Behind The Scenes At SolidWorks World 2010: General Session Stage

I remember back to 2006 when I attended my first SolidWorks World in Las Vegas.  Everybody that had already been to one told me I would be blown away at the general sessions that are held each morning.  I was not disappointed!

The general session 'set' design is always fun to see each year, and it's fun to see what new stuff they have in store.  This year at SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio, the production company came with the big toys!

Take a look at the following image, this is what SolidWorks World attendees will see when they litteraly come running into the venue on Monday morning at 8:30am:


With seating for well over 5,000 people, the venue will be rocking when SolidWorks C.E.O. Bertrand Sicot walks out onto the stage on Monday morning.

But this sort of production does not suddenly appear out of nowhere!  It's actually planned many months in advance, and construction begins four days before the first seat is filled with a SolidWorks World attendee.

Here are a few pictures of the progression:


It begins with what's called ''truss', and lots of it.  In the case of SolidWorks World 2011, over 1,600 feet of it!  The truss carries stuff like lights, projectors, the audio system, screens, and even curtain, very long black curtains.  The truss is lifted into place by over 60 drop points which are the motorized hoists that lift everything over 50 feet into the air.  As you can see in the following image, all the truss is bolted together and is hanging low so the techs can get everything bolted to it:


These screens are front projected screens that hang towards the back of the venue so that people sitting in the back have a great view of the show as well.  The projectors are fed by a fiber optic cable that insures there is no lag in the video screens, and will make sure they are in sync with the video screens in the front.


Speaking of cables, there is a lot of it!  Over four miles in case you were trying to count!


By this time the front screen is starting to be erected as well:


It's the largest screen ever used at SolidWorks World, and it's impressive.  Approximately 20 feet tall, and nearly 80 feet long, it's massive when you stand in front of it!  It hangs from the truss as well and is rear projected:


Three sets of projectors create the video for the main screen.  If you are wondering why there are six projectors, well it's done on purpose.  The screen is actually divided into three zones, and each zone is fed by two projectors.  The dual projectors for each zone has two benefits.  One it doubles the brightness, and second, if one of the projectors fail, there won't be a missing portion of the screen.

All that projection power combines to create a resolution of approximately 1920 X 5400!  Folks, we are way beyond HD at this point!

By Saturday afternoon things are hung, the stage is being set, and it's starting to look finished:


See the guy looking up at that grid pattern?  Well what he is doing is he is adjusting the projection image itself and getting all the projectors lined up.  He aligns all the grid patterns and thats what makes six separate projectors capable of projecting one giant image.  One more cool thing, he is adjusting the projectors from the Mac laptop via a wireless network!

Of course once the show gets underway it's produced and executed by a great team of people at Cramer whose sole passion is to put on the best show possible.  Many of them sit behind the stage in the command center:


I'm very fortunate to have seen them in action while waiting to go on stage last year, and it's fun to watch the magic happen.  I'm also fortunate to even be able to get a peek behind the scenes of one of the best parts of SolidWorks World, and I always look forward to seeing what the production team has in store! 

Stay tuned to more behind the scenes stuff from SolidWorks World including the many rehearsal sessions!

Mike Puckett

Senior Manager, Worldwide Certification Program, SOLIDWORKS