enLIGHTenment – The Lighting Industry Trade Publication

Technology Is The Star

MGM COTAI, the latest addition to the MGM portfolio in Macau, is a $3.4 billion integrated resort that is redefining how people experience art and entertainment in China.

MGM COTAI recently debuted a first-of-its-kind entertainment experience through the Spectacle and MGM Theater, Asia’s first dynamic theater with resident shows. The facility is also home to a unique art collection of 300+ pieces of contemporary art with a theme of bridging the East and West, tradition and technology. In addition, it houses one of the largest permanent art collections in Macau. As further enticement, the resort offers a creative culinary destination with dining concepts curated by world-renowned celebrity chefs.

Tasked with planning and configuring this 2,000-seat, adaptive venue to provide “a multi-sensory experience unlike anything before” was the full-service McLaren Engineering Group, which has 11 offices worldwide.

At a gaming event, the theater is transformed into a different configuration highlighted by luminous fixtures.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature at the MGM Theater at COTAI is what is described as the world’s largest – and reconfigurable – indoor LED screen spanning 10,000 square feet. As the video wall design engineer, McLaren provided the conceptual sketches, technical specifications, LED layouts, and engineering design drawings.

“This is a magnificent venue, with adaptive theater space capable of transforming for a performance or program, offering first-rate HD viewing.” —William B. Gorlin

Based on the design of Scéno Plus in Montreal, Quebec, the theater features a massive, multi-axis, 28 million-pixel Ultra-HD video wall that can transform the space in up to 10 configurations for dramas, musical theater, fashion shows, talk shows, and more. McLaren Engineering Group engineered the wall system using the team’s in-depth knowledge of theatrical stage machinery, infrastructure, and rigging systems.

“This is a magnificent venue, with adaptive theater space capable of transforming for a performance or program, offering first-rate HD viewing,” says William B. Gorlin, P.E., S.E., VP & Entertainment Division Chief at McLaren. “The space, and its innovative design, is now a top attraction in Macau.”

At 9,700 square feet – the size of three tennis courts – the 4K LED screen contains 12 independent, major axes of large, moving components with on-board video screens. Outside of the video technology, the theater’s stage, forestage seating area, and lighting are also mobile — a feature that appeals to many theater productions and programs desiring a multi-sensory experience.

“The complex design includes seams between the moving and static LED screens that are just 2 mm (a penny is 1.52 mm thick), which allows for virtually seamless imagery,” Gorlin explains. “The scale of this design has yet to be rivaled. The entire video screen in its widest configuration produces immersive surround imagery, from which pieces and parts can be moved to alter the space.”

McLaren’s intricate engineering design also includes a “mid-air” engagement system that allows large pivoting wall sections to meet with a third flown section to create an entirely different video image surface, compared with the immersive video surround surface.

A behind-the-scenes look at building the video wall.

Located within Macau’s bustling casino scene, the MGM Theater at COTAI, has the capability to host multiple resident shows simultaneously and will help pioneer the usage of “mass virtual reality” by reflecting audience reactions onto the LED wall.

“The MGM Theater at COTAI brings the future of events to Macau, today,” says Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International and Chairperson and Executive Director of MGM China Holdings Limited. “MGM is synonymous with entertainment and we have taken our deep knowledge and incorporated it with cutting-edge technology to create a setting that will redefine and elevate the way our guests experience entertainment.”

Other global firms involved include the Hong Kong-based Siu Yin Wai & Associates, Ltd. (building structural engineer), Durham, N.C.-based Simulation Technologies, Inc. (technical coordinator), Scéno Plus, of Montreal, Canada (theater consultant), Show Canada Industries, of Laval, Canada (specialty contractor), Gala Paco, of Montreal, Canada (stage lift vendor), Sandman Associates, of High Point, N.C. (lift installation consultant) and the Los Angeles firms Electrosonic (audio/visual engineering) and VER (LED vendor). 

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