Virginia Tech grad student creates festival’s first-ever projected video stream

George Hardebeck is a big fan of Rock the Blocks Music and Arts Festival and has attended every year. However, he feels that something has been missing these past years.
March 23, 2016
Mary Desmond



Blacksburg, Va., March 16, 2016 - Projection: George Hardebeck configures a massive projector in his office in Virginia Tech's Moss Arts Center. Photo Credit: Mary Desmond


George Hardebeck, a grad student in the Creative Technologies program of the School of Visual Arts, is keen on uniting the Blacksburg community through his unique project - Pulse 16. Hardebeck is working on creating a “live stream” video projection of the various music venues during the weekend of Rock the Blocks.


Rock the Blocks Music and Arts Festival is a wonderful weekend-long community event which takes place every spring in Blacksburg. Hardebeck has been good friends with many of the people in charge of the event since he was an undergrad at Virginia Tech. 


“The idea for Pulse 16 came about when talking to Eve, the Director of Rock the Blocks, about some of the hardships they face… and how to include the community more as a whole.”


Indeed it is important to connect the rift between the

University and the Blacksburg community, but how can

it possibly be done? More importantly, how can it be

done in an interesting, creative way? This is where

Hardebeck’s artistic expertise comes to the rescue.


“I specialize in immersive environments and

interactive environments, so I want to include the

audience in something that they really can feel.”


Using the side of the Blacksburg Armory Art Gallery,

otherwise known as the School of Visual Arts,

Hardebeck will use a “monolithic” projector to

present passersby with videos of various bands

playing in different venues across Blacksburg. 


He has recruited a small team of videographers who

will run around to the different music venues and get

footage of the musicians. Their SD cards, which store

the video, will be wifi-enabled so that the clips can be

downloaded to Hardebeck’s server.


What makes this project particularly unique is

Hardebeck’s iconic layout for the projection. He’s

designed a program of projection mapping software

which allows him to create his own, distinguished

layouts of the videos for the wall.


“I can control the shapes that are projected and black out the rest of the screen so it’s not just one big block,” Hardebeck explains.


It isn’t nearly as engaging to look at a basic, rectangular projection, especially with such upbeat content. Instead, the projection will be three banners, about ten feet tall and two feet wide, and two cubes, about two feet by two feet.






























Blacksburg, Va., March 16, 2016 - Grid Screen: The different grids will fluctuate and scatter across the screen, keeping the energy of the crowd at a comfortably high level. Photo Credit: Mary Desmond


This grid projection will also help with keeping the so-called “stream” fairly “live.” Since the footage is shot on a camera, sent to a server, and then uploaded into the program to be presented, there is a lag when it comes to the videos being projected. The lag won’t be as  noticeable, however, with the distinct video layout.


Hardebeck is excited about the project and how festival-goers will react to the projections.


“[Festival-goers] can see some band playing in the video and be like, ‘Oh, I need to get over there now and catch that show before it is done!’.”


This year's Rock the Blocks will be taking place from April 8-9. Over 30 bands, from all over, will be performing. Thanks to George Hardebeck's admirable, creative initative, it will be an even more exciting weekend for Blacksburg. 


Blacksburg, Va., March 16, 2016 - Creative Technology: Hardebeck is a big fan of music and a strong advocate for the integration of arts and technology. Photo Credit: Mary Desmond