Motel 6 Leaves The Light On In Vegas

Dale Sahlin and Chaos Visual Productions create unprecedented collage with 56 DL.3s
January 25, 2013

For its 50th anniversary in 2012, Motel 6 began using the motto, "50 Years, the Light's Still On" and introduced an innovative retrospective commercial named Metamorphosis, which takes the viewer on a classic family road trip that spans 50 years. But in October, the hotel chain pulled out all the stops for their management with a brand-wide convention in Las Vegas. Held in the Marquee Ballroom in the MGM Grand, the closing 'wrap' party featured an unprecedented 56 High End Systems DL3s used to create seamless imagery throughout all four corners of the expansive space, as well as TechnoArc, Technospot and Intellaspot fixtures, all supplied through Chaos Visual Productions.

The event producer of the Motel 6 anniversary celebration was Bishop McCann; Dale Sahlin, the company's Director of Production, created the stunning 360 degree projection design used to highlight specific era's in Motel 6's history. "Motel 6 is a fairly iconic brand," says Dale, "and we were there to visually reinforce their message that 'the light is still on'. We handled several different events including their general sessions and breakouts, but their grand party on the final night was the most spectacular. I wrapped the entire ballroom in seamless screens totaling 1000 feet - about 250 feet of projection surface on each side. We used 56 DL3s all mapped together to make one large image all the way around the room. All the content was custom generated for that massive surface and themed for various eras in Motel 6's 50 years of business." As each new era was introduced, the music, dancers, staff attire and menu changed accordingly.

Sahlin says the truss structure required for the Marquee Ballroom was 'massive', with over 3000 feet of truss used. "The grid itself was quite large," he explains, "and we used a variety of the latest High End fixtures for coverage - 18 each of the Intellaspots, Technobeams and TechnoArcs for floor lighting, patterns and colors, and all over the place. We ran the show with three Full Boar consoles, and each DL had its own universe, as we used the full nine layers on each fixture, so it was pretty massive."

"Chaos Visual Productions supplied all the lighting and DL3s and did a great job," Dale continues. "I worked with Fred Waldman, Mike Hanson and JJ Wulf, who were all phenomenal to work with. I built this thing in my head, sold it to the client and then it became 'who's going to provide me with all these DL3s?' I went to Chaos, and they really helped me on the DL3 end. We had no failures, which is pretty amazing with that many lights."

Rather than using pre-viz, the team built all graphics and custom animation work onsite. "Our goal was to run test files in Chaos' shop," adds Dale, "but we didn't get the final artwork until we were on site, so for the first two days we loaded content. Luckily we had a week onsite, which really helped."

Dale has been employing DL3 panels on his corporate shows for many years, and previously with DL1s and DL2s. He says, "I've used DL3s for so long and trust them so much; I believe it is a rock solid product. The onboard software works very well, and with the 4D keystoning, they line up so nice and quick. You save so much time using these versus projection, and that's reflected in the cost. In an event like this I can save the client a great deal of money by using DL3s, but still give them a very similar look."

Sahlin's moving light operator, MJ Maltbie, explains how automated lighting was blended in with the projection wrap in the MGM: "Basically we used Intellaspots, TechnoArcs and Technospots all over the room to provide the house and mood lighting for the party; it was a great success. The Intellaspot is a very versatile light with a great zoom range. I was able to get a lot of different looks out of it, the gobo wheels are very versatile, and there's lots of brightness for the wattage. And with the battery backup, we could get everything addressed before the fixture was up in the air, which was a cool deal. I found the optics to be very impressive, and the detail in the gobo wheels and focus was all just great."

He adds, "The TechnoArcs were also great workhorses, with their ability to perform both as hard edge and soft edge fixtures. They're very bright, with good saturation in the colors, and also very fast, so it was fun working with them. I was also really impressed with the size and brightness of the Technospot fixtures. They're just super useful, and with their modular components, also very easy to maintain."

The evening was a resounding success, and in the end, Sahlin and the rest of the creative team at Bishop McCann orchestrated a truly memorable event for the owners and management of Motel 6, leaving no question that 'the light's still on'.