoons and Cyberman keeping their eye on guests.
Guests then moved downstairs into an immersive dining space themed on The Watch, a new BBC Studios series inspired by characters created by Terry Pratchett. The arena floor was completely transformed to create districts from the city of Ankh-Morpork An abundance of theming and 15 shipping containers created the industrial atmosphere - a logistical challenge that required the assistance of a crane to stack the units.
When dinner for all 1100 guests was wrapped up, guests partied the night away to Mark Ronson. Three large ROE CB3 LED screens, supplied by 80Six, were installed around the space to display fictional adverts as well as displaying footage from the TV show and Ronson’s vibrant custom graphics. Hawthorn used two disguise 4x4Pro media servers for playback, with switching via two Barco E2s.
The Hawthorn team then had a 13-hour overnight turn-around to completely transform the space into a glamourous gala dinner for 570 guests.
Celebrating BBC Studios natural history programme A Perfect Planet, the dinner took place on the platform structure with a 30m wide x 7.2m high LED screen immersing guests in the BBC content. A 4m-diameter sphere made of leaves created from recycled window sticker offcuts provided a focal point in the centre of the space. To allow the sphere to descend and then the leaves to fall, Hawthorn used Kinesys for truss movement whilst 16 specialist 4m electro-braked spiked kabuki bars were used to drop the 530m of leaves.
An impactful lighting design by Russ Grubiak complemented the on-screen content, with beams and dynamic effects delivering the wow-factor. For sound, Hawthorn installed a d&b audio system, providing even coverage around the space, ensuring that each guest received the same audio experience regardless of their position in the room.
Pete Harding, Hawthorn’s head of creative technical, says: “It’s always a huge honour to work alongside the amazing BBC Studios team to deliver the two evening events for Showcase. They have such a strong creative vision which always makes it an exciting but challenging project to deliver! Here at Hawthorn, we love collaborating with other industry experts to achieve excellence.”
Sally Brookes, head of global events at BBC Studios, adds: “This year’s event has once again raised the bar for the Showcase experience. The team at Hawthorn are absolute professionals who are incredibly passionate about what they do. Their skills and expert knowledge ensure that every year we’re able to pull off wonderful technical treats in a live environment.”
(Jim Evans)

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