TULSA, OK – What do you get when an established Cherokee Indian-operated casino teams up with one of the premier names in rock-n-roll themed entertainment? Answer: the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a $155 million upgrade and expansion of the former Cherokee Casino Resort, which has been transformed into powerhouse gaming/hotel/nightclub complex and re-branded as a Hard Rock franchise.
Still owned and operated by Cherokee Nation despite its new name, the casino was looking to give itself a facelift, when the branding and renovation opportunity with Hard Rock arose. Along with the obvious advantages of aligning itself with the world-famous pop culture icon came the challenge of assimilating $2 million worth of rock music memorabilia and other Hard Rock design parameters into the casino's Native American roots.
Nowhere was this blending of the old and new played out more dramatically than on a large plastic light sculpture that hangs over 7 banks of slot machines in the casino's 125,000 sq. ft. gaming area. Designed in a Native American motif with 7 elongated feather-like points, the massive sculpture was comprised of a black metal frame containing pieces of different colored plastic, lit by fluorescent tubes from inside. Although much too bright and prominent for Hard Rock's decor requirements, said Hard Rock designer Warwick Stone “the (Cherokee) chief liked it,” so the sculpture had to stay.
Thanks to some help from David Brecheen of Production Essentials LLC (Edmond, OK) and Acclaim Lighting LEDs, Stone was able to transform the light sculpture into a more subtle color-changing piece that blended in with Hard Rock's design elements, while preserving the fixture's Cherokee-inspired heritage. This was done by replacing the fluorescent light source inside the sculpture with Acclaim X-Cube Pro RGB LED fixtures. Additionally, the colored plastic was removed from the exterior of the sculpture and replaced with a thin frosted plexi material, so that the LEDs can shine through it. The basic structure of the fixture was thus kept, allowing it to maintain its Native American identity, but instead of being a somewhat “jarring” bright red and yellow plastic piece, it now enhances the décor with smooth color changes and more low-key, updated look
The creative vision for the project came from an unlikely source: a giant squid. “I had just watched a documentary on sea creatures, and there are these huge humboldt squids that do a mating dance,” said Stone. “When there's a female, their skin flashes like iridescent lighting and waves of color ripple through them. And I thought, I want to do that – make light wash through the fixture, rather than just changing colors flatly. I had just used an Acclaim color-changing LED floodlight on a restaurant project, and I was really happy with the power and the color of it.”
Stone contacted Acclaim, which suggested using their X-Cube Pro for the project. The X-Cube Pro is a compact LED fixture with RGB color mixing and linkable DC power and data. Its small footprint (4.9” x 1.3”) makes it ideal for tight spaces and linear runs of LEDs.
Acclaim also put Stone in touch with Brecheen of Production Essentials, their Tulsa-area dealer/installer. According to Brecheen, the X-Cube's easy installation helped his company meet the project's tight deadline. A total of 196 X-Cubes were installed in the sculpture, and “we did it in two 12-hour days,” said Brecheen. “The nice part was that we didn't have to do any wire terminations, because the X-Cubes have their own cable leads. They just screw together.”
The X-Cubes are controlled by Compu PC-based lighting control software from Acclaim's sister company Elation Professional. Each X-Cube is addressed individually, with a total of 588 DMX channels being used (3 channels per unit for R, G & B). “Originally, the project didn't call for the individual addressing of each unit,” said Brecheen, “but I went ahead and did it, because we had the capability to do this with the Elation Compu software and it would give them more control. It allows them to create some really unique looks. They've programmed a pretty long loop, and it just cycles throughout the day 24-7.”
“Everyone is very happy with it,” reported Stone, who added that, as a designer, he too was very pleased with Acclaim's service and quality. “When I first went to Acclaim, I said, â€˜I want this done in a week.' And they did it! They helped me find the right product, worked with me on the concept and layout, and got me in touch with the installation company.”
As far as the Acclaim product is concerned, Stone added, “it's up to standard and it's reasonably priced. The trouble with most LED lighting – and I've tried a lot of different pieces – is that the inexpensive stuff's underpowered and the reliable stuff's overpriced. But with Acclaim I've found a happy balance.”
For more information, contact Acclaim Lighting at 323-213-4626 or visit www.acclaimlighting.com
Production Essentials LLC can be reached at 405-285-6938 or visit www.productionessentialsinc.com
For more information about Warwick Stone Creative Services, visit www.warwickstone.com