POSTED ON 06/04/2017

With the demand for large scale content and awe-inspiring video effects continuing to grow, we recently invested in the latest video technology by adding the disguise 4x4pro media server to our inventory. We are also one of the few UK stockists to hold VFC Quad DVI cards for this award-winning piece of kit.

Available to hire from Hawthorn, disguise servers are setting industry benchmarks for power, flexibility and convenience. We asked Dave Barton, our Group Head of Video, why the disguise 4x4pro is a must-hire piece of kit. 

1. Power

The disguise 4x4pro packs an insane amount of processing power and it’s the only server on the market that can handle four full 4k outputs. Being able to use all four of those outputs, all the time, without it losing frame rate or processing ability is pretty impressive. The DVI VFC cards are also a massive advantage, allowing you to break down the four 4k outputs internally without having to use external things like a data path to give you 16 HD outputs out of one machine.

For this year’s BBC Worldwide Showcase, we created a 30m 8k wide two-projector blend using two of the servers with VFC cards, leaving another pair to run the LED hood and 6 ‘Pufferspheres’ globes spread throughout the space. These played out stunning custom BBC content to timecode and the result looked incredible. This was the first time we’d done a full 4k projection with 4k content, on such a vast scale and the 4x4pro was the perfect tool for the job thanks to its processing power.  

2. Interactivity

Another advantage of the 4x4pro is that you can use it with other systems which allow you to create interactive, generative content. This includes a tool called ‘Notch’ which utilises various triggers for referencing, such as BlackTrax, a real-time tracking system. This gives you a ‘beacon’, which is tracked by cameras, slightly like a VR system and you can interact that with the content on screen, making it evolve depending on your actions. Real-time content like this requires a huge amount of processing power so the d3 server is the perfect tool for the job.

We recently created an interactive prize-giving stand for Adobe and Taylor Bennett Partners at the HR Tech Show. Delegates keyed in a 4-digit code into a Microsoft Surface Pro that fired a cue for playback using a UDP command trigger to the server which then outputted a specific visual, depending on the prize won. The creative nature of the stand attracted a lot of attention and encouraged guests to come over and get involved. 

3. Reliability

You can trust the 4x4pro to do everything you need it to do. It’s the leading media server on the market at the moment and that’s down to its capabilities and reliability.  You also have the feature of being able to build redundancy into your system without having to have a redundant server for every one you have in line. You can set one up as an understudy to track the system that you have installed and if one of your servers falls over, it will automatically take over.

4. Visualisation

With disguise you can build your entire show in pre-production. It has a 3D visualiser built into it which enables you to navigate your event in real time, on the screen, before you’ve even arrived on site. This gives you an excellent idea of how the space will work and how the various elements, such as lighting and projection will combine. This pre-visualisation is also incredibly useful when it comes to working out the number of projectors you need, as well as the best projector placement options to get maximum coverage.

This feature isn’t just useful for us, but also for our clients. By taking along a Designer Dongle - which we also stock - to client meetings, we’re able to load the disguise software onto any laptop, and show them on the screen exactly what their event will look like. 

5. Versatility

Not only is the disguise 4x4pro an amazing server for large-scale content and 4k, it’s also great when you need to interact with other departments. You can work with audio triggers, timecode triggering systems, and something we used at the Adobe Summit 2016 was the interaction with Artnet and lighting. We had some Summit letters which were projection mapped on the front and internally lit with 180 RGB fixtures. The colour of the lighting was then generated depending on the content that was being projected on them.   

Whilst the server is great for large scale content, the design of the server also adds to its versatility. Whilst being rigid and robust, the 4x4pro is still very compact and light. It takes up just 4u rack space which means that you can integrate it into smaller set-ups, such as the interactive Adobe Stand. 

From dropping in 3D modelling from a laser scan to create pinpoint accurate projection mapping. to using nearly all of the 4k outputs at the Adobe Summit, this small little box has endless possibilities.