Design for the booth for Atronic Group, a global provider of casino gaming equipment and services, at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) began in March last year, eight months prior to load-in. From the start, the concept for the booth design was the same: make visitors feel like they are visiting a casino, not an exhibit. As anyone who visits or exhibits at LDI knows, it is no small task to create a whole other world on an exhibit floor, especially with competing noise, entertainment, and lighting; convincing a target audience to leave the aisle and enter the confines of one booth is a challenge.

Having partnered on many earlier projects, including G2E 2006, Sherry Lockhart-Harker of Freeman — formerly AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions — was notified early on that Atronic wanted the booth designed on a grander scale than last year. She turned, therefore, to lighting designer John Leonard to bring the booth to life.

Leonard's challenge was to work within the budget to light three main areas with three very different needs: a client meeting area with basic lighting; a lounge area in which clients could relax and take a break from the hectic pace of the show floor; and the main event, a gaming area that showed off the latest machines. It took six revisions to keep up with the changing product displays, and efficiency remained the core of the design.

The load-in required a rigging crew to start around 6am, with the lighting crew, led by Vince Suhr, arriving at 1pm and working until midnight in order to get the majority of the hang completed. The rig had to be flying so that the myriad furniture pieces, counters, scenery, and, of course, slot machines could arrive and be placed over the course of the next two days. Once the deco arrived, the daylong focus and two days of programming commenced.

To maintain the illusion of having left the show floor behind, three large diameter circles of spandex created a ceiling over the slot machine displays and lounge. These were suspended from truss circles and became a main palette on which light was used in creating the day-to-night effects. In the original plan, High End Systems DL.2s were planned to show literal images of the sky from dusk to dawn in a 90-minute show that would take the visitor through a day in the life of the slot machines. However, as the concept evolved, more literal scenes were ruled out and, instead, a mix of Martin MAC 2000 Wash and Performance units and a couple dozen Vari-Lite VL3500 units were used. Realistic images of sky scenes were replaced with interpretations of dawn, midday, and night skies. Visitors were treated to an hour-and-a-half of programmed cues to take them from dawn to dusk and back again.

While the sky show was the lighting highlight of the booth, this was just one element that stayed intact from concept through production. In addition to these effects, atmospheric light was needed to illuminate the walkways and lounge area, with the goal of creating a relaxed party atmosphere. The products on display — the slots — produce their own light and are sold based on their ability to attract passers-by. Therefore, very little light was actually directed at the machines, but it was more about the ability of the team to create an environment that supported the slots. Leonard relied on a number of “chandeliers,” vertically hung 8' sections of 12" box truss lit internally with Color Kinetics ColorBlast 6 units, and High End Studio PC Beams. These, in collaboration with a number of ETC Source Four ellipsoidals and PARs, created the ambient lighting for the lounge and pathways circulating around the banks of slot machines. Similar instrumentation was used for the lounge with a mix of moving gobo effects to match the movement present in the rest of the booth, and the rig ran from a Flying Pig Systems Hog iPC Console.

The project was a success on all fronts, including the most important and hardest to achieve: transporting visitors into another environment. Even surrounded by the Las Vegas strip, visitors found it easy to start playing the new slot machines, immersed in a mini Vegas-within-Vegas on the show floor. Too bad those machines were programmed to always win and never pay out!

The decorator, lighting, and AV vendor for the Atronic Group booth was Freeman, and the lighting programmer was Heather Ring.