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GSK CEO Events

CPL designed and co-ordinated the full technical production for two events, a week apart, both related to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s recent CEO change, bidding farewell to Sir Andrew Witty after 10 years in the high profile post, and welcoming incoming CEO Emma Walmsley.

Both events were webcast live to around 100,000 people with a live audience of 3000 and staged in The Street, a large atrium section at GSK’s HQ. The Street has a collection of shops, cafes and restaurants and social areas.

For the Farewell Address, a 4 x 4 metre split-height stage was built stepping up from ‘the pit’ area of the coffee shop on the Street. Two LED screens made up from CPL’s Roe Black Onyx HD surface were installed, one measuring 6 metres wide by 3.5 high, with the second at 4 metres wide by 2.5 setting off a stylishly asymmetric look as well as maximising sight-lines for the live audience. Both screens were flown from 6 metre high Prolyte MPT self-rising trussing goal posts positioned either side of the stage. A single 65 inch pole-mounted monitor screen was integrated into the stage.

At the start of the Farewell Address, a short VT preceded Andrew Witty stepping up onto the stage and starting his speech. A d3 media server was used to store and playback a host of personal messages from well-wishers.

Ahead of the event, the CPL team mapped and created a full 3D model of The Street in the d3 to provide a realistic walk-through visualisation for the client in addition to detailed CAD drawings for their architects, structural engineers and others involved in staging the events. This helped ensure the process was super-efficient for everyone. And the file is now in CPL’s archives ready to be used for future events on the same site.

Four Sony HXC-100 cameras recorded the Address, plus one more roving – capturing shots from all around the space – were all edited for the webcast feed.

The atrium is a voluminous glass windowed and walled space, so good lighting was crucial to everything looking good live and on the broadcast.  ARRI L5-C fresnels were used for general additional front and back light, with ETC ColorSource profiles providing keys for the speakers. A d&b Y8 sound system was also flown – for the first time in this space. The four Y8 arrays were complimented with ground-stacked V-SUBS and powered by the new d&b D20 amps. The console was a Yamaha CL5, and a selection of DPA headset mics and hand-helds for a Q&A session were part of the package.

To Welcome Emma Walmsley to the new role, the presentation area moved to a different part of The Street – and a location new to CPL in terms of events – which was also 3D modelled for convenience and future reference.

A 9 x 5 metre trussing grid was flown from the structural metalwork of the building – CPL worked in conjunction with rigging specialists Unusual on this aspect – and this box truss facilitated positions for most of the technical production. Two 4 x 2.5 metre LED screens were flown either side of the elegant elliptical shaped stage below which was designed by CPL, developed with reference to the client’s likes and dislikes and involving bespoke CNC machining of the materials. On site it entailed an intricate build and high quality finishes, incorporating an integral curved bench at the back to accommodate 12 members of the new CEO team.

The same audio system comprising the 12 x Y8 speakers was flown in four arrays either side of the two screens, with some d&b Y7P speakers added for point source audio fill.

As details are important to CPL, they ordered a new champagne gold Shure UR-2 – rather than the standard black – and had it engraved with Emma Walmsley’s name!

Lights were again chosen to help match the daylight streaming in through the roof and walls with ARRI L5-Cs and more ETC ColorSources.

Behind the stage, there was a 6 metre wide by 3.5 metre high LED backdrop which was used to display graphics.

Six cameras included five HXC-100s and one roaming, again fitted with a Teradek wireless capture card, and the d3 media server was at the hub of the video playback system and also used for routing all the camera feeds to screen and to the webcast.

The challenges were many for CPL project manager Lee and the team, the main one being that this is not a regular venue, so arranging truck access and working space for the build / tear-downs required a bit of lateral thinking, as did on-site schedule time management.

The Street also had to continue as a working and public space throughout, with assorted street furniture, other obstacles and foliage needing to be factored in to delivering these two full presentations to the standards of excellence required.

All the cabling and backstage elements like racks, amps and processors had to be unobtrusively positioned and cables neatly routed so they could be left installed for a week between the two events. And with so much natural light in the environment, every minutiae of detail had to be attended to, like hand-smoothing the smallest ripples out of the vinyl covered surfaces, etc.

Project Manager: Lee Gruszeckyj