Laservision were recently engaged by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation to provide an opening event for their latest Mega Hotel and Casino in Singapore. Laservision looked to long time friend and colleague Colin Baldwin for inspiration and expertise in large-scale multimedia opening events. Colin and his team of lighting professionals produced the headlining attraction at the opening of the US$5.9 billion Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort.
Colin Baldwin takes us behind the scenes of this major event
When I first set sight on the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore earlier this year, I gasped at the sheer scale of the project and the many interesting facets of each and every building structure. Reaching up into the sky the impressive Sands Hotel towers, each of the three towers with individual features, curved and straight sheer-walls reaching 200m and floating on top – the jaw dropping Sands SkyPark occupying over 1.2 hectares of tropical oasis. This thing is big – big enough to park four and a half A380 Jumbo jets. – all this would be interesting to light I thought.
An eight lane highway separates the Sands Hotel from the Marina Bay waterfront buildings featuring Expo / MICE, Casino, countless shopping arcades, two world-class theatres and the inspirational Arts Science Museum, plus much more.
There were two main elements that I had to consider before completing the lighting design for Laservision’s grand opening event. Firstly, I knew I had the benefit of utilising fast-tracked lighting and laser equipment that would form part of the permanent system, and the second element was Laservision’s involvement in the re-design of some architectural lighting for several areas of the resort, which including the roofing over the Casino, MICE and theatres, the sheer-walls of the thre hotel towers, the SkyPark underbelly and the Arts Science Museum.
For several weeks from mid-February 2010, we conducted numerous lighting tests with the difficult task of working around construction workers, scaffolding, cranes, trucks and hundreds of boom lifts. Each and every day we would return to a lighting test site to find the area taken over by building materials or our access route cut-off. Navigating the 57 floors to the SkyPark sometimes took up to 2 hours waiting for an elevator and when we were lucky enough to jump into one, you had to squeeze in with 30+ workers, until the lift warned “lift overload”. Eventually the last few workers to get in were pushed out and then we were on our way.
Several suppliers were invited to demonstrate their product for the lighting tests, which included Hills SVL, Illumination Physics, ULA, with local support and labour being supported by the Showtec Group.
The vast concave roofing areas of the MICE, Casino & Theatres were to be treated with LED washlights. After testing some LED product, Laservision decided on the IP36 fixtures, which were installed on the MICE and Casino roofing just in time for the opening event.
For the 12 sheer-walls of the Sands Hotel towers we tested A&O 1200w ARC CMY washlights. I suggested we try the latest 3w LED fixtures currently emerging from Europe, and after some resistance and comments like “you must be kidding, LED lights won’t do the job” we tested the Anolis CitySkape Xtreme fixtures from ULA.
The Xtremes proved the best option given their twin-blades of 94 Luxeon K2 LEDs, overall brightness and selection of lens’s helped cope with the curves and height of the walls. I must admit I was a little apprehensive that LED wouldn’t cut it, but they did. Con Biviano from ULA told me “not to worry they will eat it” and he was right.
Up-lighting the Sands SkyPark was a major challenge as this was the chief architect, Moshe Safdie’s most favourite structure at MBS. His team of support architects advised us that the SkyPark reminded him of a ship travelling through the night. The existing lighting already installed by others did not do the SkyPark justice, so I suggested animated gobo effects to mimic water moving along the side of the SkyPark. The challenge was ‘where to light from? Level 55, just below the SkyPark was way too close and level 4, at the opposing Casino building across the road was over 200m away and on a very acute angle.
We set-up 2 typical 1200w moving head spot fixtures at level 4 on the Casino building and proceeded to view the results from the other side of Marina Bay, about 800m away. We were amazed at the brightness and clarity of the gobo effects, even at that distance.
After testing a number of 1200w and 1500w moving head fixtures we locked into the DTS XR3000 spots and Tempest Domes to protect them from the extreme weather conditions. To stop light hitting the tops of the three hotel towers and annoying houseguests, Andrew Winslade from Hills SVL designed special Gobo slots so light output would be masked where required.
Additional LED lighting will be installed at level 55 to further realise the chief architect’s dream of a ship floating atop of the three Sands Hotel towers.
At the beginning of June 2010 my team of Australian lighting technicians arrived in Singapore to start the bump-in. Equipment deployed for the opening event included 14 A&O Falcon 7k xenon searchlights, 18 Syncrolite 5k and 7k xenon searchlights, 14 DTS XR3000 moving head spots housed in Tempest domes, 36 CitySkape Xtreme LED washlights and to light the vast roofing over the casino, theatres and expo centre – 998 Illumination Physics LED washlights were installed. Seven high powered optically pumped Laservision Stella Rays- lasers, totalling more than 300 watts, were deployed along the water’s edge of Marina Bay.
All fixtures were programmed on a Grand MA2 console from a suite at the Fullerton Hotel directly across the bay. You can imagine my programmer, Ryan Marginson and I sipping Earl Grey tea in the afternoon.
Swedish designed Wireless Radio DMX transmitters and receivers were used to carry the 8 DMX universes 1km across Marina Bay to the resort. Local Singapore production company ‘Showtec’ were engaged to provide additional lighting equipment and crewing services.
I was very pleased with the outcome and proud of all my team. John Cashion, Pat Williams, Daryl “laserman” Bowen, Regan Hammond & Glen Bielenberg had to endure an extraordinary and difficult undertaking working on what was mostly a construction site up until the opening.
“Hats off to Colin Baldwin and his team for delivering a greater than expected show. An excellent world-class outcome,” commented Paul McCloskey, CEO & founder of Laservision. “Front page coverage in all local news media was testament to its being the defining vision for this official opening.”
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Personnel and equipment used on this grand opening
Produced by: Laservision
Project Director: Colin Baldwin
Event Manager: Shannon Brooks
Technical Production Manager: John Cashion
Head Lighting Technician: Patrick Williams
Grand MA Programmer: Ryan Marginson
Laser Technician: Robert Mcrostie
Lighting Technician / Laser Programmer: Daryl Bowen
Lighting Technicians: Regan Hammond, Glen Beilenberg
Production Assistant: Bianca Hill
Showtec Manager: Choony Yip ‘Weng’
Showtec Lighting Technicians: Boyd Yeo Thong, Toh Say Kiat, Bernard Lee
Laservision Singapore Office
Project Administrator: Collette Galeano
Logistics Manager: Jason Galeano
Project Manager / Permanent Show: Brett Starkey
- Sands SkyPark: Six – A&O Falcon 7k Xenon Searchlights; Fourteen – DTS XR3000 1200w Moving Heads Spots
- Arts, Science Museum: Five – A&O Falcon 7k Xenon Searchlights
- Events Plaza : Four – A&O Falcon 7k Xenon Searchlights; Eighteen 7k & 5k Syncrolites; Three – RGB & Four – Stella-Ray Laser Systems
- Casino & MICE Roofing: Nine Hundred & Ninety Eight – IP36 LED Washlights
- Sands Hotel Tower Walls: Thirty Six – CitySkape Xtreme LED Washlights
- Show Control: Grand MA2 Full & Grand MA 2 Ultralite; Eight – Wireless Radio DMX systems
Special thanks to Showtec Singapore for their technical support.