Unique Screen System for Virgin Megastore
Friday, 22 March 2002
As part of a recently completed refurbishment of its flagship Oxford Street Megastore, Virgin has commissioned an unusual giant video screen system on the store’s ground floor that is all but invisible until in operation. In the centre of the main stairwell, flat 'blades' rotate and lock into position like an enormous Venetian blind to reveal the five metre wide screen. Flanking the screen are a pair of Mackie Fussion 3000 active speakers and two pairs of 1800SA/1800S active sub bass combos.

PAI and AV designer Vincent Rice carried out the design and installation, as PAI’s managing director Paul Adams explains: "Following a referral from PPM (Perspective Project Management), who we’ve worked with previously, we were approached by Richard Greenleaf of the design company Red Jacket, and Vince Rice and I had a meeting with him to discuss the project." Adams continues: "Red Jacket's concept was very clear. There is a large atrium alongside the escalators, and the brief was for a video screen that could move in and out of the space. When it was not being used it would maintain visual access to the rear shopping and retail areas."

As a result of the meeting, Vince Rice came up with the idea for a massive motorized Venetian blind screen, made of steel, measuring 6 x 5 metres and weighing in at 1.6 tons. Rice explains: "Using a combination of choreographed effects lighting with a quality sound system and a video presentation, all they had to do was turn it all on and it's show time." Rice admits that his choice of Mackie Fussion wasn't made after exhaustive listening tests. "I'd heard them briefly at a trade show but to be honest I chose them off the spec sheet and because of my experience of other Mackie products." (Rice has two Mackie mixers in his own studio). They fulfilled his need for something that would just plug in and work, which would require no maintenance and which could be made completely tamper-proof. The screen swings into position every 20 minutes and to announce its impending operation, Rice recorded a synthesizer chord sweeping down an octave to go virtually sub-sonic.

(Ruth Rossington)

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