From theatre and arts technical delivery to the full visual experience, David Mulcahy of Immersive AV tells us his story and how the recent partnership with disguise (formerly d3) is helping change the face of creative AV.
“From the beginning it’s been about the full visual experience for me rather than just what’s on the screen. It’s my background in theatre and arts technical delivery and the fact that I’ve grown up and worked with visual media for a while now that’s made me look at the complete event and not just individual aspects of a show.
“Because my career originated in theatre, this meant that I always looked at the full experience of the audience, made up from all of its component parts such as lighting, sound, set and playback. It came as quite a shock when I first moved into the ‘corporate’ world and found that these elements were not as ‘joined up’ as I was used to! It’s much better these days but there are still occasions where the first time that the complete visual experience is looked at is when the different disciplines arrive on site.”
“It was a natural progression moving from the technical side in theatre to the management of an interactive media centre in Tamworth where we did pretty much everything from DTP to running rehearsal spaces through to live events. I even broke out into computer programming, but it’s these different skills that all have a part in what I do today! These assorted disciplines, combined with my knowledge of media playback and stage lighting all have a place in creating theatrical experiences for live events. It’s the synthesis of understanding performance, amalgamated with technical knowledge that helps me deliver the vision of Artistic and Creative Directors – and often in translating their creative language into that spoken by the ‘technical’ world!
“It was in these early days that I initially worked closely with Jan Hüwel (Ex CEO at Coolux GMBH, now Executive Director at ioversal GmbH) and the guys from Coolux. We tended to look at things in a similar way, feeling that because lighting and video were treated as totally separate disciplines meant they didn’t always marry up properly. We recognised that they all that was needed was different skill sets to enable lighting and video to talk cohesively to each other.”
“Sharing a similar thought process with people like the team at Coolux, and now with those at disguise definitely inspires me. I like to push boundaries and there are many creative people out there who aren’t afraid to take on a challenge. It’s these risk-taking people that are combining technology, audio, video and lighting and using them in a way people don’t expect that can make experiences magical. They’re the ones that I tend to gravitate towards.
“I’m also a great daydreamer. I do long car journeys which allows my mind to wander. Quite often something seemingly completely unconnected will trigger an idea in my head allowing me to come to a solution to an AV conundrum. The other day I saw a kids wind turbine responding to a breeze which initiated an idea about how flags in a piece of video content could respond to real world influences such as wind strength.
“It was in one of my rare moments of ‘resting’ that I saw ITR were looking for help in some projection mapping and media server work at an open day they were organising. Fairly soon after the open day ITR founded Immersive AV and I joined them as Technical Director. Six months later I was asked to take on the role of MD. I’d previously been Technical Director and Media Consultant to companies such as XL Video (PRG) and Creative Technology.”
Set apart from the competition
“Joining Immersive AV has given me an outlet for my creative maverick attitude and it’s part of the basis for this partnership with disguise. We like to provide the creative solution to the technical question, concentrating primarily on the fantastic end result and working back from there. That end result can easily vary from a large scale event to a different way for people to experience a stand at an exhibition. We aim to apply the same ethos to all sizes of experience.
“The one thing that perhaps sets Immersive AV apart from our competition is that when we receive the brief from the client, we work with them to develop a scope of work, interpreting the client’s brief before we even start. This is so we know and fully understand the clients requirements and expected outcome. We always begin with a brief of the creative project first prior to working on the software or hardware required.
“We take each project as an individual and independent entity. We believe that technology can be fitted around it rather than the other way round. For example if you can use a standard burglar alarm sensor to trigger content rather than a complex tracking system then do that – although we do complex tracking as well! We are project driven rather than technology driven and don’t shoehorn technology and expense in to the detriment of creativity. One size doesn’t fit all even if the brief looks incredibly similar to another from the outset.
“Being so heavily invested in media server work, we are very aware that disguise are amongst the best. In fact, we had already worked many times with disguise so the partnership with them has been an organic development – it was a natural choice.”
“I believe, that from the client’s point of view, the recognition that we are now partnered with disguise definitely contributes to Immersive’s credibility. But it also helps us to focus on what we do best. We are not a rental house – we are an integral part of the creative workflow.
“And I believe It also brings Immersive AV experience into disguise. The partnership enables both companies to explore integration that we may not have had access to otherwise, combining our extensive experience of interaction with real world events with disguise playback power. It offers work outside of large touring shows, providing a diversification of projects across all markets from installations to live events, wherever and whenever they are.
“With the latest generation of disguise GX server range and their integration with the real time power of Notch™, we are entering a new era of experiences for audiences and participants engaging in events. For me it’s a really exciting time where we can look forward to creating more magical experiences, blurring the lines between real and created worlds even further.
“These options allow us to fully explore with our clients’ creative teams knowing that we have the technical and hardware assurance to back up the creative outpouring. In fact, we are increasingly being commissioned to develop proof of concept work prior to clients arriving at a final brief. It’s great to be involved in developing concepts with clients as projects begin to develop and take shape. Bringing a creative vision to a physical reality is a challenging but hugely rewarding experience but I love calls that start with “is this even possible?”.
“Have I been surprised at all with the partnership? No, no surprises. It’s been an extremely smooth transition. I’ve been around media servers for such a long time that the partnership deal has been exactly as I expected. Perhaps the only surprise is how easily GX servers and Notch have integrated into our workflow. The next big step will be the way that people start to think about how to begin the next creative steps.”
Roadmap to the future
“As for other partnerships, we are already a Christie and Coolux partner on certain interactive exhibition stands. Whatever we can do to help advance creative ideas into the workplace we will do and partner with those who are of a similar mindset to get things moving.
“The outlook for the future is bright. I believe our partnership with disguise will be one that will continue to grow and evolve. One of the best things about working with disguise is that you can see what’s coming up and plan for the future. The trends we see in the world of creative experiences inform the roadmap to the next step in the visionary outlook.
“At Immersive we dare our clients to dream big, think big and push the realms of creativity. We believe the best experiences come from working together with our clients in partnership to create something special. Immersive’s partnership with disguise can only bring the best out of both companies allowing both sets of clients to benefit from a truly creative and immersive collaboration.”
David Mulcahy was talking to Laura Vallis.
The disguise perspective
Peter Kirkup, Technical Solutions Manager at disguise is also delighted at the joint venture. “We’re really pleased that Immersive AV have joined our community as a disguise Studio Partner. The disguise Studio partnership is an extremely important part of our growing global network, offering the ideal environment to plan, design and simulate project ideas, as well as providing front-line disguise project development and support.”
Kirkup continues, “Immersive AV’s understanding of the disguise production workflow from start to finish is fundamental to our vision of creating a powerful, collaborative environment where artists and technologists can bring their shared vision to life.
“We’ve already seen Immersive AV use disguise for a diverse range of projects and are excited to see that grow and develop.”