Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Juno stage backed by high-tech city skyline

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A stylized cityscape will form the backdrop of the main stage at the 2014 Juno broadcast -- giving the interior of the MTS Centre a more cosmopolitan look than it had the last time the awards were held in Winnipeg.

In 2005, the first time the city hosted the Junos, the automobile-themed set design was a nod to Sunday-evening cruise nights that are popular on Portage Avenue.

This time around, Juno producers have opted to create a virtual skyline, using nine rounded columns of video screens to represent a city rising in the distance.

"The shape of the screens themselves are actually built like buildings, staggering up almost like an (actual) city," explains Alex Nadon, the lighting and video designer for the Juno Awards broadcast, which takes place Sunday night at the MTS Centre.

"The challenge is always to build a set that has an imposing shape and structure, but is very versatile and can achieve all these different looks in the show," he said.

"What we've built is an architectural shape completely out of new-technology, curved, wrapped video tiles, which allows us to completely change the look for every performance, but still have an architectural shape that's sort of inspired by the City of Winnipeg rising from the prairie."

The columns form the backdrop of the larger of two stages built inside the MTS Centre. The bigger stage, where most of the performances will take place, sits at the south end of the arena, which visiting NHL teams defend in the first and third periods of Jets games.

A smaller square platform rises at centre ice and will be used mainly to introduce awards and performers.

In this configuration, the MTS Centre will be able to accommodate about 10,000 fans.

"What's challenging is to make sure everyone at home has a great view and everybody in the room gets a great view," Nadon says.

During a Friday-afternoon rehearsal, quadruple nominee Tegan & Sara performed Closer in front of video columns that were used to convey both images and the lyrics to the song.

Juno co-host Johnny Reid, who got his first peek at the set on Friday, says he was impressed with what producers were able to achieve with the effect.

"How they've used LED in this show is quite incredible," says the country singer, who's sharing the hosting duties with rapper Classified and singer-songwriter Serena Ryder.

As of Friday, approximately 9,000 tickets to the show had been sold. A spokeswoman for the Junos said she's confident more seats will move over the next two days.

The 2005 Juno broadcast was a sold-out event.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2014 G3

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