Big Picture - March 2018 - 19
P H O T O S C R E D I T: M AT T W I N K E L M E Y E R / G E T T Y I M A G E S .
PRINT PROJECT: RUNWAY
Five million viewers from more than 190 countries tuned into the
Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai late last November
to see a top-tier lineup of models clad in the company's latest
collection, performers ranging from Harry Styles to Miguel,
and nearly 68,000 square feet of fabric for the show's immersive, panoramic graphic backdrop. From a print industry
insider's point of view, the massive stage backdrop with
continuously changing light projections stole the show.
PNH Solutions (pnh.ca), a Montreal-based large-format PSP
that has previously provided largescale backdrops for the 2016
Invictus Games and 2015 Pan American Games, partnered with
Solotech, another company out of Montreal specializing in
audio, lighting, and video systems, to execute the colossal
undertaking. While Solotech worked with 4U2C to orchestrate
the striking visual effects, PNH was tasked with creating and
implementing the printed fabric panels and corresponding
hardware for both the rehearsal at the Videotron Center in
Quebec City and the show broadcast from China.
PNH imaged 13 separate fabric "techno mesh" panels with
the shop's Durst Rhotex 320 printer, with individual panels
measuring up to 113 feet wide and 46 feet tall. The panels
were then tightly joined together with zippers and suspended
from the ceiling with an aluminum cable. The entire backdrop
was held together at the base with a fabric tension display
composed of modular steel piping. The challenge for PNH?
Ensuring that the fabric and frame were exactly the same size
to avoid any creases, folds, or loose areas that could affect the
light projections. After a number of tests and tweaks, PNH
succeeded in preparing both the fabric panels and frame to
the exact dimensions requested by the show, without an inch
to spare. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details - and in
this industry, no detail is too minute.
Fabric media suited the project in a way vinyl could not.
The material doesn't reflect light, which aided the projections;
the media is lightweight, which is an important financial
consideration when shipping product halfway around the
world; and the panels remained intact without creases or
folds, even after the long journey from Montreal to Quebec
City and eventually to Shanghai. While other media options
may have required ironing or steaming after shipment, the
mesh panels were ready for install as soon as the crates
arrived at Pudong Mercedes Benz Arena.
If producing and transporting the materials to the show
was considered a feat, installing nearly 70,000 square feet of
graphics spanning the entire stage and runway was an entirely
different beast. Over the course of eight hours, 20 installers
from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
prepared the backdrop for the fashion show. As the fabric
panels were suspended from the ceiling, some installers found
themselves hanging from the rafters with rappelling gear. All
of the coordination paid off as millions of viewers oohed and
aahed at the spectacular effects throughout the runway show.