While Rome has the Trevi Fountain and Vegas has the Bellagio water feature, this summer New Jersey went one better with a water spectacular that falls somewhere between a music show and a circus. We're not talking two guys on the Internet with some diet soda and a packet of Mentos here.
The Show at The Pier at Caesars on the Atlantic City Boardwalk is billed as an immersive experience and is so interactive you can almost, but not quite, get wet. Designed to evoke both the ocean outside and the activity within The Pier, the fountain is situated in the three-story atrium of this high-end mall. Produced by Thinkwell Design and Production of Burbank, The Show features a unique articulated rain curtain, two mist systems, almost 200 light fixtures, and a sound system most concert venues would be proud to call their own.
A 19,000-gallon reflecting pool contains 149 nozzles each lit by a Color Kinetics C-Splash 2 submersible fixture. Sixty feet above the pool, two circular trusses support 16 Organic Lighting Systems LED wash fixtures and 16 Martin MAC 700 and 2000 Profiles, throwing patterns on to the rain curtains. Lighting designer Michael Finney used an MA Lighting grandMA console to run both the lighting and fountain choreography. He gives programmers Mark Matzakanin and David Mollner designer credit because, he says, “The lighting and fountains are so integrated that you can't split the programming of those apart.”
The rain curtains, anchored 55' above the fountain, were created by Thinkwell in collaboration with David Dodd at Fantastic Fountains. The inner curtain comprises a circle of 96 individually controlled nozzles that, when turned on and off in rapid succession, create shapes and spirals of water. The unique, articulated rain curtain wraps around the inner ring in a larger circle cut into four sections on a tracking system that opens up to create effects like the parting of the Red Sea. Project manager Hank Meiman says, “It can mess with your mind when you are watching it; to spectators, it looks like the whole water feature is shifting.” John Gitzy at Inter America Stage took care of the rigging and automation.
During the day, the fountain performs a choreographed seven-minute act featuring dance music from around the world composed by Lou Fagenson, and at night, the performance switches to a slightly sultrier show accompanied by the song “Fever,” but it can also interact with its audience in a series of games. Under the direction of Tom Vannucci, Thinkwell collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center and Scott Snibbe at Sona Research to create a camera tracking system that gives the plumes some personality. The tracking system can identify up to five passersby and “follow” them with plumes of water until the chosen spectator responds and is rewarded with a mini show. Audience members can also interact with the show by grouping themselves near a particular color and making the lighting mirror their choices. And because the plumes can shoot upwards of 50', and the rain curtain falls from the ceiling, spectators are close to the action at all three levels of the atrium. The experience is further intensified by a 36kW sound system (with 96 speakers from Meyer Sound and Tannoy) designed by Vikram Kirby and Thinkwell senior sound designer François Bergeron, formerly of Cirque du Soleil.