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The spectacular opening of Atlantis, The Palm — situated on Dubai’s luxurious man-made island of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai — took the form of a pageant in which all the high-definition content projection (which helped to tell the story of Atlantis, the lost city) was handled by Christie state-of-the-art devices.
These were specified by technical director, Simon Ransom, working for Atlantis’s owners, Kerzner International, and supplied by Paris-based VLS, headed by Richard Di Meglio.
The $20m extravaganza, which lit up the night sky, broke a number of records. For example the 220 x 95 metre HD video projection, stretching across the entire façade of Atlantis's Royal Towers, made it the world's largest HD video projection on a standing surface.
Simon Ransom has been an aficionado of Christie since specifying high-powered 3-chip DLP fixtures on the Al Sahra desert resort project in Dubailand four years ago.
He explained, “My relationship with VLS is the reason I continue to use Christie projectors. I have never been disappointed so I have never had any reason to use other brands. The 25K/30K 3-chip range has revolutionized the market.”
Having masterminded the opening of Kerzner International’s Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, South Africa Simon was appointed to the role of technical director for the launch spectacular at the Palm.
He explained, “This was a developing brief and the concept was developed over 11 months, with Kerzner’s own individual segment producers — although the final build took place in just seven days.”
A 100m x 50m deck for the invited audience of 2,000 VIP’s was constructed in two days on the beach, with the hotel fascia providing the backdrop. Pink-coloured window masks were made of perforated, one way film, which allowed the material to blend-in with the building's colour scheme, while coating the windows to address the light absorption issue.
While a performance by Kylie Minogue opened the proceedings, the video projection storyline for the show, entitled The Birth of an Icon, was driven by the original story of Atlantis and how the goddess looked at icons around the world, searching for a place to put Atlantis, before ending up at The Palm. The goddess herself was played by Indian actress, Chopra.
The concept was put together by show producer Edd Griles of Creddible Productions in New York, and he developed the story line with Kerzner International’s Jerry Inzerillo, while independent designer, Marie-Jean Gauthe, creative director for Jean Michel Jarre in Paris, was artistic director.
It was she who worked with the VLS team to develop all the high-definition CG animations and build the show. VLS provided all the technical projection tools on a mighty scale, with many of the Christie high-powered HD projectors triple stacked.
Divided across 11 separate matrices (individually addressed by 11 media servers), different primary projector positions were set up on towers to incorporate quantities of 21 Christie Roadie HD25K and HD30K 3-chip DLP projectors, six Roadster S+20K’s and four Roadster S+16K’s. All were fitted with the Twist module, and at its highest point, the projected image stretched 220 x 95m across Atlantis’s Royal Towers.
The furthest projection distance was from behind the viewing deck — from a platform set 80 metres back into the sea, and some 212 metres from the building. To accommodate this throw distance 4.6-6.0:1 zoom lens were used.
With VLS’ servers providing uncompressed hi-def images, the projectors were firing onto a landscape measuring around 9,000 x 3000 pixels (with 220m high x 95m image size), in 16:9 aspect ratio, making it one of the largest displays ever.
Aside from the rock-steady, high-output projection, the Christie devices performed flawlessly, withstanding the extreme weather conditions, including wind-, sand- and thunder- storms.
As for the show itself, a total 17-minute long immersive HD projection sequence followed Kylie Minogue’s performance, interspersed with spectacular multicoloured pyrotechnics leading up to the grand finale.
As the hotel's fascia became swathed in the ascending computer-generated graphics, Atlantis gradually rose from the Arabian Sea with water cascading down the 103-metre-tall Royal Towers, as the fireworks ignited from the top of the hotel.
Summing up, Simon Ransom said, “This was one of the biggest and most challenging jobs I have undertaken. Other technologies included a 5.1 sound system from Delta Sound, rigging from Richard Estridge of Red Eye and fireworks from Grucci — with 98,000 strikes compared with 13,000 at the Beijing Olympics. Staging and lighting structures were provided by Gearhouse.
“The evening was an unbelievable success and the press coverage superseded expectations,” he said.