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The House of Dancing Water

The House of Dancing Water was produced by veteran Vegas show designer Franco Dragone and is one of the jewels in the entertainment crown of China. 

Performed in a tailor-made 2,000-seat ‘Dancing Water’ Theatre at the City of Dreams entertainment complex in Macau, by a cast of nearly 100 international artists, the spectacle combines water stunts, acrobatics, aerial arts and theatre. Behind-the-scenes, an army of 160 technicians, production staff and scuba divers work tirelessly to ensure the twice-nightly show runs seamlessly.

The show is performed across a multi-level stage, which is part of a 3.7 million-gallon pool, with projections transforming the space into stunning locations transcending time and space throughout the 85-minute spectacle. Different projector positions, zoom and focus values are used for multiple screens, including flat stage surfaces, floating fabric, uneven curtains and water fountains, delivering a captivating and truly unique water stage production.

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The show needed to be re-mastered in order to perform into the future, as the technology was nearing end of life. The previous technology was a pioneer of moving head projection, and while the team wanted to respect that, they needed to update the system and processes for today's entertainment environment. After wowing audiences since September 2010, the show overhauled its entire production workflow in 2018, investing in a new fixed technology infrastructure, powered by disguise

Dragone & Melco, in connection with disguise partner OpticShock, implemented several disguise technologies into the fixed installation, including disguise’s OmniCal system and a combination of 4x4pro’s and gx 1 servers. Overall, rack space used for video control was reduced by over 75% with associated similar reductions in cooling and power consumption. This optimisation is reflected in system design choices driven towards consolidation, efficiency and improvement in technology used.

The largest gains in this area were in combining video distribution and networking resulting in a unified cable topology throughout the venue. Low Latency IP video distribution and switching shares the same backbone as networking for control, media upload, lighting, sound and automation connections. This allows the high availability and redundancy inherent in networking to apply to all the show control signals. disguise’s 4x4pro allowed for all video output from a single machine when it previously took five separate playback machines.

The lineup is complicated as it originates from moving head projectors covering different areas and spans 270 degrees around the theatre including water surfaces and fabrics. disguise’s OmniCal allowed the teams to align the video projection to the space in a way similarly to how sound engineers tune the audio to the venue. By generating 3D point clouds of the actual space, the image alignment and soft edge blends became easier to calculate; sticking the projection onto the surfaces. Two additional challenging surfaces were hanging drapes with deep fullness which the team was able to model with a simple curved primitive in disguise that were then deformed to fit the curtain by OmniCal. Initially this show presented many exceptions from what OmniCal was recommended for: transparency, water, reflections; but with perseverance the teams achieved surprising results and the process could be achieved by one operator more quickly.

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Re-invigorating the workflow retained and respected the original production creative; changing nothing; whilst breathing new life into the system and invigorated the long-term crew with new skills and opportunities. Overhauling the video content with disguise servers brought elements, previously unseen, at the forefront of the magnificent production. Now that disguise sits at the heart of the House of Dancing Water workflow, audiences will continue to be stunned by the magic of the unique show for many more years to come. 

Equipment

  • disguise : 4x4pro + HDMI VFC cards, gx 1, OmniCal MV cameras
  • Luminex : GigaCore 26i
  • Microsoft : Surface Studio & Surface Book Pro

Team Credits 

  • The House of Dancing Water (Macau) : Karl Jenkins, Eve Bernier, Tod Harris, and the whole LX/SFX/PJ team
  • disguise : Janne Husberg, Mayur Patel, Michael Adefehinti, Mit Patel and the disguise APAC & UK offices.
  • OpticShock: Sam Miro Folkard Hodgson, Kyle Pharo, Andy Tsang, Brendan Albrey, Jonny Cross, Mike Skinner, and David Eversfield. 
  • Lightware Visual Engineering (Hong Kong, Hungary): Peter Major, Bertrand Jenner.

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