Hakkasan Group recently commissioned sound, lighting and visual design company AudioTek to ‘push the boundaries of technology’ and create the ultimate nightclub environment for the latest addition to the Hakkasan Group, Jewel Nightclub inside ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The new nightspot’s launch event was attended by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, hip-hop artist Drake, electro turntable stars The Chainsmokers and reality television star Kourtney Kardashian.
In order to impress its clientele, the client opted for an interactive lighting design controlled by a custom Avolites system of integrated control desks and Ai media servers.
The result is a high-impact, multi-sourced display based around the DJ’s moving back wall of Ayrton Dream Panels, with both video and DMX surfaces and Magic Dot fixtures.
This works alongside five ribbons of ROE Hybrid LED which circle the main room, in addition to a video-mapped staircase leading to a mezzanine floor. AudioTek lighting designer Andy Taylor chose Avolites’ Sapphire Touch, Tiger Touch II and Quartz lighting consoles with Titan Net Processors and Ai Infinity R8 and S4 media servers to control the complex set up.
“Due to the selection of fixtures, it was imperative to implement a control system that seamlessly integrated both lighting and video,” Andy explains. “Once suggested, everyone agreed Avolites was the natural choice.”
Avolites’ lead software developer Oliver Waits assisted with designing the custom system, which links the video content, powered by the Ai media servers, to the lighting control of the consoles, allowing everything to be controlled by a single operator.
“The Ayrton Dream Panel is a unique fixture so we felt that we needed a cutting edge new software feature to create a spectacle for Jewel’s guests,” Oliver explains. “Our solution was to link the video to the movement of the fixtures and directly link the Titan Key Frame Shapes feature of 2D points within the video to create movement that reacted to the visuals. Using our Ai media server, we were then able to directly link the two elements. The Titan console constantly receives video updates from the media server and uses these to control the timeline of any Key Frame Shape.”
The new features developed for Jewel will be available for all Avolites customers from Titan version 10.1 onwards.
“It’s a pixel-heavy design so Avolites’ built in Pixel Mapper was invaluable in creating some great looks across all the fixtures,” says Andy. “The Key Frame Shapes feature was integral in programming the more complicated Dream Panel moves and avoiding falling into the trap of having them constantly spinning on both axes.”
Creating The Video Content
Hakkasan’s Director of Video Production Ed Shaw worked alongside production company Ne1co to design the video content, which is processed for the Dream Panel fixtures by the Ai media servers.
A large portion of the content was designed to run on both sides of the panels using a DMX merge, resulting in an impressive dual effect that mixes high-resolution content on one side with brighter but lower resolution on the other as the panels are rotated. This content is reflected in the visuals that run across the ROE Hybrid LED.
“We wanted to match the content across all the fixtures as it creates a coherent aesthetic across the room, especially when there is only one operator,” Ed notes.
The content for the staircase, however, serves an entirely different purpose. High quality 3D visuals evoking a series of pathways and walls are run across the eight columns and 15 stairs to highlight the architectural design of the space and encourage guests to ascend to the mezzanine level.
“The three Ai media servers not only control the Dream Panels, ROE Hybrid ribbons and the staircase but also the portrait marquee screen in front of the venue,” Ed continues. “They are integral to the success of the project as they make it very easy to program and operate multiple areas at once. I’ve loved the Ai media server since we started using them in Omina Nightclub – they offer fantastic quality and performance for playback. Even when putting considerable load on the servers, having a constant 60fps is very reassuring.”
Alongside the connection between lighting and video, Ed and Hakkasan’s vice president of Entertainment James Algate wanted a way to automatically link the music’s BPM to the lighting.
The Avolites consoles needed to trigger effects in time with the beat with no latency, allowing the entire shape and structure of the room to morph in perfect time with the sound.
Responding to this, Oliver wrote this capability into Titan v10.1, the forthcoming operating system update to be released shortly after V10.0, adding a new dimension of versatility to the entire console range.
“The new Titan Beat System allows for both speed and synchronisation from an external source,” he explains. “Using this the LD can link all lighting effects to one beat; a process that would have previously been done manually. The LD is then freed up to carry out other lighting tasks.”
“The automatic BPM sync was one of our biggest technical challenges but it was all made possible through the tremendous support from the whole Avolites team,” adds Shaw.
Another challenged the team faced was the sheer amount of data that the system needs to deal with; in fact, it’s the biggest system that AudioTek has ever put together, even taking into account concert touring.
As a comparison, AudioTek’s managing director Frank Murray points out that the most recent Radiohead tour managed 46 Dream Panels on the back wall, each of which needed streaming data for the video on one side and DMX on the other: Jewel uses 54.
“The support from the Avolites teams both in the UK and the US was fantastic,” says Andy. “From allowing us to take over the warehouse to test out gear and do some valuable pre-programming, to them being on site in Vegas, they’ve been supportive far and above the call of duty, and are continuing to be so. I know they’ve kept in touch with the in house programmer, Jorge Tellez, to help him get to grips with this demanding rig. This was an incredibly challenging job from both an artistic and technological point of view, and it couldn’t have been achieved without Avolites’ cutting edge products. It was a great leap of faith from management at Hakkasan to approve the design and I don’t think it could have been achieved without the incredible efforts of the team.”