The new SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is regarded as a game changer in the entertainment industry. The design/build contract was awarded to HB Communications. Working with our partners, especially Christie Digital and rpVisuals (RVP), we were able to engineer and integrate technologies capable of displaying content across 4400 square feet of LED tiles. Our client noted that the videowall has set a very high bar for what a sports book should look and feel like. Those of us who worked on the project feel that this new display has raised the bar in the digital video industry, as well.
It was no simple task to build a video display capable of delivering more than 66 million pixels, the highest-resolution indoor videowall in the world at the time of this writing. In addition to the display surface measuring 220 feet wide by 20 feet tall, we installed audio, video and RF systems to assure integrity of content signals from more than 100 sources through distribution and delivery to the super-large videowall.
Westgate LV has been undergoing a massive renovation of various areas. To replace its existing sports book, which was a game changer when it was installed nearly two decades ago, our client wanted the new facility, once again, to be different from what anyone else had done.
The work had to be accomplished without causing the casino to lose its daily betting business, which meant zero downtime. We constructed a temporary projection system in front of the existing screens. A construction wall was built behind the new screens, giving us about 15 to 20 feet to perform our work. We also modified the existing control room to work with the temporary control system. An intermediary control room was built to test and commission the new videowall. After everything was working, the old control room was demolished and the new permanent master control room was commissioned. Simultaneously, a new rack room, located some 100 feet from the control room, was equipped to support content source devices and control system servers.
Although project plans allocated a full year to build the display, onsite work was pushed back due to delays caused by various factors, leaving us with only a three-month window to complete the design, installation and commissioning of the system.
A comparison test of LED tiles was first conducted with samples at Westgate’s corporate headquarters in Florida. Mockups were presented onsite in the large theater at Westgate Las Vegas, enabling the use of existing infrastructure for power and lifts.
Smaller versions of the display wall were set up, not only at eye level, but also hoisted some 20 to 30 feet high to see what the screen would look like at its highest point. We looked at the quality of the video displayed in terms of brightness and color, as well as how the tightness of the seams was maintained throughout the length of the wall. Evaluation also included the quality of the LEDs, chips used and power supply. There was consensus that the Christie Merit LED tiles delivered the best image quality, viewing angle and processing.
The videowall was too big to build in one fell swoop with the limited lead time, so it was built in quarters. We also made sure that everything was being manufactured to our tolerances, and no corners were cut despite the timeline.
We went to the factory in Shenzhen China during the factory commissioning, to verify that what we bought with regard to the bill of materials (that is, the right chips, cases, power supply, connectors, etc.) was actually put into the product. We were also able to conduct video tests on each quarter of the final product.
The mounting structure was custom built by rpVisuals at its fabrication facility in Rancho Dominguez CA. Mounting the display required the construction of a 35,000-pound steel support frame. The Tube Steel Upper and Lower Attach Mounting solution was designed to support the 2.5mm Christie Merit LED tiles using fixed mounting brackets that offer rear access to the LED panels. The videowall is comprised of 75 columns for the straight portions and 62 columns on the curved part of the array. In order to maintain a mere 0.25mm seam throughout the videowall, RPV introduced spacing in the curved section of the steel structure. RPV also provided the labor for the installation of the mounting structures and the LED tiles for the main videowall.
We installed a new RF receiver antenna and distribution system in the new rack room. The system features components from Blonder Tongue, Contemporary Research, Liberty, Sonora Design, ZeeVee and Zinwell, among others.
Westgate has commercial licenses for broadcast feeds from cable and satellite providers. There are more than 50 CATV and satellite signals in the system. These are modulated onto an 80-channel HD network, which is the single RF network throughout the SuperBook.
This method allows the entire signal path to remain HDCP compliant, from the antennas to the LED wall and all other displays. In addition to the 80 set-top boxes that are tuned to a single channel, there are 15 that can be set to any channel in the lineup by the operators, giving them full control of all available content to be displayed on the wall.
HB installed Dish Network’s antennas and receivers for the 22 Dish Network channels that broadcast horse racing events and two C-Band IRDs for receiving dog racing broadcasts. These NTSC signals are scaled to HD and encoded onto the RF Network.
Ten new Cox Cable receivers were provided for wiring into the new system. Six over the air (OTA) tuners are used for local terrestrial signal encoding onto the network.
Input capabilities for up to 12 PCs or signage players for Sports Page, ESPN 3 and Stadium System Odds are encoded onto the network.
Behind the betting line is the master control room with three operator stations. It is used for changing content and monitoring of the videowall. All content is dynamic and can be displayed on any part or multiple parts of the wall at any time.
The videowall has its own set of controllers and hardware-based video processors. Nine Christie Spyder X20 units are installed in the rack room: seven for the main wall, one for the adjacent ad wall and one hot spare. These enable simultaneous full-frame rate monitoring of all inputs in real time.
Our client also wanted functionality for future applications not yet articulated, so we installed, connected and configured a Dataton WATCHOUT system that will enable displaying a single piece of content across the 26,660×2304-pixel videowall.
The super-large videowall system, coupled with the numerous content sources, made it a complex system. Our design and programming team worked with Westgate’s control room operators to develop the graphical user interface (GUI) for the Crestron touch monitors. Crestron DigitalMedia is used for all of the routing and switching. There are two Crestron DM-MD 128×128 matrix switchers in the system. Crestron 20-inch HD touch monitors are located in the operator stations.
The primary, daily control interface is on Crestron touchpanel interfaces. Dual 20-inch touchscreens are connected to two Crestron digital graphics engines with dual-window preview capability. Redundancy of this operation is required; hence, both a secondary software interface and hard-button systems are provided for all key components of the switching and daily operation of the system.
Modern control rooms cannot run properly without the use of a high-quality KVM system. We installed a KVM system from Thinklogical in the control room, and each PC required for operation or used as source equipment is located in the rack room. We also installed KVM control of all systems delivered to each position required through the system over an IP network. The system has individual access lists and requirements for each user, based on their privileges and workflow requirements. In a pinch, any seat could access any system in the design.
Four Samsung 75-inch flatpanel LCDs installed on the walls in the control room replicate the content on the LED screens. Additionally, two Samsung 48-inch LCDs located at the monitoring stations provide a preview of the games.
Nearly 10 miles of data cabling connects the video sources, and processing and distribution equipment to the LED video-wall. Signals from the LED controller out to the videowall are sent over Cat5 using proprietary IP-based protocol.
There are two zones of audio for daily operation: one for general sports and one for racing. The audio systems were selected, in coordination with Westgate’s onsite staff, to match equipment already in use. At the heart of the audio system are three Harman Soundweb London BLU-806 DSPs, three Biamp TesiraFORTE DSPs with AVB, two Ashly eight-channel stereo line mixers, Shure mics (including a ULXD system), VUE Audiotechnik al-4 line arrays, as well as best-of-breed components from Crestron, Extron, Motu, Genelec, Cisco, Bittree and Adaptive Technologies. Audio processing with Dante interconnectivity is located in the new rack room.
The front of house (FOH) system serves a number of zones with specific requirements, with some systems used in the daily operation and other systems used only for events. Four sets of line array speakers are installed above the LED screens at selected points in the facility to treat the floor. Sound from the line arrays can be focused to the areas desired.
Connectivity to Westgate’s AV wireless network enables authorized personnel to make changes from remote locations through an iPad, when necessary.
There are 22 racks with audio, video and RF equipment in the room down the hall from the control room. The rack room is climate controlled and features raised flooring similar to a server or data center level room. Twenty tons of chilled air is routed through the bottom of the racks and exhausts out the top.
No one had ever placed an LED order this big before, and lead time for manufacturing was a huge concern. We had to work with Christie to build and test the LED videowall in sections to meet our deadline. This required detailed coordination with the manufacturer, the component suppliers and the shipping company to coordinate all of those moving pieces. The main LED videowall was only part of the $13 million AV budget, so we had to be cost conscious.
The scale of the project required greater attention to detail and precision alignment than smaller videowalls. We had great support from our partners and manufacturers, especially Christie Spyder, Crestron and Thinklogical. Reflecting on the project, our teams at HB are grateful for the experience of working on such a unique installation, and proud of Westgate LV’s new SuperBook.