The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: The Venue at Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, Ind.
Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez
When you're gambling, you want all the luck you can get. That's why when Harrah's Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., opened the doors to its new entertainment theater, The Venue, it chose Aug. 8, 2008, as its opening day. Because of the large Asian population in the area, this floating casino wanted to invite guests to the entertainment center on a meaningful day, and in Chinese culture, the triple-eight date represents wealth or prosperity. However, pulling off the full lineup of events scheduled in the $500 million theater has nothing to do with luck. That success is due to the slew of inhouse audio- and video-production technologies that were installed in the space.
On opening week, The Venue hosted such names as Bette Midler, the Smashing Pumpkins, and James Blunt back to back. To meet The Venue's demanding opening-week acts and its ongoing schedule, the 2,500-seat, 90,000-square-foot theater needed to have a setup that could go from basic audio needs for sporting events to full-scale concerts in a matter of hours. The Venue's production systems were designed by Montreal-based Scéno Plus — the brains behind The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — with installation by PSX of Covington, La. The theater was installed with two Yamaha PM5D-RH digital consoles; one Yamaha DME24N, one DME8o-ES, and two DME64N digital mixing engine controllers for EtherSound capabilities; and a Meyer Sound line-array system.
The consoles have helped production show crews that also rely on Yamaha PM5D-RH consoles to reduce the equipment load they bring to the stage for each event. Instead, they can use The Venue's inhouse consoles, saving time and labor. Production Manager Scott Flaws says traveling engineers can easily load mixing setups into the console on CompactFlash cards, and he emphasizes that this capability is especially useful when the show is behind schedule, allowing the Flash card to provide an automatic mix for artists.
The system needed to be streamlined and flexible to host not only concerts on the theater's stage, but also boxing or mixed martial arts matches. To this end, the theater's center floor seats are telescopic — allowing the production crew to fold the seats out of sight with a touch of a button to create an open space in the middle of the theater to accommodate a boxing ring or a circular ring. More seats can be folded down to clear the entire floor space for 100 tables in a dinner-theater-style configuration.
“The way the whole system is deployed, there's not a bad seat in the house — sonically or visually,” Flaws says. “The audio rig doesn't visually impact on any looks of grandeur.”
To handle video content, The Venue was equipped with three Digital Projection International Lightning 30isx+ projectors, which are combined with lighting to create a wide range of interactive special effects, and three Draper Paragon 18'×24' screens. With a quick lens change, the same projectors can project to a custom Lesna 30'×56' screen for events such as the casino's annual Super Bowl party. A Ross Vision QMD/X series digital switcher provides video control.
Completing the full inhouse production suite are two JVC GY-HD250U handheld cameras and four Panasonic AW-E860N convertible cameras that can be fitted with zoom lenses. Footage of the events hosted at The Venue can be captured with these cameras, and then the facility's production team can efficiently produce DVDs of those events, adding in graphics and effects using Apple Final Cut Studio 2 on a quad-core Apple Mac Pro workstation.
Perhaps the most elaborate touch of the installation is the wireless Toshiba Portégé M700 tablet that provides wireless control of the mixing consoles or the lighting system from anywhere. Throughout the house are repeaters to handle the staggering wireless demand.
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