Dell in 360º – At the Center of U2’s Tour

One of the latest stops on U2’s 360º  tour was in
Anaheim, California. Dell was at the center of those shows along with 50+
others around the world during the past two years. I attended the show on
Friday and gave some key business and technology reporters an inside look at
the how Dell technology is powering a truly unique concert experience.

The 360⁰ tour is as much about the technology they use to embrace
their audience as it is about their music. I see parallels in our evolution in end-user computing solutions – specifically Dell Precision workstations
where it’s more than just the technology or hardware, it’s about solutions
tailored to specific end-user needs. 

Dell’s relationship with U2 and Live Nation Entertainment,
which began in August 2010, is a great example of a usage driven solution with
Dell Precision – high performance, highly scalable rack and mobile workstations
designed to deliver creative content no matter where you are.

Throughout each concert the U2 design team tailors visual
graphics using live concert video footage from 15 cameras mounted throughout
the stadium combined with pre-rendered content. The final, personalized visual
experience comes to life on a 500,000 pixel screen, weighing more than 54 tons
and stretching over 14,000 square feet and 7 stories tall — giving fans a sense
of intimacy in a stadium environment.

To ensure that each show is customized for each audience in a cost, time and
energy-efficient manner, Live Nation Entertainment deployed a solution that
sits in a video control tower facing the stage consisting of Dell Precision™ R5400 rack-mounted workstations and UltraSharp U2711 monitors for concert video control and
management, as well as Dell Precision™ M6500 mobile workstations for on-the-go
content creation and rendering. The mobile workstations
are used to provide visual graphics for the gigantic screen during the
concerts and they enable the team to work wherever and whenever inspiration
strikes, with the power of a desktop workstation in a portable package.

These high-performance systems are an outstanding example of
a purpose-built design tailored to the demanding needs of U2’s video and show
production. Combining this technology with unmatched ProSupport services means
the U2 LiveNation team has worry-free support anywhere, anytime around the
world and fans experience a flawless, awe-inspiring event every night.

After watching the show, I can tell you the scale and impact
of the show is almost indescribable – and knowing it’s our technology that’s
helping deliver such an experience to millions of people worldwide made me
enjoy it even more and prouder than ever of the work we all do for customers
everyday at Dell.

The media that attended the show were in disbelief that the
very systems that powered this audio/visual powerhouse were standard Dell
Precision Workstations. Chris Preimesberger of eWeek said that he “recently had
the opportunity to check out the IT and performance of a U2 show firsthand, and
saw it as truly a remarkable achievement–in terms of artistic merit and in
creative use of information technology.”  You can view Chris’ impression
of the show in a 15 photo slideshow and article, “U2
Turns to Dell to Keep Massive Concert Stage Rattling and Humming
” and
a more in-depth article “Dell
Gives U2 Concert a Real Edge in New IT

Chandler Harris of also wrote about his experience
at the show in an article titled “Dell’s
the Brains Behind U2’s Concert Technology. The Edge is Still Cool, Though
He says “At Angels Stadium, it was clear U2 was at it again: The stage
looked like a giant, four legged robot dropped in the middle of the field. Its
legs were filled with cameras, lights and cords jumbled together, with a
circular screen at the core. But the brain of the beast was housed in a small,
discreet tent  a short ways away. The brain turned out to be hardwired by
Dell, powered by three Precision R5400 rack-mounted workstations and controlled
by Precision M6500 laptops……Years from now the technology used at the concert
may seem paltry, but for now it’s awesome.”

The Dell and U2/Live Nation relationship continues to be a
great partnership for Dell. Their technical guys have
said no other vendor offered a solution that came anywhere near the
capabilities of what we’ve delivered and certainly no one else offered the
round-the-clock service and support Dell delivers.  They’ve been able to
triple system throughput while at the same time reducing the amount of energy
they use, helping meet both the expectations of their audience and their
commitment to produce U2’s 360º tour in an environmentally responsible
manner.  This is an amazing example of how we give our customers “The
Power to do More.”

Check out these photos of our technology solution in action
on earlier stops on the 360º tour. 

Bono doing his thing - U2 360 Tour

Dell Mission Control - U2 360 Tour

Behind the Scenes - U2 360 Tour

Do you have a question or a comment about how our technology is supporting U2’s 360º Tour? Post it here and join the conversation.

About the Author: Steve Lalla