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portfolio A selection of Philip van Allen's projects



In portfolio

By phil

U2 ZooTV interactive stage project

On 04, May 1993 | In portfolio | By phil

For the U2 ZooTV tour in 1993, I and my MusicWorks team at Philips Media (Brett Spivey, Randy Picolet, Mike Diehr) created two interactive projects for the band to use onstage. It’s fun to think about what it was like to make interactive media back then. Keep in mind, this was the year NCSA released the first real web browser called Mosaic, before Photoshop had layers, and when a 650 meg (not gig!) SCSI hard drive was $2500 and the size of a breadbox.

This experiment allowed the band members to interact with the big video screens as they stood on stage. In the first project, Welcome to ZooTV, Bono selected a region, then the city, and then one of four versions of himself to welcome the audience to the show. The second project was BeatBox, and was run by Edge. He picked a song, and then played around with the beat by changing tempo and selecting between 3 different sound sets (including a zoo version with animal sounds for the kick drum, snare etc.).

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These projects were created using CDi technology developed by Philips and Sony. This was the first commercially released set top box that used CD media. My MusicWorks group produced several music titles for this medium. These were called CDi-Ready discs, and they played on normal CD players, but were the first music CDs ever to include multimedia content as well. Titles included James Brown, Mozart, Louis Armstrong, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Apparently the band only used the projects on a couple gigs, as it turned out to be a bit too time-consuming for them to run it in the middle of the set. If anyone has any stage pictures of them using it, please let me know. I think one of the shows where they used it was in Texas.

Later, when I started Commotion, we developed a proposal to create an interactive project with U2, and nearly made a deal. It would have been developed on either CDi or the 3DO platform.

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