In Conversation w/ Earlybird | Hello 2021: Americas

In Conversation w/ Earlybird | Hello 2021: Americas

In a massive team effort, US design support specialists Earlybird helped to realize the J Balvin New Year’s Eve Performance at the Hello 2021: Americas show on YouTube. They not only provided rendering support using Syncronorm’s show design & visualization software Depence, but also were responsible for the lighting programming of this stunning segment.

We are happy to have had the opportunity to speak to Nick Coauette and Mark Humphrey from the Earlybird team, who have directly worked on the pre-visualization of the project. The two of them not only have an immense amount of experience in the Depence software, but always aim to push boundaries of what is possible in live and virtual production:


Which benefits does Depence² offer for virtual events?

Nick: Depence² offers a unique solution to virtual events because it is the only previz program right now that offers such high graphic fidelity. When rendered out at the highest quality, it is difficult to discern virtual from true reality. This project was an excellent example on how the line between what is real and what is not can very easily be blurred in a positive way.

What does Depence², as a multimedia show design software, mean for the future of our industry?

Mark: Depence², as a whole, brings a new look and feel to the pre-viz process on a show. It's not just a tool to program and see what the lighting is going to look like before getting onsite. Now with Depence², you can envision the entire show from top to bottom before even seeing it in person and really get a sense for what the show will be. There are so many features that Depence² has like the volumetric editor, animation importer, video content mapping, and more that open up so many possibilities for the software that make it much more than just a previz tool.

Which features benefit your personal workflow most?

Nick: Even though it is not directly supported by, the Asset builder is one of the most versatile and useful tools within Depence². Oftentimes we have to visualize fixtures that cannot be found within the library or that are completely custom and having the ability to create them within a program made to do so is game changing. Creating fixtures to use was typically a cumbersome or impossible process but now with the Asset builder it is made both easy and intuitive.

Mark: The DMX Stream tool as a whole is a revolutionary function. Being able to record DMX and render out that DMX data is such an invaluable tool to have. Where Depence² shines as a product is with the water texture and reflections with that texture. The water texture brought so much more realism into the show. One final feature that is innovative is the chroma key feature. Having this feature allows for so much more possibilities with the software itself.

Was there automation? What was automated?

Nick: There were 4 uses of automation: the center stairs that raised up and down bringing in the artist, both rings were able to move up and down and rotate in all directions, and the plane with the green screen footage on it was made to rotate and always be facing the camera when it moved.

How was the project programmed?

Mark: The project was produced by the team at Blink Inc. with creative direction by The Squared Division, and production design by Chase Hall. Programming was done from the Earlybird previz studios in Burbank, CA using a GrandMA2 Full-Size console with 4 NPUs to unlock the extra parameters we were using. I programmed from our studio while communicating with Andre Petrus, who lives in Nashville, over video conference while we were also streaming the Depence² real time render window to a server so Andre and the rest of the creative team could watch and give notes.

How was the project output/rendered and delivered?

Mark: After we finalized all lighting/automation programming, video content, and camera placement we then recorded all DMX data using the DMX Stream function, lined up audio and content with lighting, and we were ready to go. We rendered each camera out on 3 of our in house previz computers, each fitted with a Titan 2080Ti graphics card. We had 6 full length cameras that we rendered out and then 7 pickup shots mixed in throughout the performance. In the end we delivered the frame sequences to Blink, who completed the final edit, and delivered the full length product to the end client.

How many fixtures were in the show? What types?


300 Mythos

550 JDC1

200 Flare

4 motors

What does the name Syncronorm mean to you?

Mark: The Syncronorm name, to me, means knowing that I am working in a stable piece of software that looks beautiful with great customer support behind it. The Syncronorm folks are open to new ideas that better the software and pushes it further than any previz software on the market now, as well as working with you to explain processes of how to achieve the show you are trying to build.

Nick: Syncronorm to me means innovation and a new future for previz. Never before have we seen the graphic fidelity that is displayed in Depence² in any other software and it truly opens up the door for many more possibilities in the previz process. Not only does the name Syncronorm mean a new future for previz, it also means community to me. The user-base for this program is so active and helpful and everyone is pushing the program to the limits to try and find new ways to achieve their goals. Syncronorm communicates and reaches out to their community often and makes me and other feel welcome and supported.


People involved in the project:

Creative Direction: The Squared Division
Producers: Blink
Production Design: Chase Hall
Lighting Direction: Andre Petrus
Lighting Programming: Mark Humphrey
Production Facilities in Medellín: 36Grados
Editing & Post Production: Blink
Visualization & Render Support: Earlybird

Drafting/Initial Depence modeling & build: Morgan Evans