Las Vegas, Are You Ready? The Marquee Club, Part 3: The Video And Content


The visual art developed for Marquee by V Squared Labs and Corso Communications is sexy, opulent, modern, and ever-changing to create an immersive experience. “We strove to electrify and summon transcendent feelings in the patrons of Marquee, through our use of timing, color, composition, generative code, and story,” says Vello Virkhaus, director of V Squared Labs.

“The visuals are organic, yet brought to life through the use of interactive technology,” adds Emilio Sa, creative director of V Squared Labs. “We perform live to the music, in a symphony of sound, light, video, and dance. We wanted to speak in an immersive fashion, communicating not only with patrons’ eyes, but bodies. The rich visual art works created are a combination of high fashion sexiness, luxurious organic art, and generative computer graphics. We were very interested in combining realtime generative art and traditional cinematic filmmaking as a part of the production pipeline.”

V Squared Labs and Corso Communications crafted an original, themed audio-visual show for each of the primary DJs in residency for 2011: Erick Morillo (digitalism: Tron style, futuristic, geometric, blue, orange, minimal, and modern), Roger Sanchez (1930s burlesque show: incandescent lights, red curtains), Dirty Dutch (red light district vibes from Amsterdam), LMFAO (party rock: pop, funky 1980s, tiger stripes), and Kasakde (color dream: clean, modern, rainbow, and playful). “Each resident DJ got a content package and a DJFX bank,” explains Virkhaus. “The DJ can trigger the DJFX presets to control visual, lighting, and audio effects.”

There are also several Marquee signature themes to the visuals such as Golden Goddess, an opulent golden goddess theme; Shimmering, golden bodies, jewels, and Romanesque architecture in motion; and Eyes Wide Shut, based on the ritual sex scene in Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut. “Opulence, film, beautiful women, and the music really inspired us to create these and several other themes,” says Sa.

An Apple iPad, with numerous custom preset effects, such as air horns, sirens, video intros, spark showers, explosions, and strobes, is mounted in the DJ booth, with three additional iPads in the VJ booth enabling the DJ and VJ to participate in a rhythmic, on-the-fly performance. “The DJFX system was developed concurrently to the content package in Derivative’s TouchDesigner,” notes Virkhaus. “The V Squared/Corso team created audio-reactive generative presets and animated visual effects. In collaboration with the DJs, V Squared/Corso created unique sound design packages to go along with the visuals.”

Once the preproduction, casting, and costume design were finalized, the V Squared/Corso team filmed for over a week on several sound stages, using green-screen, black-screen, and UV blacklight. “We utilized two Red MX cameras and the Canon 5D Mark 2,” says Virkhaus. “Our acquisition path was digital from start to finish.” After filming came pre-visualization and production template development, as well as onsite programming and systems integration/installation right up to opening night. V Squared has a residency at Marquee through 2011 to continue developing the system and content.

“A custom content creation template and pipeline were developed to effectively handle the raw quantity of high-quality content to be delivered in an extremely tight time schedule,” Virkhaus explains. “Once the template was created, all post-production and programming used the template to guide the accurate placement of imagery inside the Marquee environment. The template was adjusted and mapped to the physical installation as it evolved through numerous trips to Vegas.”

The VJs select from predefined compositions and image sequences. “Using mathematical functions and advanced control systems, the displayed images’ opacity, speed, scale, color, spatial location, and pixel effects are all manipulated through custom iPad and JazzMutant Lemur multitouch control interfaces,” Virkhaus explains. “The VJ is able to generate continually varying, seemingly self-reinventing visual patterns and on-the-fly compositions nightly. These keep the environment constantly new.

“What is unique about Marquee is that the VJ can work remotely through use of an iPad and in-house wireless network to perform on the dance floor,” Virkhaus adds. “This opens up new possibilities for VJ and patron to interact. This is an added wow factor that engages the club-goer in a dynamic, interactive fashion.”

The visuals at Marquee can be seen from three different viewing zones: the dance floor, the VIP tables, and the balcony. “The dance floor completely immerses the viewer in a strong presentation of lighting and visuals, which literally drop onto your head,” says Virkhaus. “The room has a rising effect and opens up in an altar-like fashion.”

The backbone for the video images is a system designed by SenovvA to deliver everything from audio-reactive architectural moods and themes, to a full-on video performance that can be set up with custom corporate and group branding to add a signature to an event. The system was designed to be the most flexible and feature-rich system possible, wrapping all three sides of the main nightclub space with interactive scenic projection and media servers capable of delivering content continuously around the room and on the stage area, in multiple formats, styles, and delivery methods.

“We were brought in by the Rockwell Group to realize their design concepts,” says P. Michael Anderson, director of design and development for SenovvA. “As the project developed, there was a shift in direction, and the club became more performance-oriented, so we extended the concept and reconfigured the core computers.”

The banks of visuals are projected via one Barco FLM R22+, sitting below the crow’s nest which houses the DJ and VJ stations one level above the dance floor, onto the three stage scrims, plus two Barco SLM R12+ units flanking the stage and focused on the drapes stage-left and -right. “The goal was a transparent, textured look, with dancers on three levels—on the stage, on the drawbridge behind the scrims, and on the catwalks,” says Anderson. “They can also interact with the video content.”

The same content can also embrace the entire room. “You can create one continuous canvas,” adds Anderson. “The club is also set for designers to bring in their own content and use the club system or bring their own video source and plug into the system.”

Located in the rack room, a Green Hippo Hippotizer HD media server is paired with two Apple Mac Pro towers that allow the VJs to “jam back and forth like a DJ would between turntables,” explains Anderson. In addition, an HP Z800 workstation runs a custom implementation of the Derivative TouchDesigner program, with V Squared customized software that can be run on the iPads as well as trigger lighting effects via MIDI. Four Barco Folsom DCS 100 switcher/scalers correspond to the four video display zones—LED wall, scrims, and two sets of projection drapes—running Modul8 VJ software with the library of stock and custom content from V Squared Labs.

“Marquee has definitely set the bar very high when it comes to AV technology,” says Lieberman, a veteran designer on the Las Vegas club scene. “It is something you really need to experience for yourself.”

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