City of Dreams: A Media Mecca in Macau
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2015 Ad & Sign Shanghai China March 11-14, 2015


City of Dreams: A Media Mecca in Macau

With a glowing radiance as your approach the city skyline, you think you're approaching Las Vegas, but it's the cityscape of Macau, an island off of Mainland China, that for decades has been a gaming Mecca of the Orient. And a unique view it is...

By Louis M Brill

One of the latest spectacular destination entries in Macau was developed as a joint venture between Melco International Development (Hong Kong) and Crown Entertainment (Melbourne) who together created the City of Dreams hotel / casino complex which integrates hospitality, gaming, retail and entertainment into a single, one-of-a-kind resort center.

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  • Coming close to the city, a dramatic radiance of visual delights begins to appear on the approaching buildings all spectacularly lit up with glowing and blinking huge signs everywhere, all simultaneously promoting the various hotel / casino resorts all along its streets. You might be thinking Las Vegas, but the skyline in front of you is a surprise, because it's the cityscape of Macau, an island off of Mainland China, that has been for decades, a gaming Mecca of the Orient.

    In exploring its entertainment roots, Macau as most cities have in recent years, is reinventing itself. Here, many hotel / casinos have taken a page or so from the Las Vegas architectural playbook where each new hotel entertainment complex has added all the kaleidoscopic color and dynamic signage it can gather to proclaim, "We are the hotel for you." One of the latest spectacular destination entries in Macau was developed as a joint venture between Melco International Development (Hong Kong) and Crown Entertainment (Melbourne) who together created the City of Dreams hotel / casino complex which integrates hospitality, gaming, retail and entertainment into a single, one-of-a-kind resort center.

    Dreamy

    City of Dreams distinguishes itself in several ways, most specifically with a unique architectural signature as explained by Geoffrey Benham, Creative Director of Melco Crown Entertainment. "Rather than providing a single hotel with all our guests in one building," says Benham, "We offer four distinct hotels including the Crown Towers (Ultimate Luxury hotel for discerning guests), a Hard Rock Hotel (Fun and hip for the young and young at heart), and the Grand Hyatt Macau (two distinct towers for business and leisure guests alike). The complex also includes over 400,000 square feet of gaming area, a unique, world-class attraction known as 'The Bubble', the 'Vquarium' (a virtual aquarium showcasing 'real' mermaids), the Boulevard, (a chic, lifestyle retail precinct), and a full spectrum of entertaining food and beverage venues." In early 2010 world-renowned Producer and Director Franco Dragone and Dragone Entertainment opened a breathtaking new show, housed in a 2,000-seat state-of-the-art theatre incorporating one of the most impressive commercial pools in the world.

    Videos of City of Dreams
    Video 1

    City of Dreams - Macau from StandardVision on Vimeo.


    Video 2

    City of Dreams - Macau 2 from StandardVision on Vimeo.

    The City of Dreams complex was designed by Arquitectonica (Hong Kong) as a fluid urban structure with an extensive and coordinated media facade coverage that dominates all four of the hotel buildings. One of the challenges of its overall architecture said Arquitectonica Associate Director Matthew McCallum was "balancing the overall building design into an integrated look that tied the entire hotel / casino complex into a singular presence. One way to present the commonality of the hotel structure was in using similar materials and designs that continuously reappeared on all four hotels." McCallum continued, "This was done with the use of horizontal and vertical exterior fins placed on all the buildings. The fins were used on the building cladding and presented to "catch' the ambient lighting around the buildings, to cast shadows and help reinforce the design of each building. There was also the installation of a series of media facades, (one on each hotel tower) which provided a unique architectural integration of unifying all four hotels into a singular destination complex. The collection of towers combine to create a series of unique video "screens" that goes way beyond a typical x and y configuration, as the screens combine HD video with full color, abstract graphic animations into a mesmerizing display of content that flows seamlessly from building to building."

    "As much as having images appear on the buildings, we were also concerned with how they 'fit' on the buildings and how well the images moved from building to building," said Benham.

    Creating the vision

    The City of Dreams media facades were created by StandardVision (Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Macau), a company specializing as an integrator of content, technology and design of media facades. The City of Dreams efforts were spearheaded by Adrian Velicescu, CEO and Creative Director of StandardVision, "We worked in the early stage development of City of Dreams to integrate the media lighting with the architectural design and ultimately the brand image that Melco/PBL wanted for the project."

    The City of Dreams includes over 400,000 square feet of gaming and distinguishes itself by offering four distinct hotels including the Crown Towers (Ultimate Luxury hotel for discerning guests), a Hard Rock Hotel (Fun and hip for the young and young at heart), and the Grand Hyatt Macau (two distinct towers for business and leisure guests alike).
    photo by StandardVision

    "Our client wanted to depart from the well known neon image of flashing Vegas lights" said Velicescu. "In developing this media facade design, the main desire was to create a momentum of content that moved between the four facades and invited a sense of exploration for the viewers. This way it functioned as a conversation piece and the ultimate 'not-to-miss' Macau destination. Instead of looking at the project as four distinct buildings we expended on the architect vision of unifying the architectural design through the use of content that is synchronized across the four facades."

    Clarke Systems- Slatz Capture was designed to meet the challenge of change.

    The hotel's media facades design reappears on all four hotels by the use of horizontal and vertical exterior fins placed on all the buildings to provide a continuous visual image that unifies all four hotels into a singular destination complex.
    photo by StandardVision

    In Chinese culture, moving water or flowing water means flowing wealth and flowing good luck. That movement of water became very important in our design approach. It became part of the graphic imagery that 'flowed' across the City of Dreams hotel facades as part of the buildings visual call out to its guests and potential guests to come visit as a new destination for them to enjoy the hotel /casinos gaming and entertainment opportunities. Some examples of the imagery created included a 20-story water drop that rippled across all buildings. Gigantic silver fish swim across the facade from building to building while thousands of water bubbles are sparking in a gentle upper movement.

    "In terms of the proper LED component to create each building's media facade," Velicescu stated, "we discovered that a special media facade housing design would have to be produced. The architectural fin element had different orientations on each building facade. In addition, two of the buildings have a circular and elliptical footprint. In order for the viewer to perceive the installation as one large digital canvas, "we needed to show off the extreme viewing angle of the lights and reflecting covers that expanded the surface of the light. To achieve this visual effect, we custom-created an aluminum square modular shape that has a two-inch reflecting cover surface covered by 14 very bright Nichia lamps. To match the building architecture, these media facade modules can be flipped horizontally or vertically depending on where they are installed. The lights are modular and mounted in the fin caps making them invisible during the day.

    The City of Dreams complex was designed by Arquitectonica (Hong Kong) as a fluid urban structure with an extensive and coordinated media facade coverage that dominates all four of the hotel buildings. The challenge was balancing the individuality of the overall building design into an integrated look that tied the entire hotel / casino complex into a singular presence.
    photo by StandardVision

    "We refer to this special LED module as a Ypix unit," says Velicescu. "There are more than 200,000 Ypix pixels installed at COD, all powered and synchronized from a central location. The lights were manufactured by Kindwin Technology (Hong Kong). For the synchronized content servers and system control, we used the Electrosonic servers (Burbank,CA). The entire system relays on the data backbone infrastructure built by Cisco and Elixir. Each Ypix pixel has its own ID and is mapped on the building via a mapping processor located in each tower. Overall the system delivers content at 60 frames per second across the four towers."

    YPix being installed on the building frontage, following the exterior building fins layout. To match the building architecture, these media facade modules can be flipped horizontally or vertically depending on where they are installed.
    photo by StandardVision

    "Once the Ypix facade was produced and installed on each of the hotels, one of our main concerns was processing the video data so high definition images are accurately represented on the building. This was known as the data mapping process and was far more complex due to the fact that each building had its own specific fin design. In order to process 200,000 pixels at random location on the building we had to use a combination of architect CAD files, "as built" contractor drawings combined with high end 3D systems and a lot of talented engineers crunching numbers late at night."

    Four Ypix pixels are attached to an extended aluminum modular unit for ease of mounting on a building facade wall.
    photo by StandardVision

    "The most enjoyable and challenging part of this project was the content creation," noted Velicescu. "What works on your television does not work at all on a 500-foot building. So we first implemented a compositing process that allowed us an accurate pixel count representation so the results can be judged at scale. A 30-foot large LED screen installed in our studio was used to view the content at a somewhat overwhelming scale. The content which was water-themed included macro-photography of rain, water rippling and water drop effects was filmed with 4K resolution RED cameras in studio."

    To create a proper Ypix pixel, an aluminum square modular shape was created that has a two inch reflecting cover surface covered by 14 very bright Nichia lamps.
    photo by StandardVision

    "Another challenge for us was making sure the City of Dreams hotel buildings various sight lines were visible from different parts of Macau, and as well different approaches to Macau including from the street, from the approaching ferries or even from the airport. As such we mapped the content on 3D models and created virtual views from the main access locations."

    As for the media facade imagery, to "open" the building, StandardVision has created four themed pieces (galactic starscapes, flaming air effects, underwater and event-based special effect imagery) and has plans to create other special themed content for certain holidays and special events. The content strategy is to have a flexible library of live action media and interactive content that can be posted on the building and shown at different times of the year as desired.

    With all of the City of Dreams buildings lit up and viewable even from a mile away, the draw of City of Dreams begins even before visitors arrive. As visitors approach Macau, its overly bright glow radiates the promise of good luck and fantastic entertainment, all centered in the City of Dreams as a beacon of good times to come.

    Louis M. Brill is a journalist and consultant for high-tech entertainment and media communications. He can be reached at (415) 664-0694 or louisbrill@sbcglobal.net

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