The Secret’s Out

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the Bell Helicopter 525 Relentless!

At 11:30 a.m. on Sunday February 12th, Bell Helicopter kicked off the Heli-Expo 2012 show with a new product introduction. Hints and speculation have circulated throughout the industry for several months, but no one has actually known the full scope of what our client has been up to and the tight security around set up and rehearsals kept it that way.

This product reveal has clearly set a new bar for the helicopter industry. As the show opened, attendees began to flow into the 40,000 square foot exhibit space and by show time, the audience grew to more than 3,000 covering the Bell Helicopter space, adjacent exhibits and the aisles in the F Hall of the Dallas Convention Center. Lighting, special effects and a walk-in video piece greeted the audience and created a mood of excitement and anticipation. TV cameras from the three major networks, press from across the industry and a host of crews documenting the experience were poised to capture the event.

At precisely 11:30 a.m. John Garrison, the president and CEO of Bell Helicopter, took the stage to welcome the audience and kick off the introduction event. GES teamed with a world-class staff of creative talent, directors and producers to deliver a documentary video called, “Relentless Commitment.” Following the short documentary came the traditional lighting effects and Kabuki drop.  Expecting to see a product revealed, the audience was faced with a series of huge concrete walls instead.

Using a unique video mapping process on a series of angled walls surrounding the stage, the surfaces came to life appearing to slide open revealing an interior laboratory, engine cutaways and touch screen avionics eventually morphing into a glass skyscraper that created the backdrop for a silhouetted flyby of the new helicopter. Collapsing into itself, the glass walls turned into the exterior of an aircraft hangar.  Accompanied by ground shaking audio, the walls physically began to move(an illusion or for real take a guess?). As the opening grew between the moving walls, a flood of theatrical lighting and fog began to spill out toward the audience. As the walls continued their movement outward, an elaborate lighting rig moved upward creating a breathtaking effect around the huge 525 helicopter floating on a cloud of thick fog.

Video mapping is something many people talk about, but most of what we see is fairly elementary. Not the Bell Helicopter show. The video mapping sequence was so unique and complex that our creative team pushed the Cinema4D software beyond its capabilities. The software developers actually worked with our team to enhance the program to meet the requirements of this show (that’s cutting edge). So, you know you’ve delighted your clients when they ask you to repeat the grand opening event a second time on day two of the show. Everyone on the GES Bell Helicopter team deserves their own round of applause. Thanks for making us proud and for being rock stars.

Go to the Bell Helicopter micro site to view the full event or view this video of the reveal:

Signing off now to enjoy being back at the ranch, Tom Merrill

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