LAS VEGAS – Music has its Grammys, film its Oscars, lighting its Parnellis… for members of the burgeoning computer and video gaming industry the highest honor is to win a D.I.C.E. Award. Founded in 1992, the award, which is determined by ballots cast by the 23, 000 members of Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, has honored legends like Super Mario as well as newcomers like Dragon Age Inquisition. Its acronymous name stands for “Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain.” The four words aptly describe the games that were up for D.I.C.E. Awards at this year’s ceremonies. They also reflect the spirit of the lightshow created for the event by Creative Designer Chris Wu and Lighting Designer Chris Lose.
The two designers turned the D.I.C.E. Awards stage at Mandalay Bay into an all-embracing immersive environment that was evocative of a scene from the most transformative computer game. A collection of heavily pixel mapped ÉPIX Bar 2.0 LED fixtures from CHAUVET Professional were essential to helping the duo achieve this unifying look.
“We try to push the envelope of visual continuity for D.I.C.E.,” said Lose, who has worked on the award ceremonies for a number of years. “We have always pixel mapped out the entire stage to match the video content. Using the whole stage to highlight the video game nominees has continually been a crowd pleaser. The ÉPIX works out great for us, because it provides the highest amount of pixels in a small space for pixel mapping without actually being a video surface. In terms of value, the bars gave us the highest pixel count per square inch for the price range.”
A total of 28 one-meter ÉPIX Bar 2.0 LEDs were used in the D.I.C.E. Awards stage design. The bars were positioned in four rows on either side of a large LED video wall and hung at 45° angles. “By having the ÉPIX stage left and stage right of the video, we can direct the audience to the center stage,” said Lose. “At the same time, we used the bars as an extension of the central video content to create an immersive environment.”
Aside from the ÉPIX units, a number of the moving panels positioned between the rows of bars were also pixel mapped. “We relied quite a bit on pixel mapping to create movement and a cohesive look on stage,” said Lose. “The ÉPIX bars consumed 28 universes of data that we fed to them with PRG Mboxes.
“The biggest challenge on this project was the amount of data processing that was required for us to push this many pixels,” continued the LD. “We used a grandMa2 for FOH Control. Instead of using several NPUs to handle this many universes, we decided to let the media server do all of the work. For example, in order to get the ÉPIX to give us a solid blue, we had to create a blue piece of content and send it to the ÉPIX instead of using the console. This presented a few issues with Art-Net broadcasting, but as soon as we set each ÉPIX to Unicast Art-Net we were able to sort out latency very easily.”
With their four rows of 40 tri-color RGB SMD 5050 LEDs and a 25mm pixel pitch, the ÉPIX Bar 2.0 LED units displayed crisp, vivid images on the D.I.C.E. stage. “The bars worked well with all the fixtures in our rig,” said Lose. “They were equally bright at a fraction of the cost.”
The winner of this year’s D.I.C.E. Award for Game of the Year was Fallout 4, a role-playing video saga set in a post-apocalyptic Boston. Among the many virtues that earned this game top D.I.C.E. honors is a visual presentation that, in the words of one critic, is “brimming with atmosphere.” That term also accurately describes the immersive pixel mapped lighting design that captivated the A-list game developer audience in Las Vegas.