Vivid, Las Vegas



Vivid features regal colors, "sinuous" banquettes and go-go holograms (seen here in reflection).

As naughty as you can get…with your clothes on.

By John Landers

Virtual go-go dancers cavort across the bar, the light-emitting wall pulsates sensuously to the beat, and some very real girls are getting frisky on the crowded dancefloor. Welcome to Vivid at Las Vegas’ The Venetian.

Yes, Vivid, as in Van Nuys, Cali.-based Vivid Entertainment Group, the world’s leading adult film studio. In a city full of over-the-top, sybaritic nightspots, this spankin’ new club has quickly become the center of attention, mostly because of what it is, but partly because of what it isn’t.

“We didn’t want to do the obvious,” explains Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment. “We’ve been approached by many different people to do gentlemen’s clubs, not only in Las Vegas, but all over the country. When we had this opportunity to join up with Ark [New York-based Ark Restaurants Corporation] and do a nightclub at The Venetian, that was just much more interesting to us.”

Due to its location within The Venetian Hotel Resort Casino complex, Vivid is a strictly R-rated nightclub. The Nevada Gaming Commission wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither, it seems, would the Venetian, Ark Restaurants or Vivid Entertainment. “It’s just great to be able to have a real club at a real hotel,” says Hirsch.

“Sinuous” Banquettes
To realize the Vivid vision, Ark brought in Julia Roth Design, a New York-based firm with extensive high-end hospitality experience, including Rum Jungle at Mandalay Bay in Vegas, and Jack Rose steakhouse in New York. Roth herself was immediately enthused about the project. “It’s a sexy space,” she notes, “and there was a lot of potential for that room to be high-energy and even sexier.”

Inspired by the Vivid theme, the styling of The Venetian and the club’s strategic location overlooking the Vegas strip, Roth conjured a bold design for the 9,000-square-foot room that’s curvaceous and cozy in all the right places. Controlled sight lines and a lack of right angles contribute to the venue’s intimate feel.
The color scheme is a regal blend of violet, burgundy and rich wood tones. “We used dark and fuzzy wall coverings,” Roth says. “What’s compelling is this isn’t the typical black box.” Furniture was carefully chosen to complete the opulent effect. “The lounge is sort of a pod with these sinuous banquettes,” she says. “It offers you lots of points of view of the room.”

But the best part, according to Roth, is that “the design isn’t what you expect. There are no dancing poles. It isn’t a cliché.” The timeless interior also features some uniquely 21st-century elements, such as intelligent LED walls and seemingly 3-D video projections. “The design is really a backdrop to the technology,” she says.

(clockwise from above) The curtained-off "pod" lounge; patrons enjoy "the Vivid lifestyle"; a dreamgirl in TransFilm; a Vivid girl in flesh.

“Bouncing” Holograms
The most prominent application of technology in Vivid is its para-holographic video projection system, conceived and installed by Barney Kaelin, president of Los Angeles-based Laser Magic. The system relies on TransFilm, a thin plastic sheeting not unlike Saran wrap which acts as a projection surface. When the TransFilm is sandwiched between two sheets of glass, it becomes a TransScreen.  The glass keeps the delicate film straight, flat and protected.

“True holograms don’t do what people expect from seeing science fiction movies, where they’re life-sized, full-color, walking, talking projections,” says Kaelin. “We’ve got that image burned into our minds, that this technology is out there somewhere; that there’s a machine you can plug into the wall and get Princess Leia. The closest you can get to that look is through para-holographic projection onto a TransScreen. We’re creating the illusion of a hologram using depth cues that trick the brain into thinking that what you’re seeing is three-dimensional.”

The effect is certainly entertaining, especially given the chosen content. “You have dancing girls bouncing around all over the nightclub,” says Vivid’s general manager, Peter Sgroi. “From the reflection of the mirrors, they get shot up onto the walls, the ceilings, up against the bar, everywhere.” The illusion is difficult to explain, but easy to appreciate. “The fact that the image is surrounded by black, that you see past it, that you see real stuff in the background, makes it seem to be 3-D, especially if it’s moving around,” notes Kaelin.

Another high-tech feature is Vivid’s 25-foot LED wall, which was installed by Las Vegas-based 4Wall Entertainment. The luminous, animated display consists of networked iColor Flex SL strips from Color Kinetics. “Each tri-color node is independently addressable,” explains 4Wall’s Bill Grebner. “We addressed them using another product from Color Kinetics called Video System Manager, which takes a video input from an external source and sends that out to the nodes to form a low-res video wall.” Instead of attempting to manipulate all of the individual LEDs in the sizeable display with a traditional lighting controller, the networked Color Kinetics system simply responds in real-time to a standard video signal.

Operation is simple: “Plug it in and let it go,” Grebner says. “All you have to do is come up with is video content. We found this software called Vusic [developed by the San Francisco, Cali.-based Morgan-Hocker Group], which we installed onto a computer that feeds the video system engine. It’s got an audio input, so it keeps time with the music. It’s got all of these different visualizations available, and it was designed for just this sort of application. We can set it to just go and do its thing, or have someone choosing what visualizations are going to come up.”

The "para-holographic video projection system" was installed by Laser Magic.

“Flexible” Lighting Control
The club’s other technical aspects were handled by Matt Olson and his Las Vegas-based company, NightVision Lighting & Sound. Olson, along with his fiancee, business partner, and “lighting goddess” Heather Ring, as well as Charles Koehler, from Boston-based sister company TKO Sound, designed and installed Vivid’s systems. As a veteran club DJ, Olson knew exactly how to equip the venue to maximize patrons’ pleasure, using innovative applications of proven components.

“We started on the beginning drawings last summer,” Olson says, and once the major construction was finished, the trio shifted into high gear. “The lighting for the dancefloor took us two days. That was it. The lighting behind the banquettes took me another two days. It didn’t take long on the sound and lighting end because we had a good team. We knew what to do and we just got the job done,” he says.

The sound system utilizes a mixture of brands to rock the house: subwoofers from McCauley Sound, full-range cabinets and tweeter clusters from Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) and amplification from Ashly Audio. Olson is particularly fond of the Ashly amps. “I’ve been using them for 15 years. In my opinion, they’re the most underrated amplifiers out there. They’re also the best-sounding amplifiers you can get,” he says. “They’re workhorses. They just don’t break.” The powerful, reliable sound system gives resident DJ Scotty Boy more than enough acoustic energy to keep the dancefloor moving all night long.

Vivid’s lighting system lives up to the venue’s name. Six MAC 250 Krypton moving heads and a pair of Atomic strobes from Martin Professional provide plenty of visual va-va-voom to the room, with a quartet of Trackspots from High End Systems adding additional impact. Everything is connected to a user-friendly MLC-128R DMX-512 console from Leviton, which gives the lighting tech intuitive, flexible control over the entire primary system.

The architectural illumination can be easily coordinated with the visuals on the dancefloor, too. LED strips, 78 in all, glow invitingly throughout the venue. “I even installed Color Kinetics iCove lights behind the banquettes, so that they chase and color-change as well,” says Olson. The LEDs are controlled with Color Kinetics iPlayer and a dedicated keypad.

“King-Size” Amusements
Vivid, naturally, has other visual attractions. “We also have a lounge side, which is a different room, where we have one of our other features,” explains Sgroi. “It isn’t too technical, but it’s been around for years. It’s a big king-size bed.” Customer access to the mattress is controlled by the club’s staff. “The bed is actually located behind the bar, so nobody can jump up and start screwing around,” he explains. With the right guests and the right mood, however, the bed is the setting for “low-tech, high-brow, old-school fun,” according to Sgroi. “As soon as girls get up on that bed, the night is on. It’s absolutely on.”

“They’re in their own environment, and they feel comfortable up there. It’s the same thing with the dancing platforms. The platforms are probably about four feet high. The girls are up, they’re elevated. As soon as a girl jumps up, we turn the gobos on them, so they can have the feel and the sensation. Our tag line is ‘Be a Star.’”

Vivid at the Venetian is more than just a pretty space. It’s well-endowed and intelligent, too. “This club had to be different,” asserts Hirsch. “It had to be special. If it was going to be like every other club, it wasn’t that exciting to us. Once they brought us the ideas – not only the holographic images, but the design of the club – it just made sense to us immediately. It really fits the Vivid lifestyle.”

A 25-foot LED/video wall (at right) adds intrigue

  DJ Booth
4 - Littlite console lights
2 - Mackie Vision PA-152 two-way speakers
2 - Pioneer CDJ-1000MK2 digital vinyl turntables
2 - Technics SL-1210M5G turntables
1 - Audio Technology system meter (vintage)
1 - Rane MP2016a rotary mixer
1 - Rane Serato Scratch Live
1 - Rane XP2016a expander
1 - QSC RMX 2450 amplifier (booth monitors)

Amp Rack
2 - Ashly MFA-8000 amplifiers
2 - Ashly MFA-8000 amplifiers
2 - Ashly Powerflex-4400 amplifiers
1 - Ashly FTX-1501 amplifier
1 - Ashly FTX-1501 amplifier
1 - Ashly Protea 4.24C digital crossover/system processor
1 - Furman PL-Plus Series II power conditioner
1 - Rane CP 64 commercial processor

8 - EAW JFX88 full-range speakers
8 - EAW MK-2194e full-range speakers
4 - EAW tweeter clusters (custom)
4 - McCauley SA255 subwoofers
2 - EAW JF60 full-range speakers

78 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove LED strips
36 - Color Kinetics iColor Flex LED strings
6 - Martin Professional MAC 250 Krypton moving head fixtures
4 - High End Systems Trackspot moving mirror fixtures
2 - Martin Professional Atomic 3000 DMX strobes
1 - Color Kinetics iPlayer 2 (with keypad)
1 - NSI MLC 128R lighting controller

Special Effects
1 - LeMaitre Neutron XS Hazer
1 - Sony Vaio computer
2 - Laser Magic TransScreen systems


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Copyright 2005 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2005 TESTA Communications