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Behind the Work: A Series of Joyfully Psychedelic Short Films for the Biggest LED Screens in North America


Resorts World Las Vegas’ Alana Litavis and Digital Kitchen’s Ally Malloy speak to LBB’s Addison Capper about an innovative visual experience that’s headed to the Las Vegas Strip

Behind the Work: A Series of Joyfully Psychedelic Short Films for the Biggest LED Screens in North America

Digital Kitchen, a member of Sid Lee's creative community, has launched a series of whimsically psychedelic short films for display at Resorts World Las Vegas, the first new major development in Las Vegas for 10 years (and the launch spot of which we covered here as one of the world's first large-scale virtual production commercial shoots).
The joyfully crafted films will be on display as exclusive 'shows' on innovative LED screens that are built into the exterior of the hotel. They are some of the largest LED screens in all of north america. The films range from a psychedelic journey into space featuring an animated feline named Cheddar, an illustrated excursion across the globe to visit the other Resorts World locations, and a surreal motion-capture love story told through dance.
Intrigued to know more about the intricacies of creating for such large screens and tantalising visitors to one of the most saturated tourist areas on the planet, LBB's Addison Capper spoke with Alana Litavis, vice president of marketing at Resorts World Las Vegas, and Ally Malloy, head of digital & experiential at Digital Kitchen.


LBB> The launch commercial for Resorts World Las Vegas was one of the first large-scale virtual production shoots in the world (which we covered here). Now you're doing something equally innovative with animation and huge LED screens. Is innovative advertising like this something that you are consciously pursuing?


Alana> To clarify, GLOW is a one-of-a-kind video content and multimedia experience that will bring the property’s technologically advanced architecture – including one of the largest exterior LED building displays in the United States – to life. The creative content will include 10 unique show capsules and five interstitial visuals, seven of which were designed and produced by Digital Kitchen, displayed across Resorts World Las Vegas’s distinctive LED surfaces, ranging from the 100,000-square-foot West Tower display to the iconic 50-foot diameter interior globe.
The content was built to entertain and attract millions of visitors who come to Las Vegas each year. We saw the exterior LEDs and video globe as unique canvases and wanted to create a range of engaging digital artwork for our guests and the Strip’s onlookers to enjoy.

LBB>  In a way, I imagine the Las Vegas Strip is one of the most crowded hotel markets in the world. Many of those hotels are so iconic and famous too. How did this influence that marketing strategy for launching Resorts World Las Vegas?

Alana> As the first resort to be built on the Strip in over a decade, Resorts World Las Vegas had a natural advantage to create the most technologically advanced property in the city, full of new experiences simply because today’s technology didn’t exist 10 years ago. With over 200,000-square-feet of digital LED screens throughout the property, we have a feature that no other property on the Strip has, and we knew we had to build an attraction around it. We’ve really leaned into being known as ‘the property with the big screens’.


LBB> Tell me about this project specifically - what was the starting point? Was there a brief you presented to Digital Kitchen?

Alana> GLOW was designed to be more of an attraction and digital art experience than a marketing campaign. We had the idea to build a variety of ‘shows’ that would translate simultaneously on the exterior LED screens as well as our 50-foot diameter video globe. Our team presented Digital Kitchen with a variety of themed mood boards that were developed during internal brainstorms. The Digital Kitchen team put their own spin on each concept – taking our ideas to the next level.

LBB> Ally, what was Digital Kitchen’s starting point for this project? Was there a brief from Resorts World Las Vegas?

Ally> Yes, and it was the best sort of brief you can get as a creative team. Resorts World provided us with broad content categories that they wanted us to explore. From there, Alana and the team encouraged us to be bold and daring with our vision and how we could bring the shows to life as something that really stands apart on the Strip.


LBB> The imagery in the films is pretty out there - what was your inspiration when it came to developing the overall look and feel of the film?

Ally> For the five hero GLOW shows, we started with defining our goal: develop unique musically-driven shows that would transport guests into unexpected and surrealist worlds and that aligned with RWLV’s vision - ‘Stay Fabulous’. We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously - after all, it’s Vegas. With some of the most enormous screens in North America that can be seen even as you fly into Las Vegas airport, we knew the shows should offer a unique and defining voice for the hotel and should stand out on the Strip by creating bespoke storytelling sequences.
Alana> Las Vegas is synonymous with full sensory overload. With the glimmering neon lights and unique attractions, it’s not easy to capture people’s attention, but we weren’t afraid to push the envelope when it came to being ‘out-there’. During the development phase, I was always excited to see Digital Kitchen’s next presentation – there were even a few concepts where I truly felt that they were reading my mind, which makes the creative process easier and is usually hard to find.  

LBB> There are narratives intertwined in the imagery - what is happening and what inspired these stories?

Ally> Vegas is a playground for all types of visitors, and our shows needed to reflect that. We worked with RWLV to develop each show’s theme and then further defined each story’s narrative and visual style, landing on our five shows: 24k Magic, Dance Story, Vintage Vegas, Wanderlust, and Neon Space. 
With various themes, the shows needed a connective thread, Vegas and its diverse allure. 24k Magic is a transformative journey about Vegas’ luxury and glamour told across various mesmerising vignettes. Vintage Vegas ties to nostalgia - imbuing the hotel with a sense of prestige by celebrating Vegas’ past through vintage collages. Dance Story is a tale of Vegas romance as told through two protagonists and their friends. Wanderlust takes guests across the world into idyllic locations - calling attention to Vegas as a prominent and worldly destination. Neon Space, for the uninhibited, is Cheddar’s transportive psychedelic journey into inter-dimensional space. 
Alana> Our vision was to not just create ambient content, but to have each piece tell a story. Our team worked collaboratively with Digital Kitchen to develop the storylines - some being more whimsical and imaginative like a cat’s journey through space, and others being historical like the story of vintage Las Vegas.


LBB> Who did you work with on the animation / production?


Ally> All of the animation and production was developed by our in-house team combined with a few excellent artists that we brought on specifically for the project. For one of our most technically complex shows, Dance Story, we worked with a fantastic motion capture studio - House of Moves - and the amazing choreographer Galen Hooks and dancers, Zavion Brown and Taja Riley.

LBB> Tell us about the production process! There are a lot of different techniques and stuff happening in the shows.

Ally> Exactly. While tonally each GLOW show has an underlying thematic tie of surrealism, they all have their own unique and distinct visual style with an individual flair. Neon Space, in which a cat named Cheddar is transported from planet earth into psychedelic inter-dimensional space, combines cel animation and 3D animation. Dance Story utilises custom choreographed motion capture of two dancers that are then multiplied and brought into 3D, creating a bespoke cast of over 25+ characters. Vintage Vegas celebrates nostalgia by bringing to life vintage Vegas photography in a cut-out stop motion style.

LBB> And tell us about the actual in-person experience and the LED screens they're being shown on.

Ally> The GLOW shows span some of the largest screens in North America. We knew seeing them in person was the best way to help make some key creative decisions. The West Tower screen, a 100,000 square foot LED wall on the west-facing facade of the resort and interrupted with guest room window cutouts, originally had much simpler ambient content. In-person, the screen was actually clearer than we anticipated, allowing for more key storytelling moments than originally planned. The street-level Zouk screen at 10mm pitch and 17,000 square feet really became the focal point for our story. Since the screen sits at a corner intersection, viewing it on-site allowed us not only to dial in the correct look and motion but also to determine the best viewing angle for our composition layouts. The interior globe screen at 50’ in diameter was perhaps the trickiest. It’s a mirrored screen so any black on the screen becomes 100% reflective. We reworked some of the creative to define where moments of black felt more acceptable than others. 

LBB> How does creating for huge screens like this influence the creative and production process?

Ally> From a creative point of view, we pushed ourselves to move away from passive, ambient tonal environments to create engaging structured narratives built across the three massive exterior screens and the three-story globe screen inside RWLV. Each screen is its own separate canvas that offers a different storytelling moment, yet -  like a triptych - all three work in tandem to tell a wider story. The Zouk Screen, at street level, is our hero narrative while the West and East Towers offer more abstract views of each scene or even different perspectives. Our globe show creates an even more intimate view that almost seems teased from the outside. From a production process standpoint, when working with such large-scale screens movement can easily become an issue. Too much motion creates nausea and detracts so we needed to strike a balance between well-paced visuals and layered narratives-driven sequences.

LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?

Ally> One of the trickiest components when working with large format and high-resolution screens are always rendering, pre-visualisation, and previewing. It’s three minutes of pure animation at enormous resolutions, so planning is key. We needed to land on our structure and design choices with confidence before jumping into animation. Creatively, getting our music tracks locked provided the crux of structure and framework for many of our narrative beats. Technically, we needed to preview our animations before finalising them. No matter how great our previsualisation mockups looked on screen, nothing quite compared to the QA process of seeing it in person and finding what works and what doesn’t. We traveled to Vegas for several onsite visits to test lots of work-in-progress content adjusting our visuals in tone/colour and movement and making sure a lot of our visual tricks worked.
Alana> All of the digital canvases are not only different sizes and shapes but have non-traditional specs, so we had to adapt the content for each individual screen and make sure to keep both the creative and story cohesive. There were many reviews and testing sessions to make sure we got it just right.

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Genres: Animatics

Categories: Hotels, Travel

Sid Lee LA, Fri, 21 Jan 2022 15:59:07 GMT