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The Pixel Revolution: Welcome to immersive video

A new technology is revolutionising today’s clubbing experience. We have all witnessed the explosion of LED on the market and in the UK at least, LED are predominantly used for illuminating walls or colour washing the front of bars. But LED is capable of so much more.
The latest trend that is taking premium European clubs by storm is the implementation of LED for stunning visuals effects. In some cases LED video is taking over the very architecture of buildings, dominating the ceiling or walls and offering the customer a dynamic optical feast. Take for example Justin Timberlake’s video, which stunned MTV viewers when he appeared to be enveloped by an LED box.

Lighting Effects Distribution would like to introduce you to the opportunities presented by using LED for this purpose and take you through the step-by-step process involved in installing the LED systems, using recognised UK venues as examples. Lighting Effects Distribution has a large portfolio of LED lighting and has designed and supplied lighting for some of the UK’s most advanced architectural and entertainment venues.

Many UK clubs have been experimenting with new LED technology, the most notable being Fire in Vauxhall; Halo Lighting designed and installed a system to cover the entire club wall and ceiling space. Many high profile London bars have also used this type of technology, including Kaberet Prophecy, the Cuckoo club and the Crystal rooms.
So how does this new technology work in your venue? Instead of having plasma screens as single and separate attention points, the new rule of the game is to have LED panels and video/plasma projections integrated into the design of the whole club. With an explosion of LED walls and fixtures and with the price of LED screens coming down, the possibilities are vast. Innovative clubs have been setting new standards for nightclub lighting, Ian Kirby, Managing Director of Lighting Effects Distribution, takes up the story: “We have seen a distinct shift away from just lighting areas; instead people are covering them in pixels (a pixel is a colour changing dot that makes up your TV screen). In one recent project, we proposed covering an unsightly ceiling of air-conditioning ducts and cables with pixels that are stretched across the ceiling on cables. Once the system is up and running, you can no longer see the mess above you, instead there’s a dynamic club ceiling which can animate in time to the music.”

Once you start applying your imagination to using graphics as a lighting effect, the possibilities for theming are endless.

Premier nightclubs in Europe turn to immersive video
The V.I.P. Room, Jean Roch’s famous restaurant and dance club in St Tropez, has proved what is possible with immersive LED video. The club is devoid of any lighting; instead, a visual ambience is created by projecting video onto eight 43” plasma screens and 42m2 of X-board LED screens. Tainted mirrors and reflective ceilings mean the visuals are repeated everywhere. This creates an immersive ambiance where images and colours have completely replaced traditional lighting. The visuals are triggered by a resident VJ using ArKaos DMX media. A flash text feature allows words and messages to move around the interior surfaces of the club, upon backgrounds images with dynamically changing colours.

The Mix club in Paris is another French club that has made video a central part of its clubbing experience. The club accommodates up to 2,000 people every night and attracts famous DJs such as David Guetta, Bob Sinclair and Erick Morillo, among others. It is a meeting point for French electronic music lovers but also sees Spanish, Italian and British clubbers on its dancefloors. The Mix club has an advanced installation comprising a total of one hundred automated projectors, several thousands of LEDs and two ArKaos VJ DMX media servers. The screens at the Mix club are used to project both video loops, live feeds from the dancefloor, communication or even used as stroboscopes or other light effects. Thanks to the very short latency between the console and the screens, each of the 16 layers can be triggered at the tip of a finger allowing instant access to any video or effect.

The growing demand from nightclubs and restaurants to immerse their guests in a complete visual ambiance is of great interest to suppliers in the industry, particularly the makers of media servers. Marco Hinic, founder and CEO of ArKaos, explains: “Obviously, providing the perfect solution to nightclubs and restaurants is both a challenge and a formidable opportunity. The creativity and ambition among innovative clubs is high and leaves little room for compromises. On the other hand, the operation side of the systems must be very easy to manage. We are proud to see that our ArKaos VJ DMX media server has already been the choice of many innovative and leading clubs, but obviously there are yet many more that are standing in line to convert to video.”

In the UK, many clubs are very strong on lighting, laser and video effects, but few have yet adopted the immersive visual experience. Those that have enjoyed the spectacle of Video Jocks working graphics, as opposed to just music, will appreciate the visual opportunities that this new technology could provide. But if the words ‘media server’ bring you out in a cold sweat, do not fear; you are not alone. In this booklet Lighting Effects Distribution will attempt to unravel the meaning behind media servers, explain what they do and show how they can be implemented at your venue along with LED panels to maximise the customer’s experience and ensure longevity for your club.

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