In the spring of 2008, Microsoft introduced their long-awaited server software products code-named Longhorn, Katmai, and Orcas. These products, crucial to the company’s long-term strategy, include the Windows Server® 2008 operating system, Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008, and Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008.
The Server Software Launch featured a nationwide tour with all-day events in 60 cities. In the 12 largest, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Washington DC, CAVCOMM helped Microsoft stage “keynote events” with a large hall set for audiences of about 2,500 to almost 4,500 people, plus three smaller breakout rooms and a hands-on software demonstration lab.
In the 48 smaller cities, CAVCOMM set up “standard events” with the main keynote message on a short video but the same four breakout tracks and exhibits.
With a theme of unsung heroes of technology, Microsoft hoped to appeal to the tech-savvy software developers who are most responsible for bringing their server products into American businesses. For that reason, sound and visuals had to be first rate and the shows highly organized. Microsoft decided to use their most trusted AV and logistics supplier, CAVCOMM Corporation.
For each of the keynote events, CAVCOMM set up an AV system with two 20,000 lumen projectors using 15 x 20’ rear screens, two 12,000 lumen projectors using 9 x 12’ rear screens, studio and handheld cameras, dual line arrays (12 cabinets per side), a Yamaha LS-9 digital mixing console, wireless mics and stage lighting. In the breakout rooms, we used 5500 lumen projectors, Mackie speakers, wireless mics and a smaller mixing setup with DSP.
We also created an on-stage scenic for the keynote using scrim material and life-size silhouettes of the “Heroes Happen Here” event logo, lighting it with Color Kinetics ColorBlast LED fixtures. As each show opened, we lit Microsoft’s first speaker so that she appeared as one more silhouette, but then we switched to truss-mounted front fixtures as she walked through an opening in the set to begin her presentation.
CAVCOMM handled all of the tour’s logistics, and we took responsibility for all video and sound plus the transportation and organization of all AV and computer equipment, hands-on lab and registration area.
The tours were a resounding success, with venue staffs scrambling to set up additional seating as attendance far surpassed expectations in nearly every city. More important than high attendance, however, was the fact that audience members left impressed and even more dedicated to Microsoft products.
“We wanted to plant the seed and have people start talking about these products and looking at how they can incorporate the technologies into their business,” says NeKeta Argrow, Logistics Manager for Microsoft Across America. “We definitely did that. There are always challenges on a tour like this, but CAVCOMM went above and beyond.”
Pictured: the event at McCormick Place West in Chicago. Images 1-3 show the keynote, set for 3,000 people, with its four projection screens and main camera. In image 4 we see the stage and the silhouette of the first presenter, with the keynote about to begin. Image 5 shows CAVCOMM’s audio control station before the show opening (note the line array setup software on the laptop screen) and in 6 we see one of the line arrays from behind the stage. Image 7 shows our ENG camera operator at work and 8 and 9 illustrate two of the seminar breakout rooms in Chicago.
Read more about the tour in AV Technology Magazine, August, 2008 (the article appears on pages 72-73).