Throughout the ceremony, the show transitions from Broadway set to awards presentation in moments. Historically, the show has made extensive use of video to aid with these rapid set changes. This year, the set featured high resolution 3.4mm LED video walls arranged much as a theatre set would be. A large ‘cyclorama’ video wall ran along the back of the stage, vertical tabs at the sides of stage replaced curtains and a large moving ‘close down’ LED screen flew in to further change the look.

Driving all of these video walls were four Hippotizer V4 Taiga media servers supplied by VER. The servers, programmed and operated by Peter Acken from a GrandMA2 lighting console composited a mixture of still images and videos supplied by the13thstudios. As is common on large live events, a parallel backup system of four additional Taigas mirrored the primary system for instant failover if required.

The Tony’s present a unique set of challenges, not least that the show is comprised of 15 experts from Broadway shows. Each of these ‘mini shows’ program and rehearse in the days before broadcast. With very little time to program on site, Peter pre-programmed as much as possible in VER’s New York offices using Hippotizer’s built in Visualiser. A single Taiga running Visualiser was used to display ten outputs and 160 media layers onto the 3D model in real time, helping Acken and the creative team to program much of the show before even arriving in the theatre. On Site, the Visualiser remained critical as a way to preview changes without disrupting ongoing rehearsals.

Another challenge was with media management; new media is constantly being delivered to the theatre throughout rehearsals. This new media needed to be imported into Hippotizer as quickly as possible, often while rehearsing a different part of the show. V4 offered Peter several ways to speed up the media workflow.

Working with the content creators, all videos were created using the HAP family of codecs. This popular codec combines good visual quality with unmatched playback speed making it ideal for live events. HAP codecs can be created in many popular video editing programs on both PC and Mac based rendering systems. Hippotizer V4 can play HAP files without transcoding them, vastly reducing the time from content render to playback onto screen.

To further speed up the content pipeline, all new content was placed into a Watchfolder, where Hippotizer automatically uploaded the media from a network drive. Each piece of content contained its media map position as part of its name, enabling Hippotizer to automatically place each of the hundreds of clips into the correct location. Then, using a 10Gb network, the media was automatically distributed to all Hippotizers through HippoNet. This automated ingest, update, distribute workflow meant that dozens of changes to many pieces of media across many scenes could be done instantly and without any change to the show programming. Show operation was handled from a GrandMA 2 Lighting console; Peter’s desk of choice.

8 x Green Hippo Hippotizer V4 Taigas
42 x Barco ImagePro IIs
2 x GrandMA2 Full-size
8 x GrandMA NPU
2 x Barco E2 Event Masters
1 x Black Magic 72 Way Video Hub
1 x Black Magic 40 Way Video Hub
1 x ROE 3.4mm Main ‘Cyc’ LED Video Wall
1 x ROE 3.4mm Close down screen
6 x ROE 3.4mm Tab LED Video Wall
6 x ROE 3.4mm ‘Picture frames’ LED walls


Video Programmer: Peter Acken
Video Engineer: Erik Seefranz
Equipment Supplier: VER
Server / Rack Techs: Anthony Wilson – VER employee
Content Creators: