Montreal’s XYZ Cultural Technology, famous for its extraordinary audiovisual integration projects, was tasked with the technical design and programming of a gigantic immersive installation for promoter Meraas along Dubai’s City Walk.
To design, supply and program a control system for a series of multimedia shows broadcast on an unprecedented scale—that was the mandate multidisciplinary studio Float4 gave XYZ Cultural Technology. The project makes use of 34 projectors, 300 lighting features, 4 motorized water-screens and 30 LED screens comprising 21 different formats to create this multimedia extravaganza on a surface equal to 12 American football fields. To top it off, all the elements were to be connected by automated communication systems and had to operate 24/7 in an arid outdoor environment. A total of 33 video servers sending 100 million pixels of digital content, 7,000 metres of fibre optics and 33,000 metres of video cable were used to bring the dazzling multimedia shows along City Walk to life.
A colossal undertaking
Dubai’s City Walk is an 85,700-square metre commercial district. This vast pedestrian zone boasts designer stores, beauty salons, fine dining, entertainment and public art, making Dubai a premier urban lifestyle destination. Promoter Meraas called on Float4 to create the content, programming strategy and technology infrastructure of City Walk’s public spaces. It is the world’s largest multimedia experience within a retail setting. XYZ Cultural Technology’s experts designed and produced a robust system that allows continuous, perfectly synchronized operation of all the installation’s elements. XYZ is also operating and maintaining the system for its first year of operation.
The immense broadcasting and projection surfaces of varying dimensions, together with the specific format requirements of each medium, added to the project’s complexity. Beyond the considerable technical challenge this posed for XYZ’s specialists, the main difficulty was the liaison between the construction team and the various subcontractors, who hailed from ten different countries. “The contractors and installers were each delivering their part of the contract—building the structure, providing lighting, loudspeakers, projectors—but no one had been designated as a main contractor to oversee the work site, hugely complicating coordination efforts,” explains Éric Cyr, partner at XYZ Cultural Technology and technical director for the project. “XYZ and Float4 took matters in hand and organized everyone involved to make sure the elements were properly coordinated and integrated. We literally orchestrated the work site!”
In the end, the two companies’ strengths proved complementary, and the result has not disappointed. The fully automated, continuous broadcasting of the content designed by Float4 results in a totally immersive experience. “The technical challenge of producing an installation on this scale was considerable, and our partners at XYZ Cultural Technology had the patience and attention to detail required to bring our vision of the final product to life,” said Alexandre Simionescu, co-founder of Float4.