Bubble Theatre - City of Dreams
The newly opened City of Dreams complex in Macau comprises of several key areas that required a sophisticated lighting control network. These areas include the sites iconic landmark, the Bubble Theatre, the Main Gaming Floors, the Ray of Light sculptures, the Virtual Aquarium and the external lighting to the Bubble. Artistic Licence Asia, working with Ptarmigan Consulting Ltd of Hong Kong, created the integrated lighting control network across all areas overcoming a multitude of restrictions and requirements along the way.
The Bubble Theatre
The majority of work centres on the Bubble Theatre, where the 360 multi-media show, the Dragons Treasure, involves a wealth of video, animation and lighting technology across a variety of areas. Two extensive control networks underpin the show - one controlling 60 Art-Net universes of LEDs that form part of the huge projection surface on the Bubbles domed roof. A second network of 55 Art-Net universes controls the moving lights and non-screen LEDs. Main control is via two media servers - a grandMA2 replay unit and Green Hippo Hippotizer - with an Artistic Licence Art-Net system merging the data streams from the two at the node end - a standard feature for Art-Net.
Art-Net was chosen for the project as it is a proven technology, capable of meeting all the varying requirements of this massive integration system, as illustrated in the system diagram opposite.
Ethernet Distribution Network
The first consideration was that the system should operate across a standard high-speed Ethernet distribution network. This allowed great flexibility whilst reducing costs since the many remote and diverse areas within the complex could be connected using standard Cat5 cable; only small amounts of the more expensive DMX512 cable were needed to connect the Art-Net nodes and splitters to the fixtures.
Unicast v Broadcast
Secondly, careful consideration was given to network speeds and layout - significant factors in a system of this size. The City of Dreams network of 115 universes was in danger of swamping the Ethernet switches with data if Broadcast signals were used. Art-Net II was therefore brought in so data could be Unicast to the individual nodes, significantly reducing traffic across the network.
The third requirement was that of data merging. The server controlling the 7-channel RGB fixtures embedded in the floor had lamp libraries for only 3-channel devices, so the second media server was brought in to control the additional 4 channels. This was done using several Art-Net to DMX converters to merge the two streams of DMX to their output using either HTP or LTP, both of which are present as standard features in all Art-Net converters.
To convert all of the Art-Net data to DMX, a selection of Art-Net to DMX converters were used, the main one being a Data-Lynx O/P which can convert up to 12 DMX universes and be connected directly to an Ethernet network. The individual outputs from the Data-Lynx O/P, each of which has the capability of merging two streams, were connected to Iso-Split RDM splitters and the data then relayed to the fixtures.
The biggest challenge was the four sea-themed chandeliers that fly in and out during a show. Data cables were neither practical nor permissible in this situation so standard wireless access points were used. These were compatible with standard Ethernet equipment with the added advantage of being easy to source. Each chandelier carried both LEDs - controlled by the Hippotizer - and strobes - controlled by the grandMA2 – the Art-Net data streams from which were merged into a single DMX universe using Net-Lynx O/P converters, and then fed into the fixtures.
Taking the Art-Route
An additional complication presented itself when it was discovered that the wireless access points were unable to handle Broadcast data correctly which resulted in data loss. Art-Route software was used to overcome this problem by converting Broadcast data to Unicast, thus reducing the quantity of data routed through the wireless access points.
In total 35 Down-Lynx, 18 Net-Lynx O/P, 20 Candle-Power LED controllers, 2 Rail-Split RDM (Bubble Exterior), 2 Rail-Pipe, 4 DMX-Fix Splitters and 2 Light-Switch units were used with a further 2 Data-Lynx O/P, 13 Iso-Split RDM and Art-Route Software being employed in the control room.
- Art-Net Distribution (60+ Universes)
- Complex Data Merging
- Art-Net over Wi-Fi
- Broadcast / Uni-Cast Data
- Localised Trigger Points
- Art-Route Re-Directing Data
February 2010. City of Dreams - Bubble Theatre
One of the most exciting projects to come out of Macau recently is City of Dreams, where visitors will find the Bubble Theatre. Download »