How was the world’s largest spherical building built at a cost of $2.3 billion?

Gregor in "The Metamorphosis" wakes up to find that he has turned into a giant insect.

This sense of absurdity in daily life also applies to a building in Las Vegas.

After all, who would have thought that the venue where the concert is held would turn into an eyeball?

How the world’s largest spherical building takes over your senses

This horrifyingly realistic "eyeball" is called "Sphere" and is located near the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. It only officially opened on September 29. The hotel has already launched special viewing rooms.

Back to the topic, the Sphere has a cost of US$2.3 billion (approximately 16.5 billion yuan) and covers an area of ​​approximately 81,000 square meters. It is the largest spherical building in the world.

Of course, the most gimmick and visual impact is its full and round spherical shape and its thousands of unexpected changes.

Sphere's building exterior covers an area of ​​approximately 54,000 square meters and is composed of 1.2 million programmable LED panels. This is what Sphere looked like during construction.

After completion, its outer shell becomes a huge canvas with no dead ends in 360 degrees.

If you look at it from an airplane or a hotel high-rise, you may see many shapes, such as eyeballs, basketballs, sea world, soybean expressions, Halloween pumpkins… It doesn't matter if it is a sphere or not.

If a train passes by, the Sphere turns into a "celestial body". For a moment, the passengers seem like the boy and the little alien in the movie "ET", flying in front of the moon on their bicycles.

Deep-pocketed advertisers are already using Sphere to promote football games.

In fact, the creative team behind the scenes also planned this. The exterior wall of Sphere is naturally suitable as a carrier of dynamic content, and both artists and brands can participate:

More than just a screen or billboard, it's a living building.

Compared with the exterior where everyone will stop for a few seconds, the interior of the Sphere is equally magnificent and magnificent. The performance venue has nearly 18,000 seats and presents an arc-shaped layout similar to a classical theater.

Your vision will be dominated by the wrap-around 16K large screen, which covers an area of ​​nearly 15,000 square meters. It is the world's largest high-definition LED screen, spreading from the ceiling to the wall, completely enveloping the audience.

Hearing is also a top priority for Sphere. According to the design team, most concert venues are designed for sports, and the consideration of sound is often lagging behind, always implying compromise, so they have to do the opposite. .

The Sphere's audio system contains 167,000 speakers, developed by the Berlin audio company Holoplot, and is completely hidden behind an LED screen. The clever thing is that based on 3D audio beamforming and wavefield synthesis technology, the quality of the audio will not be impaired due to distance.

The difference between the top of the concert and the inner venue disappears here. No matter the distance or the ticket price, every seat can hear "crystal clear" sound. Even if the sound source is far away, it sounds very close, such as you The whisper you hear is like someone speaking directly into your ear.

The audio system can even send sound waves accurately, allowing different areas to hear different content. You hear Spanish, he hears English, here is a speaker, there is a percussion instrument, but they do not interfere with each other as if they are wearing headphones. Experience Truly personalized.

The design team likened it to "bathing in sound", which is rich and inclusive. But people have five senses, and to be truly immersive, just seeing and hearing is not enough. Every detail should make the audience "feel" the performance.

Therefore, Sphere also has many 4D patents. The tactile seat can not only move, but also blow wind, fragrance and hot and cold air onto your face. The lighting system can be customized according to intensity, temperature or color to serve as the backdrop for any performance. "Ambience Group".

Sphere is like a 4D theater that is more advanced and larger than major theme parks. As you can imagine, there will be a feast for the senses here.

Las Vegas’ new landmark, the future of live entertainment

With casino resorts and neon signs lining both sides of the Las Vegas Strip, the Sphere will not become the culprit of light pollution. Instead, it has become a new landmark, naturally integrated into this restless city with the nickname of Casino.

Sphere sees itself as the next generation of entertainment media that will redefine the future of live entertainment. The first thing to be changed by it may be the concert.

The legendary Irish rock band U2 played a part. They gave their first performance here on September 29, the day the Sphere opened. U2 will perform 25 shows from that day to December 16, but tickets will be nearly sold out by the end of June.

How cool would it be to watch a show here? The screen recording of the live audience may be able to convey one percent.

When U2 started performing, the LED screen seemed to "crack", and then a series of 16K dynamic images rolled out.

Code-like numbers flash with the rhythm, like the matrix in "The Matrix".

The fancy scenery is comparable to Gatsby's castle, and it's hard to distinguish reality from reality. The people in the game feel like they are in a circus, with the sky and the earth hanging upside down, losing the concept of gravity.

The beating purple light outlines the shape of the door, which is easily reminiscent of the black cube projection of the animated EVA, and the band members are projected high to look up at.

Sphere may also change cinema. Oscar-nominated and Golden Lion-winning director Darren Aronofsky creates the immersive film Postcards from Earth for Sphere. Tickets range from $49 to $249 on October 6 Released.

Part science fiction, part nature documentary, the film puts the audience in the shoes of a space traveler and uses all of Sphere's experiential technology. When the audience wakes up from suspended animation, robots will remind them of what the earth once looked like, taking them deep into the oceans, mountains and space.

From the behind-the-scenes footage released by the director, we can also feel the tip of the iceberg.

In order to complete this project, Darren's team set up a specially customized 316-megapixel movie camera "Big Sky" and rushed to Zambia, Milan, India, Istanbul and other places to shoot 120 frames per second material.

Darren calls the film a "love letter to Mother Earth" that allows people to escape the glitz and bustle of Las Vegas and immerse themselves in the wonder and beauty of nature. His favorite perspective is from the back seat of a vehicle on different city streets, where tactile seats also come into play.

Many times, movies are an immersive medium. The audience temporarily escapes from their daily life and even forgets where they are. Sphere extends this experience to the extreme. I wonder if Cameron has the idea of ​​making a movie for it. , to stage the shock of "Avatar" again.

Band performances and movie screenings are just the beginning. In the future, Sphere also wants to host award ceremonies, sports events, etc. The nightlife in Las Vegas may never end.

Immersive performance, rejecting shoddy production

The idea of ​​Sphere comes from the American entertainment giant MSG Entertainment. The behind-the-scenes team is star-studded, including Icrave, an office specializing in hotel design, and Populous, an architecture company that has built many of the world's top sports venues.

Lionel Ohayon, founder of Icrave, pointed out that unlike most performance spaces where people feel bored after leaving the theater, each space in Sphere hopes to bring people into a surreal world.

The experience doesn't start in the theater… once you cross the threshold of the Sphere, you're in the show.

This is indeed the case. Sphere has also carefully designed the atrium before entering the performance venue.

The atrium is divided by criss-crossing escalators and flybridges, with colorful holographic images and interlocking art installations suspended. The floor is made of highly polished black terrazzo, and low arches are set at the entrance and exit, like another immersive space. style theatre.

The designer's intention was to create the feeling of walking through a cave, as if there is always more to discover.

The humanoid robot Aura will also welcome visitors and popularize science technology here, bringing another interactive experience.

The team behind the project told Rolling Stone that the origins of Sphere date back to 2015.

At that time, James Dolan, the CEO of MSG Entertainment, realized the limitations of traditional concert venues, especially the poor sound effects, so he opened up his imagination and drew a sketch directly without considering whether the technology was feasible. It looks like a spherical IMAX theater.

When technology giants became obsessed with VR, James Dolan wanted to experience virtual reality without wearing a headset because he felt that bulky equipment prevented people from participating in public activities together.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a VR experience without those pesky “goggles”? This is Sphere.

Immersive performances are often associated with VR and AR, but Spheres insists on taking another path to make the live music experience more beautiful and valuable, allowing everyone to be fully surrounded by sound and vision.

Seemingly unbridled ideas are the real reason for promoting Sphere. Partners are gradually being called together. Sphere started construction in 2018 and has finally met the public recently.

The exclamations are also mixed with criticism. Some people think that Sphere has a limited range of use and is an "expensive waste." There are also "fundamentalists" who worry that when the audience's eyes are unconsciously attracted to the scene instead of the music itself, will such an immersive performance take over the spotlight?

This is true to an extent, as The Washington Post reported that many artists are reluctant to create eye-catching visual spectacles because "it might overpower their music."

At least U2 doesn't think so. They performed mostly 1991's Achtung Baby, one of the band's seminal albums, deciding what to play live before starting to create the accompanying visuals. U2 guitarist The Edge said:

Ultimately, the songs dictate what's played on the screens and what the bands perform, which remains at the heart of the event. Without music, it would be an empty show.

Sphere chose U2 for its premiere, which was actually a "two-way journey." This rock band, which became famous in the last century, is willing to integrate new technologies into live performances. In the late 1990s, it invested in a huge disco ball and LED screen. It also cooperated with Apple to promote iPod and iTunes, becoming a pioneer in the digital transformation of the music industry.

There have always been a lot of criticisms of immersive performances, especially those that are homogeneous and shoddy. We should all have experienced the low-resolution projectors, surround speakers, and seats that spray water unexpectedly in amusement parks. , neither immersive nor enjoyable, more to satisfy children’s curiosity.

Sphere brings a new dimension with top-of-the-line performance. Of course, you first have to travel to Las Vegas and pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a ticket. Perhaps there is good news, James Dolan, who created Sphere, is already considering building more Spheres in London and other cities around the world.

It is as sharp as autumn frost, and can ward off evil disasters. Work email: [email protected]

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